Press Release
December 16, 2010

PHILIPPINE'S FIRST SOLAR TESTING FACILITY OPENS

The first solar testing facility of the Philippines opened yesterday at the First Philippine Industrial Park in Tanauan, Batangas.

The testing facility is a product of a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) between the Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering (COMSTE) and First Philec Solar Corporation.

Senator Edgardo J. Angara, Chair of COMSTE, lauded the opening of the testing facility as significant proof that government and industry collaboration works, and that continued PPP's can spur the growth of innovation especially in the fields of Science and Technology (S&T).

The testing facility has 180 KW on-grid capacity, and is capable of testing photovoltaic (PV) modules for efficiency and resilience in field conditions, as opposed to being tested in laboratories in controlled environments.

COMSTE has been planning projects to enhance the use of solar power in the country. Through the new solar testing facility, local and foreign solar manufacturers can test panels for optimal output in tropical conditions.

Dr. Shigero Niki of Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, who heads their Solar Research and Testing Laboratory, expressed interest in sending PV for testing in the Philippines, noting that a testing facility here would be able to identify the proper engineering and technology for PV arrays and components which would be ideal for tropical conditions.

Solar for Mindanao

"In COMSTE our panel experts in Energy and Environment have targeted solar energy as a key factor in overcoming the power crisis in Mindanao. This source of Renewable Energy (RE) can complement existing coal-fired plants and is applicable even if off-grid areas," said Angara.

COMSTE reports show that recent studies by the Manila Observatory (MO) have indicated that Mindanao will be drier in the years to come lessening the effectiveness of RE sources like Hydropower, which supplies 70% of the power to the island.

Angara stated that the government should look into alternative ways to develop power sources, specifically through PPP's. He said that the Cagayan Electric Power and Light Co., Inc. (Cepalco), which already has a 1MW solar plant in Cagayan de Oro, is looking to expand their existing capacity to 4MW in two years.

"We should be able to take advantage of collaboration with the private sector and develop more energy projects that can take advantage of the Renewable Energy Act," added Angara.

The Renewable Energy Act of 2008 exempts renewable energy sources from Value Added Tax (VAT), grants a seven year income tax holiday, and prioritizes the purchase, grid connection and transmission of electricity generated by companies from renewable energy sources.

The Philippines, which is the world's second largest producer of Geothermal Energy behind the US, is considered to have huge potential in terms of supplying renewable energy. The Philippine Energy Security Plan states that the country has the potential to average 5.0 -5.1 kWh/M/day.

"Mindanao has the highest percentage of un-electrified barangays in the country, if we are able to apply solar energy effectively, the potential upside is enormous," said Angara.

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