Duterte inaugurates first Filipino solar panel factory

August 23, 2017 - 7:18 PM
President Duterte tours the Solar Philippines Factory in Batangas in this Aug. 23, 2017 file photo. HANDOUT PHOTO

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte inaugurated the first Filipino factory for solar panels, toouted to herald the Philippines’ entry into the big players’ league in global renewable energy.

The Solar Philippines Factory will make solar panels more accessible to everyday Filipinos, according to statement from the company.

The inauguration of the factory comes as solar panel costs have fallen 90% over the last 10 years, and 50% in the last 3 years alone, prompting countries like China and India to source the majority of their new power requirements from renewables, noted solar Philippines. It cited Bloomberg estimates that 86% of planned coal plants globally will be canceled, given the new economics of solar prices. President Duterte, who graced the opening, himself told reporters that “Solar is becoming cheaper now, it used to be very expensive, now the price is diving.”

In his speech, President Duterte noted: “The establishment of this state-of-the-art facility in Sto. Tomas, Batangas, is timely and relevant as we address increasing demand for renewable energy. It is high time that we begin to establish local solar power.”

“We in government will continue to support the development of renewable energy,” Duterte said, adding that “I look forward to the realization of your company’s goal to be the largest exporter of solar panels.”

Solar Philippines CEO Leandro Leviste for his part said, “This factory has enabled us to generate the lowest cost power in the history of the Philippines.” The firm had made a recent offer to replace many planned fossil fuel plants with 5000 MW of solar farms. “Filipinos can save 30% on electricity. The average family paying 3000 pesos will see their bill decrease to 2000 pesos a month, and now with the latest batteries, entire towns can use solar energy for 24-hours a day.”

At the event, Solar Philippines also announced its new initiative to help communities with poor electric service to form their own “Solar Power Associations” and avail of low-cost 24/7 power. “We don’t measure our success in terms of profits or revenues, but our contribution towards the development of the Philippines. This factory will create 50,000 jobs, from manufacturing to installation, and show the world that Filipino ingenuity is second to none,” Leviste added.

Solar Philippines entered solar manufacturing after SunPower, a US solar company, shut down two of its factories in the Philippines. Since then, Solar Philippines has hired Filipinos experienced in manufacturing solar panels in line with international standards and certifications.

Solar Philippines owns the factory, and is partnering with Chinese companies to manufacture solar panels for export to the US and Europe. The company has also begun selling panels to local distributors, and solar systems to homes and businesses on installment at zero upfront cost.

The Solar Philippines Factory utilizes state-of-the-art technology and the highest quality materials. It will produce 800 MW in 2018, greater than the solar production capacity of the entire United States, making the Philippines a global leader in solar panel manufacturing.

“Around the world, consumers are going solar because they see the renewable energy revolution has already arrived. We are optimistic that not only will Filipinos think the same, but also soon see that the Philippines can become the leader in this global energy transition,” Leviste said.