The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) has approved SN Aboitiz Power’s (SNAP) proposal to install a 200-kilowatt (kW) floating solar project in the Magat Dam reservoir.
This pilot project will be placed over a 2,500-square meter area over the Magat reservoir, and will focus on providing internal power to SNAP’s facilities in the area. For this pilot project, SNAP will conduct a stress test to ensure that the facility works through incidences of massive inflows and strong typhoons.
“We have always viewed ourselves as a renewable energy company—not just a hydro power producer,” said SNAP Group President and CEO Joseph Yu. “As a company pushing for greener solutions, we aim for minimal environmental impact as possible in our projects. We espouse a nexus approach to development, where we recognize the interdependence of food, water, and energy and optimize them for balance and synergy.”
In a statement, NIA Administrator Ricardo R. Visaya, said that a hectare of solar field can produce one megawatt (MW) of power. The government agency said that if 200 of the 4,500 hectares of the Magat Dam reservoir will be will be used for water-based solar power, 200 MW will be generated and 200 hectares of agricultural lands could be saved.
Other than not competing for land space, floating solar facilities have a number of other benefits according to studies. They safeguard the water levels in dams and reservoirs by preventing evaporation, such facilities can also provide sanctuary for marine life that cannot survive in very hot temperatures.
If successful, SNAP will look into scaling up the project so that the power generated may contribute to its renewable energy capacity and energy security.
SNAP is a joint between SN Power of Norway and AboitizPower. It owns and operates the 360- to 380-MW Magat hydro on the border of Isabela and Ifugao; the 8.5-MW Maris hydro in Isabela; the 105-MW Ambuklao hydro in Benguet; and the 140-MW Binga hydro also in Benguet.