Bringing Light to the Provinces: the Solar Solution

For the city dweller, living without electricity is completely unthinkable. From sun up to sun down, practically everything a person does i...

For the city dweller, living without electricity is completely unthinkable. From sun up to sun down, practically everything a person does is powered by some form of electricity. Without it, a person’s quality of life and livelihood would drastically change. It’s no surprise then that Manileños complain to no end when a “brownout” happens. 

Imagine then how residents of remote provinces live without any kind of steady source of electricity since power lines cannot make it to their areas due to the terrain and distance. Kerosene lamps are the staple source of light during the evening. On top of being fire hazards, gas lamps may not be bright enough to read by and have been found to produce climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions. Then there’s the electric generator, which not everyone can afford, hence only a fortunate few posses this. 

 A pole mounted solar panel stands next to a school in Luna, Apayao.

So when electricity made it to these far-flung homes, its residents were surprised beyond belief because it was literally their first time to watch DVD movies, use electric fans and read properly under a light. But it wasn’t the usual power coming from a utility grid that they experienced rather, solar power. Using solar PV (photovoltaic) panels mounted on roofs or poles, the sun’s energy was harnessed and routed through an inverter, thereby allowing the house’s outlets to have power. 

These towns in North Luzon, Apayao, Kalinga, Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, Agusan Del Sur, Lanao Del Norte, Sultan Kudarat, Masbate, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Zamboanga City, and North Cotabato are part of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Rural Electrification Program. In cooperation with AMORE (Alliance for Mindanao and multi-regional Renewable Energy development) and UNDP (United Nations Development Program), the program was implemented by Propmech Corporation through their solar division, Green Heat. 

Students at Nueva Vizcaya watch a DVD movie for the first time.
Propmech was selected through a bidding process and was able to offer the lowest price and showed that they have the capability and man power to design and install the systems. Propmech is a locally-owned company also engaged in marine engineering. 

Throughout all these provinces, over 600 barangays were energized with varying systems, tailored to the area’s needs and specifications. All the barangays were selected by the DOE with the help of the Electric Cooperative of the Provinces. Prior to the electrification, these barangays had never had electricity. 

Today, a house in any of these locations can generate about 300 to 500 watts per day. Its residents now enjoy using appliances like CFL and LED lights, radios, televisions and DVD players, as well as electric fans. Each house uses different solar home systems ranging from 20 to 300Wp (watt peak), which demonstrates that solar PV as an alternative energy solution can be applied to a relatively smaller scale. 
A housing project in Masbate is now outfitted with roof mounted solar panels.   

With DOE subsidization and a payment plan, residents are able to afford the systems, which range from PhP19,000 to PhP175,000, depending on the requirements of the home. Over a period of time, the home owner is able to recoup their investment and enjoy a level of energy self-sufficiency. 

The introduction of solar power to these remote areas allows its villagers a better lifestyle in many ways. From getting entertained to staying informed to increasing productivity, the advantages the solar PV systems bring to these villages are numerous and long-lasting. To learn more about solar PV systems, visit www.greenheat-intl.com.


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