Solar Philippines Nueva Ecija Corporation (SPNEC), just like its parent company Solar Philippines Power Project Holdings Inc., is banking not just on its future solar power generation capacity but also on its vast landholdings to attract both stock market investors and potential business partners.
In an interview, Solar Philippines Founder Leandro Leviste noted that, while SPNEC has already secured 352 hectares of land for the first two phases of its planned solar power farm in Nueva Ecija, they intend to buy even more land in the area for future expansion phases.
“That’s why I said that even if it’s just SPNEC, it will be eventually more than 500 megawatts… This area has the most suitable land for solar closest to Manila so it can keep on growing because of the ability to be connected to Manila,” he explained.
Leviste said they have over 70 percent of the solar energy service contract capacity in the Philippines as they have been developing sites since 2016. “People didn’t think that it was viable. But we had a faith that one day this day would come. And we’re glad that it now is here,” he said.
“That’s why we’re saying actually that, rather than compete with the country’s power companies, we are seeing it as much more practical to invite them to use the land that we have developed in our solar energy zones,” he said.
While the country’s biggest players in the power industry are gearing up to invest in solar power, he said, they are finding it difficult to pursue these plans since the main constraint is finding large tracts of land suitable for solar farms as well as transmission lines to the power grid.
Solar Philippines has consolidated over 10,000 hectares of the only large solar sites in the Philippines and these are all in Luzon and close to Metro Manila where the demand for renewable energy sources is highest.
The group has options over these parcels of land, from thousands of landowners who have signified willingness to sell or lease, being prepared for full payment after funds are raised for projects by its various subsidiaries.
Its subsidiaries have already sealed partnerships with the Razon Group as well as AC Energy. Leviste said they continue to be open to partnerships with other players who need their land assets including those of SPNEC.
Leviste said that, once land and financing is secured, it takes about nine months to connect the project to the national grid. After this, he said “it becomes relatively easy to add solar panels… you can install three or four megawatts per day. So you can install 100 megawatts a month.”
He added that, as an added bonus of having large tracts of land, the economy of scale allows the company to reduce cost to around $400,000 per megawatt or about 20 percent less than the cost of producers with less land.
SPNEC has recently priced its planned P2.7 billion initial public offering at P1.00 per share. The offer period is planned for December 1 to 7, 2021, with a tentative listing date on the Main Board of the PSE on December 17, 2021.
The proceeds of the IPO are to be used to complete the first 50 MW of the project and acquire land to expand the project beyond 500 MW, in support of SPNEC’s plan to develop the largest solar project in Southeast Asia.