DuPont eyes big share of solar market in PH
US firm sees great growth potential in PhilippinesBy Riza T. Olchondra |Philippine Daily Inquirer
SINGAPORE—Science-based products and services company DuPont is set to launch solar power solutions in the Philippines for sectors such as farms and households, officials said at the Asean Media Forum in Singapore.
Carl Lukach, president of DuPont East Asia, said the US-based DuPont group saw great potential in the Philippines for solar power solutions from its DuPont Apollo business, which produces thin film solar panels.
Ramon S. Abadilla, Philippine country managing director of DuPont Far East Inc., said DuPont Apollo might forge partnerships with local firms with complementary expertise, such as installation.
“It’s (solar energy) good business. You can sell power from your homes. Solar panels are a big hit among farmers in Europe. Solar power is in its infancy in the Philippines but it’s good that the government has put up the law to do that,” he said.
Next month, Abadilla said, DuPont will introduce a solar water pump for farmers through a solar summit in Manila and a test unit to be brought to corn farming areas in northern Luzon.
“We can ask corn farmers to use the solar pump and see the farmers’ reactions to it. The Philippines would be among the first countries to roll it out so we have not looked at the pricing model yet, but microfinance is one way,” he said.
DuPont may also use solar power in its facilities in the Philippines, Abadilla said.
“We have a plant in Tarlac. We buy power, but maybe wait a year and you’ll see solar panels. We have back-up power in Polomolok but solar power works well in Tarlac. We can introduce renewable energy products (in Mindanao),” he said.
Abadilla said DuPont’s silicon-based thin film solar panels are more efficient and can absorb more energy, even under low light conditions. It is also lighter and typhoon-proof, he said.
DuPont and other companies considering putting up renewable energy businesses in the Philippines are closer to implementation with the Energy Regulatory Commission’s (ERC) approval last Friday of feed-in tariff (FIT).
The FIT scheme, which was required under the Renewable Energy Act of 2008, guarantees returns for renewable energy firms through fixed rates to be shouldered by consumers.
The rates cover run-of-river hydropower, biomass, wind and solar power generation.
The approved rates do not include rates for ocean energy, which is up for further study. The government earlier announced FIT rates for geothermal to encourage investments in that sector.
Approved FIT rates, which are lower than those proposed in 2011, are at P5.90 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for run-of-river hydropower, P6.63 per kWh for biomass, P8.53 per kWh for wind, and P9.68 per kWh for solar.
The simplified and lowered rates are lower than recommended, especially for solar, and will be reviewed regularly.
DuPont Apollo recently announced two contracts to supply Thailand with a total of 22.75 megawatts (MW) of power generated by thin film solar panels, in support of Thailand’s 10-year alternative energy plan.
In May, PlanetSolar, the world’s largest solar-powered boat that incorporates DuPont photovoltaic materials, completed the first trip around the world.