• H&WB, Sabella investors await business models on tidal power project

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    PHILIPPINE firm H&WB Asia Pacific Corp. and Sabella SAS of France, a global leader in the marine energy industry, have firmed up a partnership to build the first tidal energy project in the country.

    “The partnership we have is a joint development with Sabella. The San Bernardino Ocean Power Co. is 60 percent owned by H&WB, a Filipino company, then 40 percent by Sabella,” H&WB General Manager Kit Buenaventura said in a briefing on Thursday.

    “We intend to fund the project on a 30-percent equity and 70-percent debt [basis]. Right now, we are reaching out to financial institutions and in talks on how they could come either on equity or debt,” Buenaventura said.

    “Meantime, they are waiting for us to give them our financial model, which we are working on right now,” he added.

    The undertaking has an estimated cost of $25 million for the entire project, which includes three turbines, plus the transmission and the storage systems.

    Before the project can be pursued, however, it needs a power supply agreement (PSA) so that it can get financing from the banks.

    “They [banks]require PSAs so we are now in talks with Norsamelco, the distribution utility of Capul, Northern Samar Electric Co. We are currently in initial talks for a PSA soon,” Buenventura said.

    “Right now, we are thinking of three turbines at 500 kW (kilowatts) each. That should be able to give lighting and electricity needs to Capul 24/7. It used to be a 4.5-MW (megawatt) project, but we scaled it down to 1.5 MW with storage,” he said.

    “We scaled it down in order to better suit the local consumption of Capul Island. Right now, they only have 250-kW of generator sets, so we know for sure that by improving the electrification there and making it 24/7 instead of 16 hours a day, it would increase consumption, but not in the level of 3 MW,” he explained. “So, we are rating the project at 1.5 MW.”

    “In the coming years, with the development of, let’s say, ice factories for fishermen, better equipment for medical centers and so on, we will be able to upgrade the rated power of the turbine just by changing the equipment on the shore without retrieving the turbine,” Buenaventura added.

    H&WB had earlier performed ocean resource assessment, and preliminary in situ current measurements to determine the overall energy potential of San Bernardino Strait between Matnog in Sorsogon and Northern Samar.

    Moreover, it carried out a thorough review and analysis of proven Tidal In-Stream Energy Conversion (TISEC) technologies. The evaluation process led to the firm selection of Sabella as the technology-of-choice on TISEC.
    On October 15, 2015, H&WB and Sabella signed an exclusive Memorandum of Agreement to jointly develop and implement a “demonstration project” in viable blocks of San Bernardino Strait that lead to commerciality.

    Sabella is a pioneering and leading player in the TISEC energy field. It was originally acclaimed in 2008 for its D03 (3-m rotor diameter), the first experimental marine current turbine installed in France. In June 2015, the D10 (10-m rotor diameter with 1 MW maximum power) was submerged in Passage du Fromveur, and in November 2015 was connected to Ushant, an autonomous island grid akin to SPUG. It remains the first full-scale TISEC connected to the French grid in the region of Brittany.

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