Speech by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at the Inauguration of San Miguel Global Power’s Battery Energy Storage System (BESS)

Speeches 31 March 2023

Thank you very much. [Please take your seats.]

Thank you very much, Energy Secretary Popo Lotilla. The Speaker of the House of Representatives who is here with us today, Speaker Martin Romualdez; he is joined by other members of the legislature who I saw during the ribbon-cutting, ayan si Cong. Garcia is here; and some – I saw a senator or two – ayan, ayun si Senator Raffy, kasama talaga natin ‘yan; and si Congressman Lord Velasco. They are – Senator Raffy and Cong. Lord are the Chairmen of the Energy Committee in their respective Houses.

Of course, the father of the Province of Bataan, Governor Jose Enrique Garcia; the proponent of this very forward-looking project of Battery Energy Storage, the President and CEO of San Miguel, our friend and long-time partner in development, Ramon Ang; my fellow workers in government; our partners from the private sector who are here today; other distinguished guests who have joined us for this occasion; ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

It is a great pleasure to also finally see what we have been talking about – the CEO of San Miguel Ramon Ang has been discussing this program with me for a very long time since we started talking about how to solve some of the problems that we are facing in terms of energy supply in the Philippines.

And I am very happy now that we are able to join you for the inauguration of the San Miguel’s Battery Energy Storage System here in Limay, Bataan.

I will not – it cannot be overstated and I want to highlight how greatly significant this project is for our country. It holds true as well for other projects of similar nature and purpose that are currently in the works across our archipelago.

The Government highly encourages and approves of all these projects. As we all know the problems that we have here in the Philippines in terms of energy supply, in terms of energy cost are one of the biggest obstacles when we talk to potential investors to come to the Philippines. This is a partial – will be part of the solution so that we can say that we are competitive now in terms of electricity rates and reliability and availability of power. They support and bear tremendous impact on our 8-point socio-economic agenda.

In my State of the Nation Address, I stressed the importance of increasing the use of renewable energy, which is why I am glad [that] we are making strides in this area.

But as much as we desire to rely on renewable energy, we know that the electricity generated from sources such as solar, wind, [and] water are sometimes can be considered intermittent. They cannot function continuously and perfectly, because of inherent factors and other circumstances beyond our control such as the wind blowing or the sun shining.

So introducing a storage component into the overall energy infrastructure provides the crucial support mechanism that shall optimize these resources, make them more efficient and reliable.

With this technology in place, storage of power is made possible. Power could be stored when not needed or in times of oversupply, and released whenever required or when there is undersupply.

I have a little experience because the first commercial wind farm in Southeast Asia was put up in Ilocos Norte when I was governor. And the analysis always of our wind farms is very simple, that we have at the time, we had to be able to make back the power supply from the months of October to March. Because if we do not make it back during that time, it is not a viable project. This was helped along by the provision of carbon credits that the WTO was providing for a while.

But however, the most important thing – the most important problem was that precisely the peak supply does not necessarily coincide with the peak load. And there was also the problem, very simple problem of how we can guarantee supply of the base load. And this is generally used by industrial plants and because the cost of power is lower, they run at night. Many of them run 24 hours a day. And so that was always a problem.

This is now the solution to that problem. And it doesn’t necessarily apply only to wind farms, it doesn’t necessarily apply to only solar, it applies to all kinds of power that we are able to use.

The strategy before I remember the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant – well, since a nuclear power plant cannot really be turned off and on very easily, we had to find a way to store the energy. And that was why Caliraya lakes [were] created. Those lakes were created as an energy storage system. When the load was low, we would pump water up the mountain and fill up the lake. And when we needed extra power, then we would use the full production of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant and added to that will be the hydroelectric power that we will use by releasing the water that we had pumped up to Sierra lakes.

However, unfortunately the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant was never in operation but you can see the advancements that we are – that we have now. That was a very – shall we say involved kind of energy storage system because it was at a very large scale. However, that now we no longer need to construct all of those facilities, we no longer need to put in that kind of infrastructure. All we need now are these battery farms that we are seeing today.

And that is why it is extremely encouraging for those of us who are always trying to find ways to: one, increase the supply of power; secondly, decrease the cost of power; and thirdly, improve the mix of traditional sources of power and renewable sources of power.

So these are the elements that are impacting the decisions that we make when we are trying to improve the systems that we have for power supply and for the cost of power.

Again, as I said, the BESS or the Battery Energy Storage System, certainly will form a very important part of that formula that will solve these problems that I had just gone through.

Because it is novel, it is innovative, it is full of promise this Battery Energy Storage System. This technology is carving a distinct path towards a more energy-secure and sustainable future for the country. It is clean, it is zero-emission, zero-water extraction, no noise pollution.

Given the increasing generation of renewable energy, it is vital then that we advance and incorporate Energy Storage Systems, or ESS, in our overall energy infrastructure.

Indeed, it promises great rewards for our country. Not only will we be able to generate sufficient, reliable and clean energy, leading to more affordability of energy, and of course, generate jobs for our people—”green jobs”—in the process. So that is a fulfillment of many of the wishes that we have for the power – for the energy system in the country.

This is the wave of the future that is already in fact here. It holds many of the keys to the survival and self-sufficiency of the country.

So let us give the recognition it deserves and encouragement from Government.

We congratulate our visionary private sector partners for embarking on these key big-ticket investments that help strengthen the foundations of our nation, and guarantee its security and self-sufficiency in the decades ahead.

San Miguel Corporation, at 130 years old, certainly shows no sign of aging or of laying low. Quite the contrary, they are as ever leaders in the various industries, the various sectors in which they are involved.

And for that reason, San Miguel remains competitive and vibrant as ever, still possessing that Midas touch in practically anything that it lays its hands on: from beverage, to food, to concrete structures, now, this time, to energy development. And I think your San Miguel CEO Ramon Ang deserves a round of applause [applause] for all of these innovations that he has introduced in the country.

So we will continue to be a partner with you – the Government and the Filipino people. As the immortal line goes: Iba na ‘yung may pinagsamahan. [laughter and applause]

You have other BESS projects in the pipeline, accounting for 95% of BOI-approved projects, with 2,000MW total capacity distributed across the country.

I and the rest of the Filipino people look forward to the roll-out of these projects in the near future.

Let us consider ourselves fortunate that we are here at the birth of this project at this late stage, as it goes online in the Grid and begins to serve the Filipino people.

But despite this, what this Administration can commit to is to guarantee all the support mechanisms to our investors, and to act as a genuine partner in a mutually beneficial relationship.

We will improve the policy and regulatory framework for the renewable energy (RE) industry, especially for the ESS technology, to encourage the further development of our fledgling renewables industry.

The Department of Energy is currently working on an improved and expanded version of our ESS policy.

Our legislation and the rules that we have have to catch up with the technology. Unfortunately, the general tendency is for government to be a little behind private sector in this regard. We will try to redress that balance.

We are also aiming to increase the share of renewables in our total generation mix, and we encourage those investments that will add to the renewable supply in our country.

We will streamline and harmonize the regulatory framework, at the national and local levels, to ensure ease of doing business, to take down unnecessary regulatory burdens, and this is all part of our agenda to improve bureaucratic efficiency and sound fiscal management for a much better, more streamlined, more efficient system.

All this with a view to further encourage and incentivize private sector and allow them reasonable returns on their investments.

With this mutually beneficial working relationship in the field of energy, we all function effectively towards attainment of our ambition of strongly rooted, comfortable, and secure lives for our citizenry, as well as a healthy and vibrant business continuity for both the government and the private sector.

So together, we will spur further advancements and reforms in our country. Soon, not only will the Philippines have attained energy security, but it will also gain the recognition and the respect of the world as an advocate of clean energy and other green and resource-efficient practices.

Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat at mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino! [applause] I congratulate San Miguel Corporation. All of those who have been involved in this project, the LGUs in Bataan. This is a very important day for us. We will be watching closely on how we can apply these technologies all around the country.

Maraming salamat po at maganda pong tanghali. [applause]

— END —

SOURCE: PCO-PND (Presidential News Desk)