Economy


Taiwan power firm wants to invest in microgrids for remote Philippine areas, considering Batanes




Posted on July 25, 2017


CONTROLNET International, Inc., which manages 80% of Taiwan’s power grid, has expressed interest to invest in the Philippines to create “hybrid microgrids” in order to provide stable and reliable electricity for remote areas, according to a company executive.

Controlnet International, Inc. is looking at Batanes as one of the provinces where the system could be deployed. -- THE PHILIPPINE STAR
“We are very interested in [investing in the Philippines] because we think we have a lot to offer the country,” Pawel Lisewski, international department executive at ControlNet, told the Philippine media at a briefing on July 19 at the company’s offices in Taipei.

Much like Taiwan, Mr. Lisewski said the Philippines also has a “couple of natural challenges...[which] make it difficult to keep power stable” and cited being part of the typhoon belt and the multitude of islands as some of the challenges.

He then introduced the concept of “hybrid microgrids” which can supply power to remote islands for 24 hours, efficiently and reliably.

A hybrid microgrid is an “independent power system... to provide dependable long-term energy supply that can drive an isolated island or a remote region to economic growth,” according to a company press release.

The hybrid solution has been applied in various remote locations in Taiwan such as the outlying Chimei island and the mountainous Fushan Ecological Zone in Kaohsiung in 2015.

“We can use [renewable energy sources like sun and wind] alongside other sources of energy,” Mr. Lisewski said adding anything that comes from agriculture likes coconut husks can turn into biomass which can then be turned to energy via gasification or heating up the material without combustion.

In this system, both renewables and non-renewables are hooked up to a single grid and are used interchangeably to provide electricity.

Mr. Lisewski said the hybrid solution will create a more stable system as the existence of other energy sources like diesel and biomass can take up the slack of renewable sources like solar and wind whose function depends on current environmental conditions and can be less reliable.

At the same time, the presence of renewables on the grid will lessen the reliance on non-renewable resources and lower electricity costs.

“With proper resources, we can offer them a cheaper source of power,” he explained.

In the Fushan Zone, where the company installed a hybrid microgrid after a storm took down power lines in 2015, Mr. Lisewski estimated the cost of putting up the grid at around eight million New Taiwan dollars but stressed that cost will vary by location.

And while the company is interested in bringing its expertise to the Philippines, Mr. Lisewski stressed that the “government needs to be interested” and there should be “willingness, regulation and financing,” for it to work.

He added the company is looking at Batanes as one of the provinces where the system could be deployed. -- Zsarlene B. Chua