Solar Philippines eyes factory expansion

by Alena Mae S. Flores

from Manila Standard, 23 August 2017

STO. TOMAS, Batangas—Solar Philippines may expand its solar panel factory here to bring the capacity to 2,000 megawatts by next year.

Solar Philippines president Leandro Leviste told reporters the factory was set to reach a production capacity of 800 MW this year. The factory started with an initial production capacity of 200 MW.

Leviste said the entire 800-MW output was contracted, adding the company was looking for a new site in the province to set up the additional 1,200-MW production capacity.

The manufacturing plant, once fully completed next year, can generate P10 billion worth of solar panels for export and domestic consumption.

“This factory has enabled us to generate the lowest cost power in the history of the Philippines,” Leviste said.

Solar Philippines has offered to replace many planned fossil fuel plants with 5,000 MW of solar farms.

“Filipinos can save 30 percent on electricity. The average family paying P3,000  will see their bill decrease to P2,000 a month, and now with the latest batteries, entire towns can use solar energy for 24-hours a day,” Leviste said.

President Rodrigo Duterte inaugurated the Solar Philippines factory, establishing the Philippines as a major player in the global renewable energy revolution, and enabling solar panels to become accessible to everyday Filipinos.

Solar panel costs have fallen 90 percent over the last 10 years, and 50 percent in the last three years alone, prompting countries like China and India to source the majority of their new power requirements from renewables. Bloomberg estimates 86 percent of planned coal plants globally will be canceled, given the new economics of solar prices.

Solar Philippines also announced its new initiative to help communities with poor electric service to form their own “Solar Power Associations” and avail of low-cost 24/7 power.

“We don’t measure our success in terms of profits or revenues, but our contribution towards the development of the Philippines. This factory will create 50,000 jobs for the solar industry, from manufacturing to installation, and show the world that Filipino ingenuity is second to none,” Leviste said.

Solar Philippines went into solar manufacturing after SunPower, a US company, shut down two of its factories in the Philippines. Since then, Solar Philippines has hired Filipinos experienced in manufacturing solar panels in line with international standards and certifications.