Solar power can solve Mindanao shortage, developers say
MANILA, Philippines—Solar developers are criticizing the government’s move to limit the installation of solar-powered facilities over the next three years, insisting that these plants can provide the fastest solution to the power supply shortage in Mindanao.
Ramon Abaya of the Cagayan Electric Power and Light Co. Inc. (Cepalco) said that solar energy could offer “immediate relief in mitigating productivity losses, economic slowdown, and quality of life degradation brought by brownouts. Sadly, solar power is ignored and its promise not fully appreciated by policymakers.”
“Coal plants will take three years to build. Industries, commercial establishments and households in Mindanao need not wait and suffer any longer when solar electricity can be available now,” added Abaya, also the chairman of the Philippine Solar Power Alliance (PSPA).
PSPA has been urging the National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) to increase to 230 megawatts the total allowed capacity of the solar energy facilities that will be put up in the country over the next three years. NREB’s initial proposal was only 100 MW.
According to the PSPA, government data showed that there are 44 solar power projects awaiting approval for their service contracts. These projects can generate a combined 420 MW should their contracts be approved. A large number of them will be located at Mindanao, specifically in Davao, Zamboanga, Misamis and Cagayan de Oro.
PSPA also emphasized the positive impact of renewable energy on the generation cost in Mindanao, particularly in how these sources can serve as a buffer to rising bunker fuel prices.
The group claimed that NREB has been emphasizing the possible impact of high feed in tariff rates for solar on power consumers, as among the reasons for the low installation target.
“Yet, as argued by PSPA, the (NREB) board conveniently omits the increases borne by households and business due to an oil price hike,” it added.
“If not for hydroelectric power, as well as solar, consumers would have paid an increase of as much as P1.84 per kilowatt-hour in 2004, 98 centavos per kwh in 2009 and 57 centavos per kWh in 2010, primarily due to rising prices of bunker fuel,” noted PSPA president Theresa Cruz-Capellan.
Capellan explained that by mixing fossil fuel with renewable energy sources, the generation cost in Mindanao dropped. Utility companies were able to reduce electricity prices as blending power allowed companies to charge less, she added.
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