Negros Occidental, the Renewable Energy Capital of the Philippines

Renewable energy sources are abundant anywhere in the Philippines because of our geographic location. However, it’s a pity that we are not using our resources for our own benefit. When it comes to fuel and energy, we are very dependent to the petroleum industry which is a fossil fuel. Once used up, it would take millions of years to replenish. In contrast, renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower are constantly replenished thereby making them sustainable.

Fortunately for Negros Occidental, a green revolution is slowly taking place. Various forms of renewable energy sources are either currently being used or already in the pipeline for development, making Negros Occidental the Renewable Energy Capital of the Philippines. Below are the list of renewable energy being harnessed as fuel and energy to supply power to the local grid.

Renewable Energy #1: Bioethanol

Right at the center of this green revolution is San Carlos City, where the first sugarcane to ethanol plant not only Philippines but in Southeast Asia started operation in 2009.  As the sugar capital of the Philippines, Negros Occidental is the best location for the country’s first ethanol plant which uses sugarcane as feedstock. The plant which is owned by San Carlos Bioenergy has the capacity to crush 1,500 tons per day of sugarcane to produce 125,000 liters per day of bioethanol. The plant is also a cogeneration plant producing 8MW of power from bagasse, the sugarcane waste after juice extraction, which it uses to run the plant and supply around 2.4MW to the power grid.

san carlos bioethanol renewable energy
San Carlos Bioethanol Plant with Sipaway Island at the background. (Photo by SSC Bacolodchamp)

During Typhoon Yolanda, the power lines of VRESCO were damaged causing power outage in the Northern part of the province without electricity and intermittent power supply to the rest of the province. In coordination with the local government of San Carlos City, San Carlos Bioenergy was able to supply the city with 1,5 to 1,7 MW of electricity for one week.

Renewable Energy #2: Solar Energy

The San Carlos Solar Energy (SACASOL) Project will be the largest commercial solar farm in the Philippines once it will operate in April 2014. The 35-hectare solar farm is located at the  San Carlos Ecozone and expected to generate 22 megawatts of electricity using sunlight. SACASOL is a joint venture of Thomas Lloyd Group and Bronzeoak at a total cost of approximately $45 million.

san carlos solar farm
San Carlos Solar Farm (Photo from SACASOL)

According to a 2000 study of National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the geographical location of San Carlos City is ideal for a solar farm. Being in the eastern coast of Negros Island and the presence of mountain ranges in the center of the island makes San Carlos City drier and exposed to more sunshine compared to the western and northern part of the island. Based on the same study, Negros Island is considered to be one of the best locations for a solar farm in the Philippines with average of 5.0-5.5 kwh/m2/day of power can be generated.

Watch the interview of Interaksyon with SACASOL and San Carlos Bioenergy below.

Solar Power Projects in the Pipeline

As of January 31, 2014 report of approved and pending projects by the Department of Energy (DOE), the agency has also approved the solar projects below.

City/Municipality Project Name Company Name Potential Capacity
(MW)
E. B. Magalona E. B. Magalona Solar Power Project Youil Renewable Energy Corp. 30
Cadiz City Negros Occidental Solar Power Project Phil-Power Exploration & Dev. Corp. 50

There are pending applications from Green Innovation, Exploration and Resources Inc. to develop the Pulupandan Solar Power Project and Valladolid Solar Power Project.

Renewable Energy #3: Biomass Energy

Unlike most biomass projects in Negros Occidental, the biomass project in San Carlos City is a greenfield, stand alone power plant with a generation capacity of 18MW supplying baseload power to the local grid. The project in San Carlos City is located at a 20 hectare site inside the San Carlos Economic Zone undertaken by San Carlos Biopower  at a cost of P35 billion.

san carlos biomass renewable energy
Bagasse is the waste after sugarcane juice extraction (Photo from San Carlos BioPower)

The biomass facility will use agricultural wastes such as sugarcane trash, coconut husks and shells, woods, grasses and other energy crops from dedicated plantations as feedstock.  The farmers will now have additional income from their agricultural wastes. Once operational in 2015, San Carlos City will be the the first renewable energy integrated zone in the Philippines.

Aside from biomass in San Carlos City, the Universal Robina Corp. will also build a biomass fired boiler that will generate 46 MW of power at its URC subsidiary Southern Negros Development Corp. (SONEDCO) plant in Kabankalan City. The plant is estimated to cost P2.5 billion, and will be operational in December 2014, using bagasse.

southern negros development
URC-SONEDCO sugar mill at Kabankalan City which will be developing a bagasse-fired cogeneration plant. (Photo by SSC Bacolodchamp)

In addition, Green Power Negros is also another company developing a 35 MW biomass power plant to be located in Sagay City.

Existing Biomass Cogeneration Plant

With a lot of bagasse by-product from the sugar industry, several sugar centrals have already invested in a cogeneration plant for its own use. The following are some of the sugar centrals with existing cogeneration facility.

City/Municipality Project Name Company Name Installed Capacity
(MW)
Silay City 8.0 MW HPCo Bagasse Cogeneration Plant Hawaiian Philippine Company 8
Talisay City 21 MW FFHC Bagasse Cogeneration System First Farmers Holding Corp. 21
Victorias City 18 MW VMCI Bagasse-Fired Cogeneration Plant Victorias Milling Company Inc. 18

As of 31 January 2014 report of the DOE, the HPCo Bagasse Cogeneration Plant is generating a total 5 MW. Sub-station and transmission lines are currently undergoing construction so that the plant will be able to export 3 MW to the local grid. On the other hand, Victorias Milling is operating its cogeneration plant for its own use.

Renewable Energy #4: Wind Energy

A wind farm will soon to rise in Pulupandan to be developed by 100 percent Filipino-owned FirstMaxpower International Corporation. Based on the list of wind energy projects approved by DOE, the Pulupandan Wind Power Project will have a potential  capacity of 15MW and not 50MW as reported in the news .  The company aims to start commercial operation of the Pulupandan Wind Power Project in the second half of 2015. The estimated cost of the project is $122 million but financial  negotiation is still  ongoing.

There’s also another wind power project in the pipeline in San Carlos City with pending application with the DOE for Bonzeoak Philippines, the same company that developed the bioethanol, solar and biomass projects in San Carlos City. Although there was no additional information from the DOE website, this could be the San Carlos North East Wind joint project with ThomasLloyd Group.  This project is expected to produce 60MW and is expected to start construction in the fourth quarter of 2014 and to be operational by first quarter 02 2016.

Renewable Energy #5: Hydropower

Hydropower plant projects in Negros Occidental will mostly harness the power of major river systems such as Bago, Hilabangan, Himogaan, Malogo and others.

Below are the approved hydropower projects in Negros Occidental by the DOE as of 31 January 2014.

City/Municipality Project Name Company Name Potential Capacity
(MW)
Salvador Benedicto Bago2 Alsons Energy Development Corporation 10
Kabankalan Hilabangan Hydroelectric Power Project (Lower Cascade) Century Peak Energy Corporation 3
Hilabangan Hydroelectric Power Project (Upper Cascade) Century Peak Energy Corporation 4.8
Sagay Lower Himogaan Hydroelectric Power Project LGU of Sagay 4
San Carlos City Bago 1 Alsons Energy Development Corporation 4
San Carlos City Bago-Prosperidad 2 Good Friends Hydro Power Resources Corporation 2
Initihan Good Friends Hydro Power Resources Corporation 3
Silay Malogo Hydroelectric Power Project ViVant Corporation 6
Silay & E. B. Magalona Malogo 3 ViVant Corporation 2
Victorias & Cadiz Malogo 2 ViVant Corporation 5

The following projects have pending Hydropower applications with DOE

City/Municipality Project Name Company Name Potential Capacity
(MW)
Murcia Puntian 1 Basic Energy Corporation 2
Murcia Puntian 2 Basic Energy Corporation 2
Bago City Bago 4 Alsons Energy Development Corporation 11

Renewable Energy #6: Geothermal Energy

Philippines is the world’s second largest producer of Geothermal Energy next to the United States producing a total of 1969.7 MW of power. Negros Island is one of the six geothermal fields of the country. In Negros Oriental, the Palinpinon Geothermal Power Plant has the capacity to produce 192.5 MW of power which supply about 30 percent of the total power consumed in the Cebu-Panay-Negros power grid.

Unfortunately, the Northern Negros Geothermal Power Plant in Mailum, Bago City failed to generate the 49 MW capacity and was eventually dismantled. The plant owned by Energy Development Corporation (EDC) only generated 8MW from its P8 Billion facility and also started to encroach into the Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park which is a protected area.

Hopefully this will not happen to the DOE-approved Mandalagan Geothermal Power Project of EDC which has a potential capacity to generate 20MW or power.

Renewable energy is just gaining traction because of the feed-in-tariff  which attracts investors to invest in renewable energy. For Negros Occidental, renewable energy has a lot of potential considering the geographical properties of Negros Island. Renewable energy initiatives also offers an alternative use for the sugarcane and its wastes which is expected to be affected by the 2015 ASEAN  market integration. These projects mean hundreds of jobs for the Negrenses from construction until operation of the plants.

The future of renewable energy in Negros Occidental is definitely looking bright.

Negros Occidental, the Renewable Energy Capital of the Philippines by

Comments

  1. Ricky Leiderman says

    I looked into solar for my house but the cost is astronomical here. It would take more then 30 years to pay for itself.

    • says

      I also asked around. Somebody gave me a quote of P22,000 for 100 Watts solar panel excluding installation fees. That’s just enough for LED lights, electric fan, LED TV. If you want your ref to run on solar, it will cost 200K. We can’t afford that.

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