PALAWAN — Spanish infrastructure company Acciona S.A., the Ayala Foundation, and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) are set to install new 1,200 solar systems in Brgy. Teneguiban, an off-grid coastal village in El Nido, Palawan.
The public-private collaboration project is a part of Acciona corporate foundation acciona.org’s global “Lights at Home” initiative, which aims to bring electricity to remote rural areas without connection to the grid.
The project, which expands its scope area, will provide additional solar systems including a 150-watt panel and 23 ampere-hour (Ah) battery for households and two 150-watt solar panels and 50Ah battery for community service centers, such as schools and health centers.
A household of four with installed solar home systems can use more than eight hours of electricity per day to charge mobile phones and use compatible electrical appliances such as fans, radios, television sets, or small adapted refrigerators.
“We have 15 years of experience in other countries. We are bringing to the Philippines the experience from those previous implementation — in Peru, in Panama, in Chile, Mexico, Ethiopia,” Gabriel Martín Fernández, managing director of acciona.org, said in an interview during the project launch on Friday, adding that knowledge comes from the previous experiences of acciona.org.
The “Lights at Home El Nido” project is acciona.org’s first project in Asia after having provided energy, water and sanitation to more than 68,000 people in Latin America.
“Through Light at Home, we at Ayala Foundation are truly proud to count ourselves as Acciona’s allies in literally lighting up the lives of thousands of El Nido residents,” Ayala Foundation President Antonio Joselito G. Lambino II said.
The project is implemented in collaboration with the companies Ten Knots Philippines and AirSWIFT, as well as financial assistance from AECID of about €569,657 or P34 million.
“The AECID is supporting acciona.org and Ayala Foundation’s mission to deploy more solar home systems to households in Palawan without any connection to the conventional electric grid,” AECID Head of Spanish Cooperation Violeta Domínguez Acosta said.
“From acciona.org and Ayala Foundation’s pilot project before, AECID is coming in to finance so it gets to more barangays in Palawan,” she added.
In December last year, the acciona.org foundation implemented the pilot project in Brgy. Sibaltan, bringing access to electricity to more than 100 households and about 10 community centers.
The project has recently expanded to 400 additional households and community centers in barangays Sibaltan and Teneguiban.
It is in partnership with the Ayala Foundation and in collaboration with Ten Knots Philippines, AirSWIFT, Acen Corp., and Huawei.
NO POWER CONNECTION
As there are communities in El Nido that Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco) has not been able to reach such as Brgy. Teneguiban, some households settle on small-capacity generators to have access to electricity.
Helen V. Ramilo, kagawad or village councilman in Brgy. Teneguiban, said residents use diesel generators and oil lamps while some buy 75-watt solar panels with small-capacity batteries but cannot use them simultaneously due to limited capacity.
“Sometimes, when their children are studying, they are unable to use other appliances besides light, but now they can use them at the same time,” she said in Filipino.
El Nido Mayor Edna Gacot-Lim said that the municipal government is coordinating with the National Power Corp. and Paleco on plans to provide electricity services to underserved and unserved areas.
“Here in El Nido, we seemed to be at the very end of Palawan. When it comes to grids, these reach only up to Taytawy. But there are already electric poles and we are waiting to have the diversion of lines from the barangay,” Ms. Gacot-Lim said in Filipino.
Ms. Gacot-Lim said the municipality has a growing demand due to the existence of hotels and resorts.
El Nido’s population has reached 50,494 as of the 2020 Census and less than 8,000 households are connected to the main power grid, she said.
Department of Energy (DoE) Assistant Secretary Mylene C. Capongcol said the initiative and the continuing commitment of the agency’s partners, including stakeholders in the energy sector “are welcome to contribute.”
“Whatever your plan in the future, just alert us — the one in charge of doing the master electrification,” she said.
“Recently, we have published the call for microgrid system provider — that is one of the interventions that we want to expedite [in] the electrification of the country,” Ms. Capongcol said.
The government is aiming to achieve 100% total electrification by 2028.
In its 2023-2032 National Total Electrification Roadmap, the DoE has identified 285 unserved and 122 underserved areas in off-grid locations that will be given priority in tenders to private sector investments through a competitive selection process.
The initial auction is expected to be conducted within the fourth quarter while the awarding is targeted by the first quarter of 2024, wherein around 39% of the total unserved and underserved areas are expected to benefit. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera