Manila Bulletin — CleanTech: A ‘David-like’ RE firm in a Herculean energy transition goal
Conventional wisdom often paints the power sector as a “game for the big boys” – but in the country’s lofty ‘energy transition’ goal, even the “David-like players” are leading the way.
They may not be as gigantic as their counterpart-conglomerates in terms of track record and longevity, financial muscle and even human resources, but several start-ups or emerging companies in the renewable energy (RE) sector are equally razor-sharp and passionate about advancing their blueprinted projects to commercial developments. And on the bigger facet of business goalposts, there is that fervent desire for these companies to become part of the country’s elusive quest for energy security and sustainability that are heavily anchored on protecting the environment.
One of these firms is CleanTech Global Renewables, a company founded by Salvador Antonio R. Castro Jr., a former team manager of the country’s basketball team Gilas and a well-entrenched sportsman before the corporate world pulled him back into the fold – this time, on the sphere of energy project development.
Armed with a BS Chemical Engineering degree from the University of the Philippines, Castro – who is mostly known to peers and colleagues in sports and corporates as “Aboy” (his nickname), first worked with state-run National Power Corporation then moved to work as an engineer for a multinational corporation before he delved into sports.
His detour from sports tugged him again into the corporate orbit in 2015; and that’s when his company CleanTech pushed for the commercial development of its first utility-scale solar installation of 15 megawatts in San Ildefonso, Bulacan, a venture that made it to the feed-in-tariff (FIT) incentive scheme, a policy dangled by the government until 2016 to whet investors’ appetite in RE developments.
Then from that initial venture, CleanTech gained traction on its other projects – including the 22MW expansion of the San Ildefonso solar installation that is now under completion; the 20MW OneManaoag solar facility being developed in Santa Barbara, Pangasinan; the proposed 100MW CleanTech Renewable Energy 4 Corp (CTREC 4) venture in Lal-lo, Cagayan province; and it also cast a wind farm installation.
While the initial successes pulled off by the company are already manifest, Castro professed that “for an emerging player like CleanTech to co-exist with the energy giants and make its mark in the capital-intensive world of RE, it is very difficult.”
He further enthused “it is not for the faint of heart. Some people try it and are not able to do it, they cannot take the challenge.”
Nevertheless, Castro conveyed that there’s a bigger and more noble vision he wants to embed why he ventured into the RE sector: it’s about “seeing the Philippines someday being powered by almost 100% renewables,” with him stressing that “we know that the future of our children and the many generations after them depends heavily on our success of making this 100% RE-powered society a reality.”
Once the company’s solar plants are fully operational, these are estimated to produce over 330.632 million kilowatt-hours of electricity for the grid in 25 years; and will also displace 183,005 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions – which is equivalent to planting more than 8.4 million trees.