Improving the Lives of People in Off-Grid Communities in Mindanao Through the Provision of Sustainable Energy
In some communities in the Land of Promise, life ends when the sun sets.
Absolute energy poverty is still a reality for over a thousand off-grid Mindanaoan sitios despite the aggressive rise in profitable businesses and ventures all over the island. In a cruel twist of fate, the lack of electricity in these households brought about more socioeconomic hardships—livelihood, health, education, and the general welfare of the people are compromised without light.
Transforming the overall quality of life for these communities is the foundation of Yamog Renewable Energy Development Group, Inc.’s project called “Improving the Lives of People in Off-Grid Communities in Mindanao Through the Provision of Sustainable Energy,” the project is funded by the European Union (EU) through the Access to Sustainable Energy Programme (ASEP) and will aid over 4,148 family units.
The project revolves around the utilization of renewable energy technologies, environmental protection, and transfer of knowledge—sustainability is at the heart of the project’s implementation.
Micro-Hydropower: Harnessing the Power of Water
Yamog pioneered the sustainable utilization and management of renewable energy, particularly the micro-hydropower (MHP) system, since its inception in March 1993. MHP is a category of hydropower systems that have capacities of less than 100 kilowatts (kW). This system uses a run-of-river scheme that diverts water from the river to a turbine at a lower elevation downstream.
What’s unique about this system is its adaptability—an MHP system respects its environment. The system is not disruptive; instead, it makes use of what is currently in existence.
It goes with the flow.
There are six (6) MHP systems under the EU-ASEP grant:
- 30-kW in Picong, Lanao del Norte
- 27-kW in Arakan, North Cotabato
- 19-kW in Don Marcelino, Davao Occidental
- 15-kW in Don Marcelino, Davao Occidental
- 15-kW in Pantukan, Davao de Oro
- 5-kW in Kapalong, Davao del Norte
Solar Power: A New Kind of Bright
The solar energy component of Yamog’s project is harmonized with the solar photo-voltaic mainstreaming strategy of the Department of Energy (DOE) in line with the Government’s aim of achieving 100% rural electrification by 2022. Moreover, it is also designed to complement the efforts of partner electric cooperatives, namely: Northern Davao Electric Cooperative (NORDECO), Cotabato Electric Cooperative (COTELCO), and Davao del Sur Electric Cooperative (DASURECO) in their bid to reach out to unenergized households in distant communities and to increase the utilization of renewable energy as part of their energy mix.
2,938 units of the solar home lighting system (SHLS) lights up poverty-stricken household beneficiaries situated in 53 far-flung, isolated sitios in the municipalities of Kapalong and Talaingod (Davao del Norte), Pantukan (Davao de Oro), Arakan (North Cotabato), and Don Marcelino (Davao Occidental).
Solar-Powered Potable Water System: Safe Water for All
Although access to clean and safe drinking water is recognized as a basic human right, the sad reality remains—water potability is a luxury for the impoverished.
With this project, 86 households in Sitio Lubas, Barangay Amabel, Municipality of Magpet, North Cotabato now have safe drinking water in their community thanks to a solar-powered Level II Potable Water System (PWS).
ReSET Center: The Future of Renewable Energies
The Renewable and Sustainable Energy Technologies (ReSET) Center is a physical hub for technical support, training, and research to ensure the sustainability of renewable energy systems established by Yamog Renewable Energy Development Group, Inc. in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology-Region XI (DOST-XI).
The ReSET Center is a workshop where engineers and capacity building specialists go hand-in-hand with grassroots technicians to perform the following:
- Serve as a venue for training and research to build the capacity of partner communities to develop their local energy resources, and enhance the efficiency of community-based renewable energy systems – particularly micro-hydropower and solar power
- Support the ongoing operations of community-based renewable energy systems all over Mindanao through repair and maintenance services
- Fabrication of electromechanical equipment for micro-hydropower systems, as well as various tools and machinery that maximize the benefits of community-based RE systems
The collective accumulation of technical knowledge in renewable energy will ensure the sustainability of community-based projects driven by grassroots innovation and initiatives.
The services of the ReSET Center are available to all communities whose renewable energy systems are confronted by technical problems beyond their control. But more importantly, the ReSET Center will catalyze spin-off projects anchored on renewable energy that builds on communities’ initial gains.
Conserving Watersheds: Environment Sustains Life
One of the main lessons Yamog wishes to impart in its partner communities is that thriving forests and watersheds sustain micro-hydropower projects.
Throughout the project implementation, six Watershed Protection and Management Plans were developed and implemented by the communities utilizing micro-hydropower. Six Community Tree Nurseries were also established and 60,000 tree seedlings were transplanted, maintained, and monitored in the watershed areas.