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Embodying PH-Japan Friendship Day through the AboitizPower-JERA Partnership

Published Jul 27, 2023 9:00 am

The Philippines and Japan have been able to cultivate a harmonious relationship since the establishment of diplomatic relations on July 23, 1956. Since then, both nations continue to intertwine and significantly influence each other’s history, culture, and trade. With both countries looking to grow and prosper together, it is unsurprising that their collaboration has also extended to the energy industry.

To commemorate the Philippines-Japan Friendship Day, Aboitiz Power Corporation (AboitizPower) reflects on its strategic partnership with JERA Co., Inc. (JERA), Japan’s largest power generation company, in leveraging their respective expertise and resources to generate energy solutions en route to a sustainable energy future for their peoples.

“AboitizPower’s relationship with JERA is synergistic. We are providing them a platform for growth outside Japan, and we are learning from their wealth of expertise and experience, particularly in the field of liquified natural gas or LNG,” said AboitizPower thermal power generation group chief operating officer Felino M. Bernardo. “It is and will continue to be a very productive relationship.”

In the land of the rising sun

AboitizPower and JERA are exploring multiple areas of collaboration, including the exchange of local talents for the sharing of manpower, as well as know-how and best practices. Earlier this year, local talents were sent by AboitizPower to Japan to work in aspects of plant operations and maintenance (O&M) for at least a year, while JERA also sent local talents of their own.

(From left) Jeremiah Cayondong, Marlon Silang, and Jun Carlo Luchavez are the first batch of Filipinos sent to Japan for the AboitizPower and JERA exchange program.

“I feel proud to be a part of the pioneer employees who will participate in this exchange program between AboitizPower and JERA,” said deputy plant manager Marlon Silang of the 632-megawatt coal-fired GNPower Mariveles Energy Center in Bataan.

“I can imagine how this program would enable opportunities to learn the various business aspects of JERA, particularly the O&M of the Hekinan Thermal Power Station, which is one of the largest power plants in the world with a maximum output of 4,100 megawatts,” Marlon added.

According to Felino, the most important and far-reaching aspect of AboitizPower and JERA’s relationship is learning from each other’s business principles. From the perspective of AboitizPower, this entails being directly exposed to the Japanese philosophy of continuous day-to-day improvement and the importance of uniting for a bigger and better impact.

“We’re looking to instill in our participating team members the Japanese idea of discipline and quality called hozen, which means to ensure, protect, sustain, support, and preserve in good condition,” Felino shared.

Other exchange program participants—Therma Visayas Inc. distributed control system and control and instrumentation specialist Jeremiah Cayondong and Therma South Inc. planning and outage manager Jun Carlo Luchavez—are also looking forward to learning hozen.

“I will be able to document and adopt best practices and the Japanese discipline towards work as I witness them myself. Once the program concludes, I’m hoping to bring home and share with the team what I learn both in the technical and leadership aspects,” Jeremiah said.

“The type of personal growth that I’m really looking into is the ability to learn and adapt. We Filipinos are known to be very adaptable wherever we are in the world,” Jun shared. “We’ve been given a very serious challenge and responsibility in representing AboitizPower, but we’ll be learning from it, and we’d also be introducing our best practices in JERA.”

On top of the exchange program, AboitizPower and JERA also inked a technical services agreement, wherein JERA will give access to its technologies and research on O&M, while the Aboitiz Group will be sharing its competence on data analytics. Moreover, both parties have also accepted expatriates to work in their respective renewable and thermal power plants.

New technologies for a cleaner tomorrow

As the Philippines and Japan are both net fossil fuel importers looking to have cleaner energy systems, AboitizPower and JERA share an interest, not just in advancing renewable energy, but also in developing LNG-to-power projects and its supply chains, as well as studying the feasibility of using green fuels like ammonia and hydrogen in power generation.

LNG plants are regarded as a very good bridge technology towards decarbonization. LNG, albeit a fossil fuel, is cleaner as it emits between 45% to 55% less greenhouse gas emissions than coal. It also complements the influx of intermittent renewables, given how it can be used for baseload, mid-merit and peaking purposes, hence ensuring a continuous flow of electricity.

“AboitizPower and JERA have a healthy working relationship with regards to LNG-to-power projects, which is important for the Philippines since JERA is one of the largest single LNG buyers in the world and has extensive experience in fuel procurement, transport, receiving, power generation, and sales,” Felino stated.

Exchange program participants from AboitizPower are given a tour of the JERA Training Center and its headquarters in Tokyo, Japan.

JERA will also start an ammonia generation demonstration test this year in one of its coal plants in Japan. For the Philippines, JERA is helping AboitizPower secure a grant from the Japanese government to study the feasibility of co-firing ammonia in one of the latter’s coal plants.

“There is still the need to develop the technology and the supply chain before co-firing can be considered feasible. Moreover, even after years of feasibility studies, more years would be required to solidify investments and improve relevant supply chains,” Felino explained.

“As we modify the power system with new sources of power and more technological innovations between now and in the decades ahead, energy security must always be a constant,” he added. “This entails balancing the needs of today with that of future generations in terms of ensuring stable and reliable electricity to power our economy and fuel the prosperity of millions of Filipinos.”

JERA is one of the world’s largest power producers, having a presence in more than 10 countries across the globe, with a total portfolio of 80 gigawatts. JERA acquired approximately 27% of the outstanding shares of AboitizPower in 2021, which included a 1.99% stake from the Aboitiz family’s privately held parent company, Aboitiz & Company.

AboitizPower is pursuing a 50:50 balance of 4,600-megawatts each between its renewable and thermal capacities in the next 10 years. As of 2023, it has in the pipeline more than 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy projects, including growing wind and solar farms throughout the country, as well as geothermal. This is in support of the Philippines’ ambition of having a 50:50 share between renewables and nonrenewables in its power generation mix by 2040.

AboitizPower and JERA continue to collaborate on developing technologies, capabilities, and attitudes, guided by the ambition of significantly advancing cleaner energy technologies for a future that is energy-abundant and environmentally sustainable. In the process, AboitizPower and JERA will further enrich the friendship and aspirations of Filipinos and Japanese—both today and tomorrow.

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Editor’s Note: This article was provided by Aboitiz Power Corporation .