Conventional power plants dependable amid surge in demand: MVP

By Kris Crismundo

April 29, 2024, 9:40 pm

MANILA – Manila Electric Company (Meralco) chairman and chief executive officer Manuel V. Pangilinan said conventional power plants remain the dependable sources of power, especially as electricity demand surges due to higher temperature caused by El Niño.


In a media briefing at Meralco’s headquarters in Pasig City Monday, Pangilinan said the country needs to build more dependable capacities to avoid "black swan" events, like the current projected persistent yellow and red alerts in the grids due to the power demand.

“What the country needs are conventional, dependable power plants so we don’t have this crazy situation now,” Pangilinan said.

Conventional power plants include those that are fueled by coal or gas.

Four years ago, the Department of Energy (DOE) issued a moratorium on greenfield coal-fired power plants since 2020 to ease the country’s dependence on coal.

Last week, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) said liquefied natural gas (LNG) will remain an expensive fuel option for power plants even if there will be an oversupply in the global market.

Pangilinan acknowledged that “coal is the cheapest but it’s probably the least sustainable,” while gas is a "compromise choice" as it is cleaner than coal but more costly.

Even with the additional supply from renewable energy (RE) facilities, Pangilinan said REs' dependable capacity is lower than its expected output.

For the past two weeks, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has been issuing red and yellow alert status in Luzon and Visayas grids, while it put the Mindanao grid under a yellow alert last week due to a number of power plants going on unplanned outages while electricity demand has been exceeding forecast due to the increasing temperature, an impact of El Niño.

In the same briefing, Meralco first vice president and head of networks Froilan Savet said the actual peak electricity demand in Meralco franchise areas this year is close to the level of the forecast peak demand in 2026 at 9,698 megawatts.

Current peak demand is at 9,301 MW, higher than the actual demand last year at 8,438 MW.

The distribution utility (DU) firm is also expecting higher energy sales for the second quarter of the year due to the surge in demand.

For the first quarter of 2024, DU's energy sales already increased by 9 percent to 12,307 gigawatt-hour from 11,287 GWh in first quarter of 2023.

Meralco said around 2.5 GWh consumption per day is noted for every degree increase in temperature. (PNA)