MANILA, Philippines – New players are joining the race for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) 500-megawatt (MW) Solar Feed in Tariff (FIT) allotment.
Solar Philippines and Citicore Power announced a joint venture to build 250 MW of solar energy in Luzon and Mindanao by 2016, in a briefing held on May 20 in Pasig City.
The 50-50 partnership will kick off with a 60-MW solar project in Calatagan, Batangas where construction has already begun. It is projected to finish in November 2015 at an estimated cost of $2.4 million (P107 million) per MW for a total of $144 million (P6.42 billion).
Once operational, the plant will become the largest solar farm in Luzon with enough supply to power the entire Western Batangas.
Targeting 3 decades of operation, it is expected to offset over 100 million tons of carbon dioxide, the rough equivalent of planting over 5 million trees.
This is the first of 3 solar projects planned for the joint venture wherein both will invest equally.
In the pipeline
Solar Philippines president Leandro Leviste confirmed that the partnership has secured permits for two more sites in Luzon and Mindanao with construction to begin in the 3rd quarter of 2015.
The majority of the remaining balance of 190 MW will be taken up by the second Luzon project, which is expected to be the largest solar project in the country when finished.
“In a few years’ time, solar will become cheaper than fossil fuel, and one day supply the majority of this country’s energy needs. We are proud to partner with a company that shares this long-term perspective, and has made it a priority to turn this vision into a reality,” Leviste said.
Citicore Power, a wholly owned subsidiary of Citicore holdings Investment Incorporated and sister company of construction firm Megawide, said that this joint venture was the start of a slew of renewable energy projects for the new firm.
“The vision for Citicore Power is to put up a total of 350 to 400 MW of mixed renewable energy incorporating hydro and biomass as well as solar through this joint venture,” said Oliver Tan, Megawide CFO.
All these projects are in the pipeline to be rolled out within the year, with an initial 60-MW hydropower project to be located in Northern Luzon with an initial cost of $240 million (P10.7 billion).
Citicore aims to finish financial closure for the project by the 3rd quarter of this year and start construction by early next year.
More Solar players
The joint venture follows the announcement on May 19, that Orion Group International Incorporated and US-based First Solar Incorporated have partnered to form FSO Energy Solutions Incorporated (FSO) to launch solar energy projects in the country.
FSO will focus on providing large commercial and industrial customers with electricity through long-term agreements. It will provide a fully integrated renewable energy package that will be compelling for customers, company officials said.
Leviste, however, is confident that the Solar Philippines-Citicore Power partnership will lead the race to get the FIT rate, which, he says, now has more than 3,000 MWs competing for eligibility, given the DOE’s 500-MW cut-off.
“This is the team to beat, we can build these projects faster than everyone else because we’re not just the project owners and investors but also the ones constructing it,” he said.
The 500 MW is just the start for the joint venture though, and Leviste believes that the future of solar energy in the country is bright with expenses such as solar panel costs continuing to decrease.
By the end of 2015, the total solar capacity in the Philippines is expected to reach 500 MW, up from 50 MW in 2014, and 5 MW in 2013.
“For us, the 500-MW FIT allocation is not the end, it is just the beginning,” Leviste said. – Rappler.com
$1 = P 44.61