Here’s something about the Philippines to be proud of. Did you know that the Philippines has the largest solar power plant in Southeast Asia? Can you guess where it is? It’s in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental! The CEPALCO 1-MW Photovoltaic Power Plant is owned and operated by the Cagayan Electric Power & Light Company, Inc., which is one of the largest electricity distributors in the country and services Cagayan de Oro (CDO) and nearby municipalities.
The power plant, which generates 1.1 MW of power, is currently the 133rd largest solar power plant in the world (with ties) according to this list and puts the Philippines at number 9 among the countries in the world having the largest solar power plants! The Philippines is behind solar powerhouse Germany (who has 64 out of the top 100 largest solar power plants), Portugal, Spain, Japan, USA, Italy, the Netherlands, and South Korea. This also means that the power plant is also the largest among developing countries. Surprisingly, CEPALCO is being quite modest by not touting their record on their official website.
(Update, February 4, 2008: The power plant is currently bumped down to #217 and the Philippines is now #10 after Switzerland started operating its 1.3MW solar power plant in August 2007.)
The construction of the power plant, which was handled by Sumitomo Corp., started in August 2003 and was finished in April of the succeeding year. It consists of 6,480 Sharp ND-Q7E6Z photovoltaic modules and was designed to provide up to 1,500 MWh of electricity annually. (Source)
Some geekiness: if you count the rectangular “units” in the satellite image, you’ll see that there are 54 units. Divide that into 6,480 and you get 120 modules/unit. Hehehe. Also notice in the satellite image that, despite the oblique orientation of the power plant’s lot, the units are arranged east-to-west in order to maximize the sun’s light. (I have no proof for that last statement, but it’s easy to infer.)
Back in 2002, there was a plan to put up Sinag 1, in Palawan, which was to have been the world’s largest solar power plant back then at 6.67 MW. Apparently, this grandiose plan did not push through.
A note: While the plant’s 1.1 MW of solar power puts the Philippines among the top solar power producers, it pales in comparison to the 200-MW Agus 6 Hydroelectric Power Plant by the Maria Cristina Falls and 1,200-MW Sual Power Plant, which is the country’s largest coal-fired power-plant. Yes, solar electricity is really, really expensive and coal- and oil-based power is still cheap. Yet, is the the cost to the environment something we can really pay?