Solar Philippines forms new firm to secure lands for solar farms

Danessa Rivera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Solar Philippines is setting up a new company that will secure lands solely for solar farms to be developed by other solar energy firms.

The new firm, Solar Energy Zones Inc. (SEZ), will be independent from Solar Philippines’ power plant business and will cater to the demand for solar project sites of other power companies.

“Our aim is no longer to compete with the country’s power companies, but to enable them to build projects, to ensure that solar soon becomes the largest source of new energy in the Philippines,” Solar Philippines founder Leandro Leviste said in a statement.

The company is finalizing agreements for 10,000 hectares of land, mostly near its existing projects in Batangas, Tarlac, and Nueva Ecija.

“The problem we need to solve is that, despite there now being significant demand for new solar plants, there is a scarcity of sites. Our SEZ’s will make it easy for any of these power companies that decide to build solar to locate in these zones and start construction that same year,” Leviste said.

“This would not be possible had we not begun the development of these sites six years ago, when others did not believe that large-scale solar would be viable. Now the power industry is convinced that it is (viable and), we are making available these sites to help others enter the market,” he said.

SEZ is inspired by the solar parks of India, where companies co-locate solar projects in large shovel-ready sites with common facilities that benefit from economies of scale. This model is helping India lower solar’s barriers to entry and making it one of the world’s fastest-growing solar markets.

Solar Philippines will be announcing over the coming months several projects of other power companies to be constructed in its zones over the next five years.

The capacity of these will be multiple times greater than the country’s total solar capacity to date, making solar a major share of the nation’s energy mix, Solar Philippines said.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has set up Competitive Renewable Energy Zoning or CREZ, where the identified candidate RE Zones will represent geographic areas characterized by high-quality, low-cost RE potential in addition to high levels of private-sector developer interest.

So far, there are 35 gigawatts (GW) of potential wind and solar and 1,300 megawatts (MW) of geothermal, biomass and hydro projects that can be developed in the 25 CREZ areas.

Solar Philippines was founded in 2013 to accelerate the adoption of solar energy in the Philippines. Since then, the company has developed a pipeline of over 10 GW, based on DOE data.

Last year, it bared its plan to construct over 1 GW of solar projects in the provinces of Batangas, Cavite, Nueva Ecija and Tarlac this year.

The company signaled its direction to realize these projects through partnerships, with a series of deals announced with local and foreign power companies.

It is currently constructing a 500-MW solar project through its wholly owned unit Solar Philippines Nueva Ecija Corp.

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