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Solar Philippines wants DUs to shift from coal plants to renewable solar power

Solar Philippines Power Project Holdings, Inc. offered DUs to replace all planned coal-fired power plants with solar farms.

MANILA, Philippines — Solar Philippines wants distribution utilities (DUs) to stop sourcing their power requirements from coal plants and, instead, shift to renewable energy — solar power.

The Solar Philippines President Leandro Leviste said his energy firm submitted to the Philippines’ electric utilities a plan to lower consumer rates by 30 percent, by replacing all planned coal plants with solar-battery farms.

Solar Philippines is awaiting for the approval of a power supply agreement with a distribution utility for P5.39 per kWh. As for comparison, the current rate in Metro Manila from a mix of generation sources is at P8.17 per kWh.

Leandro Leviste also said that under the firm’s 5,000-megawatt (MW) Solar Plan, details on the locations of the solar farms, integration of batteries for grid reliability and the cost of batteries and panels from the now-operational Solar Philippines factory in Batangas are also included.

“Our solar power costs at least 30 percent less than coal plants and can save Filipinos P100 billion per year.”

Based on latest data from the Department of Energy (DOE), a total of 4,615 MW of coal power is committed for completion between this year and in 2022. Individually, proponents of up to 9,603 MW of “indicative” capacity are in various stages of development ahead of closing financing for their coal facilities.

“As to the exact price, the company will release the details at a later time, out of respect for its ongoing discussions,” Solar Philippines said.

As for the exact price, the Solar Philippines said it will release all the details at a later time, out of respect for its ongoing discussions.

Solar Philippines noted that the solar now averages P3 per kilowatt hour (kWh), or as low as P1/kWh in certain markets internationally, making it cheaper than coal plants.

As an outcome, China’s government recently canceled 120 gigawatts (GW) of planned coal plants, including 54 GW already under construction, while completing 34 GW of solar last year.

Meanwhile, the Indian government canceled nearly 20GW in coal plants, shut down 37 coal mines and is targeting 100 GW of solar by the end of 2022.

“We can’t fault coal companies or policy-makers for not believing in solar. It’s the solar industry’s fault for not having shown that it can be cheaper and more reliable than coal. Now with our 5,000-MW solar plan and our first 24/7 solar-battery projects to be completed this year, we see no scenario where most planned coal projects will push through,” Solar Philippines President Leviste said.

“It is simply a fact that solar power with batteries is now the least-cost power in the Philippines, and anything else will result in higher rates to consumers. We encourage the local power industry to consider this before investing billions into new coal and, hopefully, they will see, like the Indians and Chinese, that the future is already here,” Leviste further added.

As of to date, consumers can already avail themselves of 30-percent savings by installing solar panels on their rooftops under the Solar Philippines Save-to-Own zero up-front program. The renewable energy firm sees a huge uptake in demand for solar rooftops, now that it is offering financing even to households and small businesses, but is still focused on solar farms as for now.

“Our 5,000-MW solar plan may consist more of going directly to rooftops, depending on the receptivity of utilities to solar farms,” Leviste said.

“It’s not easy changing the way we’ve generated power for the last 100 years but, in the same way that telcos shifted from landlines to cell phones far sooner than expected, I’m optimistic our country’s electric utilities and the public have seen enough of what’s happening globally to conclude the time of low-cost solar has arrived, and the era of fossil fuel is near its end.”

Jullie Anne Mendoza

Jiliane is a Manila-based writer who covers the business, political science and science, the firms that are leading that charge, as well as those that are left behind. She has been writing since 2000, most recently for BuzzFeed Philippines.

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