Brighter, better days for the people of Pamilacan, Bohol

  • New solar facility to bring daytime electricity to off-grid Bohol island

For the people of far-flung places in Bohol like the off-grid island of Pamilacan, the lack of power sources is more than just a mere inconvenience. It prevents them from having a decent way of life.

Teachers cannot supplement their classes with video presentations. Students cannot use computers. No electric fans can cool residents during the day. Fisherfolk cannot refrigerate their daily catch. Because refrigeration and sterilization equipment cannot function in community health centers, patients would still need to travel to the mainland to receive proper treatment.

Thanks to WeGen Distributed Energy Philippines, the newest player in the Philippine renewable energy sector, Pamilacan’s residents can now say goodbye to those days. In a turn-over ceremony held at the island, WeGen unveiled a 39kWp solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery storage system that would provide energy to at least 300 households in Pamilacan.

“This solar energy project shows how renewable energy combined with innovative technology can spur sustainable socio-economic development in a marginalized community,” said WeGen CEO Atty. Julito Sarmiento. “WeGen is proud of the role it played in fulfilling a dream for the Pamilacan community and we look forward to seeing better days on this island.”

Clean and renewable energy

The 10-million-peso solar energy project named Kahayag sa Pamilacan (The Light of Pamilacan) will provide electricity to the whole island from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, after which, the existing diesel-powered generator supplied by the National Power Corporation Small Power Utilities Group (NPC-SPUG) within the franchise of the Bohol Electric Cooperative I (BOHECO I), will continue to provide electricity from 4:00 pm until midnight.

The WeGen system comprises 135 monocrystalline solar panels connected to deep-cycle silicon power maintenance-free and eco-friendly batteries with a capacity of 200 ampere hours. These solar panels are mounted on the rooftop of the Pamilacan National High School building, which was chosen for its ideal location and has been retrofitted to support the solar panels with a lifespan of at least 25 years.

Energy independence for Bohol

Aside from powering up the Pamilacan community, the solar energy system shows how off-grid communities like Pamilacan can access clean energy through Stand-alone Island Solar Solutions in Distributed Energy Resources (DER), which generates resilient and renewable energy from decentralized sites such as rooftops combined with battery storage and software solutions.

The DER solution also shows how the entire Bohol island can generate clean and sustainable energy to meet its rising demand for power. The increased energy demand is a result of rising number of tourists and investments across major industries, yet 87 percent of Bohol’s total energy demand is still sourced out of neighboring Leyte.

“WeGen firmly believes that the best solution to address the electricity needs of a tropical archipelago is to use distributed solar energy. Installation is fast, and you won’t need to use submarine cables to connect to the national grid,” Sarmiento explained.

Towards a better life for the people of Pamilacan

The  WeGen system also serves as a shared investment with the island community. A software that aggregates, manages and optimizes energy stored in batteries allows the island’s residents to earn extra income by selling excess energy to the grid, electric cooperatives, or the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).

The Pamilacan residents will contribute to a solar trust fund that will be collected by the island’s Electric Consumers Association (ECA) for the repair, maintenance and future expansion of the solar energy system with the goal of one day providing electricity to the island 24/7 as well as a seed capital for community livelihood, education, and health initiatives.

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Introvert, wanderer, blogger, foodie, a hip-hop music writer, and one of the co-founders of a tech start-up company called GigsManila.