- ACEN’s newest landmark sustainability program has produced more than 1,700 kilos of crops since it was established early 2022
- This program combines solar power and agriculture to improve local food security while generating renewable energy
- By partnering with local farmers, ACEN’s agrivoltaics program helps champion the communities as its main stakeholders
8 February 2023 – ACEN’s solar farms in the Philippines have piloted an innovative, collaborative and interdisciplinary program which aims to support the energy transition while helping provide food security and livelihood opportunities to local communities.
Through its agrivoltaics-based program, “Solar Gulayan”, five of ACEN’s solar farms across the country have already harvested more than to 1,700 kilos of crops since the pilot farming system started early last year. As the solar farms generate an aggregate renewables capacity of 326 MW, the program ensures that available land within the solar plants are optimized for agriculture and food production.
Co-locating solar panels and crops
Agrivoltaics is the simultaneous use of land to generate solar energy and produce agricultural products, addressing the dual need to transition to clean energy and increase food supply. In this symbiotic farming system, the plants help keep the solar panels cool, making them more productive by generating up to 10% more electricity, and allowing for more solar energy to be harnessed.
The planted crops, on the other hand, thrive in the additional shade that the solar panels provide. Since the crops are in a more protected environment, they become less stressed and yield more harvest. And with the shelter that the panels provide, the plants require less water, thereby reducing its overall consumption.
ACEN’s solar plants – Alaminos Solar in Laguna, Palauig Solar in Zambales and IslaSol, MonteSol and SacaSol in Negros – have since enjoyed plentiful harvest since the program rolled out last year. The harvested crops include pechay, raddish, bell pepper, eggplant, okra, bitter gourd, sweet potato, Malabar nightshade, banana, bottle gourd, peanut, papaya, taro, tomato, alugbati, mustard, Chinese cabbage, tiger baby melon, squash, okra, ampalaya, chili radish, turmeric, mung bean, longyard beans, pineapple, lemon, lime, calamansi and more.
Impacting farmers through supply chain collaboration
Apart from offering improved efficiency on the solar farm’s output, food production and plant stress, the program also serves another important aspect of the community – stirring the economy through livelihood.
ACEN’s solar plants have identified local farming organizations from their respective host communities to partner with and enhance the food supply chain, namely: Alaminos Laguna Consumers Cooperative (ALACCO) for Alaminos Solar and Zambales Millennial Farmers and Producers Association for Palauig Solar.
Through these partnerships, ACEN’s Solar Gulayan program helps champion the communities as main stakeholders, as the company targets to scale up and replicate the project in its future solar projects across the Philippines.
Addressing both energy and agriculture
By allowing the use of solar farm land, ACEN’s agrivoltaics program helps address two of the most pressing concerns in the modern society – the transition to renewable energy and improving our local food security.
Gabby Mejia, ACEN executive director and head of plant operations, said: “The integration of agriculture in our solar plant operations provides mutual benefits on the energy and food industry in the community, creating a massive opportunity to accelerate both the clean energy transition and the transformation of our food supply chain. It’s a win-win approach to achieve a sustainable future for all.”