“Upgrading the Power Grid for Renewable Energy: Challenges and Solutions”

POWER FORUM The Manila Times forum titled ‘Environmental, economical generation’ gathered experts on Wednesday at the Century Park Sheraton: Manny Rubio, Aboitiz Power Corp. president and CEO (second, left), and Redi Allan Remoroza, NGCP assistant vice president. With them are Times President and COO Blanca Mercado, columnist Ben Kritz and The Manila Times TV Operations Manager Joanna Ang. PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIA
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One of the main reasons why upgrading the country’s power grid is crucial is the increasing demand for electricity. As the population continues to grow and industries expand, the need for a reliable and efficient power supply becomes more evident. The current power grid, which was designed to handle conventional energy sources such as coal and natural gas, is not equipped to handle the intermittent nature of renewable energy.

Renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, are dependent on natural elements that are not constant. The sun does not shine 24/7, and the wind does not blow consistently. Therefore, the power generated from these sources fluctuates, making it challenging to integrate them into the existing grid seamlessly.

Upgrading the power grid would involve implementing advanced technologies and infrastructure that can effectively manage the variability of renewable energy. This would include the installation of smart grids, which can monitor and control the flow of electricity in real-time. Smart grids utilize sensors and communication networks to gather data on electricity usage and production, allowing for better management of energy resources.

Furthermore, the upgrade would also require the development of energy storage systems. Energy storage is crucial for storing excess electricity generated during periods of high renewable energy production and releasing it during times of low production. This would help stabilize the grid and ensure a consistent power supply even when renewable energy sources are not actively generating electricity.

In addition to addressing the technical challenges, upgrading the power grid would also have significant economic and environmental benefits. By incorporating more renewable energy into the grid, the country can reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and decrease greenhouse gas emissions. This would contribute to the global efforts to mitigate climate change and promote sustainable development.

Moreover, the transition to a more advanced power grid would create new job opportunities and stimulate economic growth. The installation of smart grids and energy storage systems would require skilled workers and attract investments in the renewable energy sector. This would not only boost the country’s energy security but also contribute to the overall development of the economy.

In conclusion, upgrading the country’s power grid is a necessity in order to accommodate the increasing demand for electricity and integrate renewable energy sources effectively. It requires the implementation of advanced technologies, such as smart grids and energy storage systems, to manage the variability of renewable energy. The upgrade would not only bring economic and environmental benefits but also contribute to the country’s energy security and overall development.

Challenges in Integrating Renewable Energy

Integrating high levels of variable renewable energy poses challenges for grid operations due to its intermittent nature and voltage fluctuations. Redi Allan Remoroza, NGCP Assistant Vice President and Head of Transmission Planning, highlighted the requirements to address these challenges. Firstly, transmission expansions are needed in areas with RE resource potential. This involves building new transmission lines and upgrading existing infrastructure to ensure that the electricity generated from renewable sources can be efficiently transported to areas where it is needed. Additionally, the transmission system must be able to handle the increased capacity and variability of renewable energy sources.

Secondly, continuous enhancements in RE forecasting are necessary to better handle intermittency. Accurate forecasting of renewable energy generation is crucial for grid operators to effectively manage the integration of these variable energy sources. Advanced forecasting techniques, such as machine learning algorithms and weather modeling, can help improve the accuracy of predictions. By having a better understanding of when and how much renewable energy will be generated, grid operators can make more informed decisions about dispatching other power sources and managing grid stability.

Thirdly, flexible generators capable of adjusting to variations in solar and wind plant output are essential. While renewable energy sources like solar and wind are intermittent, there will still be times when they generate surplus power. Flexible generators, such as natural gas power plants, can ramp up or down their electricity production quickly to balance the grid when renewable energy generation fluctuates. These flexible generators act as a backup to ensure a reliable power supply, especially during periods of low renewable energy output.

Lastly, energy storage facilities, including large-scale pump storage for hydroelectric power plants, are crucial to ensure a stable and reliable power supply. Energy storage technologies allow excess renewable energy to be stored and used when demand is high or when renewable energy generation is low. Pumped storage hydroelectric plants, for example, store excess electricity by pumping water uphill during periods of low demand and release it through turbines to generate electricity during peak demand. By incorporating energy storage into the grid, renewable energy can be better integrated, and the variability of these energy sources can be mitigated.

In conclusion, integrating renewable energy into the grid presents several challenges that need to be addressed. Transmission expansions, continuous enhancements in RE forecasting, flexible generators, and energy storage facilities are all crucial components in ensuring a stable and reliable power supply from renewable sources. By overcoming these challenges, we can pave the way for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly energy future.

Expanding on the importance of transmission sector improvement, it is essential to recognize the significant role it plays in the overall energy landscape of a country. The transmission sector acts as the backbone of the power system, facilitating the efficient and reliable delivery of electricity from power generation sources to end consumers.

One of the key challenges faced by the transmission sector is the need for expansion and modernization to keep up with the growing demand for electricity. As the population increases and industries expand, the demand for power also rises. However, the growth of the transmission line network has not kept pace with this demand, resulting in potential bottlenecks and limitations in the transmission of electricity.

Chairman Dimalanta’s observation that the transmission line length has only grown by 8 percent from 2009 to 2023 highlights the urgency of addressing this issue. Without adequate transmission infrastructure, energy generators, particularly those in remote areas or regions with limited transmission capacity, face challenges in delivering their power to the grid. This can lead to inefficiencies, increased costs, and even curtailment of renewable energy generation.

In light of this, Remoroza’s proposal to expedite transmission projects for renewable energy (RE) is a crucial step towards overcoming the existing obstacles. Allowing the construction of transmission facilities before power plants are established in certain areas can help break the cycle of the “chicken-and-egg” problem. By doing so, transmission infrastructure will be in place to receive and distribute power from the RE plants, avoiding delays and ensuring a smoother transition to clean energy sources.

However, the success of this approach relies heavily on government support and cooperation. Right-of-way issues, which often cause significant delays and complications in transmission projects, need to be resolved promptly. The government’s role in approving transmission projects required by RE plants is also crucial in ensuring a timely and efficient implementation process.

Furthermore, expediting the release of necessary permits can significantly reduce the bureaucratic hurdles faced by transmission developers. Streamlining the permit process will not only accelerate project timelines but also provide a more conducive environment for private sector investments in the transmission sector.

In conclusion, improving the transmission sector is of utmost importance for the successful integration of renewable energy and the overall energy security of the country. By addressing the challenges faced by the transmission sector and implementing the proposed solutions, the Philippines can pave the way for a sustainable and resilient energy future.

Source: The Manila Times

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