CURRIMAO, Ilocos Norte, Nov. 16 – Korean firm Mirae Asia Energy Corp. (MAEC) and the Ilocos Norte provincial government broke ground on Thursday (November 15) to pave the way for the construction of the 20 MW Currimao solar park on a 60 hectare-plot that is within a stretch of sand dunes in Barangay Paguludan, this town.
The Currimao solar farm is one of two projects that the Department of Energy has approved to be constructed in Ilocos Norte. In the pipeline is the 50 MW solar power project of Energy Logics Philippines, Inc. in the towns of Pasuquin and Burgos.
The sun-drenched village is easily suitable for a solar park with its unobstructed landscape and vast land area that runs parallel to the Currimao bay.
Albert Sacramed, Paguludan village chairman, said life is bound to change for fisher folks and farmers in his community once the project is operational.
“We are assured of jobs during the construction period and hopefully a more reliable and cheaper power for us,” he said.
The solar park is expected to be completed in 18 months or by May, 2014 with an expected production of 10 MW or 17,000 mwh per year in its first phase.
Currimao Mayor Gladys Go-Cue said the plant site was formerly covered by a lease agreement between her family and the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office for a tree farm that was developed by her father the late Mayor Ernesto Go in the 1990s.
“This area used to be a desert. My father began filling it up, improved the dirt roads and planted trees during his time as mayor. I feel like he prepared this site for the solar farm,” Cue said.
A section of the once-barren land is now covered with fully-grown trees, another requirement for the solar park aside from abundant sunlight.
The mayor’s family also wanted the area to be developed as a resort but they gave up on the development because the family was not able to meet the investment requirement.
Groundwork for the solar park began last year when Governor Imee Marcos entered in a Memorandum of Understanding with Korean investor Jongson Bae, MAEC President, for the building of the solar photovoltaic plant.
Marcos said Currimao was the best choice for the solar park project with its extended dry season of up to nine months every year.
“With the solar park, we will establish our claim as the renewable energy center of the country after the wind farm in Bangui and the hydropower source in the towns of Pagudpud and Adams,” she said.
Ilocos Norte’s wind giants continue to be the country’s poster image for its renewable energy program which is seen as an answer to climate change.
Marcos said the province will soon generate 50 percent of its power requirement from clean energy with the operation of the solar plant aside from drawing up investments and industries.
“It will power up industries in the Currimao port, the best area for passenger and cargo shipment in Luzon,” she added.
The governor said the Paguludan community and outlying villages will benefit from jobs that will be generated by the solar park project. (PIA 1 Ilocos Norte)
“Without the threat of cheating, every candidate will have a fair shot in getting a chance to serve the public. Equality, the true essence of democracy, will be upheld when we have an AES that the people can trust,” he said.