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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kepco to use ‘smart grid’ in RP

THE LOCAL SUBSIDIARY OF SOUTH Korea-based firm Korea Electric Power Corp. (Kepco) yesterday revealed it was eyeing to use the so-called “smart grid” technology in the Philippines, through its planned renewable energy projects.

Smart grid refers to the incorporation of information technology into an existing power network, making a two-way information exchange between suppliers and consumers possible.

With this setup, electricity from suppliers is delivered to consumers using digital technology to save on energy, reduce cost and increase reliability and transparency. Energy usage can also be monitored more efficiently through the smart grid.

“It can predict mechanical and technical problems even before they occur, thus preventing large-scale power outages. More importantly, it allows renewable energy sources to be integrated into the existing network, therefore contributing to greenhouse gas emissions reduction,” Kepco Philippines said in a statement.

According to Kepco Philippines, it targets to incorporate the smart grid technology into its planned wind and hydro power projects, backed by its parent firm’s know-how.

Its parent firm had been tapped at the G8 Summit’s Major Economies Forum (MEF) on Energy and Climate, to spearhead the research, development and commercialization of smart grid technology, which has been named as one of the seven technologies that may “help change the world.”

The sole provider of electricity in Korea, Kepco is set to pilot a smart grid project city in Jeju Island by 2011. The company targets to complete the consumer-side smart grid by 2020, and implement this in the whole South Korea by 2030.

The Korean firm is also expected to prepare a detailed map of its smart grid, and a plan on how to develop the technology, which will be submitted to the MEF in November this year.

Kepco Philippines plans to give the Philippine public a glimpse of how a smart grid works as it showcases the technology at the PowerTrends 2009 Exhibit on Sept. 9 to 11.

Locally, the Manila Electric Co., the country’s biggest power distributor, has already been planning to implement smart grid technology once the necessary infrastructure has been set in place.

In an earlier interview, Martin Lopez, vice president and chief information officer of Meralco, said the utility will pilot test its broadband over power lines (BPL) project within the year. The BPL project is part of the company’s bigger smart grid project.

“BPL is just a means, a subset of the whole project,” he earlier said.

He explained that the smart grid technology would allow utilities like Meralco to be able to remotely monitor all the facilities on the field and check transformers and transmission lines, with the use of power lines as means of communication.

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