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Belgian firm plans Davao solar

Enfinity S.A of Belgium, through local unit Enfinity Philippines, is putting up a 28.6-megawatt solar power plant in Digos, Davao del Sur.

Enfinity said in a statement the project aimed to address power outages in Mindanao amid the El Niño weather phenomenon that could reduce the capacity of hydro power plants in the island.

The company said the 28.6-MW Digos solar farm would significantly boost supply and help plug the generation deficiency in the Mindanao grid, especially during the critical dry months.

The company is investing P2 billion for the first phase of the project. It invested about 20 percent of the investment to civil works, concrete and other materials and salaries.

Enfinity will develop the first phase of the planned solar facility on a 34.8-hectare site in Davao del Sur. Commercial commissioning of the initial phase is expected around February next year.

Enfinity Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd. business development director William Ruccius said “solar production matches with the power demand as the generation is during the peak time of day and the maximum generation occurs in the hot summer months when the sun is directly overhead and seasonal demand is highest.”

He said solar power could address Mindanao’s power needs during peak hours, a cheaper option compared with the traditional source of diesel plants.

“Solar is a low-cost solution to peaking power today and as the cost continues to come down in the near future, it will take a bigger share of the generation load,” Ruccius said.

Enfinity said there was a need to diversify Mindanao’s sources of power because of the seasonality of hydropower facilities, still the grid’s major  source, following delays in the commercial operation of some baseload coal plants.

The utility-scale solar plant will be equipped with photovoltaic  panels to be supplied by Hanwha of South Korea.

The Digos solar farm is now advancing to full construction phase following the issuance of ‘notice to proceed’ to Sterling and Wilson of India as the international engineering, procurement and construction contractor and Miescor as the local contractor.

Ruccius noted that “employment will peak [to] about 500 during construction and there will be about 50 jobs during operation.”

Enfinity said it held job fairs in four barangays “to screen and process local applicants for these jobs.”

The second phase of the project involving 15 MW will be constructed on a 20-hectare site.

“We are in discussions with electric cooperatives in Mindanao to supply power through long-term power purchase agreements on the phase 2 and other projects,” Ruccius said.

Host communities and local government units are expected to gain from the project in the form of real property nd business taxes and a share of national wealth of one percent revenue.

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