ALL FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY.Officials of Aboitiz Power led by president and CEO Erramon Aboitiz, (6th from left) SN Aboitiz Power president and CEO Joseph Yu (3rd from left) with (left to right) National Irrigation Administration Administrator Ricardo Visaya (leftmost), Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, Department of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, SN Power CEO Eric Knive and Norway Ambassador to the Philippines Bjorn Jahnsen during the formal switch-on ceremony on Thursday (June 27, 2019) of the 200-kilowatt pilot floating solar power plant in Magat reservoir. The floating solar plant will be on test run for 10 months to one year to see study its capacity to withstand a strong typhoon and wind as well its floating capability which maybe affected by the drop or hike of the dam’s water level. (PNA photo by Liza T. Agoot)

RAMON, Isabela -- The 200-kilowatt pilot floating solar power of SN Aboitiz Power-Magat (SNAP-Magat) was switched-on on Thursday, the first of its kind in the country, which the company hopes to expand to a commercial capacity after a 10-month testing period.

“This is the first non-hydro renewable energy (RE) project of SNAP, which is looking at other renewables and complementary technologies to expand the company’s renewable energy portfolio,” said Joseph Yu, SN Aboitiz Power (SNAP) president and chief executive officer during the ceremony.

Yu said initially, the project will only be used to operate the Magat hydropower plant and after a 10-month stress test on the pilot project to ensure that the facility can withstand massive inflows and strong typhoons, the company will develop it to a bigger facility that can add up to the Luzon grid’s power needs.

“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,” he said.

The company operates the SNAP-Magat located on the borders of Isabela and Ifugao provinces. It produces 360 to 388-megawatt from hydropower source. The floating solar power plant is in the reservoir of Magat.

Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi said the potential of floating solar potential will benefit not only the company but will also provide additional power to the country’s requirement.

Cusi last week said the country’s demand peaked to 11,000MW, which is an indication of the need to produce more energy for the developmental needs of the country.

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

The floating solar power provides a big potential to improve the energy source in the country especially considering the size of Magat reservoir which is 25,000 hectares.

Cusi said even if just 50 percent of the area will be utilized for a floating solar power, it will mean so much for the country’s progress.

National Irrigation Administration (NIA) chief Ricardo Visaya said their agency has raised concern over the conversion of agricultural land used for food production to solar fields, as they compete with food sustainability.

“If this [conversion] will continue, there will be no more areas to irrigate as they [farms] have been converted to solar fields,” he said.

Visaya said the floating solar power plant will address the concerns of NIA and the Department of Agriculture on land use conversion issue.

“This can be replicated and help the country in its electricity demand problem,” Visaya said, noting the 350 dams nationwide which can be used for floating solar power plants.

Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippine Bjorn Jahnsen also lauded the renewable energy production project which Norway partnered with.

He said Norway is 95 percent reliant on renewable energy sources, which is good for the environment. (PNA)