NIA signs deal for solar-powered irrigation project in Pangasinan

THE National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said it signed a preliminary agreement on a solar farm project with which it intends to power an irrigation network in Pangasinan.

In a statement, the NIA said that it signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with New Canaan Energy Resources Corp. to develop a canal-top solar facility for the Agno River Integrated Irrigation System in Rosales, Pangasinan.

The project will serve about 101 irrigators’ associations. The system provides water to 18,162 hectares and 24,298 farmers.

“The MoU aims to pursue the development of a solar farm for utility-sized power generation by utilizing the canal top in an area which has the potential (for feasible) sustainable operations in the Agno River Integrated Irrigation System,” the NIA said.

It added that the deal will result in a “full blown study” to determine the project’s financial, socio-economic, and technical impacts.

It would also plan out cost-effective ways to develop, construct, and operate the project’s power generation component.

“The agency (seeks to harness) solar energy as the most accessible and economically viable renewable energy source to help our farmers,” it said.

“The NIA continues to utilize the full potential of its irrigation systems as multipurpose water resources projects for power generation, flood control, domestic water supply, agro-tourism, and aquaculture,” it said.

The NIA said last month that irrigation water will no longer be used exclusively for agriculture, and identified potential alternative uses as power production, bulk water supply, aquaculture, recreation, and tourism.

It also said it plans to deploy the majority of its budget to fund the construction of solar-powered irrigation systems.

The NIA has about 183 solar powered irrigation projects in the pipeline for 2024. It is budgeting about P1.72 billion for such works.

It also proposed an additional 791 potential sites across 39,694 hectares for similar projects. — Adrian H. Halili