Philippines to reach 5 MW solar capacity by year's end

The island nation of The Philippines has augmented its solar industry to such a degree in 2013 that it is expected to double its installed capacity of solar energy by the end of the year.

This is the view of the PSPA, who forecast that the country will reach 5 MW installed capacity the year is out, which is more than double the current capacity of 2 MW.

In a briefing earlier this week, PSPA president Tetchi Cruz-Capellan remarked that the country’s Energy Regulatory Commission’s (ERC) approval of net metering rules would result in an upswell in solar rooftop investment.

"From an industry perspective, net metering is opening a new phase for solar energy in the country," she said.

The ERC first approved net metering in July 2012, enabling electricity consumers to engage in the distribution of solar, wind and biomass energy not exceeding 100 kW. With solar rooftops the cheapest source of renewable power – and often cheaper than traditional sources of energy – Capellan was bullish that solar demand would increase exponentially.

"It is basically driven by customers. We don’t know if the demand will be driven by developers or companies. But the sustainable driving force is the high cost of electricity," Capellan added.

However, despite the positive tone, the PSPA president warned that access to the technology in the Philippines needs to be improved, and urged market players to streamline their distribution channels.

"This is a distribution game – of how fast system integrators and developers can get their components accessible to consumers," she said, adding that a secondary focus of the industry is to work on lowering the cost of solar power.

"The cost for rooftop power is $3 kW. The challenge is to lower that cost. To achieve this, we will try to unbundle and work on the VAT issues related to this."

In 2010, renewable energy accounted for 28% of all power generated in the Philippines, although the majority of that came from geothermal and hydro, with solar’s contribution minimal.

However, the country’s Department of Energy expects solar, biomass and wind to account for one third of total energy demand within the next decade.