Biggest solar plant launched in Negros Occidental

Posted on May 16, 2014

BACOLOD CITY -- President Benigno S.C. Aquino III yesterday led the inauguration of the first and largest commercial-scale solar plant in the Philippines.

San Carlos Solar Energy, Inc.’s power plant is expected to start supplying 13 MW to the Visayas grid and 9 MW more in five weeks. --
The facility in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, which was commissioned by San Carlos Solar Energy, Inc., (SaCaSol) has a total capacity of 22 megawatts (MW) per day.

Phase one, which has been completed, will deliver 13 MW. The second phase, which is set to be completed in five weeks, will provide an additional 9 MW.

Mr. Aquino, who led the ceremonial switch-on to signify the start of commercial operation, underlined the importance of renewable energy projects to the nation’s economy and prosperity of its people.

“With your help, we are showing to the world that even developing countries such as ours can do their share in reducing the risk caused by global warming. And, we are doing this even at a time when the development of solar power plants remains more expensive than that of plants fueled by other renewable sources of energy,” he said.

The project costs P1.9 billion, funded by full equity financing.

“This a project funded by companies with a strong interest in renewable and clean energy investments and is supported by the local government,” Mr. Aquino added.

The 20-hectare solar farm, established by German company Conergy AG for SaCaSol, is located within the San Carlos Ecozone and is near the 19.99-MW baseload biomass power plant as well as the bioethanol plant with co-generation power facility.

The project will enter into a renewable energy purchase agreement for power offtake as mandated by the Renewable Energy Law (Republic Act No. 9513) and will be connected to the Visayas power grid.

Jose Maria T. Zabaleta, Sr., SaCaSol chairman, said the solar plant will deliver power to the grid during peak hours, which will help bring down the average cost of power rates to consumers.

Mr. Zabaleta said that while diesel- and bunker-generated power is at P22 per kilowatt-hour, solar power costs only about P9/kwh. The solar plant has a lifespan of 25 years.

For his part, SaCaSol President Jose Maria P. Zabaleta, Jr. said the solar plant is the first of the many solar plants that SaCaSol will be putting up in the Visayas.

He said the company will also break ground today in La Carlota City for the 18-MW SaCaSol 2, which will be completed by the end of the year.

Mr. Zabaleta, Sr. said SaCaSol will be putting up an additional 45 MW in different locations before the onset of summer next year.

“These projects will create thousands of jobs and will light many homes and industries,” he said.

San Carlos Mayor Gerardo P. Valmayor said that with the solar farm and mini hydro plant operating here, they are positioning the city as the renewable energy capital of the country.

These alternative energy sources came about due to the collaborative efforts of the local government, their partners in the private sector, and the community.

President Aquino also inaugurated yesterday the P335-milion Himogaan Bridge and road in Sagay City, seen to cut travel time from Bacolod to Sagay by 15 minutes. -- Chrysee G. Samillano