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| Staff Reporter, Philippines
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Asian Power Utility Forum 2018 kicks off in Manila

The forum focused on the emergence of battery storage and renewables, and the digitalisation of the energy sector.

The first leg of 2018 Asian Power Utility Forum kicked off at Makati Shangri-La on 27 February.

The event was graced by more than 60 business leaders and decision makers from different energy companies across the Philippines.

Sarah Fairhurst, partner at The Lantau Group, opened the event with a talk about the emergence of battery storage. She noted that the right commercial and regulatory mechanisms need to be put in place in order to capture the real value of battery storage technologies

Jeff Miller, country manager of OWL, discussed hybrid power plants for small island base load supply. Hybrid power plants are most feasible in the provinces where multiple source of electricity is better than just having one. Miller said the use of hybrid power plants will help firms save diesel fuel and limit the run time of diesel generators.

Helena Tolentino, vice president for corporate social responsibility of Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corporation, talked about their efforts in implementing solar energy systems as the main power source for their CSR projects in provinces in the Philippines especially those that were critically hit by typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

Meanwhile, Frank Thiel, managing director of Quezon Power, and Bill Ruccius, executive vice chairman, treasurer of Independent Power Producers Forum shed light about the importance of battery storage technologies in the renewable market and the impact of solar energy growth to non-renewable traditional players.

Jaime Azurin, president of Global Business Power Corporation, talked about the sustainable approach to development in connection to UNDP Sustainable Development Goals. He explained sustainable development in the energy sector is possible through finding the right balance in the energy mix, promoting a healthy regulatory environment, improving energy efficiency, and continuously leverage technology to improve the sector.

Leandro Leviste, founder and CEO of Solar Philippines, discussed about the solar-storage revolution in the Philippines. He noted the biggest challenge that solar energy firms are facing today is the lack of competition in the market. He added the feasibility of solar energy and storage is only a question of cost and not capability.

Gavin Barfield, chief technology advisor at Meralco, shed light on the digitalisation in the energy sector. He said 3rd platform technologies – such as cloud computing, big data, mobile, and social networks – are already a thing of the past thus energy firms must prepare for new technologies that could disrupt the sector. These technologies include blockchain, Internet of Things, edge computing, virtual and augmented reality, bots, and artificial intelligence.

Attorney Jose Layug Jr., chairman of the National Renewable Energy Board, presented the revised National Renewable Energy Programme.

The last panel discussion, which was participated by Miller, Barfield, and Celine Paton, manager at The Lantau Group, revolved around the digitalisation in the energy sector. The discussion focused on smart meters and prepaid electricity service of Meralco.

Furthermore, Paton highlighted that more flexible systems are needed to easily adopt new technologies.

The 2018 Asian Power Utility Forum will also be held in Jakarta (March 20), and Kuala Lumpur (April 24).

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