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Big news in solar energy development

WHAT could possibly be the biggest news to industry and to the movement for a cleaner world environment was the announcement the other day that solar energy is now cheaper than fossil fuel energy.

“The debate is over,” Solar Philippines President Leandro Leviste said at a forum in Makati this past week. “Solar is cheaper than coal and we’re building projects to prove it.” Danny Kennedy, founder of Sungevity, one of America’s leading solar companies, said solar and battery costs have fallen at an extraordinary rate and are now starting to supply most of the needs of some tropical countries.

Despite the commitment the Philippines made with 130 other nations at the Paris Climate Change Conference last December to support international efforts to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, the Philippines is scheduled to build 23 coal-fired plants in the next four years.

The national government approved the new coal plants to meet the demand for energy by Philippine industry and the general public. Coal was said to be the cheapest fuel for the production of energy. Thus the new plants, including
two in Davao City, one in Subic, Zambales, and the expansion of plants in Quezon and Bataan.

The forum in Makati the other day, however, disclosed that solar costs have fallen due to economies of scale, vertical integration, advances in technology, and increased market maturity. Leviste said Philippine costs have gone down 50 percent. Kenney likened the rise of solar power in the world to the rise of mobile cellphones which have effectively eclipsed landlines.

Incoming President Duterte, during the election campaign, called for the eventual phase-out of coal and other power plants that use harmful fuels. He called for more investments in renewable energy, such as solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and biomass. The time frame for phase-out would be determined by the speed with which renewable energy resources can replace coal.

That time has now come, the forum on “The Truth about Solar: Now Cheaper than Coal” said. With the new administration of President Duterte, the Philippines with its abundant solar, wind, geothermal, and other natural resources, should be taking the lead in this great worldwide effort to bring about a cleaner world.