Renewable Energy Projects Key To Infrastructure Resilience in Disaster Areas of the Philippines?
Amidst the surrounding destruction in the island, the solar panel that Central Philippine University Affiliated Renewable Energy Center (CPU-AREC) installed in 2001 remains standing and functioning.
Typhoon Yolanda blew off four of its solar panels but the installation remains intact. Thus, the village folks are able to charge their batteries after the storm.
In 2001, CPU-AREC implemented the Department of Energy’s ‘O-Ilaw Program’, a barangay electrification program (BEP).
They were coordinating with Centralian, Peal Martin Ruiz who was with DOE at that time and in-charge of the BEP projects in three of Estancia’s island barangays – Loguingot, Manipulon and Bayas.
According to Engr. Jeriel Militar, CPU-AREC Program Manager, in small island barangays like Bayas where there are no water source for micro-hydro, they installed the PV-BCS (PV-Barangay Charging Stations).
He said that part of the program was providing storage batteries to households, which they repay on installment basis.
The households use batteries for lighting and using small appliances. They recharge their batteris at the PV-BCS.
Engr. Militar said that eventually, not only the households came to recharge their batteries. Motorboat owners also used the PV-BCS for recharging their fishing boat’s batteries.
In Badiangan, a mountain barangay of Ajuy, Iloilo, the micro-hydro power plant that CPU-AREC installed in 2004 has become an example of infrastructure resilience.
Surviving the storm, it continues to provide electricity for its member-consumers.
Ajuy is one of the towns in Northern Iloilo that suffered the wrath of Typhoon Yolanda. It will take three months or more for electricity to be restored in Ajuy.
Engr. Militar said that a resident of Badiangan told him that those residents who transferred to ILECO III (local power supplier) wanted to rejoin the micro-hydro power group.
In Sebaste, one of the typhoon-affected towns of Antique, the loss of power made some people go to Sitio Igpatuyao to charge their mobile phones.
The micro-hydro power plant that CPU-AREC helped build at Sitio Igpatuyao in 2009 withstood the storm and is functioning fully.
The CPU-AREC (formerly CPU-ANEC) has been in the forefront for renewable energy development and application in Western Visayas and some areas in the Philippines since 1996.
They have accomplished 78 projects, which include 44 solar systems, 2 wind-solar hybrids, and 1 micro-hydro-solar hybrid.
The aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda resulted into failure of infrastructure systems like potable water, highways and electric power. Without these infrastructures functioning well, the recovery process will be slow.
With CPU-AREC’s renewable energy projects showing infrastructure resilience after Typhoon Yolanda, perhaps the government and private sectors should consider including the putting up of renewable energy projects in their rebuild plans.
INFORMATION CREDIT: Engr. Jeriel Militar
PHOTO CREDIT: Marigold Jutare