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First Gen identifies areas for potential solar, wind farms development

Lopez-led renewable energy firm First Gen Corporation said Tuesday it has identified several areas surrounding its hydroelectric power plant complex in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija as potential sites for solar and wind farms development as well as battery energy storage system (BESS) projects.

In a news release, First Gen said developing additional renewable energy (RE) projects forms part of its program to grow its RE portfolio capacity to 9 gigawatts (GW) by year 2030.

"Sites under consideration in Pantabangan for wind projects satisfy several criteria, like acceptable wind speeds and proximity to transmission line substations; while locations under consideration for solar farms meet their own peculiar criteria, like high irradiance and a flat terrain, aside from proximity to transmission line substations," said First Gen vice president Ricky Carandang.

"The projects also will have no adverse impact on the environment but will instead complement the operations of First Gen's hydro plants in the area," said Carandang, adding that, "in the case of floating solar, they can even help preserve the water resource in the dam by slowing down the process of evaporation."

The company is studying areas for its solar, wind and BESS projects near the existing 132-megawatt (MW) Pantabangan-Masiway hydroelectric power plant and its newly acquired 165-MW Casecnan hydroelectric power plant.

First Gen said it has filed with the Department of Energy (DOE) the corresponding applications for renewable energy service contracts for the wind projects, while studies are ongoing to confirm the viability in the locations of both ground-mounted and floating solar farms and BESS projects.

Moreover, the RE firm is also set to develop a pumped-storage hydroelectric project at the Aya Dam located within the Pantabangan-Casecnan complex.

The company said the planned facility with an estimated cost of P6 billion is expected to generate between 100 to 120 MW of electricity.

Once all regulatory approvals are secured, First Gen said it will proceed with construction of the projects, which would take about 36 months to complete.

The Lopez-led RE company is eyeing to grow its total capacity to 13 GW in the next six years, of which 7.5 GW will come from new RE projects.

First Gen said its expansion program is in line with the government's plan of increasing RE's share in the country's power mix to 35% by year 2030. — VDV, GMA Integrated News