Prime Infra unit plans world’s largest solar farm

PIXABAY

RAZON-LED Prime Infrastructure Holdings, Inc. (Prime Infra) plans to build what it claims to be the world’s largest solar power facility with a capacity of up 3,500 megawatts (MW) plus a battery energy storage system that can hold up to 4,500 MW hours.

“Prime Infra finds a sweet spot to pursue solar as we take advantage of the steep decline in installation costs over the past decade and the improved battery energy storage system technology that allows us to build an economically critical and socially relevant infrastructure at a scale the world has never seen before,” said Guillaume Lucci, president and chief executive officer of Prime Infra, in a media release on Wednesday.

Prime Infra said the project is to be led by Terra Solar Philippines, Inc., which is a unit Terra Renewables Holdings, Inc., the renewable energy subsidiary of Enrique K. Razon, Jr.’s infrastructure firm that partnered with Solar Philippines Power Project Holdings, Inc.

Terra Solar will supply 850 MW to Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) from power generated by the proposed facility.

Terra Solar late last year submitted an unsolicited offer to supply Meralco’s supply requirements, for which the distribution utility sought challengers through a competitive selection process. Two entities challenged the bid but failed to submit, paving the way for the forging of a power supply agreement with Meralco.

Earlier this year, Meralco said that the competitive bidding was in compliance with the Department of Energy’s policy on renewable portfolio standards (RPS). It said the power supply forms part of its efforts to source up to 1,500 MW of renewable energy (RE).

The RPS program requires power distribution utilities, including electric cooperatives and retail electricity suppliers, to source or produce a fraction of their requirements from eligible RE resources.

Mr. Lucci said the “record-breaking” project highlights solar power’s contribution to boost the country’s energy security, adding that “solar, which is normally looked at for peaking, is now being made available by Terra Solar to answer Meralco’s mid-merit requirement, thereby addressing both the need for additional capacity and compliance with RPS.”

Mid-merit power plants operate to fill the gap between baseload generation capacity and peak generation capacity.

Prime Infra described the project as “a model of dependable renewable energy, which represents a stable price not subject to fuel imports volatility for the rest of its 20-year contract.”

It cited Terra Solar’s projection that the 850-MW supply can displace a yearly usage of around 1.4 million tons of coal or 930,000 liters of oil.

“This means reduction in both greenhouse gas emissions and import dependency for the country from 2026 to 2046,” it added.

The company said that of the power supply contracted with Meralco, 600 MW will be available by 2026, while 250 MW more will be delivered in 2027. Meralco previously said that the mid-merit power it bid out was for 20 years.

Prime Infra did not say where the facility will be built, but Meralco earlier said that Terra Solar had proposed its solar power plants with an energy storage system in Batangas, Cavite, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, and Zambales.

Meralco’s controlling stakeholder, Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc., is partly owned by PLDT, Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Victor V. Saulon

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