A remote corner of the island of Mindoro is looking forward to a brighter future with the largest solar-battery micro-grid in Southeast Asia.
Paluan, a town of 16,000 at the northern tip of the island has endured decades of power shortages of brownouts.
It now hosts a six-megawatt micro-grid that uses a “hybrid” system of solar panels and diesel-powered generators, which can generate electricity for as little as nine pesos per kilowatt hour — less than half the cost of power from the main grid.
The system, which covers five hectares in the village of Alipaoy, is also the first to use batteries manufactured by Tesla, the US tech giant that specialises in electric cars and solar generators.
The panels were supplied by Solar Philippines, the first Filipino-owned solar panel maker. The company’s president, Leandro Leviste said it had cost 100 million pesos to build the facility but planned to build more in anticipation of increased demand.
After the system was tested in December, households started buying additional appliances, such as air conditioners and refrigerators, that they had previously been forced to do without.
Town cayor Carl Pangilinan said the people of the town enjoyed their “first ever Christmas without brownout” when the system was first tested back in December.
Soda manufacturers and an ice plant had already expressed interest in relocating to Paluan, he added.
He also explained how the town had never been able to get enough power from the main grid because “electric lines were not long enough” to reach the remote settlement.
The town connected to the main grid in 1978 but it was virtually useless because electricity ran only for up to 12 hours a day with frequent outages that lasted for days, he said.
Local priest, Father Gerry Causapin, said excess electricity from the micro-grid could be shared with nearby towns.
Paluan’s current consumption was only about one megawatt, which Mr Leviste said was only “a fraction” of what the micro-grid could actually produce.
He also said his company planned to expand to Panay, Negros, Samar and parts of Mindanao as part of the “Solar Para Sa Bayan,” campaign to bring power to the country’s remote areas.