Shell Foundation-Victron Energy Microgrid Philippines

In December last year we reported on the first ‘Access to Energy’  Shell Foundation – Victron Energy microgrid in Ligad, North of Palawan island in the Philippines. Thousands of people still live in such areas where there is no access to electricity and the likelihood of any utility grid connection is aeons away. The Shell Foundation however set about changing that with the advent of that initial Ligad microgrid using Victron components. Now there is a second – and as I write this blog a third is also on its way. Power for the powerless is certainly becoming a reality.

Palawan island

Let’s just remind ourselves of the area for these projects. Palwawan island has been chosen several times as the most beautiful island in the world. Not surprising really as the Province of Palawan is an archipelago in the Philippines which includes two UNESCO World Heritage Sites plus breathtaking endless white beaches, wild forests and rugged mountains – all of a pure and untouched nature. The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park for instance is classed as one of the New7Wonders of Nature.

Microgrid No 2

Like the first microgrid this second one is situated in the North of Palawan island, but this time it is the village of Sitio Binaluan, Barangay (meaning rural district) Liminangcong, in the municipality of Taytay. Victron Energy equipped once again, this microgrid is for 95 houses and has been up and running since February this year.

microgrid Up and running.

Up and running.

Challenging logistics

Once again it was Koos and Josie Mulder of JK Solar Power House and their team who did the impossible.

It might not be the correct photo size ‘exactly’ for this blog of the team – but as you’ll see there were far greater challenges than pressing a camera button and sending me large format photos – so it would be remiss of me not to include the photo of these stalwarts!

JK Solar Power House team pose with the Victron Energy system components.

JK Solar Power House team pose with the Victron Energy system components.

So, back to challenging logistics?

Besides the Victron kit above – how about a 1,200 kg generator, 3,750 kg of batteries, 1,200 kg of solar panels, a 200 kg wind turbine, plus all the electricity posts, wires and ancillaries to transport and install. I’ll let the photos explain…

A short boat hop

A short boat hop

The sea journey almost over

The sea journey almost over

The land journey begins – replete with Victron Energised hats!

The land journey begins – replete with Victron Energised hats!

In the absence of horsepower, cow power rules.

In the absence of horsepower, cow power rules.

A long way up

A long way up

Solar array coming together

Solar array coming together

Generator in place – not the easiest of items to get up the hill!

Generator in place – not the easiest of items to get up the hill!

System stats

The solar system can supply an average of 60kWh/day, in summertime even a little bit
more. In the rainy season or during a typhoon there is the genset as a backup, in case solar and
wind production should not be enough.

System Components:

  • 2 x Quattro 10kVa units in parallel
  • 4 x BlueSolar 150V/85A MPPTs in parallel
  • 1 x BMV-700 Series battery monitor
  • 1 x Color Control GX
  • 60 x 260W solar panels giving 15.6kWp
  • 1 x 5kW Wind Turbine
    OPZV 48V/2,000Ah battery bank
  • 33 kVa Diesel genset with automatic start/stop
  • The microgrid can be monitored via the Victron VRM website, but is unfortunately not always online. Whilst a good electricity supply has been achieved – it seems a solid internet connection is still on the wish list!

Check to see if online here:

Victron Remote Management (VRM): Binaluan Micro Grid (95 houses)

Conclusion

What a delight to see power being brought to yet another community and who better to sum up than Danny Maesen of PhilSolar, who said:

“Again, a whole community has access to basic electricity and they can only benefit from it, for education, computers or laptops, for comfort such as some fans or a few freezers for ice making, streetlights, TV – the simple things which will change their lives forever.

Many thanks to the Shell Foundation for choosing Victron Energy equipment supply and my personal thanks to Koos, Josie and the team, for their efforts, commitment and enthusiasm for Victron Energy products.”

My own thanks to all the parties mentioned above for the information and images used in this blog.

John Rushworth

For further information see:

Shell Foundation
http://www.shellfoundation.org/Our-Focus/Access-To-Energy

JK Solar Power House – System design and installation.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/JKSolarPowerHouse

Contact Koos and Josie Mulder: koossolarpowerhouse@gmail.com or jksolarkoos@gmail.com

PhilSolar Equipment and Trading Corporation – Supply, import, logistics and Victron support.

 

Southern Negros geothermal plant, Negros Oriental, Philippines

The Philippines are working on Renewable Portfolio Standards that would require distribution utilities to source a portion of their power supply from eligible renewable-energy (RE) sources, such as geothermal.

As reported from Manila, the National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) of the Philippines has endorsed proposed rules on renewable portfolio standards (RPS) to the Department of Energy (DOE) of the country. The Portfolio Standards would require distribution utilities (DUs) to source a portion of their power supply from eligible renewable-energy (RE) sources, as reported by the Business Mirror.

“This week I will endorse it already to the secretary. Hopefully, it will be then be signed the following week to start the ball rolling,” NREB Chairman Jose M. Layug Jr. said in an interview during an RE forum organized by the Dutch Embassy last week.

RPS is intended to contribute to the growth of the RE industry. If implemented, this will help the agency attain its goal of maintaining the RE share in the national energy mix to at least 35 percent by 2030.

Barring unforeseen events, Layug expects the implementation of the RPS policy starting next year. “Hopefully, it will start to take effect by January 2018. RPS will definitely address issues on cost”.

The scope of proposed RPS rules include the following: types of RE sources; yearly minimum RPS requirement; annual minimum incremental percentage of electricity sold by each mandated participant, which is required to be sourced from eligible RE resources and which shall, in no case, be less than 1 percent of its annual energy demand over the next 10 years; and means of compliance by the mandated participant set by the government to meet the RPS requirements.

The following entities would be mandated to participate in the program:

DUs, licensed retail electricity supplier, directly connected customers (DCCs), supplier of last resort, entities authorized as distributors within the economic zones, and generating companies only to the extent of their actual supply to their DCCs.

The minimum annual RPS requirements will now be determined per mandated participants. A group with representatives from the NREB, Electric Power Industry Management Bureau, Renewable Energy Management Bureau, Legal Services and Energy Policy and Planning Bureau will determine details of the RPS requirements.

The minimum annual increment in the RPS level shall be initially set at 2.15 percent to be applied to the actual total supply portfolio of the mandated participant in each grid for the previous year, the draft circular stated.

RE sources include biomass, waste to energy technology, wind, solar, run-of-river, impounding hydropower sources that meet internationally accepted standards, ocean, hybrid systems, geothermal and other RE technologies that may be later identified by the DOE.

The NREB is the advisory body tasked with the effective implementation of RE projects in the Philippines.

Source: Business Mirror

renewable energy gaining momentum in thailand asia

DESPITE INVESTMENT IN COAL, CLEAN ENERGY IS GAINING MOMENTUM

Renewable energy is gradually growing in prominence and will be the main source of power in the future for Thailand and internationally, according to industry experts.

This is despite US President Donald Trump’s U-turn against the global trend towards clean renewable energy by supporting coal and other fossil fuels, and the Thai government’s plans to build more coal-fired power plants.

The leaders of renewable energy businesses in Thailand said renewable energy had a bright future in the country, as the costs were decreasing and availability was expanding.

BCPG Public Company Limited president Bundit Sapianchai said the cost of renewable energy was getting lower, and it was becoming more reliable and accessible. He said he was confident that “clean” energy would be the main source of power in the future.

“In the past few years, we have observed the rapid growth of renewable energy everywhere, including in Thailand, as investments in renewable power are two to three times higher than the new investment in fossil fuels and nuclear energy,” Bundit said.

“There is still plenty of room for renewable energy to grow, as the technology is progressing, making electricity generation from wind, solar and geothermal sources cheaper and more reliable.”

He added that this meant a bright future for his company, adding that BCPG would continue to invest more in renewable energy in Thailand and beyond. Currently, BCPG has invested in 11 solar power projects in Thailand, which have an overall capacity of 191 megawatts.

The company also operates renewable energy power plants in Japan and Indonesia, and has opened a wind farm in the Philippines this year. Bundit said recent governments had shown a supportive stance towards renewable energy in Thailand.

But he suggested that there should be improvements to regulations to enhance investment in the clean-energy sector and eliminate legal obstructions.

He praised recent changes had made it easier to install solar panels on roofs.

“The solar rooftop liberalisation policy is a very good start,” he said. “But there should be more supportive policies, such as power line privatisation, so we can push forward the new power generation trend – and we will have no need to build large, controversial fossil-fuel power plants.”

SPCG Public Company Limited chief executive Wandee Khunchornyakong Juljarern said that the market for small-scale solar power generation was very active, as many business operators had purchased solar rooftop systems from her company to reduce both their carbon footprint and their power bills.

“Many business operators are very keen to invest in small-scale renewable power generation to reduce their business costs and show the public that they are concerned about the environment,” Wandee said.

Her customers had reported that the use of solar rooftop panels had reduced their power bills by half, she said. Wandee added that the Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organisation supported the installation of solar rooftop panels to lower carbon emissions.

“The future of power generation is small-scale renewable energy like this, and I can confirm that the era of fossil fuel is ending,” she added.

Meanwhile, the head of the Climate Investment Fund Mafalda Duarte, who has observed the situation in Thailand since 2000, said the country had progressed very well in the development of renewable energy.

“We have found that at first the banks in Thailand were sceptical about this kind of investment, so we had to come in and give financial support to investors. However, we have seen that the banks have more confidence in renewable energy and everything is going well in Thailand,” Duarte said.

“Not only do I find that renewable energy is getting more popular in Thailand, but also that local people gain many benefits from renewable energy development, as their quality of life is improved and the clean environment is preserved.”

However, she suggested that the government should have a more firm policy towards renewable energy, noting that it still supported fossil fuels and was not very keen to push forward the transition to renewable clean energy.

According to Power Development Plan 2015, Thailand has pledged to increase the portion of renewable energy to 20 per cent in 2036 from the current 8 per cent. Nevertheless, the portion of energy generation from coal will still be 25 per cent in 2036.

solar power trees florida

Florida Power & Light is planting large devices across Florida that look like trees and harness the power of the sun to create electricity.

The utility has begun installing these 24-foot-tall, solar-powered “trees” to bring attention to the use of solar energy.

Boynton Beach in recent weeks installed two of them at Oceanfront Park, 6415 N. Ocean Blvd., becoming the first city in Palm Beach County to offer the solar installation as a public amenity.

In Davie, West Palm Beach and Miami, FPL also has installed solar “canopies,” larger devices that provide shade over cars in parking lots, in addition to generating electricity.

FPL’s pilot program, called SolarNow, kicked off two years ago, allowing customers across the state to opt into a $9 extra charge on their monthly bill to fund public solar-power generation.

More than 450 Boynton customers opted into the program.

Tall, bright blue and Y-shaped, Boynton’s solar trees have USB ports and outlets where parkgoers may plug in to charge their cellphones.

The presence of the solar trees gives the public a chance to learn more about the technology, said FPL spokeswoman Alys Daly. “The great thing about these solar trees is that we’re locating them in communities where people have an opportunity to see and learn about solar,” Daly said. “Many people haven’t experienced solar because it’s out of sight on a rooftop somewhere, but you can’t miss [the trees].”

In Boynton, FPL soon will put the finishing touch on the new trees in the park: educational boards that explain how light goes into the panel and is converted into energy, she said.

“They are a tremendous educational tool for folks to see what solar energy looks like and interact with in a way that they haven’t been able to before,” she said.

Boynton residents soon will start seeing more solar energy structures around the city.

Officials recently approved plans for solar canopies at Oceanfront Park, and Barrier Free Park, 3111 S. Congress Ave, Daly said. They’ll be added within the next four months.

FPL also will pay the city about $4,000 per year to lease the land used for the solar structures.

sustainable energy for green livingRegardless of where you live and how old you are, chances are you have been hearing a lot about sustainable and green living in the last couple of years. Both of these have come a long way from being marginal avant-garde concepts to becoming one of the most influential disciplines in modern science and societies. And even though these terms get mentioned quite a lot, not everyone knows what exactly they stand for, and even more important – how to achieve them.

The pivotal principle of sustainable living lifestyle is obtaining resources with minimal effects on the environment in order to ensure a better and brighter future for next generations. This is especially important when it comes to food and energy production, which both underwent radical changes in the last couple of decades.

Perhaps one of the biggest advancements linked to green living was the invention of solar energy, which enables humans to harness the Sun’s potential without tampering with the environment. Practical, affordable and easy to maintain, solar panels have become more popular than ever. Being able to produce as much as 4,000 kWh per month when placed on rooftops, they be used to cover as high as 80% of the energy consumed by a modern average household. And it gets even better, as some governments promote and support switching to solar energy by giving out grants for domestically produced electricity, meaning that they start paying off after 10 years of usage.

Wind turbines are also becoming more popular amongst those looking to go green. Although usually not a pretty sight, and criticized for their tendency to make squeaky noises, they can be a useful feature for farms and houses with big outdoor areas looking to utilize the winds to generate some more power. A medium-sized and well placed wind turbine can generate significant amounts of energy, from 0.5 kWh up to 2,5 kWh, making wind power the second best renewable investment after solar.

Coming in at third place is hydropower, the oldest way of generating power known to humankind. A hydroelectric system converts the force from flowing water into electricity. Kinetic energy of water flowing downhill from a stream or river is directed onto a wheel in a turbine that converts the rotational energy to electricity. The amount of power produced depends on the volume of water flowing onto the turbine and the vertical distance it falls through the system. Most microhydro systems generate from 70 to 350 kWh per month, which makes them one of the most efficient green technologies available out there. However, their major and obvious drawback is that they are limited to households and estates with access to streams and rivers, making them impractical for smaller and homes in urban areas.

With so many new technologies and innovations becoming accessible and affordable, there is really no excuse for not going green, regardless of your location and the size of your home. Sustainable and green living has something in store for everyone, offering a wide range of solutions that can help you preserve the environment while also helping your budget.

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worlds largest floating solar power plant china

This sprawling, floating solar power plant could change the way other nations design city centers.

China has announced that the largest floating photovoltaic (PV) facility on earth has finally been completed and connected to the local power grid. Long reviled for its carbon emission record, this is the Chinese government’s latest achievement in its ongoing effort to lead the world in renewable energy adoption.

Located in the city of Huainan in the Anhui province, the 40-megawatt facility was created by PV inverter manufacturer Sungrow Power Supply Co. Ironically, the floating grid itself was constructed over a flooded former coal-mining region.

Floating solar farms are becoming increasingly popular around the world because their unique design addresses multiple efficiency and city planning issues. These floating apparatuses free up land in more populated areas and also reduce water evaporation. The cooler air at the surface also helps to minimize the risk of solar cell performance atrophy, which is often related to long-term exposure to warmer temperatures.

This is just the first of many solar energy operations popping up around China. In 2016, the country unveiled a similar 20MW floating facility in the same area. China is also home to the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, a massive 10-square-mile, land-based facility touted as the largest solar power plant on earth.

This transition to solar is in large part due to the rapidly plummeting cost of the technology itself. By 2020, China could reduce prices offered to PV developers by more than a third with solar power plants projected to rival coal facilities within a decade. The nation has also announced plans to increase its use of non-fissile fuel energy sources by 20 percent.

An annual report released by NASA and NOAA determined that 2016 was the warmest year on record globally, marking the third year in a row in which a new record was set for global average surface temperatures. That said, if we as a species hope to reverse this dire trend, initiatives like this and others will need to be adopted around the globe.

renewable energy philippines

BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The Philippines can save $200 million a year and build a more reliable energy supply for millions of residents on its small islands by replacing diesel generators with renewable sources such as wind and solar, said a report released on Monday.

The switch would require at least $1 billion in private investment in the short term, but the sum would be offset by savings of $200 million each year – an expense currently borne by users, the report said.

Many of the archipelago nation’s small islands cannot access larger electricity grids.

Mini-grids powered by generators that use imported diesel and oil serve approximately 800,000 households, but there are frequent blackouts, said the report by the U.S.-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) and Manila-based Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC).

Less than 10 percent of 233 small islands have 24-hour electricity, while more than 70 percent have less than eight hours of electricity per day, according to the ICSC.

Modernizing small island power systems with renewables will supply cheaper, efficient, secure, cleaner power, the report said.

“Renewable energy systems are not only sustainable but affordable and secure because there is no fuel requirements,” Sarah Ahmed, IEEFA’s energy finance analyst and the report’s main author, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Since 2009, solar power costs have fallen by 90 percent and that of wind power has fallen 50 percent, the report said.

Yet many small islands in the Philippines have not turned to renewables due to a host of factors including outdated regulations, it said.

This includes a lack of incentives for island electric cooperatives – small, customer-owned utilities controlled by locally elected boards – to procure cheaper sources, and slow implementation of a 2008 law meant to promote the development of renewable energy, it added.

Beat the Energy Gap

bridging the energy gap philippines

In recent years, the Philippines has taken the top spot in South East Asia as far as Renewable Energy (RE) development is concerned. This was a well-planned initiative that was accomplished primarily by enticing energy technology experts and institutional investors to lead the charge in developing this sector. To support this, the government passed legislation and adopted what is called the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) system, in order to lessen the business risk of investors.

Under the FIT, a minute percentage of what you are charged on your electric bill – 0.54%, to be exact – is allocated to help fund RE growth. Indeed, it is a wonderful way for people to contribute a small part to help Mother Earth and leave something positive for future generations. This is a shared responsibility, after all.

Given this, I must reiterate how very commendable it is that our country is taking the necessary measures in trying to preserve our planet. Fossil fuels can have terrible effects on the environment, and RE is definitely a step in the right direction. Clean energy sources such as solar power, hydroelectric, geothermal, etc. are all more sustainable in the long run. They provide us more energy security since it would mean that we won’t have to import fuel from other countries, and we would have our own plants and RE centers in the country. It’s also good for the economy: based on a report done by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) entitled “RE Thinking Energy,” the costs for renewable energy have been decreasing considerably in the past years, and can most likely lower the cost of electricity at the consumer level.

I mentioned that fact in passing in the previous column, but let’s now take a look at some quantifiable figures. According to a 2016 study conducted by the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC), market prices were reduced nearly 50 percent with the inclusion of FIT-eligible plants in the market. The PEMC analyzed the financial impact of FIT in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), the country’s power spot market, in the span of approximately one year. Moreover, it took into consideration that FIT-eligible RE plants are placed in the market under a “merit order” basis, which means its generating capacity is a priority in dispatch to the grid. The study concluded that the integration of the FIT-eligible RE plants in the market resulted in a cost reduction of P4.04 billion, or P0.0567 per kwh, in the case study span of 11 months.

Ultimately, when our supply of RE increases substantially, supply-and-demand forces will further drive energy prices down. However, this can only be achieved when the FIT and its implementing rules and regulations are properly implemented and fulfilled. I maintain my previously stated position that the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) should fulfill all its contractual obligations with the FIT-qualified resources, mainly in disbursing FIT Allowances.

Regie Casas and JJ Soriano from the Confederation of Solar Power Developers of the Philippines (CSDP), for example, reiterated a growing RE industry concern that investors have received the short end of stick even after making substantial contributions to the nation. At present, after more than a year after the deadline of their completion, repeated appeals for the government to honor its FIT and FIT Allowance commitments have fallen on deaf ears. So what do you think large-scale investors do when they find out that a country has a tendency to break its promises? They go to other countries, of course. This is a crying shame, because these companies and individuals believed in the Philippines and its potential, only to be left holding a (so far) empty bag.

As they say, every action has an equal and opposite reaction, especially when it comes to something as delicate and vital as the protection of our environment. We must continue to do our part – whether it be on a macro or micro scale – in order to contribute to our planet’s well-being. As a nation, we are positioned to take a giant step with our renewable energy sector, for our country, for our world, and for our future generations. Whether that step is backwards or forwards, that is now up to us. 

Source: Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star)

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