By Lenie Lectura – July 2, 2017
from Business Mirror
SOLAR Philippines wants distribution utilities (DUs) to stop sourcing their power requirements from coal plants and, instead, shift to solar power.
Solar Philippines President Leandro Leviste said his company submitted to the country’s electric utilities a plan to lower consumer rates by 30 percent, by replacing all planned coal plants with solar-battery farms.
Leviste added under the company’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 included. “Our solar power costs at least 30 percent less than coal and can save Filipinos P100 billion per year.”
As to the exact price, the company said it will release the details at a later time, out of respect for its ongoing discussions.
The company added solar now averages P3 per kilowatt hour (kWh), or as low as P1/kWh in certain markets globally, making it cheaper than coal. As a result, China’s government recently canceled 120 gigawatts (GW) of planned coal plants, including 54 GW already under construction, while completing 34 GW of solar in 2016 alone.
The Indian government canceled nearly 20 GW in coal plants, shut down 37 coal mines and is targeting 100 GW of solar by 2022. Bloomberg News estimates that a mere 18 percent of planned coal plants today will ever get built, resulting in 369 GW of cancelations, in light of low solar costs. “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,” 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 added.
Even if utilities sign coal contracts, Retail Competition Open Access (RCOA) means these contracts will become irrelevant once all consumers are able to directly choose their power suppliers. Upon RCOA’s full implementation, coal plants will cease operating if renewables are lower in cost, resulting in billions of dollars in losses as already seen in other markets.
Today, consumers can already avail themselves of 30-percent savings by installing solar on their rooftops under the Solar Philippines Save-to-Own zero up-front program. The company sees a massive 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 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 added.
“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.”