NIA to construct mini-hydropower plants

A National Irrigation Administration official announced that the agency is now going beyond just providing irrigation and has plans of constructing mini-hydropower plants to optimize the use of irrigation water.

NIA Administrator Antonio S Nangel said the agency has submitted to Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Philippines Office the updated list of potential sites for such development nationwide, and JICA visited the pre-identified site in NIA-Magat River Integrated Irrigation System (MARIIS) for the preliminary study on a mini-hydropower plant development in an existing irrigation system here.

“We will require no additional water. There will be no consumption of water, no contamination. We will just utilize the energy,” Oshima Kazunari, team leader, stressed during the courtesy call made at the provincial capitol here last August 9.

The site, known as Magat C, is located at the Maris Main Canal Sta. 5 + 069.50 in Barangay San Marcos, San Mateo, Isabela. The structure has a head of 3.18 meters and a discharge of 56 cm/s.

The Japanese have developed turbines for low-head structures. Even structures with only two meters head have potential for hydropower generation. “Though the potential is small, it is possible to contribute to a community by utilizing untapped energy, stabilizing power supply, and improving quality of life,” Mitsuru Shimizu, JICA consultant leader for the project, said.

Shimizu, who is with the Tokyo Electric Power Services Company, shared that the group has until this year to conduct the preliminary study, and once approved by the government of Japan, construction will start on the third quarter of 2013.

During the stakeholders consultation meeting conducted last August 10, Helsy S. Bermudez, MARIIS acting operations manager, expressed hope for the project to commence as planned, an outlook shared by the municipal officials of San Mateo and Ramon, Isabela, who were present during the consultation.

If the Magat C project is successful, low-head hydropower plants could be developed in several irrigation canals across the country. The NIA has identified 32 potential sites nationwide.

The project is also in line with the government’s “National Renewable Energy Program” of June 2011, which targets to triple the country’s renewable energy capacity for energy security, as well as reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

The JICA Mission Team also visited Ifugao for the Likud Mini-hydro project, a mini-hydro project outside irrigation area. Both Likud and Magat C projects are for possible application to the grant aid facility of the government of Japan for renewable energy promotion to tackle global warming.

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