Solar Philippines stays ahead with proactive system upgrades for Calatagan Solar Farm
Being at the forefront of pushing for solar power, Solar Philippines endeavors to lower electricity prices and contribute to a sustainable future.
Solar Philippines was amongst the first to construct a utility-scale solar power plant in the country, beginning with the 63.3-megawatt (MW) solar farm in Calatagan, Batangas in 2016. Solar panels at the plant have a lifespan of 25 years, but the company has already kicked off feasibility studies for upgrades just seven years into its operation.
In an interview with Asian Power, Plant Manager Alex dela Cruz took pride in the fact that the Calatagan Solar Farm, which was completed in a record-breaking two months, stands as the fastest construction project of its kind in Asia.
“We are now planning to upgrade our solar farm so that the capacity or our output will be higher. By upgrading, we can also choose to replace the panels or inverters; but it will depend on the [feasibility] study,” Dela Cruz said.
Dela Cruz said the feasibility study is also looking at possible expansions in the Calatagan solar farm. The study will not yet cover the development of battery energy storage systems, but he noted that it is a “possibility.”
Powering and empowering Calatagan
The Calatagan Solar Farm has an output of 49.68 megaWatt alternating current (MWac) that can power up the whole of western Batangas, composed of six municipalities.
The solar panels at the farm are tilted 11 degrees to best capture the solar irradiance, which should hit the panels perpendicularly. The panels also face south by design as the sun changes position between September and December, explained Dela Cruz.
He added that the inclination of the panels is advantageous, particularly during the rainy season as the slope allows it to avoid water from smudging the panels.
The farm is currently being operated and maintained by around 50 groundworkers, all from Calatagan. During the construction of the farm, Solar Philippines also employed more than 2,500 local workers in its pursuit to provide a livelihood to the communities where it builds plants.
Whilst solar power has the potential to reduce electricity prices for consumers, Dela Cruz said the Philippines is still a long way from cutting electric bills.
“The government is pushing for solar power to slash electricity prices because much of our power generation is still sourced from fossil fuels,” he said in Filipino. “We need to keep pushing for more solar power, and that’s the vision of Solar Philippines – to construct more solar power plants.”
Solar Philippines has also set up a 150-MW plant in Tarlac, through its subsidiary Solar Philippines Tarlac Corporation. Its first phase was completed in June 2020 with a capacity of 100MW.
It is also currently constructing its third solar farm in Nueva Ecija, expected to be the largest amongst the three solar farms. The 500-MW solar farm is being constructed in two phases with the first 225MW set to finish in 2022. The remaining 275-MW will follow in the succeeding years.
Like the Calatagan Solar Farm, they stand to illuminate the vision of Solar Philippines and demonstrate the potential of solar power to empower entire Filipino communities while paving the way for a greener and more sustainable future for the country.