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Powering the Philippines: 5 Trends & Opportunities Shaping Energy Infrastructure Development

Ge Reports Staff
August 21, 2017
The recent Powering the Philippines event attracted some of the nation’s leading energy sector stakeholders, and policymakers to share new ideas and initiatives on how best to support plans to produce 43,765 megawatts (MW) of additional power by 2040.
While new infrastructure is essential, there was a lot of discussion and debate, on the best ways to maximise investment dollars and natural resources – here are 5 key takeaways from the “Power and Infrastructure” panel discussion:

1. Re-powering Old Infrastructure is as Important as Building New Plants and Facilities

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Mr. Frank Thiel, Managing Director, Quezon Power 

2. Coal Will Continue to Play a Key Role in Powering the Philippines

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Mr. Wouter Van Wersch, President & CEO, GE ASEAN

Coal use in the Philippines is predicted to rise over the next 20 years. Despite increasing advances in renewable technology and alternative fuel sources, coal still provides a low-cost fuel source which is likely to play a large part in meeting the future growth in energy demand in the country.

Given government emissions targets, however, coal must be utilised in the most efficient way possible, delivering low-cost power while also reducing environmental impact. Today’s most advanced coal plants are pushing towards 50% efficiency, and technology already in operation in the region offers efficiency rates as much as 10% higher than the global average.

3. Why the Philippines is Well Placed to Become a Regional LNG Hub 

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Mr. Giles Puno, President & COO of First Gen 

During his presentation, Alfonso Cusi, Secretary, Department of Energy (DOE), Philippines said the nation had the potential to become a regional hub for liquefied natural gas (LNG) and was evaluating a number of government-to-government (G2G) proposals to develop this opportunity.

The Philippines is well-located in Southeast Asia, to complement Japan and Singapore’s activities in the LNG sector. In addition, gas markets are presently trending down, while gas technologies are delivering enhanced efficiency, reliability and sustainability outcomes.

4. Solar energy distributed generation opportunity

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Mr. Mario Marasigan, Director IV – Renewable Energy Mgt. Bureau of Department of Energy

While the Philippines has been relatively slow in developing its renewable energy resources, new technologies producing enhanced capacity, storage, and affordability outcomes are poised to transform the sector.

This is especially true for solar power players seeking distributed generation opportunities in the country. The Philippines today, has an 87.5 percent electrification rate as many households living in the country’s more than 7,000 islands are off-grid and rely on expensive diesel fired power generation.

5. New pipeline of talent is needed

New technologies must be supported by a workforce that is equipped with new skills and a digital mindset. There is a perception that the energy industry has an aging workforce, and encouraging and supporting growth of skills in younger workers will be crucial. Digital technologies not only offer the ability to upgrade infrastructure, but also the potential to encourage and nurture growth in a younger workforce.
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