recent posts

Lighting up the Provinces: the Solar Solution

If there’s one thing I love about being an architect in today’s modern world, it has to be technology. Technology gives birth to numerous inventions that make our bloody profession way easier. Inventions like computer, telephone, television, cars, cameras and light bulbs are just too essential to live without. Though, (sad to say) many technological advancement caused a great damage to our natural environment and to our health too.

But, todays architects have become more aware of these harsh effects- that actually made us more eager in promoting green architecture which is quite synonymous to sustainable design- that uses construction materials known to be renewable, non toxic to the environment and easy to maintain. For instance, Solar PV,  it produces clean, renewable electricity and at the same time, maintenance wise and, is also practical since it allows the users to use less public utility electricity when producing their own electricity.

You see? Technology is actually a solution, when used properly. And, its importance to our daily lives grows bigger and bigger as it continues to develop each day.

But, have you ever consider (or even thought of) living in a rural area without all the sort of modern technology or electricity, perhaps? For a city dweller (since birth) like me, that’s completely unimaginable. 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.

Nueva Vizcaya installation

Students at Nueva Vizcaya watch a DVD movie for the first time.

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.

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.

Luna Apayao

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

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.

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.

image

A housing project in Masbate is now outfitted with roof mounted solar panels.

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.

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.

Post a Comment