Meralco pilot-testing solar microgrid system
MANILA, Philippines—The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) is testing an innovative solution to remedy distribution issues such as system loss through a so-called microgrid pilot project in Talim Island, Rizal province. Such a system could ease power demand from the main grid, especially during peak times, officials said.
Senior executive vice president and networks head Ricardo V. Buencamino told reporters that the pilot project utilizes solar power and that Meralco is looking for suitable storage systems.
Buencamino said Meralco has not yet found a technical partner for the project. Meralco is considering working with or at least having initial learnings from California-based Tesla Motors, which presently makes electric vehicles and their corresponding battery packs. There are other possible providers such as Virginia-based AES Corp., Buencamino said, although he noted that AES’ present roster of products may be too large for Meralco’s micro-grid pilot.
“It is completely solar with storage for 1 megawatt,” Buencamino said. “The idea is that, in the morning you have power and you charge the energy storage. At night, you use the power stored in the batteries.”
Batteries for solar power systems are expensive, Buencamino said, but are seen as key components in microgrids because the idea is to make the system self-sufficient, minimizing the need to draw power from the main grid.
Buencamino said the microgrid system being tested will be connected to the distribution utility’s Dolores substation.
The appeal of the microgrid (also known as “distributed power”) system comes from having the generation and distribution facility located in the area where the power output will be used. This reduces demand from the grid, eases the time and cost needed to put up the system, and minimizes loss of power from having to transport it through long transmission lines.
Besides the solar-based microgrid, Meralco is also considering LNG-based systems, Buencamino said.
Meralco is also keen on helping set up the regulatory framework for such innovations in the liberalized power industry, Buencamino said.
“We are looking at new developments in the new power industry,” company president Oscar S. Reyes said. “We want to bring the benefits of technology and innovation that is being launched—and in some cases being advanced in certain countries—to the Philippines.”—Riza T. Olchondra
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