THE National Power Corp. (Napocor) said it expects the unit which provides power to off-grid areas to switch over completely to renewables by 2028. 

Fernando Martin Y. Roxas, Napocor president, said on the sidelines of briefing that the company is seeking to make its Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG) fully renewable by 2028.

“By the time this admin steps down by 2028,” Mr. Roxas said when asked for a timeline.

Napocor’s SPUG currently operates 281 power plants, mostly powered by diesel. To date, only 2% of SPUG plants are powered by renewable energy (RE).

“We are looking at alternatives. Right now technologies are (mature),” he said.

Last week, Napocor announced a partnership with the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry to study the feasibility of green hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in off-grid areas.

Mr. Roxas said Napocor intends to “hybridize” at least 25% of its diesel generating sets before converting the remaining 75% to biofuels like hydrogen.

He said moving away from diesel units is not feasible at the moment.

“But we can minimize them. We are looking to convert the first 25% into renewables then later on once we achieve that our plan is to convert the remaining 75% using biofuels,” Mr. Roxas said.

He said small islands should be fully powered by renewables to be attractive to tourists.

“Tourists don’t like diesel, so we want to improve their perceptions. At the same time, we can make it sustainable by asking RE providers to link it to a livelihood component,” Mr. Roxas said.

Mr. Roxas said that Napocor is in talks with potential partners to hybridize SPUG.

“I talked to about 18 developers; out of 18 only two have said that they are not interested. Majority of them, maybe 90% of them are local but we are talking about the biggest (companies),” he said.

Mr. Roxas said off-grid areas are also ideal locations for nuclear plants.

“You just have to be selective where to put it because the problem is, even in the main grids, while you are putting more solar and wind the variability of your power supply increases. Nuclear can control the cost, it is a possible replacement for coal plants,” he said. 

“For off-grid… plants of between 30 megawatts (MW) and 50 MW, (ideal locations would be) Palawan, Mindoro and Basilan,” he said. — Ashley Erika O. Jose