Cadiz solar plant stirs investments

CADIZ CITY -- The commissioning of the 132.5-megawatt (MW) solar power plant in this northern city, considered Southeast Asia’s biggest, is seen to bring in about P45 million in annual revenues for the local government.

Officially unveiled on Thursday, March 3, the P10-billion solar generation facility located on a 176-hectare area at Hacienda Paz in Barangay Tinampaan is run by Helios Solar Energy Corp. and developed through a partnership between Gregorio Araneta Inc. (GAI) and Soleq Holdings Inc.

Now the seventh largest in the world, the solar power plant started connecting to the grid on February 13, and initially dispatched an average of 30 MW through the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, said Mayor Patrick Escalante.

“Today, the farm’s efficiency rate is 80 percent amid the stormy weather. Since it is operating fully for almost three weeks already, it supplies a huge part of the province’s average power demand of 200 MW,” he added.

The solar farm is projected to produce 188,500 MWhs of solar-generated power per year, or enough to energize an estimated 167,526 households, save 177.7 million liters of water, and lower carbon emission by 94,627 tonnes per year which is equivalent to 2.4 million planted trees.

Escalante said the solar farm will eventually increase the city’s annual revenues from real property and business taxes to about P100 million.

During the inauguration rites, Escalante was joined by French Ambassador to the Philippines Thierry Mathou, Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr., Helios chairman and owner of GAI Gregorio Araneta III, and representatives of partner-companies.

Araneta said the “ideally-located $200 million solar farm in Cadiz” is just one of his company’s renewable energy generation projects in the country, including those in Leyte and Ilocos.

“This project also demonstrates our country’s ability to develop world-class renewable energy projects and establishes the Philippines’ foothold as frontrunner in renewable energy,” Araneta said.

Mathou said the project, which also involves various French companies, is the start of more investments for the province.

“This country is of great potential to be the new success story of the century not only in Asia, but also in the world thus, more investments are needed,” he added.

Marañon reiterated that since the province now has a surplus power supply, it can now attract more investors.

Former senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, who also attended the inauguration rites, said the operation of the 132.5 -MW solar farm “puts the Philippines in the renewable energy map of the world.”

Zubiri, author of the Renewable Energy Act, said the project of Helios Solar Energy Corp., will “encourage environmentalists to visit the site as an example of the transformation to renewable energy from fossil fuel.”

“The electrical energy from sunlight is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source readily available, so by all means we should harness it to power our homes and our industries,” he added.

Economic zone

Meanwhile, Escalante said the City Government is eying the establishment of an economic zone through the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.

It will be located on a 200-hectare area adjacent to the solar farm, also a property of Baticcuzi family.

Escalante said they have already discussed the project with partner-company GAI, and it is projected to start operation this year.

The economic zone will serve as manufacturing center of solar power panels, he said.

“This will again bring in billions worth of investments, even more than the solar power farm,” the mayor added.

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