Dutch-Filipino group plans solar power farms in PHBy Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Filipino urban households may soon enjoy electricity harvested from solar farms in the countryside.
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said a Dutch-Filipino solar power company wants to rent non-agricultural lands in rural areas to establish solar farms that could be plugged into the national grid.
The Department of Agrarian Reform said beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program can lease out part of their land to Sunconnex Solar Powered Agri-Rural Communities (SC-Sparc), which signed a memorandum of agreement with the agency on Tuesday.
The company is targeting to put up 50 solar farms in the Philippine countryside that could produce 5-10 megawatts each. In the long run, the company said, it aims to provide 250-500 mw of power to the national grid.
“This is another opportunity for our agrarian reform beneficiaries to earn extra income by way of leasing out portions of their farm for the setting up of solar-powered plants with a generating capacity of 5-10 mw each,” Agrarian Reform Secretary Gil de los Reyes said.
National Convergence Initiative chief Marriz Agbon hailed the project, saying it could not come at a better time. He noted that the government was in need of more energy sources in light of the power shortage in Mindanao.
Under the agreement with the DAR, Sparc will enter into a long-term lease contract with land reform beneficiaries for the use of the land over a period of 20 years. The company said it will pay direct rental to the farmers, with the farmers’ cooperative getting a small percentage of the lease cost.
De los Reyes said the Sparc program would not just benefit the farmer-beneficiaries but the country as well in the form of clean energy from solar power. The power generated by the solar farm will be sent into the national grid as part of the energy blend bought by distributors. This way, even those households in the urban centers can benefit from the power harvest in the solar farms.
Officials said about 50 sites have been identified by the company, which will put up solar PV panels and storage facilities in the chosen areas. Sparc said it has identified areas in Zambales and Zamboanga for solar farms.
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