First Gen Corp. is looking at investments of between $900 million and $1 billion for two more natural gas-fired power plants after it marked on Friday the official commercial run of its San Gabriel and Avion plants in Batangas City. | CNN Philippines

BATANGAS CITY -- First Gen Corp. is looking at investments of between $900 million and $1 billion for two more natural gas-fired power plants after it marked on Friday the official commercial run of its San Gabriel and Avion plants in Batangas City.

“These gas plants are perfectly suitable to support the increasing penetration of renewable energy sources as the cost of installation and operations continue to ride the cost curve reductions,” Francis Giles B. Puno, First Gen president and chief operating officer, said during the plants’ launch.

The 414-megawatt (MW) San Gabriel and and 97-MW Avion plants add to the company’s existing plants that run on natural gas. The first two are the 1,000-MW Santa Rita and the 500-MW San Lorenzo plants. All four plants are in First Gen’s Clean Energy Complex in Batangas, comprising roughly 60% of the country’s natural gas capacity.

Mr. Puno also said the company was firming up plans to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) regasification terminal within the same complex.

“We’re already starting the process of construction,” Mr. Puno said. “But the full contractor should be selected by the end of next year. So we will start that process early next year.”

He said that the partnership for the LNG facility would hopefully be concluded by mid-2017, adding they want to find a partner not only with capital but with ”very good experience to make sure that we develop a world-class LNG terminal here in Batangas City.”

“We need financing, but we hope that the financing will be committed by the end of next year,” he said. “The project cost is roughly about $1 billion.”

The company previously said that the planned two new plants -- Santa Maria and St. Joseph -- would each have a capacity of 414-MW. They are planned to be built right beside the San Gabriel plant.

Mr. Puno said unless there is an assurance that there is enough natural gas from the existing Malampaya supply then the Santa Maria plant could proceed ahead of the LNG facility.

“[The LNG facility] would take about four years to construct,” he said, adding that the proposed plants would cost “probably another $900 million to $1 billion.

“Construction for Santa Maria would take a little over two years because all the common facilities are there already.”

Mr. Puno placed the total investments for Avion at $150 million and for San Gabriel at $600 million. First Gen owns and operates both plants through two wholly owned subsidiaries -- First Natgas Power Corp. for San Gabriel, and Prime Meridian Powergen Corp. for Avion.

The new facilities bring First Gen’s portfolio of power plants to 21 with a total installed capacity of 3,470 MW.

“It’s critical that the country looks ahead and anticipates the trajectory of technology and other forces ultimately steering us toward a decarbonized world,” said Federico R. Lopez, First Gen chairman and chief executive officer.

First Gen tapped Siemens AG to build San Gabriel for the German company’s latest, highly flexible and 59%-efficient gas turbine technology, under the brand name “Flex-Plant.” It said San Gabriel marks the first time that Siemens has brought a flex-plant to the country. The technology helps enable a more stable and reliable grid amid increasing installations of intermittent energy.

“The clean and flexible characteristics of these power plants also make them ideal partners in the move towards a low carbon world by stabilizing the grid amid any concern on intermittency, particularly from renewable energy plants like wind and solar as we can easily ramp up to meet the energy demands when needed,” Mr. Puno said.

The San Gabriel plan can be turned on and off daily in time to serve the power requirements of schools, offices and commercial establishments. It can be online in 10 minutes and ramp up to full capacity in as quickly as 32 minutes. The plant has the ability of being a baseload power plant providing 24/7 service.

Avion is the first power plant in the Philippines to run on aircraft engines for land-based power generation application. The plant has the capability to run not only on natural gas but also on diesel. Its turbines can be online in seven minutes and can achieve full load in less than 20 minutes. It has the capability to do unlimited daily starts and stops to provide power that can stabilize the grid.

(Story Credit: BusinessWorld By Victor V. Saulon, Sub-Editor)



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