Friday, March 2, 2018

DOE to Energize Off-grid Areas

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EMPOWERING REMOTE AREAS: Feasibility studies conducted in Mindanao and Bohol using small renewable energy-based productive applications were presented by the DOE and EU-ASEP. The studies entail sustainable power access and local economic development in the chosen areas. In photo together with DOE Undersecretary Jesus Cristino Posadas (2nd from right) are (L-R) ASEP Expert Ces Rodriguez, Municipality of Malita Barangay Little Baguio Chair Ferdinand San, International Cooperation and Development EU Director General Stefano Manservisi, NEDA Director General Ernesto M. Pernia, Municipality of Don Marcelino Barangay Baluntaya Chair Amado Cano and Municipality of Getafe Barangay Banacon Chair Rodrigo Ismael.

Three off-grid areas in Mindanao and Bohol were chosen as the pilot sites for the collaboration involving the Department of Energy (DOE), National Electrification Administration and the European Union-Access to Sustainable Energy Program (EU-ASEP).

The DOE and NEA on Friday (2 March) presented the program intended to put in place small renewable energy-based applications to spur economic development in host areas and the environs.

The DOE tapped the technical assistance of experts, through EU-ASEP, to expand the country’s sustainable and renewable energy sources and utilization.

Representing Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, DOE Undersecretary Jesus Cristino Posadas said “there is a close correlation between energy, particularly electricity and social and economic development as being energy-poor is poverty-bound.”

“Most of the poorest of the poor are located in remote and far-flung areas which are not connected to the main grids of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao –the so-called off-grid areas.”

“Energizing these power-poor areas will enable economic and social activities to be started and be sustained there,” added Posadas.

Off-grid areas being powered using diesel generators, the costliest power source, Posadas said decentralized mini-grids and solar home systems could revolutionize the energization in these areas.

EU-ASEP feasibility studies identified the common agricultural activities (i.e., corn shelling, flour grounding, rice hulling, winnowing, cassava and coconut grating, abaca stripping and fishing) in the areas where small-RE based productive applications can be utilized to improve production for economic growth.

The three pilot sites include Sitio New Mabuhay in Malita and Sitio Mahayag in Don Marcelino both located in Davao Occidental with proposed projects on modernized abaca and corn processing, respectively; while Barangay Banacon in Getafe, Bohol was proposed with an ice plant (with household micro-grinding) project.

The studies revealed that agricultural production in the above industries is way higher when using small RE-based productive applications, thus contributing more to the economic growth of the area.

EU-ASEP also identified the challenges in providing sustainable livelihood opportunities for households in remote off-grid communities, such as low income, micro scale, distance from markets, lack of local entrepreneurial capacity and sustainability problems, including technical and financial.

The feasibility studies were presented in the Experts Symposium on Renewable Energy-Based Productive Applications in Off-Grid Areas held at the Marquis Events Place in BGC, Taguig City.

The event was attended by partner national government agencies including NEDA, DOF and NEA,  international partners including EU-ASEP officials and partners, energy stakeholders including the Davao del Sur Electric Cooperative, Bohol II Electric Cooperative, various energy companies, members of the media, and the community leaders and representatives from the pilot areas, Davao Occidental and Bohol.

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