Solar Philippines breaks ground for Tarlac Solar Farm

PERC gets environmental clearance for Palawan solar project

Solar Philippines has begun construction for the 150 megawatt (MW) solar farm with battery storage in Concepcion, Tarlac, its largest solar power project to date, its top official said yesterday.

The plant is set to operate as a merchant plant in the third quarter of 2017, Solar Philippines president Leandro Levsite said in the groundbreaking ceremony.

“The output of the 150 MW plant that will be operating here by the second half of 2017 will be able to power the entire Tarlac province with cheap renewable energy,” he said.

Leviste said that the solar farm will answer Department of Energy Alfonso Cusi’s call to establish more merchant power plants – or generating facilities that sell their output to the wholesale electricity spot market (WESM) – to further spur competition in the electricity spot market.

“What we want is to make this fast…[because] solar is now cheaper than coal and therefore get this online within 2017. And that’s why even without the contract finally approved by regulators, we’re doing this for most of the plant’s capacity,” Leviste said.

The solar farm will compromise around 450,000 solar panels and over 150 hectares, with room to expand as demand for solar with batteries increases.

Leviste said that the entire project costs roughly $150 million, or $1 million per megawatt.

“With the battery… it can be an additional 20-50 percent of the cost of the project. But we’re not doing all the batteries all at once, it’s gonna be phased incrementally,” he said.

“Why do we expect lower price? One is vertical integration, by doing solar panel manufacturing in-house as well as the construction. the development, the financing will definitely lower the cost. Second is the economies of scale,” he added.

Upon completion, the solar plant will have many firsts in its name.

“This, after all would be, by our estimates, the first solar farm that will be built and completed under the Duterte administration which will be the first solar farm in the Philippines supplying power at a lower rate than fossil fuel; the first with battery storage with 24-hour supply; the first with made in the Philippine solar panels from the newly opened Solar Philippines’ 600-MW solar panel factory in Batangas,” Leviste said.

The solar farm is also expected to offset over three million tons of carbon dioxide, equal to over 15 million trees in over three decades of operation.

The Tarlac – based project is a part of the 500 MW solar farms Solar Philippines is eyeing to build this year.

Construction of the 50 MW plant in Batangas and Cavite that will supply Meralco will follow.