Solar Power Plant in the Philippines
Solar Power Plant in the Philippines

Solar Power Plant in the Philippines

Photovoltaics is one of the most essential building blocks for a successful energy transition in the Philippines. In addition to photovoltaic systems on private residential buildings, large systems such as solar power plants in the Philippines represent one of the best solutions for future electricity supply. 

Municipalities, regional farmers, and landowners can thus develop an alternative source of income that can be planned in the long term. The solar farms, usually at least 5 hectares in size, prevent excessive network expansion in the form of power lines.

List of Solar Farms in the PhilippinesProduction (MW)Farm Size in Hectares
Calatagan Solar Farm63.3160
Negros Solar Power Plant132.5170
Cadiz Solar Power Plant132.5176
San Carlos Solar Energy3535
Tarlac Solar Farm7855
Cagayan de Oro Solar Power Plant12
Ilocos Sur Solar Power Plant16100
Bulacan Solar Power Plant5022.87
Cabanatuan Solar Power Plant1012

What is a Solar Farm?

A solar park is a photovoltaic system installed at ground level on 5 hectares or more of open space with an output ranging from hundreds of kilowatts (kW) to several megawatts (MW). 

These systems are also colloquially called “solar fields.” The special circumstances of a solar park require specific system planning, including substructure, solar module strings, inverters, and other aspects. The electricity generated by the solar park is usually not stored in electricity storage systems but is fed 100 percent into the electricity grid, for which the operator then receives a feed-in tariff.

In addition to the conventional design, there are special Agri-PV and floating PV forms. While Agri-PV uses agricultural land to generate electricity, with floating PV – also called “floating photovoltaics” – the solar modules are mounted on floating bodies that float on unused water surfaces.

How Does a Solar Farm Work?

After the solar farm has been successfully put into operation, it generates environmentally-friendly electricity like a conventional PV system on the roof of a home. More precisely, the system’s solar modules capture solar radiation and thus generate direct current. Inverters convert this direct current into alternating current, which is then fed into the power grid.

Requirement for Building a Solar Farm

The construction of a solar park is a large project, the successful realization of which requires many aspects to be considered in advance. In principle, areas of little ecological importance and may be pre-polluted have a good chance of being approved. However, areas on obvious hills do not meet the requirements for building a solar field.

Areas along motorways or railway lines can be optimally used for large open-space systems. The same applies to so-called conversion areas. This is a site that was used initially commercially or militarily. Due to pollutants, ordnance or other factors, these areas are unusable for most applications. Areas sealed by human development can also be considered, as natural processes are no longer possible here.

How to Build Your Own Solar Power Plant in the Philippines

If you want to build a solar park, implementing such a project usually involves several steps. I have outlined for you below the phases a solar park customer goes through and what needs to be done on the way to final completion. 

It should be noted that the sequence shown here is not a mandatory requirement, but rather merely represents a possible structure that roughly summarizes the most important intermediate steps.

1. Preparatory project development

The first step is project development. At the beginning, an area must be identified that proves to be suitable based on feasibility studies. In order to be able to use this area for a set period of time, appropriate lease agreements or purchase agreements must be concluded. It must also be ensured that the solar energy generated by the photovoltaic modules is properly supplied to the power grid. Apart from that, various reports and approvals such as a glare report must be obtained. It may also be necessary to develop cooperation models and citizen participation as part of the project development of a solar farm.

2. Financial modeling

In this step the project is viewed from a financial perspective. What risks do the client face? What returns can be predicted for the investor? So what is the expected annual return? These central questions will be clarified in this phase. Also part of this phase is securing the feed-in tariffs as well as negotiating and concluding an electricity supply contract, also known as a “power purchase agreement” (PPA).

3. Planning and construction

In order to plan a solar field, a site analysis must first be carried out. Based on the resulting results, an individual implementation plan is created. Once the planning has been completed, the photovoltaic components can be purchased. These include solar modules, inverters, solar cables, substructures and some other PV components. 

As soon as all components are available, electronics engineers, fitters and project managers can begin building the solar farm. The solar system is then commissioned. The solar installer is available to the network operator as a contact person throughout the entire process.

4. Operation of the solar park

After completion, the solar installer takes on various tasks to ensure the smooth operation of the open-space system. Technical operational management is crucial to ensuring that your PV system maintains its value.

This includes monitoring the system, where the performance data is monitored and optimization potential is identified. Typically, every photovoltaic system requires maintenance, including a solar farm. There is no general answer to the question of at what intervals maintenance should ideally be carried out. 

Depending on various factors, maintenance is usually carried out every one to four years. In addition to maintenance work, green maintenance must be carried out in accordance with official requirements.

Advantages of a Solar Farm

Photovoltaics enjoys a very good reputation in every respect. But what are the specific advantages of a solar farm? In addition to financial advantages, large-scale systems also have a very positive effect on the environment in many ways.

Apart from the environmentally friendly generation of electricity, large open-space systems represent a benefit for the local ecology. Ultimately, a new habitat and retreat for plants and animals can be created on the corresponding area. In addition, biological regeneration can take place through soil rest, which also benefits the environment.

In fact, the construction of a large-scale facility also creates jobs in the region. In addition to the planning and installation work, civil engineering or cable work also has to be carried out. In addition, long-term green care and maintenance of the photovoltaic system are required, for which regional specialist companies obviously have to be hired.

The space-saving advantage also deserves special attention. The constantly evolving photovoltaic cell technology ensures that more and more power can be achieved in less and less space. Compared to a biogas system, the highly efficient photovoltaic system generates 40 times as much energy per area.

Despite the numerous advantages, you should carefully consider whether investing in a solar park is right for you at this time. In order to professionally evaluate the advantages and disadvantages, a solar technician who is experienced in this field will ideally help you.

Here the advantages of building a solar farm:

  • Emission-free electricity generation 
  • Increasing biodiversity 
  • Ecological enhancement 
  • Attractive return
  • Regional added value 
  • Creation of regional jobs 
  • Local energy supply instead of importing electricity 
  • Great acceptance 
  • Decreasing space requirements (increasing performance/m²) 

With citizen participation for more acceptance 

Many interest groups – also known as “stakeholders” – are involved in large construction projects that visibly impact the environment. These include, for example, Project sponsors such as solar engineers and solar investors, political decision-makers, government agencies, nature conservation associations, media representatives, and private households. 

Different usage interests for the required areas can lead to fears of economic losses among existing land users. At the same time, the change in the usual landscape has the potential for conflicts with the municipalities.

To ensure that these possible sources of conflict do not develop into insurmountable resistance, the public and local population should be involved in the necessary procedures at an early stage. 

In such a case one also speaks of citizen participation. The financial participation of citizens in the solar farm is proving to be an effective means of dealing with conflicts. 

How long does it take to build a solar farm?

Depending on the size of the solar farm, the construction time is usually only a few weeks. The previous project development takes up the majority of the total duration. It is, therefore, not possible to give a general answer as to how much time it will ultimately take to realize such a project.

How much Electricity Does a Solar Farm Produce?

The solar farm’s yield per hectare (ha) is calculated over a year, around 1,000,000 to 1,250,000 kilowatt hours (kWh). This can cover the annual electricity consumption of about 300 households in the Philippines. Assuming a lifespan of 30 years, a solar farm can generate a total yield of 30,000,000 to 37,500,000 kWh per hectare.

Structural challenges and problems?

The solar modules can usually be installed without any problems. But there are always difficulties when laying the solar cables. Due to the inadequately developed power grid, longer distances may have to be covered to the next connection point. Expensive drilling can have to be carried out beneath roads or rivers to reach the target. Such cases represent relatively significant challenges in project implementation.

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