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Business As Usual

Rising like the sun, a new era of energy

Danielle Ybañez - The Philippine Star
Rising like the sun, a new era of energy

MANILA, Philippines — For many years, renewable energy (RE) has been a major contributor to the primary energy supply of the Philippines. However, with only 21.2 percent of the country’s total power generation in 2020 coming from renewable energy (RE), it’s safe to assume that there is still more to be done for us to utilize and benefit from its full potential.

As an effort to further accelerate the development of RE in the country, the Department of Energy (DOE) has set a new target to increase the share of RE in the country’s power generation mix to 35 percent by 2030 and 50 percent by 2040 under the latest version of the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP).

The NREP, in general, aims to increase the RE-based capacity of the country to an estimated 15,304 MW by 2030 by addressing the challenges that prevent wider application of RE technologies and encouraging more private sector investments in RE development.

 

The value of solar energy

Although solar energy is not yet at par with geothermal energy and hydropower energy in terms of share in the country’s total primary energy supply (TPES), only contributing 0.2 percent in 2020, it is gradually gaining popularity and preference as a technology for power applications, which is evident in the increase in its supply levels.

Photovoltaic Panels are the life blood of solar energy companies, transforming sunlight to DC electrical energy

Under the NREP, specific targets were laid down for each RE technology, including increasing solar power capacities by 284 MW and working towards achieving the aspirational target of 1,528 MW.

One of the pioneers in grid-scale solar energy development in the Philippines, RASLAG Corporation, believes that investing in solar energy is a way to address the country’s demand for renewables. In an interview with the company’s President and CEO Engr. Peter G. Nepomuceno, he emphasized that aside from being a clean source of energy that is versatile and practically limitless, solar energy is also no longer that expensive as what most people think.

“I believe solar prices have already reached grid parity and we can already compete with conventional sources of energy, price-wise. Solar capacity factor has also improved with the latest panels. Reliability-wise, technology is catching up. We are just waiting for Battery Energy Storage Systems to be economically

feasible to make solar more reliable,” said Engr. Nepomuceno who is also a veteran in the power industry, having served as the General Manager of the Angeles Electric Corporation for 43 years until 2001.

Diversification of the RE market

With more RE companies and players emerging, the local RE market is experiencing growth. More than competition, Engr. Nepomuceno sees them as allies in rallying for renewables in the country: “We think the market is large enough to accommodate multiple renewable energy players, and there is a lot of room for us to expand and explore the possibilities of supplying clean energy further.”

“Our focus is to grow the company by leveraging on our strengths: first, our ability to quickly execute projects as demonstrated by our track record of developing and operating solar power plants; second, our strategic landbank in Pampanga and Central Luzon, ideal for solar energy projects; and third, our "home court" advantage of doing business in a region we are familiar with and where we have very good relationships with communities and other stakeholders,” he added.

Engineers do a routine check-up and maintenance to ensure all PV (Photovoltaic) Panels are working while ensuring that the whole infrastructure is ready to supply clean energy

Currently, RASLAG has two solar power plants operating in Pampanga: the 10.046 Megawatt-peak (MWp) RASLAG-1 and the 13.141 MWp RASLAG-2, which are both under DOE’s Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) for Solar Scheme. Its third solar power project, the 18.011 MWp RASLAG-3, is also online and gearing up for commercial operations very soon to be followed by two more projects in the pipeline.

“RASLAG’s future solar power plants will achieve substantial generation capacity for less land and at less cost as we drive greater efficiencies for solar power projects. We will do this via economies of scale, better technologies, and improved engineering,” said Engr. Nepomuceno. He envisions this as the strategy moving forward towards a greener and cleaner future with solar energy leading the way.

Last June, RASLAG debuted on the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) after undergoing a successful initial public offering (IPO) at Php 2.00 per share that raised Php 700 million for the company.

SOLAR ENERGY

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