PHL’s Largest Proposed Solar Plant in SouthCot Gets DENR, NCIP Permits

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 5 November) – The proposed biggest solar power plant project in the Philippines, which will be located in Surallah, South Cotabato, has already acquired two major government clearances as well as the funding commitment to jumpstart its construction, officials said.

Bryan Diosma, of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and a technical staff at the Mindanao Power Monitoring Committee (MPMC), said Wednesday the solar power project of NV Vogt Philippines Solar Energy One, Inc. has already secured permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

“Those are the two major permits needed to start an RE (renewable energy) project,” he said, citing data from the One Stop Facilitation and Monitoring Center (OSFMC).

Last month, MinDA, the secretariat of the MPMC, and the Department of Energy (DoE) launched the center’s web portal in Metro Manila.

Diosma told MindaNews that NV Vogt has also acquired a service contract from the DOE.

Based on the data from the OSFMC, NV Vogt proposes to construct a 12.5-megawatt solar power plant in Surallah town, he said.

Recently, NV Vogt officials paid a courtesy visit to South Cotabato Governor Daisy Avance Fuentes, who expressed support to their RE project.

Last June, Surallah town Mayor Antonio Bendita said in a radio interview “that the P1-billion solar power plant project was expected to go on stream in January 2015.”

NV Vogt, which according to another source is still waiting for the approval from the Energy Regulation Commission, has already started initial drilling works as well as the construction of office facilities at the plant site.

In a statement last August, NV Vogt announced that the Armstrong Asset Management (AAM) has committed to provide US$29 million (P1.3 billion at current exchange rates) to fund the construction of the first phase involving a 6.5 MW ground-mounted and grid-connected solar power plant.

The South Cotabato 6.25 MW project will be the world’s largest diesel replacement power plant when it is completed, given that 100 percent of its generated power will replace diesel-generated peak power, NV Vogt said.

At 6.25 MW, it would also be the biggest solar photovoltaic (PV) power project in the country once completed, surpassing the one-megawatt solar facility in Cagayan de Oro City.

Andrew Affleck, a managing partner of AAM, said this investment, the first by the Fund in the Philippines and the first with NV Vogt, represents a benchmark for the development of diesel-offset projects globally and one which does not rely on subsidies by way of feed-in-tariffs.

“With the projected power deficit forecast for 2015 in the Philippines, this project can serve as a benchmark for clean and quick decentralized energy solutions without the need for government subsidies. Armstrong is very proud to be funding this precedent setting project,” he said.

Anton Milner, managing director of the solar power plant business for the Berlin-based owner IB Vogt and chairman of NV Vogt Singapore, said he was pleased to be working with AAM as the Fund obviously “shares our bullish view” of South East Asia as the ideal region to develop economically viable renewable energy projects.

“We believe solar power is a compelling need as well as attractive opportunity in the developing markets of Asia. Our first project in the Philippines is doubly important because it will provide clean and unsubsidized solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity benefitting the wider community and it is one of the largest diesel-offset projects in the world to date, which is an important future market,” Milner said.

Vivek Chaudhri, president of NV Vogt Philippines, said that the partnership with AAM “will fund several projects in our Philippines pipeline, allowing us to focus on what we do best – develop and realize utility scale PV projects.” - MindaNews

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