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Solar power firms fasttrack expansion

Manila, Philippines - Propmech Corp. and Green Heat Corp., two integrated systems providers specializing in solar panels , are fasttracking their expansion in rural and urban areas. The firms want to tap far-flung areas for solar power generation and companies for the installation of solar panels in rooftops, officials said.

"We are doing parallel efforts in marketing in rural and urban areas. There will be efforts to develop both markets," said Manuel Peter Solis, legal counsel of Propmech-Green Heat.

Specifically, Propmech-Green Heat targets rural electrification of more than four million households that do not have access to electricity.

In urban areas, the firms want to install solar panels in rooftops to lessen buildings' dependence on the electricity grid.

Successful projects show that solar panel generation is viable, said Propmech-Green Heat director Glenn Tong.

Early this month, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) inaugurated its solar rooftop power project, the largest roof-mounted installation in the Philippines.

The solar panels, which were installed by Propmech-Green Heat, have a capacity of 571 kilowatts. It will provide approximately 3.5 percent of the electricity needs of the ADB headquarters in Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

"We were approached by a lot of people. There are lots of developers and banks," said Helen Tong, chief operating officer of Propmech and managing director of Green Heat.

Propmech-Green Heat offers a complete solar package, including site inspection, conceptualization, certified system design, importation of equipment, installation and long-term after sales service.

Its equipment are imported from Germany, China, Vietnam and Spain. The main source of the solar panels is China-based Suntech, the largest manufacturer of solar panels in the world.

"Now we have lighted close to 600 baranggays. We can double that in a year's time," Helen Tong said. Propmech-Green Heat has installed 10,000 solar panel systems around the country worth P15,000 to P20,000 per system.

This will allow income to grow income and installation volume by 20 percent and 50 percent, respectively, she said.

Propmech-Green Heat is into rural electrification, which is part of the government's household electrification program that will end in 2017.

Propmech-Green Heat can also enter into large-scale solar power generation.

"There are a lot of people we have been talking on solar farms. For solar farms, everybody is waiting for the feed-in tariff (FIT) rate so for now it is on hold," Helen Tong said.

The FIT scheme, whose implementation is already delayed by almost three years, guarantees investments of renewable energy firms through fixed rates that would be shouldered by consumers over a set period of time.