NGCP urged to modernize transmission network


The Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) called on the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to modernize the transmission network in order to fully integrate renewable energy (RE) into the Philippine grid.

The NGCP has declared that the influx of a lot of variable technologies would need a lot of upgrades from the grid. It has also committed to finishing priority transmission projects this year.

“We welcome the announcement of the NGCP to integrate RE projects in the Philippine grid, which is a huge step forward in the country’s energy transition. However, in order to achieve affordable, reliable, and secure power in the Philippines, what we need is to modernize the grid. Simply integrating RE in the current transmission setup is not enough,” commented ICSC energy transition advisor Alberto Dalusung III.

The group noted that the current grid is centralized on large baseload coal power plants. Dalusung pointed out that this is “unsuitable” for the country’s variable load demand and recurring supply shortages.

“Unlike coal, RE is not intermittent, as previously stated by the NGCP. It may be variable, but it is highly available and predictable. In fact, the Department of Energy [DOE] has identified tens of thousands of renewable energy capacity in their Competitive Renewable Energy Zones [CREZ],” said the ICSC official.

The CREZ process identifies the most economic RE resource areas so that transmission planning and expansion can accelerate their development. CREZ initially identified 25 high-quality solar and wind resources across the Philippines with an estimated total capacity of 152,097 megawatts (MW) including the potential capacity coming from geothermal resources at 365 MW.

According to Dalusung, RE power plants such as geothermal have the highest capacity factors at 71 percent in 2022, compared to coal power plants at only 65 percent.  “This is against the common notion about coal plants being highly available and reliable,” he said.

He cited the following coal plants that had lower than 65 percent capacity in 2022. These are Mariveles Unit 2, Sual Unit 2, Calaca Unit 1, Calaca Unit 2, Pagbilao Unit 1, Pagbilao Unit 2, Mariveles Unit 1, Quezon Power, and San Buenaventura.

“Ultimately, evidence shows that we urgently need to shift towards flexible and distributed power generation using indigenous and readily available renewable energy sources. Everyone in the Philippine power sector has a role to play, we need all hands on deck to achieve an energy system that is affordable, reliable, and secure, and that suits the needs of all Filipinos,” said Dalusung.

The NGCP, for its part, stressed that while it fully supports RE, “We have to see how responsive our current regulatory measures are to address nuances of variable, new, and emerging technologies.”