DOE's Petilla thumbs down solar-power proposals to ease Mindanao power woes

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 12:00 AM    Views : 1106by:Lenie Lectura

THE Department of Energy (DOE) on Monday rejected a lawmaker's proposal to adapt solar energy in Mindanao instead of putting up coal-fired power plants.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla, in response to the renewable-energy (RE) solutions raised by Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Teddy Casiņo, said while the agency strongly encourages the development and utilization of RE resources in the country, using solar energy might actually be more expensive for the people in Mindanao in the long run as solar energy requires long-term contracts to be viable which could take as long as 20 years.

Mindanao's power generation mix is 35-percent non-RE and 65-percent RE, with hydro plants contributing 55 percent of energy generation in the island.

"However, if there is any investor on solar who can convince a cooperative or distribution utility to sign up for 20 years at a prevailing solar rate of P9.70 to P12/kWh, we would be more than happy to facilitate the transaction," said Petilla.

Likewise, solar-power plants may not be as sustainable and readily available, as such plants have low availability factor of only 22 percent, being heavily dependent on the available sunlight.

Petilla said new power plants composed of coal, geothermal, diesel, and mini-hydro, will be online in Mindanao in two years time. These are private-sector-initiated projects considering that the generation sector is now open and competitive.

The government, he said, is more inclined to options that can be deployed as quickly as possible andwill not require long-term contracts while waiting for power plants to come online by 2015.

"Solar power may be cheaper now given that one of the options that the government is offering is to avail of gensets, however, if we opt for a long-term contract utilizing solar energy, it will eventually be more expensive than the power that will be generated from plants that will go online in 2015," he added.

The DOE has offered three solutions to immediately provide the supply gap in Mindanao.  Aside from ensuring that all existing power plants are available and have adequate inventory of fuels and spare parts, there are other options currently being enhanced.  These are the Interruptible Load Program with the Energy Regulatory Commission; the Interim Mindanao Electricity Market; and the utilization of gensets by electric cooperatives through a financing that will be provided by the National Electrification Administration.


S & T Trivia

" Besides inventing the banana vinegar, Maria Carlita Rex-Doran also produced an ampalaya (bittermelon) concoction for diabetes mellitus and HIV infection. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) conferred on her the Gold Medal in 1989, four years after another Filipina inventor, Olympia Gonzales, achieved the same award. "

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