VIDEO: Green revolution in San Carlos city
SAN CARLOS CITY, Philippines - A green revolution is happening in San Carlos City in Negros.
A solar farm, a bioethanol plant and a biomass plant will soon help generate clean energy for the power grid.
Pia Ranada reports.
In the sunny fields and mountains of Negros, a revolution is quietly, literally, growing. In the middle of sugarcane plantations, hectares of reddish soil are being turned for a different kind of crop. On these lands will rise the largest commercial solar farm in the Philippines.
The solar farm is just one of the three renewable energy plants that will be located in San Carlos City, an hour and a half away from Bacolod. When these power plants are completed, San Carlos will be the first renewable energy integrated zone in the Philippines. It's a green revolution in the making.
XABI ZABALETA, PRESIDENT, SAN CARLOS BIOPOWER: San Carlos is a city that's always been very dependent on the sugar industry and there's been a need to introduce new industries and create job employment for the people.
The 35-hectare solar farm is expected to generate 22 megawatts of electricity using sunlight - that's enough to power a city with 10,000 households. The first phase will feed solar energy into the national power grid this March.
XABI ZABALETA, PRESIDENT, SAN CARLOS BIOPOWER: The idea is to avail of the feed in tariff rates that the national government has set up to promote and incentivize renewable energies in the country and so we hope to provide that power in March of the coming year.
San Carlos is particularly ideal for solar power.
DON MARIO DIA, DIRECTOR, BRONZEOAK PHILIPPINES: The Philippines in general has been observed to have a lot of radiation from the sun. This part of San Carlos used to be salt beds so we're converting the salt beds into solar paneled areas. And because of that, there's more radiation. It has more exposure to the sun.
Not 20 minutes away by car from the solar farm site is the San Carlos bioethanol plant. It uses sugarcane that’s abundant in the province to create ethanol, a biofuel added to gasoline used for cars. The power plant played a key role in the aftermath of Yolanda.
PEDRITO SUMINISTRADO, VP FOR OPERATIONS, SAN CARLOS BIOENERGY INC: Since the typhoon damaged the power lines of the local cooperative, the whole Negros almost had no power. Two days after, with the coordination with the city mayor and other city officials, we were able to supply San Carlos about 1.5 to 1.7 megawatts of electricity for one week.
The third renewable energy plant is a biomass power plant. It will use waste from sugarcane crops to generate electricity that will feed into the grid. Sugarcane farmers can sell sugarcane waste they would normally throw away, giving them additional income. The biomass power plant will be operational in 2015.
The future is shining bright for San Carlos.
Pia Ranada, Rappler, Manila. - Rappler.com