P9.75-B solar power project breaks ground
CONCEPCION, Tarlac—Solar Philippines yesterday broke ground for its 150-megawatt project in this town, which would cost at least $195 million (P9.75 billion) and was expected to be able to produce enough energy for the entire province’s needs.
Concepcion Solar Farm, expected to be completed by the third quarter this year, is primed to be the country’s biggest solar power producer with 450,000 panels over 150 hectares of what used to be sugarcane farms.
Leandro Leviste, Solar president and chief executive, said during the ceremonial kickoff that Concepcion Solar Farm would be the first such project to feature locally made panels and batteries for 24-hour power.
“This is [also] the first in the Philippines to [be built] at lower cost than coal and first to demonstrate that renewable energy as baseload (power-generating resource) is already here and not something that will take 10 or 20 more years,” Leviste said.
He said the solar farm would offer electricity at about P1 per kilowatt-hour or 10 percent lower than the cost of power generated based on coal.
The Concepcion facility will use panels made in the company’s factory in Batangas, which started production this month and where 1,000 jobs are expected to be created.
Leviste said that he expected solar power facilities with batteries “will surprise the industry and will emerge as the least costly power source in the country.”
His optimism is based mainly on Solar Philippines achieving a level of integration that enables the company to be the developer, investor, contractor as well as supplier for its own projects.
The Concepcion project will initially operate as a merchant supplier, and Solar is engaged in ongoing discussions with distribution utilities and local electric cooperatives for supply off-take contracts.
Also this year, Solar plans to start construction of a number of other projects, including 50 MW of new capacity in Batangas and Cavite.
Leviste said the smaller facility would supply electricity to Manila Electric Co. through a recently forged agreement.
The company also intends to venture into foreign markets as the domestic market approaches a situation where generation capacity—not only for solar but also for fossil fuel-based resources —exceeds demand.