SMC sees reopening of Ilijan power facility in May

MANILA – The reintegration of the 1,200-megawatt (MW) Ilijan natural gas plant to the national grid – targeted by May 26 – is expected to help stabilize the country’s power supply amid the projected high demand in the summer months and the coming years. 
San Miguel Corp., through its power arm SMC Global Power Holdings Corp. (SMGP), recently took delivery of the country’s first-ever liquefied natural gas cargo that will fuel its Ilijan power plant.  
In a statement Friday, SMC president Ramon S. Ang said he is confident of meeting the target date given the significant progress made in the ongoing construction of the country’s first LNG import terminal by leading global LNG terminals and downstream infrastructure firm Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific International Holdings (AG&P). 
“With the reintegration of the Ilijan power plant into the power grid system, the country will be better assured of energy supply security these coming summer months and beyond. Hopefully, with all available power facilities operating – with no plants breaking down or going on unscheduled shutdown – we will have more than enough capacity for the rest of the year, and consumers will not have to experience brownouts or supply rotations,” he said. 
Since June last year, the Ilijan plant has been on extended outage and is, in the meantime, undergoing retrofitting works after the ceasing of gas supply deliveries from the depleting Malampaya natural gas facility, operated by the SC38 consortium. 
This is despite SMGP’s purchase of the remaining banked gas supply of the government-owned Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) for USD1.2 billion, which remains undelivered to date, and the significant deration in Malampaya gas supply for the Ilijan plant under its original gas supply agreement, last year. 
In the time that the Ilijan plant has been on extended outage, the energy sector and ultimately the consumers, have been contending with tight power supply and higher prices. 
Ilijan has historically contributed up to 10 percent of Luzon’s net reliable capacity. 
Ang said its LNG shipment, 137,000 billion cubic meters (bcm) in all, had been waiting in a floating storage unit (FSU) in Subic Bay pending completion of the full-scale LNG terminal, particularly its jetty facilities. 
After the jetty facilities’ recent completion, the FSU finally berthed and connected to the LNG terminal, marking the start of the commissioning of the facility.  
This involved the cooling down of the cryogenic lines of the facility, in preparation for the delivery of processed natural gas, which in turn will serve as fuel to the Ilijan plant. 
The new terminal is the first of, hopefully, several to be opened in the Philippines starting this year, as the country ramps up the importation of LNG as part of the government’s efforts to ensure supply security, and transition to cleaner sources of power. 
LNG is a “transition” fuel, enabling countries to move away from coal power responsibly, without compromising the continuing need of people and economies for affordable and reliable baseload power, while targeting wider adoption of renewable energy over the longer term. 
Currently, the inherent challenge with renewable energy is intermittence, or the unreliability of sources, such as sunlight and wind.  
Recently, the SMGP unveiled a solution to intermittence – its 1,000-MW nationwide Battery Energy Storage System (BESS), one of the largest grid-scale battery storage networks in the world.  
SMC’s BESS is part of SMGP’s larger energy transition plan, along with the expansion of its LNG capacities, and investments in renewables. 
Located in Batangas Bay, the new LNG terminal is flanked by the 1,200-MW Ilijan plant and the new 1,313-MW Batangas Combined Cycle Gas Plant, also owned by SMGP. (PNA)