Earlier this week, we hosted over 60 industry stakeholders at our Energy Industry Networking Meet-Up Session at Conrad Manila. The meet up was organised as a prelude to the annual Power & Electricity World Philippines and The Solar Show Philippines (24-25 May 2017 in Manila). This gathering brought together industry stakeholders from across the Philippine power and solar landscape to discuss the future of energy in the Philippines and offered a forum in which to share ideas on best practice and industry innovation.
We kick-started the session with our 2017 event launch where we shared our plans for the 2017 event, and then swiftly moved into 4 roundtable discussions covering Fuel Mix & Market Design, Renewable Energy, Solar and Investment & Financing, before ending the session with a time of networking and drinks.
Here’s a summary of the discussion:
Fuel Mix & Market Design Roundtable
- There is always a debate in the press and public discourse of which type of fuel source is better – it’s always this vs that, but the truth is that we do need to have the different fuel sources in the mix – each of them do different things and have their own places
- The WESM is coming around; Very often the policies here are dictated by difficult times. Right now we’re actually in good times, so it’s time to basically take a look at what we’ve done and see how it can work
- Another question raised was how much should the government be involved in suggesting what types of power incentives and where they should be located? Can the private sector drive development instead of blaming the government when things go wrong?
- In Indonesia, PPAs are frequently defaulted and they cannot do projects without full government guarantee, but this is not the case in the Philippines
- The market changes have a positive development and most people recognise this!
- Land seems to be the biggest issue in renewabale energy developments – there is restriction in converting agricultural land to industrial for building power plants
- More distributed generation will be possible as battery storage solutions are taking off and costs are coming down
- The next 10 years will be very exciting for the electric industry as renewable energy increases and distributed generation takes over
- The whole model is changing- there used to be 1000-2000MW generation and large transmission lines, but this isn’t the way it’s going to look in the future because people are going to put their own generation systems on their roofs!
- It will be quite a revolution in next 10 years – exciting times ahead!
- There’s lots of opportunity in solar in the Philippines – it’s more sun in the Philippines! However, there are many bottlenecks, including FITs and the moratorium of land conversion.
- Currently, there is 4400MW capacity approved for solar, 3000MW pending approval, and 500MW FIT capacity target waiting to be approved
- The major problem with FIT is the off-take price – how much should the PPA be, how much should it be in order to be viable, what can happen when we do spot market, and what will be commercially viable
- The application for permits proves to be challenging, with 6 rigorous rounds of consultations by government units in order to get the approval – a one stop shop for solar development should be created to minimise this
- Another issue which was mooted is the infrastructure on solar – how much needs to be paid for the right of way, how much should installation cost if the site is very far from the utility
- Lots of new solar innovations are taking off in the Philippines – floating solar which reduces land usage, hybrid solar, solar for integration, solar for transportation, community solar projects, and energy storage deployment – which makes things very exciting
- However, most agreed that the Philippines is not ready for thermal solar and CSP
Investment & Financing
- There is a consensus that there needs to be a clear cut direction from DOE on the fuel mix, and there needs to be a place for all types of fuel including oil and thermal projects; Currently there is uncertainty – FIT is a concern and coal is perceived as controversial now.
- The IFC is not very pleased to see 4000MW of coal on the piepline, however coal is needed as a baseload for the country and is not disappearing anytime soon unless other solutions become competitive
- Things need to be done in a competitive manner and we are reaching grid parity of resources in 2-3 years
- Philippines is a country which requires 700MW of new capacity every year at a growth rate of 5%, and this amounts to 1.3 billion in capital investment – while this is not a huge amount that can be comfortably raised in the Philippines itself as the players and banks in the Philippines are very liquid, however competition is always good for the industry
- Current regulations are not incentivising foreign investors to invest into renewable projects as there is a ownership restriction for these projects, and if this is relaxed then more large scale geothermal and hydro projects could potentially take off as they are constantly neglected by domestic investors
It was a fruitful afternoon gathering for participants and if you have missed this, join us at the next meet up in November. More details will be released nearer the date. If you would like to get involved, either in the meet up or the event itself, email email@example.com.