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Floating solar project started in Magat Dam

Ramon, Isabela—Renewable energy company SN Aboitiz Power-Magat has switched on the 200-kilowatt pilot floating solar project here, the first of its kind in the country.

Floating solar project started in Magat Dam
The floating solar project of SN Aboitiz is deployed in the Magat Reservoir in Ramon, Isabela. Jessica M. Bacud
Joseph Yu, SNAP president and chief executive officer, said the project will only be used to operate the Magat hydropower plant and the company will develop it to a bigger facility that can add to the Luzon grid’s power needs.

“This is the first non-hydro renewable energy project of SNAP that will provide power to SNAP’s facilities in the area and will be looking at other renewables and complementary technologies to expand the company’s renewable energy portfolio,” Yu stressed. 

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, who attended the launch, said the potential of floating solar power will benefit not only the company but will also provide additional power to the country’s requirements.

The Philippines’ demand peaked at 11,000 megawatts, which signals the necessity to produce more energy for its developmental needs, the Department of Energy said in a statement.

“An improving economy requires an increase in electricity demand, and that is what the government is doing, increasing the capacity,” Cusi reiterated.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, who represented President Rodrigo Duterte, said: “Electric power industry plays a very special role in the countryside.”

“One of the aspects in the increase of our economic growth stems from the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program of the government. With the 9-point Agenda of the Duterte administration, it has been supportive of the renewable energy industry and eyeing to establish local solar power,” Nograles said.

SNAP-Magat Inc. invested over $400,000 (P24 million) for the facility placed over a 2,500-square meter area over the Magat reservoir.

The circular installation consists of 720 solar panels whose design is inspired by the Amazon water lily. It is kept in place by four mooring systems.

The company will conduct a 10-month stress test on the pilot project to safeguard the facility and withstand massive inflows and strong typhoons.

Other than not competing for land space, floating solar facilities have several other benefits according to studies, SNAP said in a statement. “They safeguard the water levels in dams and reservoirs by reducing evaporation which is critical during times of drought and El Niño,” the company added.

When scaled, floating solar installations can provide shade that can inhibit the growth of harmful algae, while providing sanctuary for marine life that cannot survive in very hot temperatures, Yu said.

For the pilot project, SNAP partnered with Ocean Sun. The Norwegian floating solar technology provider’s method of installation of solar panels on floating membranes enables low cost and high performance and has proven to withstand strong winds successfully while maintaining good seaworthiness.

If successful, SNAP will look into scaling up the project so that the power generated may contribute to its renewable energy capacity and to the country’s energy security.

SNAP-Magat is a joint venture between SN Power of Norway and AboitizPower. It owns and operates the 360- to 388-megawatt Magat hydro on the border of Isabela and Ifugao; and the 8.5-MW Maris hydro in Isabela. Only the power components of Magat were privatized; the dam and its re-regulating facilities downstream are owned and maintained by the National Irrigation Administration.

SNAP said it will consider scaling up the project if proven to be successful.

Floating solar project started in Magat Dam
 In photo (from left) at its launch are National Irrigation Administration head Ricardo Visaya, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, SN Aboitiz Power president and CEO Joseph Yu, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, SN Power chief executive officer Erik Knive, AboitizPower president Erramon Isidro Aboitiz, and Norwegian Ambassador Bjørn Jahnsen. Jessica M. Bacud
 “This pilot holds the potential for significantly greater things in the future. We picked now to turn it on because we are heading into the wet season. As we go into the wet season, we will get to test out how well it will withstand the rain and the wind speed,” Yu said. 

Topics: SN Aboitiz Power-Magat , floating solar project , Joseph Yu , Alfonso Cusi
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