The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) is set to bid out 150-200 mini hydropower projects to help increase power generation in the country and provide additional income to marginalized farming communities nationwide.
NIA Administrator Florencio Padernal said that the hydropower facilities, which will be constructed within the next two years, could generate as much as 50 megawatts of electricity.
“Right now, we could harness at least 50MW. But it could be more since we are still receiving proposals from Visayas and Mindanao,” Padernal said in an interview.
The NIA chief called on investors to join the tender and said each winning bidder will be awarded with 3-5 projects per cluster with each project costing at least P60 million.
“By last week of May, we will conduct the bidding. By mid year, we can start the construction,” he said.
Padernal said that they want to showcase viability of existing irrigation canals to be utilized, even with small water heads, for power generation.
“Although the new mini-hydropower is not as big as what others expect, the significance of the project is enormous,” he said, adding that the agency operates and implements hydropower projects in applicable areas.
NIA’s mini hydro project will take only four to six months to build because identified water sources are by nature nearly ready for irrigation waterpower generation. It is faster to fabricate the turbines and capacity of the mini hydro may be just 500 kilowatt per project.
Padernal said the mini hydro facilities would give highland farmers an opportunity to raise their farm production output and income.
“The implementation of the cost-effective mini-hydro plants will help maximize the usage of water resources before reaching the farmlands,” he added.