“Solar is becoming cheaper now,” Duterte said at the inauguration of the factory. “It is high time that we begin to establish local solar power.”
Manila-based Solar Philippines started making PV modules at the plant in March, with an initial annual production run of 200 MW. It expects the factory — acquired when SunPower exited the Philippines last year — to create 50,000 jobs, from manufacturing to installation.
It aims to produce PV modules for the U.S. and European markets, in cooperation with several undisclosed Chinese companies. It expects its annual exports of solar panels to surpass PHP 10 billion ($197 million) in value by next year.
“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 24-hours a day,” said Leandro Leviste, chief executive of Solar Philippines, in an online statement.
In addition to manufacturing, Solar Philippines revealed plans in July to develop 1 GW of solar capacity by 2018. About half of its projects will be built outside of the Philippines, in countries such as the U.S., India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar.
Its biggest operational project to date is a 63.3 MW installation in Calatagan, Batangas province. It is also building a 150 MW solar array in Concepcion, Tarlac province, backed by 50 MWh of battery storage.