Solar power lowers power cost by 30%


Renewable energy company Solar Philippines said that power rates in the country can be reduced by 30 percent if electric companies tapped solar farms instead of coal plants.

Solar has submitted to power firms its proposal to use 5,000-megawatt (MW) Solar Plan. The proposal includes details on the location of solar farms, integration of batteries for grid reliability, and the cost of batteries and panels from the company’s factory in Batangas.

“Our solar costs at least 30 percent less than coal and can save Filipinos P100 billion per year,” Solar Philippines President Leandro Leviste said over the weekend.

Globally, the cost of solar power averages P3 per kilowatt hour (kWh). In certain markets, it can be as low as P1 per kWh, making it cheaper than coal.

The Philippines has one of the world’s highest electricity rates. Yet the country continues to build new coal plants because of the perception that solar power is expensive, Leviste said.

“We can’t fault coal companies or policymakers 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 5000-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,” he said.

“It is simply a fact that solar 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,” he added.

The Chinese government recently cancelled planned 120-gigawatt (GW) coal plants and built a 34-GW solar plant in 2016. India’s government also cancelled 20-GW coal plants and shut down 37 coal mines as it plans to construct 100-GW solar farms by 2022.

Leviste said households can install solar panels on rooftops. Solar Philippines believes that demand for solar rooftops will go up now that the company has started to offer financing to households and small businesses.

“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 that our country’s electric utilities and the public have seen enough of what’s happening globally to conclude that the time of low-cost solar (power) has arrived, and the era of fossil fuel is near its end,” Leviste said.


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