DOE eyes boosting solar power projects

Posted at 05/05/2014 6:50 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Energy (DOE) is looking to boost capacity in the Luzon grid by increasing the installation target allocation for solar power projects by an additional 450 megawatts.

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said there is a need for additional capacity to offset delays seen in the opening of new plants scheduled for 2015.

“We need additional capacity all the time but most especially during summer. Plants are coming in but there's a plant [that] might be delayed because there are problems with local government,” he said.

The DOE earlier approved an installation target for solar power of 50 megawatts, but interest in solar projects has increased significantly.

“I'm worried about April and May 2015…[but] we have a better outlook than 2014 because of the plants coming in,” Petilla said.

In 2015, a 135-megawatt coal-fired power plant is expected to come online. Existing coal plants are also up for expansion next year.

“The biggest problem [is] if a 200-megawatt capacity will not push through for summer...then we need additional capacity,” Petilla said.

He said the DOE is also planning to enter talks with First Gen Corp. to fast-track its 414-megawatt San Gabriel natural gas power plant in Batangas.

“San Gabriel has a commitment [of commissioning] of March 2016. I’m asking if they can advance that. However, I cannot leave that to chance so I want to put up additional solar,” he said.

Petilla noted that solar plants are more efficient and have the highest production during summer.

The National Renewable Energy Board has conducted a study on the price impact of the additional 450-megawatt solar projects.

Developers eligible for the installation target can avail of the feed-in tariff rates of P9.68 per kilowatt hour (kWh) for solar, but Petilla said the rates may be lowered to between P8.50 to P9.68/kWh.

Aside from solar, the DOE has approved an installation target of 250 megawatts for hydro, 250 megawatts for biomass, 200 megawatts for wind, and 10 megawatts for ocean technology.