Philippines may become a solar hub

PHILIPPINES - The Philippine's renewable energy program is ultimately aimed at providing the Philippines with an electricity capacity based solely on renewable energy sources.

The country has about 4.5 gigawatts of installed electrical capacity based on renewable sources, and in the last few years, renewable energy has reached the energy equivalent of 10 million barrels of oil equivalent BoE. Biomass alone is predicted to produce more than 300 million BoE by 2012, and hydropower power is becoming more prevalent.

Geothermal power is still the most popular form of renewable energy in the Philippines, as it is far easier to scale. The Philippines is the world's second-largest producer of geothermal energy after the United States.

Wind power and solar power are also on the rise in the Philippines. Unfortunately, tropical storms pose a significant threat to windfarms, although abundant construction sites and feed-in-tariffs FiTs are enough to offset the risks. FiTs guarantee payment per kilowatt-hour for each renewable source and are often included in renewable energy policies. With Asia on track to produce 10 of the world's wind power by 2020, the Philippines has placed itself in a position to become one of the top producers in Southeast Asia through domestic and international investments by firms such as Vestas Wind Systems.

In terms of solar power, the Philippines is on track to becoming a major solar manufacturing hub in Southeast Asia, and in turn, a major solar power producer. Youil Renewable Energy Corporation, the Manila-based subsidiary of Youil Ensys Corporation, has recently announced intentions to build solar power stations in the Philippines. The company is currently awaiting FiT approval, but hopes to begin construction on a 30-megawatt MW power station near Bacolod in the third quarter. Commissioning of the $120 million power station is expected in early 2012. Youil is also planning for another smaller power station to be constructed in the Bohol province.

Other international entities such as Eco-Merge and SMEC Holdings Limited have also shown interest in solar power projects for the Philippines. The two companies are teaming up to begin construction of an 11-MW solar power station near Pili at the end of the year. Commissioning of the $40 million power station is expected to take place in mid-2012.



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