Group asks Energy to approve all solar projects

by Alena Mae S. Flores –  April 13, 2016 at 11:25 pm

from Manila Standard Today

The Philippine Solar Power Solar Alliance on Wednesday asked the Energy Department to exercise prudence in disqualifying completed solar projects from the feed-in tariff system.

PSPA president Tetchie Capellan said the government should recognize the role of solar energy in adding capacity to the national grid and in averting possible blackout.

“The alliance asks the DoE  for prudence in disqualifying  completed solar projects. These companies poured billions of pesos into solar projects and their possible disqualification from the RE [renewable energy]  incentives not only denies the investors the opportunity to recover their capital. More importantly, it kills the momentum created by the DoE and erodes investors’ confidence,” Capellan said.

The department is now evaluating the projects that can avail of the P8.69-per-kilowatt-hour FIT rate for the second batch of solar projects that were able to meet the March 15, 2016 deadline.

Capellan said as the government achieved overwhelming success with the 750-megawatt solar installation, it should encourage policy-makers in finding a common ground to recognize solar companies that reached 80-percent electro-mechanical completion and delivered electricity to the grid.

“There is already an admission from national authorities and utility distribution companies on the tightness of supply.  Undeniably, the contribution of 750-MW solar energy in the daytime when demand is at its peak, cannot be ignored.  The 750 MW solar provided more security to the grid, averted a possible supply shortage as well as delivered economic benefits to the consumers and the rural economy,” she said.

Capellan, a former Agriculture undersecretary, said “that long-term planning and immediate action forestall possible crises in the future.”

She said an independent study conducted by The Lantau Group projected a gradual increase in oil prices to $60 per barrel by 2018 and $100 per barrel by 2020.

According to the study, building solar power plants with as much as 2,000-MW capacity in Luzon and the Visayas by 2018 would reduce fuel costs, generate savings of as much as 8 percent and effectively cut consumers’ burden from high electricity rates in the medium term.

“Such findings make a compelling case for government to accept all the 750-MW combined capacity of solar power plants and provide incentives to those that delivered solar energy,” she said.

The department called for the participation of solar companies in 2014 to ensure adequate power supply.  It applied a build-first scheme.  Close to 50 companies, with a combined capacity of 2,000 MW, were granted solar service contracts to develop and build solar power plants.

Capellan said that based on the latest industry count, more than 20 projects, with varying sizes, recorded an installed capacity of over 700 MW.

She said all these projects reached 80 percent electro-mechanical completion. The group said billions of pesos worth of private capital were spent to build these clean energy infrastructure.

“Solar plants employed as much as 3,000 people per site for the  installation work. As a labor-intensive construction activity, the employment opportunities helped rural communities improve their lives,” she said.

PSPA also asked the government to provide the industry with a win-win solution in consideration to the huge funds poured in the countrysides.

“More importantly, solar power plants today averts the power crisis. It also hedges the inevitable increase in oil prices, and effectively reduce the consumers’ burden. The entry of solar balances the environment impact of fossil-fuel-dependent power plants as well as contributes to the national agenda of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.