As some businesses turn to renewable energy, so does a livestock farm in Majayjay town in Laguna province in what has been billed as the first and so far the largest solar-powered agricultural venture in the country.

Perry’s Farm, owned by lawyer Jose Arturo Tugade, launched last week its 360-panel, grid-tied solar power system that could generate up to 90 kilowatts (kW) to energize the 10-hectare farm that rears and produces livestock, fish and poultry, as well as fruits and vegetables.

The solar power system could also power up 18 other private households that adjoins the farm in Barangay Suba.

The system was installed by Oriongroup International Inc., a multinational EPC (engineering, procurement and production) company based in Muntinlupa City that ventured into renewable energy in 2012.

Oriongroup executive vice president and engineer Rynor Jamandre said the solar power system consisted of Canadian panels (1.6 meter long by 1 meter each) and German-made power inverters, making it a “top-of-line” product now in the market.

“This allows us to provide a full warranty and performance guarantee on every item we install,” Jamandre said during the farm launch.

He said the panels could withstand strong winds of up to 260 kilometers per hour (kph) and the whole system could last up to 35 years.

But asked how much the solar project cost, “I’ll probably tell you, the ROI (return of investment) is in about six years,” Jamandre replied.

He said Perry’s Farm could save up to P60-70 million from its energy consumption in the next two decades, while a solar power system this big could offset 86.9 metric tons of carbon dioxide or 34,300 liters of burnt fuel.

“It has its value now, but the value in the future is even bigger,” Jamandre said.

“No one in his right mind would invest so much money (into renewable energy for a poultry farm) but I wanted to find a way to make my business sustainable,” said Tugade, who took over the property that used to be his father’s leisure farm last year.

He said he wanted to “address food security issues” when he entered into the poultry business but, at the same time, become a “responsible businessman.”

To help the community, Perry’s Farm and Oriongroup also agreed to give away solar lamps and panels to 18 households outside the farm.

The farm project is just one of several solar projects in Oriongroup’s pipeline. These include the installation of solar systems in companies, plants, schools and hospitals in Visayas and Mindanao.

Jamandre said solar power systems could be the fastest solution to the looming energy crisis in the Philippines. “The private sector is (also) starting to realize that they have to help themselves (and) we’re not waiting for the government to move,” he added.