DAVAO CITY, Philippines—A partnership between the government, through the Mindanao Development Authority and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is seen to boost the power sector specifically the projects set in development areas in Mindanao.
“While it is truly worth noting that we are now entering an era of excess power supply in the island-region, it is then crucial to shift our focus from supply deficiency to the cost of generating electricity,” said MinDA Chairman, Secretary Datu Abul Khayr Alonto, during the recent Mindanao Power and Energy Seminar held here at the Marco Polo Hotel.
Among the identified priority projects for possible collaboration include the rehabilitation of the Agus-Pulangi Hydropower Complexes, the improvement of the disaster resiliency of power distribution networks, the promotion of renewable energy such as geothermal and wind power, and the enhancement of electricity distribution in areas with low electrification rates, such as in the Basilan-Sulu-Tawi-Tawi (BASULTA) area.
According to Alonto, the government of Japan would offer two-step loans for projects under the identified priority areas, while feasibility studies will be offered as grants.
He added that recent investments in Mindanao’s power sector has assured the island-region of an excess of 1,000 megawatts as of December 2016, easing fears of a lack of supply to meet the projected growth in demand and the required reserves.
Alonto, however, emphasized that the rapid growth of the manufacturing, real estate, services, and agribusiness sectors resulted to a surging demand for electricity, projected to require at least 500 MW of new capacity by 2016, another 500MW by 2020, and 1,600MW by 2030.
“We have been pushing for investments in renewable energy by significantly fast-tracking the project application process from three to five years down to two to three years through our One-Stop Facilitation and Monitoring Center (OSFMC),” he said.
The entry of more fossil-fuel based power plants, particularly coal, is projected to raise the cost of electricity in the island-region. Power generated by fossil-fuels now accounts for 69 percent in Mindanao, with coal accounting for 40 percent. Also, shares of hydro, geothermal, solar and biomass fell to just 31 percent of the total power generated.
To promote the use of renewable energy and lower electricity rates, METI proposed the introduction of wind power plants in viable areas in North-Eastern Mindanao, particularly in the province of Surigao including the islands of Dinagat and Siargao.
For his part, MinDA Deputy Executive Director Assistant Secretary Romeo Montenegro said “the entry of more RE sources of energy will help ensure that Mindanao’s electricity rates remain as the most competitive in the country.”
The METI is also proposing for the use of small-sized geothermal power plants in the range of 2-7MW as these can be put up faster and cheaper because of their smaller scale.
“In line with the effort to increase the region’s RE capacities, MinDA is also lobbying for the rehabilitation and uprating of the Agus-Pulangi Hydropower Complexes (APHC), both of which used to provide over 70 percent of Mindanao’s power requirements,” he said. (davaotoday.com)