By Lenie Lectura | Business Mirror
The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) underscored the regulators’ role in breaking the barriers that would lead to a successful shift to renewable energy adoption.
During the recent Asia Pacific Energy Week event, Meralco head of networks Ronnie Aperocho noted the increasing adoption of distributed renewable energy (RE) sources, including solar panels and battery energy storage system (BESS).
Aperocho said these variable renewable energy (VRE) sources have proliferated in a “very aggressive manner” and there is so much potential still untapped from these VREs.
Meralco’s power generation arm, Meralco PowerGen Corp., is already integrating wind and solar farms into its portfolio.
While Meralco’s franchise area serves only around 9 percent of Luzon, it absorbs almost 70 percent of the peak demand requirement of the biggest island in the country and consumes close to 50 percent of the entire energy output of the country.
“The highly congested and contiguous area that we serve, constraints the builds of significant capacities of solar and wind VREs embedded into our system because of the inherent huge landmass footprint that they require,” Aperocho said.
To accommodate all these innovations and disruptive technologies, Meralco urged the Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission to craft relevant policies that would pave the way to the seamless integration of these VREs in its system.
“One of these initiatives, is the inclusion of embedded generators as providers of ancillary services, particularly, Frequency Regulation, in the on-going discussion and formulation of the Reserve Market,” he said.
Aperocho said the regulatory environment has to evolve and adapt to emerging practices especially with the introduction of new technologies. “The rate or speed in which we would be able to implement changes and adapt to evolving technologies will highly depend on how responsive our regulators in appreciating these developments.”
Microgrid technologies and solar home systems are the best ways to energize island communities and remote areas. These, said Aperocho, require capital investments that need ERC approval.
“It is therefore imperative for regulators to closely collaborate with all power stakeholders in order to be guided on what projects to pursue and prioritize,” he said.
Meralco has capital-intensive projects that are still awaiting ERC approval. These projects are meant to address growing demand for sustainable electrification, modernize distribution assets and improve network performance.
Aperocho said that while regulators and policymakers embrace these disruptions in the power industry, Meralco said it expects policymakers to continue addressing these challenges through appropriate regulations that will tackle investment recovery, subsidy mechanisms, rate structure, among others.
“There are execution challenges on the technical and financial aspects but if we will all work together, we can create an ecosystem that could drive the execution much easier and cheaper. To do all these, however, we need very strong support from our regulators and, of course, from the government,” he added.
Meralco has adopted grid-edge technologies such as micro-grid solutions, BESS, electric vehicle charging stations and solar rooftop installations. It is already implementing the Advance Distribution Management System (ADMS). It is also pursuing Advance Network Automation and Advance Metering Infrastructure and would soon implement the Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems.
“With a very clear government policy and very strong value propositions especially for a country that is badly affected by destructive typhoons every year, and for a country that is endowed with a lot of sun and wind resources that could replicate the conventional fossil-based power plants, I think that we are all going towards that direction of having a power grid that is reliable, secure, environmentally sustainable, and a grid that incorporates many customer-facing technologies,” said Aperocho.