The Philippines inaugurate the largest solar-powered irrigation system to provide free water to fields

An innovative solar irrigation system was inaugurated in Isabela, capable of irrigating 350 hectares of rice fields and improving the lives of 237 farmers, promoting the efficient use of water resources in the Philippines

The province of Isabela, located in the northeastern part of the Philippines, has launched an innovative solar-powered irrigation system.

Between July 2023 and February 2024, a PHP 65.7 million (1.1 million USD) project was implemented, featuring over 1,000 solar panels. This system can generate 739.200 kW of power to operate two submersible pumps, each capable of discharging 12,800 gallons of water per minute.

Benefits for local farmers and the environment

The President of the Philippines, Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., stated that this is the largest solar-powered irrigation project ever undertaken in the country. It will be able to irrigate 865 acres of rice fields, assisting nearly 237 farmers. Isabela province is the leading producer of corn and the second-largest producer of rice in the Philippines, as Marcos Jr. highlighted:

“If we used petroleum-powered machines to bring water to the fields before, now we do it with the help of the sun. Zero-cost electricity taken from the sun to guarantee free irrigation. Thanks to this project, there will be a continuous flow of water in your village, crops will be better cared for, and your yields will increase, doubling production.”

This project is the first in the Philippines to be built over an irrigation canal, allowing for no reduction in cultivable land. Marcos Jr. announced that 152 other solar-powered irrigation projects are being developed nationwide, with 118 managed by the government. Since 2023, 82 solar irrigation projects have already been completed and activated.

Despite its resources, the Philippines faces significant water scarcity. Recent government estimates show that 40 million Filipinos lack access to potable water. Marcos Jr. has thus called for a reorganization of the country’s water agencies to address challenges related to water management, including the requirements for irrigation, domestic, and industrial use in underserved areas.

Since 2020, the Philippine National Irrigation Administration has intensified investments in irrigation projects to improve water and energy supply. The association has approved 15 solar-powered irrigation projects and two small irrigation projects in Isabela province, which could irrigate an additional 620 acres of farmland and assist 867 farmers. In October 2023, the first solar irrigation project built over a canal in the country was commissioned.

Source: NIA

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