• Solar power now cheaper than coal

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    The cost of putting up a solar farm dramatically went down from $2.5 million per megawatt (MW) to $1 and now technology with batteries would make the solar cheaper than coal, a renewable energy advocate said.

    “Without even factoring in environmental externalities, based purely on direct cost, Solar-plus Storage is already cheaper than coal, and especially cheaper than diesel and gas,” Solar Philippines President Leandro Leviste said on Tuesday.

    “We’ll prove that in the market this year, and show you don’t need to choose between economic growth and environmental sustainability,” he said.

    “Vertical integration is the key to making solar cost-competitive. If others ask why our costs are so low, it’s because the process for development, construction, and equipment supply in the Philippines has until now been very inefficient. We are simply bringing our costs closer to other markets, where solar is now P2 to P3 per kWh on average,” he said.

    Solar Philippines has started producing solar at its factory in First Philippine Industrial Park, Batangas, a state-of-the-art facility using German technology. It is supposed to lower the cost of solar power, employ a thousand Filipinos and make the Philippines an exporter of solar panels starting this year.

    “We are now trying to raise awareness that Solar-plus-Storage is already cheaper, before the industry invests into what will become stranded assets before they are even built. It’s good for the economy, the environment and companies themselves. And, we hope, will merit a closer look,” Leviste said.

    In line with the industry consensus that the local market is now nearing an oversupply situation when it comes to solar panels, Solar Philippines intends to introduce economies of scale to its current projects in order to start expanding internationally by the end the year, and make the Philippines a leader in solar energy worldwide.

    Last Friday, the company broke ground for a 150-megawatt farm in Concepcion, Tarlac. The total investment is expected to cost P7.5 billion, and the project is set to become operational by the end of the year.
    VOLTAIRE PALAÑA

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