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ABB contributes to Philippines power company SMC’s 1,000MW battery project pipeline

By Andy Colthorpe
1.8MW / 1.5MWh Tesla BESS at a microgrid in the Philippines from local developer Solar Philippines, photographed in 2018, the same year SMC commissioned the country’s first 10MW grid-scale project. Image: Tom Kenning / Solar Media.

ABB will add at least 80MW of battery storage to Philippines energy company SMC Global Power Holdings’ planned US$1 billion portfolio in the country.

SMC Global Power Holdings is building 1,000MW of battery storage across 31 sites in the Philippines, for parent company San Miguel Corporation. The first company to build a battery storage system in the Philippines in 2018, SMC said in April that the billion dollars of builds are happening “simultaneously”. The aim is to improve power quality throughout the Philippines and enable the integration of renewable energy into the largely fossil fuel dependent country’s energy mix.

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European power electronics and automation company ABB said in a press release this week that it will commission two 20MW systems and one 40MW system for SMC during this year and further systems next year, while it has already delivered systems of unspecified size and capacity to two of the Philippines islands, Luzon and Visayas.

ABB said that for those projects it delivered pre-packaged battery energy storage system (BESS) solutions, with the equipment fully integrated and pre-tested before being sent to the site, which the company claimed sped up the installation process and reduced site works and costs. The systems run on ABB’s proprietary controls software, called Ability Zenon, which allows system operators to make real-time decisions on operation.

The news comes just a few days after another Europe-headquartered energy storage technology company, Wärtsilä, said it has commissioned two BESS projects totalling 60MW / 60MWh for SMC, as part of a 100MW contract with the power generation company.

Wärtsilä’s director of energy business for the Australasia region Kari Pukonnen told today that his company believes the Philippines will rapidly grow into a “full-size market” for energy storage and that the wider Southeast Asia region offers great market potential for clean energy and smart infrastructure solutions.

“Our ongoing investment into battery energy storage facilities will greatly benefit power consumers all over the country, because this will mean that even faraway provinces or areas, can have the same stable and good quality power supply as everywhere else,” SMC president Ramon S. Ang said in April as the company’s strategy was announced.

“This means that provinces and islands will have better and more equal opportunities for industrialisation and economic growth. If previously some areas could not attract investments because of unstable or poor power supply, battery energy storage will make power supply more stable and reliable. Battery storage will significantly reduce imbalances in the grid that cause power interruptions and brownouts.”

SMC’s battery projects will be used to help maintain stability on the country’s grid network through ancillary services like frequency response and voltage support, with potential in the future to expand the use cases into more direct support for renewables integration.

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