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Transmission firm looking to establish smart power grid

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) is looking to update the country’s power infrastructure to a smart grid that will be more responsive to consumer needs.

  The State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), which has a 40% stake in NGCP, will be extending its technical expertise as party of long-term development plans for Philippines, a spokesperson told visiting mediamen.

The smart grid concept, NGCP spokesperson Cynthia D. Perez-Alabanza said, includes the use of digital devices, intelligent primary equipment and advanced applications for substation operations. It will also involve the modernization and expansion of existing systems.

NGCP’s P3.17-billion extra-high voltage substation in Antipolo, she said, will kick-start the implementation of the smart grid system in the Philippines.

“We have a pilot substation in Antipolo which we will commission soon. This will help us better integrate the systems and allow us to better synchronize intermittent renewable energy resources to the grid,” Ms. Perez-Alabanza said.

The facility, approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission last year, is being built in Barangay San Juan in Antipolo City and is slated to be operational in 2016.

It will initially house two 750-megavolt ampere (MVA) transformers, with the capability to accommodate additional ones. The project also involves the construction of two 500-kilovolt (kV) transmission lines to connect the facility to the San Jose substation in Bulacan and Tayabas substation in Quezon.

Besides serving as the “smart substation pilot,” Ms. Perez-Alabanza said the project would help avoid potential overloading at the San Juan substation, which carries the bulk of Metro Manila’s power load.

“With the establishment of Antipolo EHV substation, we can divert some of the load from San Jose substation thereby lowering its criticality level and vulnerability,” she said.

“It will give us operational flexibility that will allow us to maintain or shut down San Jose substation without affecting power delivery to and from Metro Manila.”

Ms. Perez-Alabanza explained that smart substations would “help us maximize the grid capability.”

“Apart from the physical technology, SGCC is also helping us … [so that] we can go about the transmission business in the most efficient manner…,” she added.

Most recently, the Chinese firm was said to have helped in the restoration of facilities downed by super-typhoon Yolanda, which battered parts of the central Philippines last November. NGCP said 566 transmission towers and poles, 19 transmission lines and seven substations were damaged by the storm, known internationally as Haiyan.

SGCC, in particular, was a major player in the restoration of the NGCP’s High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) facility.

“The facility augmented the power supply in Visayas while generators in the area were not yet online. The restoration of HVDC system saved time and reduced losses of disaster-affected areas both directly and indirectly,” Ms. Perez-Alabanza noted.

NGCP took over the country’s power transmission network in 2009, winning a 25-year concession the year before with a $3.95-billion bid for National Transmission Corp.’s assets. Along with China’s SGCC, NGCP’s other shareholders are One Taipan Holdings Corp. (30%) and Calaca High Power Corp. (30%).

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