President Benigno Aquino III has inaugurated Wednesday (May 2) the newest radar station of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) in Bato, Catanduanes.
The new Doppler radar station in Catanduanes is expected to mitigate the impact of devastating typhoons in the country as the weather bureau effectively predicts incoming typhoons.
Catanduanes’s weather station is the first of three Doppler radars being built in the Philippines using the new Solid-State Meteorological Radar System (SSMRS) technology developed in Japan. The radar station in Catanduanes is supposedly the first such facility in the world to use solid-state technology.
The facility will complement two other SSMRS Doppler radar systems being completed in Guiuan, Samar province, and Aparri, Cagayan province
Through the new radar station, Pagasa could also conduct more extensive weather monitoring, effectively measure rainfall, gauge destructive winds, and transmit and analyze information in real time.
Pagasa could likewise detect localized thunderstorms and tornadoes in the Bicol region as well as predict possible flooding and landslides.
The project replaces the existing Virac, Aparri and Guiuan meteorological radar system and it established the Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) connecting the Meteorological Radar Station and the National Forecasting Center.
The project, amounting to PhP1.7 billion, is funded by grant aid from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). On the other hand, the Bato Doppler Radar costs around PhP580 million, the government said.
Meanwhile, the President also inaugurated in Catanduanes the Solong and Hitoma 1 mini-hydro plants, the first ever to be developed by a private entity—Sunwest Water and Electricity Inc. in the small island grids covered by the special power utilities groups (SPUG) of the National Power Corp.
If developed further to almost 4 megawatts additional hydropower capacity, Catanduanes will be the first island grid in the country to source most of its power needs from a renewable source.
The project design is also environment-friendly because the run-of-river hydro projects such as the Solong and the Hitoma 1 do not cause flooding and nearby communities aren’t dislocated.
By running the renewable plants, Catanduanes is relieved of at least P100 million in subsidies for bunker and diesel-based power generation and the plants’ off-taker, Ficelco, and its consumers are exempted from paying value-added tax. The island province will also have a stable power supply.
It is reported that Sunwest Water and Electricity Inc. is committed to develop more hydroelectric plants in Luzon and the Visayas securing 17 service contracts with the Department of Energy with a total capacity of more than 50 megawatts.