Source: Business Mirror

Propmech expects 50% sales hike

June 21, 2012
By: Anthony Isla

GROWING public awareness and interest on solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and dropping costs of solar panels are expected to boost Propmech Corp.'s sales volumes this year, Helen Tong, the company's chief operating officer, told reporters on Thursday.

The Propmech official said in a press conference they expect sales volumes to increase by 50 percent as they expect to complete more than 10,000 solar PV system installations by the end of the year.

"We believe in solar PV systems as being one of the best forms of renewable energy technology that can help fight climate change and lower one's carbon footprint," she said. With several projects in the pipeline for the rest of the year, Tong said they could easily double the system installation by next year. "We are enthusiastic about the future of solar PV systems in the country," she said.

Glenn Tong, Propmech director, said interest on solar PV systems have picked up after the launch of the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) 571-kilowatt solar rooftop project. "The ADB solar rooftop project had an immediate impact on us, we now expect the second half of the year to be much better than the first half," he said.

Manny Solis, Propmech legal counsel, said they expect the growth to come from parallel efforts to develop the markets in rural and urban areas. The cost of a solar PV system averages roughly around P15,000 to P20,000.

Solis said they have systems that are applicable in both rural and urban settings. For rural electrification, Solis said most of the system installations are in conjunction with their commitment to the Department of Energy to provide access to electricity to those who do not have access to the grid.

He noted that there are still about 4 million households that have no access to electricity. Propmech, he added, is the largest local company to participate in the Government's Rural Electrification Program of the Philippine with international aid agencies like the World Bank, United Nations Development Program and US Agency for International Development.

In the said program, he said Propmech has installed solar PV systems in more than 500 barangays that had no access electricity, particularly in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Solis said they will also try to develop all types of applications that are appropriate in an urban setting like rooftop installations in buildings, and solar PV farms for large or power plant applications.

The ADB solar rooftop project, its pilot project, is the largest solar installation in the country built by Propmech.

Zhengrong Shi, founder and chief executive of Suntech Power Holdings, earlier said the price of solar panels had seen a significant drop in the market which makes the use of sun-powered technology to generate electricity a more viable alternative.

Suntech, which is Propmech's technology partner, is one of the largest manufacturers of solar modules in the world.

Shi said many governments have seen the future of solar power and have came up with policy directions to support the industry.

Solar power offers a "win-win" scenario for consumers as it provides stable cost through power purchase agreements, assured and predictable electricity supply, and cheaper than diesel power plants in off-grid areas.

Citing the Philippines, Shi said retail electricity price is about $0.20 to $0.25 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) compared to solar power which amounts to $0.15/kWh.

Shi pointed out that the Philippine could have reached grid parity if the power of the sun was harnessed at an earlier time.

"If the Philippine government provides net metering for setting up solar, I think solar should have been widely applied in rooftops in this country and without subsidy provided by the government," he added.

Based on a Solarbuzz report, Shi said the global solar-power industry has seen tremendous growth in the last 10 years to 27.41 gigawatts (GW) last year from 0.43 GW in 2002 due to declining silicon costs and improvements in wafer technology that made solar cost competitive.

"At present, solar power is affordable and has reached grid parity in many regions in the world. And continuous incremental innovation will determine cost reduction in the future," Shi said. He also predicted that Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa regions will drive the second era of photovoltaic growth.