DOE: Solar farms to “eat” agri lands


A document released by the Department of Energy (DOE) shows that the Philippines’ plans for massive solar power installations may result in weaker food security.

Based on the Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) 2020-2040, which the DOE released to the public on Friday, the country will need 461.4 square kilometers for solar by 2040 under the clean energy scenario.

Based on the rule of thumb for solar installations, one megawatt of power is produced for every hectare of land area used — a cause for concern even for the agency that is pushing for renewable energy to comprise 35% of the Philippines’ energy mix by 2030.

“This reduces agricultural land since it is the most viable land for solar use as it is under flatlands, where solar radiation is easily captured. This effect necessitates land-use policy for agriculture vis-a-vis energy use to mitigate the negative impact of VRE (variable renewable energy) on food security,” part of the PEP reads.

The DOE is also calling for a deeper study on the use of solar rooftop installations to reduce the need for land to generate solar power.

It further stated that VREs, particularly solar and wind, are vulnerable to intermittent hazards such as typhoons, thus reducing the reliability of the grid.

“Likewise, a study on climate, land, energy, and water nexus must also be conducted to balance the interrelationships among other sectors of the economy,” the PEP further reads.

The DOE has approved the development of over 200 solar power projects nationwide.

Back in May, Citicore Power opened its first agro-solar farm in Tarlac City.

Meanwhile, several companies have taken on floating solar projects, the first one being SN Aboitiz Power’s facility in the Magat reservoir at the Isabela-Ifugao border. MERALCO Powergen Corporation and AC Energy have also floating solar projects in the pipeline, particularly in the Laguna De Bay.