The government has awarded to SunAsia Energy Inc. and Blueleaf Energy the contract to build and operate the world’s largest floating solar project in the Philippines.
The project has a cumulative capacity of over 750 megawatts (MW).
The move is viewed as a milestone in the Philippine energy sector, with the Department of Energy (DoE) issuing the first set of solar energy operating contracts (SEOCs) for a total 1.3 gigawatts (GW) in floating solar projects.
In September 2022 during President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s state visit to Singapore, Blueleaf Energy signed a letter declaring its intention to significantly increase its commitment for sustainable infrastructure investments in the Philippines.
The firm is a stand-alone portfolio company of Macquarie’s Green Investment Group. In partnership with SunAsia Energy, it has been developing the large-scale floating solar facility on Laguna Lake, spanning the cities of Calamba, Sta. Rosa and Cabuyao, and the towns of Bay and Victoria in Laguna.
During the contract awarding ceremony at the DoE office in Makati City, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla reiterated his promise to strengthen the renewable energy (RE) sector and declared the DoE’s support for commercialized floating solar facilities as an emerging technology.
Australian Ambassador HK Yu PSM and Singaporean Ambassador Gerard Ho Wei Hong were among those present at the event, which reflected the need to meet the Philippines’ decarbonization targets by 2040.
Blueleaf Energy CEO Raghuram Natarajan said: “As an active investor in sustainable infrastructure in the Asia Pacific region, we believe the Philippines holds great potential to add significant RE capacity to its energy mix and at the same time deliver green energy at an affordable cost compared to fossil fuels.”
He said the proposed lifting of restrictions on foreign ownership would be “an important step in attracting the much-needed foreign direct investments in the Philippine RE sector, to accelerate the energy transition for meeting the country’s decarbonization and net zero targets.”
Natarajan said that after the signing of the SEOCs, Blueleaf Energy would push for cooperation among public and private stakeholders to ensure the success of the project.
This will “not only contribute to the country’s RE goals, but also spark green job growth locally” and “bring about notable benefits to the local community,” he said.
Tetchi Capellan, president and CEO of SunAsia Energy, observed that “land use is becoming a big issue for renewables.”
“People are worrying about competing uses of land, and in some markets, you might struggle to find land,” Capellan said, adding:
“There is a strong incentive to build on water as the Philippines gears up for ambitious 46 GW solar energy installations in 2040 and, at the same time, increase power supply in the country.”
Since 2019, SunAsia Energy has been operating a testbed on Laguna Lake to study wave behavior, wind movements, solar intensity, and temperature variables in the locality.
Like land-based systems, floating solar panels generate electricity from the sun’s rays. But the bodies of water that these farms rest on also help cool the panels, allowing them to be more efficient than terrestrial solar, according to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute.
Solar-on-water is seen to boost clean power. Massive solar farms can now be found on bodies of water in South Korea, Japan, China, Thailand, Singapore, and Portugal.
Developing solar-on-water projects in the Philippines’ largest lake will help achieve the government’s ambitious decarbonization target as well as the power to run industries, light homes, and energize cities.
More importantly, it will be a legacy of the Philippines to the global renewable energy space, SunAsia Energy said.
In the last two decades, Blueleaf Energy has developed and built almost 2 GW of solar capacity worldwide, including 250 MW in the Philippines. It currently has over 7 GW of solar, wind and storage projects in the pipeline across the Asia-Pacific.
SunAsia Energy, a developer of sustainable solar energy in the country, has since its inception in 2013 partnered with various entities to develop solar projects including the 60 MWp Toledo solar project in Cebu and the 20 MWp Dagupan solar project in Pangasinan.
Leading RE platform
Blueleaf Energy is a leading Pan Asian RE platform that develops, finances, owns and operates renewables and storage assets to accelerate the energy transition towards net zero and beyond.
It is committed to uphold the highest environmental, social, governance and safety standards, and serves both corporate and industrial consumers and large utilities, providing customers access to competitive and green energy mix and solutions to achieve their sustainability targets.
SunAsia Energy Inc. is a pioneer RE developer in the Philippines.
Founded by innovative entrepreneurs from real estate and agriculture, it continues to deliver megawatts of clean electricity in support of the country’s energy security goals and to contribute to global efforts to transition toward a net-zero carbon emission future.