THE two units of the Ilijan combined cycle power plant in Batangas will run alternately during the Malampaya shutdown in March to ensure enough power supply during the crucial summer season, the Department of Energy (DOE) said.
Energy Undersecretary Zenaida Monsada said the move will ensure adequate power supply even during the Malampaya gas field’s scheduled shutdown for 30 days.
The Ilijan power plant has two 600-MW units that run on natural gas from the Malampaya gas field. The plant usually shifts to diesel when gas is not available.
Given the scheduled shutdown of Malampaya from March 15 to April 14 next year, the power facility will end up using alternative fuel to continue operations.
Monsada explained that normally, the Ilijan power plant shuts down simultaneously with Malampaya. But with the anticipated power shortfall during the summer, Ilijan has been slated to continue running and avoid scheduling its shutdown to coincide with the planned Malampaya maintenance.
“This time, we told Ilijan not to totally shut down but operate one at a time during the Malampaya shutdown,” she said.
The latest advisory that the DOE received from Korea Electric Power Corp. (Kepco), the operator of Ilijan, is that they will be using blended fuel, Monsada said.
“They already ordered additional fuel for that,” she said.
The DOE earlier ordered Kepco to run the Ilijan power plant on liquid fuel during the 30-day shutdown of the Malampaya gas field.
Monsada said this is the first time that the 200-megawatt Ilijan natural gas plant will be forced to shift to liquid fuel as the plant had always scheduled its maintenance work to coincide with the Malampaya shutdown.
She said the Ilijan power plant’s constraint is that it has only one fuel line, so when it shifts to liquid fuel—either pure diesel or biodiesel (B2)—the plant has to first undergo cleaning operations due to apprehensions over possible water absorption.
Monsada said this cleaning operation may result in additional plant downtime when using biodiesel, thus the total output of the power plant is assumed to be lower.
The plant is designed to run on both diesel and natural gas, but there are apprehensions that because of liquid fuel’s affinity to water, the plant may take a longer time to clean.
Monsada said there is no problem with the Ilijan plant’s technical capability to utilize both pure diesel and biodiesel.