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Augmenting an island’s access to energy via solar power

A pilot project under an Asian Development Bank (ADB) technical assistance was inaugurated recently, bringing 24-hour solar power to a small rural island in Antique Province, Philippines.

As reported, the Malalison Island Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Hybrid Pilot Project will augment the island’s existing diesel power plant. Lithium-ion batteries will serve as storage for solar power generated by day.

The system is a 50 kW solar PV system with storage capacity of 273kWh and supported by a 54 kW diesel generator.

The Island’s situation

With tourism and fishing as its main industries, Malalison is a 55-hectare island in the municipality of Culasi, Antique Province.

Malalison is one of the many small islands in the country where economic growth has been hindered by lack of livelihood opportunities and limited electricity service.

The island gets four hours of power in a day from electricity generated by diesel-fuelled generators.

The tariffs, being paid by the approximately 160 households on the island, are much higher than those on the mainland, which experience 24 hours of power.

This is because of the costs and difficulties incurred while transporting fuel.

Advantages of having a steady supply of electricity

The project will enable the islanders to enjoy reliable and continuous 24/7 electric services, thereby generating more opportunities and greater income.

Tourism will improve as the island will have better food and lodgings to accommodate visitors.

With electricity, there will be available refrigeration for fishermen to preserve their catch as they wait for better market prices.

Moreover, lower power prices will leave more income for the islanders to allocate for other essentials like food and education.

Having steady electricity will give them greater connectivity through mobile phone charging, access to TV and radio as well as internet services.

There will be reduction in workload for the women since they can now use household appliances such as rice cookers, simple washing machines, and irons.

The private sectors that worked together in this project showcased a new business model for deploying a distributed renewable energy system.

Meeting the Government’s goal

The Bank’s support of this venture is proof of its desire to concretely contribute to the government’s target of 100% household electrification by 2022 through private sector participation in the energy sector.

The success of this project will encourage more investors into the country’s off-grid electrification efforts using distributed renewable energy system.

Thus, it will promote the goal of increasing energy access and inclusive growth.

The project was initiated in September 2016 at the request of the National Electrification Administration (NEA), which is the government agency in charge of the country’s rural electrical program.

It aims to reach the country’s currently unserved or underserved areas in a cost-effective way.

The project is a joint venture with a non-stock, non-profit electric cooperative to guarantee operational and financial sustainability.

Additional information

Furthermore, the project will be piloting the use of a prepaid metering system to enable energy access to households that cannot afford monthly payments.

The system in Malalison will be the first electric cooperative to use an off-grid operation in the country. Based on its success, the feature may be used by other cooperatives.

The total project cost is US$ 500,548, of which the Bank is providing two US$ 100,000 grants: for the solar power system and for the prepaid metering.

The cooperative will be providing US$ 125,474 while the PV products and services company will contribute US$ 125,474.

The Bank’s Energy for All Program assists its developing member countries to increase and improve their access to modern energy.

In the past 10 years, about 24 million households have benefitted from their investments, of which US$ 9 billion are in modern and improved energy access.

In addition, under its Strategy 2030, the Bank will promote the use of innovative technologies to further advance this objective.


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