Electric coops urged to capitalize hybrid technology

Erwin P. Nicavera

AN OFFICIAL of the Department of Energy (DOE) has urged electric cooperatives in Negros Occidental to capitalize on hybrid technology as the government steps up its efforts to increase the utilization of renewable energy (RE).

Lawyer Jose Layug, chair of the National Renewable Energy Board, said they are pushing for a renewable portfolio standards (RPS) that will direct electric cooperatives to put in their profile RE power plants.

Layug said that under the RPS, which will be endorsed soon to the DOE, power distribution utilities are mandated to start signing up with green generation firms.

“Is it doable or economically feasible? That is the challenge now, because hybrid technology like battery storage is still a little bit expensive by this time. But in the years to come, we expect it to be very competitive,” Layug said.

The Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco), catering to most number of electric consumers in the province, earlier said it is considering the use of hybrid power system for its plan to contract power supply with firms producing renewable energy, mainly solar, for its future requirements.

Under which, possible solar power generation gap can be backed-up or supplemented by the electricity stored using battery or those from non-renewable energy generation resources.

Roy Cordova, Ceneco president, said that the move is in support to the government’s green economic development initiatives while taking advantage of the abundant sources of renewable energy especially solar in the province.

Aside from solar, Ceneco is also considering biomass energy given that Negros has potential sources of bagasse, Cordova added.

Under the National Energy Program, the government has a target of 35 percent RE use by 2030.

Through the Negros Renewable Energy Roadmap being crafted by the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental along with various industry stakeholders, Negros Island Region is positioned to be the first entirely “green” region by 2030.

Layug said the government is pushing for more utilization of RE systems which produce power that are cheaper than other conventional resources.

“We don’t have to worry about importing coal or oil because once we use our own resources whether its solar, wind or water then we don’t have a problem on security of supply,” Layug added.

The DOE official said the private sector has enough capital and any project that involves power has enough economics to make it viable.

Thus, Layug added, they do not need much of subsidies from the government, which for its part will ensure the implementation of all necessary policies.