By Ronnel W. Domingo | Inquirer

 

Manila Electric Co. is readying a 1,000-megawatt pipeline of renewable energy projects over the next five to seven years, according to its newly installed president, Ray C. Espinosa.

Espinosa said the electricity distribution giant was “joining the inexorable shift to renewable energy and the adoption of sustainable practices” even as it continued to push for “clean coal” for its array of baseload power plants.

“Meralco is committed to developing large-scale renewable energy projects that can deliver competitive electricity for our customers, without any requirement for subsidy or support, while keeping environmental stewardship and sustainability as top priorities in our business,” Espinosa said.

In light of this, Meralco has established a new subsidiary, MGEN Renewable Energy Inc. or MGreen, to serve as the platform for “the strategic push” to develop renewables—mainly solar photovoltaic, wind and run-of-river hydro power.

MGreen is a wholly owned subsidiary of Meralco PowerGen Corp., Meralco’s power generation arm.

“We are working on several renewable energy prospects and we recognize the significant reduction in the development cost, particularly for large-scale solar and wind over the past years,” MGen president and chief executive Rogelio L. Singson said.

“Notwithstanding the ongoing requirement for new reliable baseload generation to support the fast-growing Philippine economy, we believe that the time is right to focus on building our green energy capacity and we intend to be a key player in this expanding sector,” Singson said.

He said MGreen’s plans were aligned with MGen’s growth aspirations, which—aside from the new focus on renewables—continued to push for the use of high-efficiency, low-emission (HELE) technology for baseload power plants or facilities that run round the clock.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), worldwide investments in coal-based power generation fell to the lowest level in 14 years, but the number of such generators continued to increase particularly in Southeast Asia.

The IEA said this happened amid a drive to meet soaring demand for electricity and an anticipated leveling off of power generation from low-carbon technologies like renewable energy platforms as well as nuclear power.

Citing findings of its World Energy Investment 2019 report, the Paris-based agency said global outlay in the power sector decreased by 1 percent to “just over $775 billion” in 2018.

For coal-fired power alone, investments went down by “nearly 3 percent” to less than $60 billion, the lowest since 2004.

This was attributed mainly due to lower spending in China and India.

“Nevertheless, the global coal power fleet continued to grow, due to net additions in developing Asian countries,” the IEA said.