Soleco puts up 1st picohydro power plant in Philippines

Danessa Rivera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Southern Leyte Electric Cooperative Inc. (Soleco) has put up a picohydro power generation system, the first of its kind in the country, state-run National Electrification Administration (NEA) said.

In a statement, NEA said Soleco’s picohydro system, which started operating in Aug. 12, utilizes tail water from the Hanabian Minihydro Power Plant and generates power of up to 600 watts with maximum water flow velocity of 4.6 meter per second.

It has partnered with Helios Altas and DA Green Power Consultancy which also undertook development of project feasibility studies.

Using the mechanism of a waterwheel, the picohydro system has an engineered suspension system for easy mounting, making it one of the most adaptable small-scale renewable energy (RE) technologies to environmental changes. 

Soleco general manager Jonathan Empeño said the system is already synchronized to the grid, allowing the electric coop to sell generated power at a blended generation cost.

He said the approximate cost of picohydro system below five kilowatts (kW) was $8,500/kW, while cost for five kW and above was estimated at $5,500/kW. Cost includes engineering design, construction, equipment installation, and commissioning.

According to DA Green Power Consultancy chief operating officer Regino Galindes, the picohydro power generation system poses minimal modifications to existing water systems as it uses a modular and scalable energy device that can easily harness power from running water in rivers, irrigation canals, and base of dams.

He added it only took two days to install the Soleco picohydro power system and could easily be dismounted if there are warnings of flood or typhoon.

To keep the picohydro facilities in check, a remote monitoring device was likewise installed in the system to prompt data and important alerts to the central control system.

Soleco’s use of RE technology is “consistent with the policy direction of the national government to tap renewables and increase its share in the energy mix,” NEA officer-in-charge Sonia San Diego said.

“As an agency committed to the protection of environment, NEA, together with its partner ECs, is pushing the frontiers in RE project development to help position the Philippines as a world leader in the use of renewables,” she said.

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