Philippines' largest solar irrigation to double harvests, sell excess power to grid


(Photo: Presidential Communication Office of the Philippines)

The largest and only solar irrigation system in the Philippines was officially inaugurated on June 10. The local government has applied renewable energy to agricultural projects, reducing the use of fossil fuels and lowering carbon emissions. This initiative not only helps to increase crop yields but also provides an opportunity to sell excess electricity to the national grid, providing additional income for farmers.

Solar panels boost farm yields

Located in Isabela province on Luzon Island, the solar irrigation system cost PHP 65.77 million (about USD 1.1 million) and took eight months to build. A total of 1,056 solar panels were installed, generating 739,200 watts of electricity to power two submersible pumps.

Since the solar panels are installed over the channels, they do not affect the farming area. The system is expected to provide a stable water source for 350 hectares of farmland. For the 237 farmers who previously relied on rain, this system helps to increase yields and grow other crops. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Speaker of the Philippine House of Representatives, stated that at least two harvests per year are now possible, and the yield target should be doubled.

Philippine President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. attended the inauguration ceremony in person. He mentioned that 82 solar irrigation projects were completed last year, and this year, 152 more will be added, 118 of which will be government-funded. The goal is to alleviate water scarcity while achieving carbon reduction.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. attended the inauguration ceremony. (Photo: Presidential Communication Office of the Philippines)

Immediate coal phase-out needed

According to the Philippines' power plan, the government aims to increase the share of renewable energy to 35% by 2030 and further to 50% by 2040. Currently, coal-fired power remains dominant, accounting for 44% of the total electricity supply, while renewable energy accounts for about 22%, below the global average of 30%.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reported this year that the Philippines ranks fourth in renewable energy among emerging markets. This is mainly due to various government subsidies and incentives, with fewer restrictions on foreign investment, leading to a 41% annual increase in clean energy investment, reaching USD 1.34 billion.

Ramnath Iyer, Head of Asia Climate and Renewable Energy Finance at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), stated that the development of renewable energy in the Philippines is gradually on track, but more ambitious targets should be set, such as accelerating the phase-out of coal-fired power. He also warned that with rising global interest rates, the increasing cost of financing remains a significant challenge for renewable energy developers.

Source: Manila StandardAsian PowerInquirer

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