The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) has responded to comments by Vicente C Sotto III, the leader of the nation's Senate, about plans to roll out multi-hectare solar-powered irrigation systems, by stating it has already installed one such facility, as well as hundreds of smaller scale solar pumps and a floating solar pilot project.
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An article published on the NIA website yesterday said Sotto and fellow senator Panfilo M Lacson had told the Politiko news website about plans to use state funding to finance the roll-out of solar irrigation systems on plantations and paddy fields.
In response, the irrigation authority said it had already invested PHP1.52 billion (US$29.6 million) installing 333 solar pumps across the nation which could irrigate 6,480ha and benefit 8,467 farmers. Based on those numbers, the NIA said, each unit of horsepower generated by the solar pumps required PHP360,000 (US$7,010) and each hectare watered, PHP234,000 (US$4,560).
The government body said it installed a 200kW, 2,500m2 floating solar demo project at the Magat reservoir, on the island of Luzon, in June 2019 and would offer up sites for similar projects on its other bodies of water, including the Pantabangam Dam, in the Nueva Ecija province of Luzon; and the Jalaur Dam, in the Iloilo province of Panay island, in the Western Visayas region.
Regarding the larger irrigation systems referred to by the senators, the NIA said it had already installed a five-station, 50-panel facility capable of watering 25ha of cornfields in Barangay Pacuan, in the Pangasinan province on Luzon.
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