The power generation arm of the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) wants to increase its planned renewable-energy (RE) portfolio to over 1,000 megawatts (MW)-mostly solar power-in the next two years to three years.
'We want to go into more RE investments and we're looking at solar and wind, in particular. We are looking at 500 MW to 1,000 MW of solar in the next two to three years. In wind, we're in discussion for a wind project with 150 MW of capacity,' said Rogelio Singson, president of Meralco PowerGen Corp. (MGen).
The 150-MW wind-power project is already existing, Singson said, adding that MGen is looking at a 'possible partnership' for that wind project that is not enrolled in the feed-in-tariff program of the government and is located in Luzon. Singson said last May that MGen wants to put in as much as 600 MW of solar power in its portfolio in the next three to four years.
Early this week, Singson said MGen is focused on the development of a portfolio of utility scale solar-generation projects to supply the Luzon grid, and the customers of Meralco, with low-cost electricity.
'MGen believes solar generation will form an important part of the energy mix going forward, and will be a competitive source of generation without any requirement for subsidy,' he said.
In addition, MGen is developing its own portfolio of potential sites for large-scale solar projects.
'We hope to at least sign off our first project by the first quarter of next year,' Singson said.
He said these potential projects are 'site specific,' as he explained there are challenges in undertaking solar-power projects.
'Most of the constraints are either limitations on transmission or limitations in terms of land availability and conversion,' he said.
Singson said MGen is still trying to figure out the best approach to its planned power projects.
'Are we going to wait for power supply agreement approval from the Energy Regulatory Commission or are we going merchant? That's what we're facing right now. If merchant or hybrid, we might start with 50 MW because local banks are not used to not having PSA. So we've been in talks with lenders to somehow bring them in to get banks lending to either hybrid, which is merchant and contracted, and get them used to it without the PSA,' Singson said.
Last August, Singson said MGen was in talks with multilateral lending agencies, such as the World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and International Finance Corp., for a possible partnership in building merchant power plants.
He said then that MGen is willing to put in 50 percent of the equity in building the power plant. The remaining, he said, can be shouldered by the multilateral lending agencies.
This move, he explained, is meant to 'give confidence' to banks used to approving loans for power projects that already have long-term power purchase agreements to cover their output.
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