By Lenie Lectura - May 21, 2017
THE power business of conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) said it would pursue solar-power development, albeit on a small-scale basis.
“Yes, pero hindi napakalaki. It could be 50-100 megawatts [MW],” SMC President Ramon Ang said.
Ang said the company is embarking on a clean- energy program that would transform its SMC Global Power Holdings into a highly diversified energy company. This is also meant to ramp up the country’s renewable energy (RE) capacity.
Ang said the common challenge for a solar-power project is the land area. “Ang problema ay per megawatt, you need 10 hectares. Problema ang lupa. Mas bagay iyong solar gawin sa area na mainit na lugar,” Ang said.
Details for a solar-power project have yet to be firmed up, he said.
The company has formed a team that will conduct researches on, and develop solutions across, the clean-energy sector as it affects the consumers and the environment.
“We are challenging ourselves to be able to operate in the most environmentally responsible manner while taking into consideration energy security and affordability to the consumers. Initiatives to achieve this objective are under way, and I’m proud to say, we are making good headway,” Ang said.
Last month Ang said the company was seriously looking into developing ocean-tidal energy that could cost $3.6 billion for a planned 1,200-MW capacity.
Ang said last week the necessary regulatory requirements are being completed.
“It’s being finalized so that we can apply the project with the Department of Energy and Bureau of Investments. This is a very good project,” he said.
The location of the proposed ocean-tidal energy, which could be the first in the country, was kept undisclosed. Ang said construction for the project, once approved, could take five years. It can also be scaled up to 18,000 MW as per results of an ongoing study.
He also mentioned then that power rates for ocean-tidal energy may be sold for as P2.50 per kilo watt-hour (kWh).
“Hindi ako hihingi ng Feed-in-Tariff [FIT] doon, kasi kawawa ang taumbayan. Ibebenta ko lang nang mura, siguro mga P2.50 per kWh para mababa ang presyo ng kuryente. FIT kasi is charging it to the pockets of everyone, nakakahiya iyon. Kahit hindi mo ginagamit, nagbabayad ka,” Ang said.
The country’s FIT system guarantees compensation for RE producers through a long-term fixed price over a 20-year spread, a subsidy that is shouldered by power consumers. The Philippines has one of the highest electricity rates in Asia, and with subsidies to renewables through FIT, the rates become even more expensive.