SNAP to complete water-based solar project in Magat Dam, Isabela

By Lenie Lectura – September 14, 2018
from Business Mirror

SN Aboitiz Power Group (SNAP) is targeting to complete in early-2019 a water-based, solar-power project in Magat Dam in Isabela.

SNAP President and CEO Joseph Yu said the floating solar panels “may be” ready by “early next year.”

The capacity of the floating solar-power project is 200 kilowatts, a small-scale pilot project over the Magat reservoir, Yu said on Wednesday night.

The 2,500-square meter (sq m) pilot project over the Magat reservoir is in its advance testing phase. If successful, Yu said the company intends to expand the project for grid use.

“What we’d like to do is make sure it works, stress test it. Test it mechanically how much it can take. Make sure by the time we scale it up and build many of these, they can survive many typhoons. If it’s viable, we would like to scale it up. My feeling is, you can scale it up as quickly as you can build it.

“But at the same time, there are constraints. One can only build so much at any given time. Solar happens to be one of the technologies that is quickly built. We’d have to see how quickly it scales up, how it can work through the transmission lines, sign respective agreements with LGUs,” added Yu.

The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) earlier said a water-based solar-power project is more beneficial than the land-based, which converts large portions of agricultural lands into solar plants, making irrigable farmlands smaller. This results to the decrease in food production and poses a threat to the country’s food security.

It also defeats NIA’s purpose of constructing and developing more irrigation systems in the country to ensure rice self-sufficiency. Instead of indulging into land-based solar project, NIA thus offers its dams and reservoirs for the water-based project, which can achieve the same purpose of increasing power production while saving agricultural lands.

“We feel floating has a place in the portfolio because we want to provide a solution for the country to not have to give up agricultural land and trade it for energy security,” Yu said.

NIA Administrator Ricardo Visaya had said one hectare of solar field can produce one megawatt. For instance, in Magat Dam with a reservoir of 4,500 hectares, if 200 hectares will be utilized for the water-based solar power, 200 MW will be generated and 200 hectares of agricultural lands will be saved.

Moreover, the project can also be beneficial by providing additional income to the government. It can also prevent the decrease of the water level in the dams and reservoirs due to evaporation. It can likewise provide sanctuary for marine life as it prevents fishes and other species from dying due to hot temperature.

Aside from Magat Dam, there are still other big dams in the country, which can also be installed with a floating solar-power plant, such as the Pantabangan Dam and Casecnan Dam in Nueva Ecija.