Published March 21, 2017, 10:01 PM By Myrna M. Velasco
Relatively pioneering player Solar Philippines opts to test its business case overseas with planned offshore solar farm developments starting this 2017.
The company has grand ambitions of becoming a leading solar industry player in the world, contemplatively challenging the supremacy of other developed markets that already etched their foothold in the sector.
“Solar Philippines intends for its current projects to give it economies of scale, so it can start expanding internationally by the end of 2017, and make the Philippines a leader for solar energy worldwide,” the company has noted in a statement to the media.
To its credit, Solar Philippines emerges as the “brave soul player” that has been defying the status quo, or the business model that leans heavily on the industry’s addiction to feed-in-tariff (FIT) subsidies.
Solar Philippines just broke ground last week for its another greenfield development of 150-megawatt solar farm in Concepcion,Tarlac.
For another venture in Tanauan, the company earlier secured a power supply agreement with Manila Electric Company (Meralco) at P5.39 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) pass-on cost to consumers, a considerably higher rate to what Solar Philippines now claims as global cost level of R2.00 to R3.00 per kWh, but of which it sees attainable with vertical integration of solar panels’ production facility into its whole chain of operations.
Solar Philippines President Leandro Leviste stated that “vertical integration is the key to making solar cost-competitive.” The company said it will be manufacturing solar panels at its factory at the First Philippine Industrial Park in Batangas.
He stressed “if others ask why our costs are so low, it’s because the process for development, construction and equipment supply in the Philippines has until now been very inefficient. We are simply bringing our costs closer to other markets, where solar is now an average P2.00 to P3.00 per kWh.”
The company still pits itself as a competitor to coal-fired power generation, currently the country’s biggest source of baseload capacity.
Solar Philippines’ apparent aim would be to dislodge part of coal’s pie in the energy mix by integrating storage into its project development milieu so it can hurdle the “intermittency” issue of solar farm developments.
“Without even factoring the environmental externalities, based purely on direct cost, Solar-plus-Storage is already cheaper than coal, and especially cheaper than diesel and gas,” Leviste said, adding that “we’ll prove that in the market this year, and show you don’t need to choose between economic growth and environmental sustainability.”