WORKERS at Solar Philippines manufacturing plant in Sto. Tomas, Batangas waste no time to meet production deadlines.|Contributed Photo by Solar Philippines

Batangas solar factory exports to exceed 10B in exports by 2018

IN this era where most countries are battling for climate change adaptation measures, efforts to push renewable energy is definitely inevitable. Thus, renewable energy companies are up now to partner with government agencies in pushing for a bold shift from using fossil fuels to harneshing renewable sources.

Last week, Batangueño entrepreneur Leantro Leviste has announced that the Philippines will soon become one of the world’s leading exporters of solar panels. At the sidelines of IBC Asia’s Power and Electricity Week, Leviste, president of Solar Philippines, noted the company will soon begin exporting solar panels worth over 10 billion pesos by next year.

“We don’t measure success in terms of profits or revenues, but the jobs we create. While margins are no more than a few percentage points, this will result in 1000 direct jobs for Filipinos this year, and many more direct and indirect jobs by next year, in line with President Duterte’s drive for manufacturing to improve the lives of our countrymen.”

In March, Solar Philippines began operating the first Philippine-owned solar factory in Batangas, which will ramp up to 800 MW within the year. The company aims to expand to over 2000 MW of annual capacity, and become the world’s largest non-Chinese solar panel manufacturer.

Solar Philippines entered solar manufacturing last year, after SunPower, a US solar company, shut down two of its factories in the Philippines. Since then, Solar Philippines has assembled a team of Filipinos experienced in manufacturing solar panels in line with world-class standards, and passed the requirements of international certification bodies.

Solar Philippines owns the factory and is selling its production to Chinese companies seeking to manufacture solar panels from Southeast Asia for export to the US and Europe, where governments imposed tariffs on solar panels made in China. Such is possible because current regulations in the US and Europe favor solar imports from Southeast Asia over China, but may be subject to change.

“Exporting solar panels is not a viable business in itself, as global demand and regulations can change overnight. However, we took the risk on this factory, because even if the global market fizzles, we have our own projects that we can supply. This has allowed us to fully book our capacity for 2017, and build economies of scale to make our costs globally competitive.”

Vertical integration has enabled Solar Philippines to make solar the lowest cost power in the Philippines. It recently submitted a proposal to the country’s electric utilities for 5000 MW of solar with batteries at 30% lower cost than coal. It hopes coal companies will reconsider their plans, not only in the interest of Filipinos, but also because coal is no longer a viable investment, in line with Bloomberg’s estimates that 86% of planned coal plants globally will be canceled in the coming years.

Solar Philippines aims to construct 1000 MW of solar projects by 2018, around half of which will be in Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, India, the US, and sub-Saharan Africa. It will complete its first international projects and first Solar-Battery projects in the Philippines this year, which it hopes will show that solar can supply reliable power at lower cost than coal in the Philippines.

“Around the world, our customers are going solar because they know the era of fossil fuels is coming to an end. We are optimistic Filipinos and we will also soon realize this, and recognize that the Philippines can become the leader in this global energy transition,” Leviste said.

Located in Santo Tomas, Batangas, Solar Philippines operates one of the largest solar panel manufacturing factories in the world, and the only such facility in the country. It uses state-of-the-art technology to produce high-efficiency solar panels for use in its various projects across the nation.

“This is a key step toward lowering solar costs, enabling us to produce electricity cheaper than coal. Instead of importing expensive fuel from other countries, we will manufacture here in the Philippines. Soon enough, our country can become the Saudi Arabia of solar, a leading energy exporter, and ‘made in the Philippines’ panels will be used around the world,” Leviste said.

With its 24/7 operation, the Calatagan Solar Farm requires daily, bi-monthly and quarterly upkeep covering preventive maintenance as well as visual inspection of all modules for damage, and correction or repair as necessary. This conservation is headed by Engr. Arnold Reyes (Maintenance Head).|SP

Solar Philippines also operates the 63.3-megawatt Calatagan Solar Farm, the largest solar facility completed in Luzon to date that operates daily and is manned 24/7 by a team of engineers and technicians for a household consumption.

With 200,928 panels working, this farm in Calatagan can energize the entire western part of Batangas. The municipalities of Balayan, Calaca, Calatagan, Lemery, Lian, Nasugbu, Taal and Tuy are great testaments to this innovation.|#BALIKAS_News


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