SOLAR Philippines, a renewable energy company, inaugurated its 63.3-megawatt solar farm in Calatagan, Batangas on Wednesday in a move that should help the Philippines meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (COP21) and its goal of moving toward a low-carbon economy.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd graced the event and highlighted the global significance of efforts to build up renewable energy.
“Through projects like these, we are proving to the world that even developing countries such as ours can do their share in combating climate change,” Aquino said.
Aquino’s last inauguration of a solar project was the 1.5 MW SM North Edsa Solar Carpark in 2014, also developed by Solar Philippines.
The launch of the Calatagan solar farm comes a day after former U.S. Vice President Al Gore called on Filipinos to end their dependence on coal, and predicted that the Philippines, due to its abundant sunlight, can become one of the world’s first 100 percent solar-powered economies, blazing a trail for developing nations.
At the 31st Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Manila, Gore warned that if such actions are not taken, rising sea levels caused by climate change may threaten 13.6 million Filipinos living in coastal areas.
“We need to put a price on carbon to accelerate these market trends,” Gore said. “And in order to do that, we need to put a price on denial in politics.”
The Philippines has become the largest solar market in Southeast Asia this year and one of the largest among emerging markets worldwide.
“Solar has just begun to realize its potential. It will soon not only be cleaner, but cheaper and more reliable than coal, and in a matter of years, supply the majority of our country’s energy needs,” Solar Philippines CEO Leandro Leviste said.
Developed, financed, and constructed by Solar Philippines, the solar farm is the largest to be completed in Luzon. It comprises over 200,000 panels on a 160-hectare property, and supplies enough power for the entire western Batangas.
Over three decades, it will offset over 1 million tons of CO2, equivalent to planting over 5 million trees. During construction, it employed 2,500 workers, and will continue to employ at least 100 people over 30 years.
Calatagan Solar Farm is the first solar farm developed, financed, and constructed entirely by local companies—a testament to the skill and dedication of the Solar Philippines team.
Banks including Philippine Business Bank, Banco de Oro, Chinabank, and Bank of Commerce financed the project.
Also, the solar project was one of the first among dozens of solar projects completed this year and began operations weeks before the Department of Energy’s (DOE) March 15, 2016 Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) deadline.
This program is part of the Renewable Energy Law. This month, it has exceeded the 500 MW target set by the DOE. Talks have begun for an expanded installation target in light of these unprecedented investments in solar power.
Solar Philippines will soon begin construction on its next projects in Mindanao and Luzon, and aims to complete 500-MW generation capacity by 2017.