Solar Philippines Power Project Holdings is set to export P10 billion worth of solar panels produced from its Batangas manufacturing facility to China next year, a top executive said.
Solar Philippines president Leandro Leviste told reporters at the sidelines of the 5th Annual Philippines Power & Electricity Week Forum that the panels would be bought by Chinese companies which were seeking to reexport them to the US and Europe.
Solar Philippines also aims to construct 1,000 megawatts of solar projects in 2018 of which half would be in Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, India, the US and sub-Saharan Africa.
The local company will complete its first solar-battery projects in the Philippines this year which Leviste said would show that solar could supply reliable power at a lower cost than coal.
Leviste said while there were opportunities in the export market, the Philippines would remain the company’s main market.
“Exporting solar panels is not a viable business in itself, as global demand and regulations can change overnight. However, we took the risk on this factory, because even if the global market fizzles, we have our own projects that we can supply. This has allowed us to fully book our capacity for 2017, and build economies of scale to make our costs globally competitive,” Leviste said.
Solar Philippines began operating the first solar factory in Batangas in March with a goal to ramp up production to 800 megawatts within the year.
Solar Philippines entered solar manufacturing last year, after SunPower, a US solar company, shut down two of its factories in the Philippines.
Solar Philippines assembled a team of Filipinos experts in manufacturing solar panels in line with world-class standards and passed the requirements of international certification bodies.
The company aims to expand to over 2,000 MW of annual capacity, and become the world’s largest non-Chinese solar panel manufacturer.
“We don’t measure success in terms of profits or revenues, but the jobs we create. While margins are no more than a few percentage points, this will result in 1,000 direct jobs for Filipinos this year, and many more direct and indirect jobs by next year, in line with President Duterte’s drive for manufacturing to improve the lives of our countrymen,” Leviste said.
Leviste said having its own facility enabled Solar Philippines to make solar the least costly energy in the Philippines.