Off-grid PH areas can benefit from ‘hybrid microgrids’, says Taiwan power firm

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The Philippines is met with many power challenges despite its abundant supply of immediate and natural energy resources. Power players have studied that much of these are lagged due to the island-rich archipelago being situated in the typhoon belt.

The country bears no difference with Taiwan, which can be found in the far north near Batanes in Luzon. But the tiny East Asian state uses an independent power solution called “hybrid microgrids” that supply dependable power to isolated areas for 24 hours.

Taiwanese company ControlNet International, Inc., who introduced the concept of the microgrid type, said that the Philippines can apply the hybrid solution to its remote islands as well as to drive similar regions to economic growth, BusinessWorld reports.

“We can use [renewable sources like sun and wind] alongside other sources of energy,” Internation Department Executive at ControlNet Pawel Lisewski said, who spoke with the Philippine press in the company’s offices in Taipei last July 19. He added that agricultural materials such as coconut husks can be converted to biomass energy via gasification.

Gasification is the process of heating up a material at high temperatures without combustion. It is usually achieved with a controlled amount of steam or oxygen.

Lisewski likened Taiwan’s power irregularities in its far-flung islands to the Philippines’, saying it “has a couple of natural challenges [which] makes it difficult to keep power stable.”

Since 2015, Taiwan’s hybrid microgrid utilities have been applied in the outer Chimei Island of Penghu and the populous Fushan Village in Kaohsiung City, to which both are located along the Taiwan Strait connecting to Mainland China.

According to Lisewski, the hybrid solution is a good system especially for energy sources such as diesel and biomass since it can create a more stable power supply unlike solar and wind, whose intermittent capacity is erratic due to environmental conditions.

In line with this, reliance on renewable energy on the grid can also be decreased and may even cheapen electricity costs. “With proper resources, we can offer them a cheaper source of power,” he said, citing renewables and non-renewables can be used interchangeably since both are generally linked to a single transmission grid.

ControlNet has expressed its interest in bringing its expertise to the Philippines, specifically in Batanes, as long as the government is willing to enter into such investments with a guaranteed “willingness, regulation, and financing.”