Philippine government under pressure to deliver more solar support


The Philippine solar industry is preparing to put pressure on the government to expand its solar incentive scheme in order to attract more investment and deliver faster project approvals.

The Philippine Solar Power Alliaance (PSPA) is urging the government to quadruple the size of its feed-in tariff (FIT) incentive scheme from 500 MW to 2 GW in an effort to help plug the growing holes in the country’s power supply.

The PSPA will outline steps that it feels will speed up project approvals and smooth the path for an estimated $4 billion of solar projects in the pipeline.

The current government-backed FIT incentive plan has a limit of 500 MW of new solar capacity that will be entitled to a guaranteed rate for the next 20 years. Extending that to 2 GW would provide enough impetus to free the Philippines from its current energy worries, believes the PSPA.

"We will draft an industry roadmap, which we will present to the government as the basis of our proposal, which is for 2 GW," said PSPA president and CEO of SunAsia Energy, Theresa Cruz-Capellan.

Initially, the Philippines government backed 500 MW of solar FITs at a rate of $0.21/kWh. This target was quickly hit, forcing a revision of the tariff down to $0.19/kWh. This generous rate attracted a fair amount of foreign investment, and so far the country has installed around 110 MW of cumulative solar PV capacity.

A further battle the PSPA is preparing to tackle is the issue of slow regulatory approval, which is serving to stymie the country’s solar transition. Cruz-Capellan told Reuters: "We have to deal with many people in the government, from local to national level, to get permits."

The PSPA would like to see changes to a current rule that stipulates would-be solar projects must be 80% complete before developers can even apply to receive minimum support tariffs. This late-stage development causes problems when seeking financing for projects, Cruz-Capellan added.

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