First utility-scale solar park in the Philippines goes online

Conergy has competed phase one of the first utility-scale solar park in the Philippines.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III switched on the plant at an opening ceremony in San Carlos City on Thursday.

In its first phase, the San Carlos City project features 13 MW of power capacity, which will be expanded to 22 MW in the coming months. Once complete, the plant will generate enough electricity in a year to power the equivalent of 13,000 local homes.

Conergy, based in Hamburg, Germany, already the biggest builder of utility-scale solar plants in Thailand and among the top five largest in the United Kingdom, designed and is building the new 22 MW facility, which is located in an economic zone close to the port of San Carlos City, in the middle of the 7,100-island archipelago.

The solar park is owned by the San Carlos Solar Energy Inc., a joint venture between investment banking and management group ThomasLloyd and Philippine project developer Bronzeoak. ThomasLloyd invested some $45 million in the San Carlos I and II project through its ThomasLloyd Cleantech Infrastructure Fund, which it launched in Europe in 2011.

In a recent interview with pv magazine, ThomasLloyd Chairmand and CEO T.U. Michael Sieg said the portfolio currently comprised a total of 12 projects in the Philippines and Cambodia in the fields of photovoltaics, biomass and wind power.

The Philippine government has launched a 50 MW incentive scheme over a three-year period to attract investment in solar as part of an effort to expand power generation in the country. While the Philippine economy is growing at 6-7% annually, it remains constrained by the fifth highest electricity prices in the world and frequent, protracted blackouts.

With a coastline close to double that of the United States, climate change is also high on the agenda of the Pacific nation and the government is aiming to triple renewable energy power generation by 2030 to more than 15 GW.

"This is a big moment for the Philippines, where the country’s proximity to the Equator, high electricity prices and logistical complexity, offer huge potential,” said Alexander Lenz, president of Conergy Asia & Middle East. “Conergy is proud to be at the forefront of the nation’s first multiple megawatt solar project, which will provide affordable, reliable power for businesses and citizens across San Carlos City, and offers a model for other parts of the country.”

Marc Lohoff, Conergy’s CEO for Asia Pacific, added: “Conergy is working internationally with its partners to unlock the barriers to the wider adoption of solar, including in countries like the Philippines where the conditions are perfect. Utility-scale solar plants can be built quickly and cost-effectively, with relatively low operational and maintenance costs. When well designed, and properly constructed, they can play an important role in reducing pressures on domestic power generation."