European Union funds solar powered electrification of 30,500 households in Mindanao

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Photo courtesy of European Union

The European Union (EU), the World Bank, and the National Power Corporation (Napocor) on Monday held a ceremony in Davao City, Mindanao to formally turn over 30,500 units of solar home systems (SHS) installed in the beneficiary households of five electric cooperatives (ECs) in Bukidnon, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur, Cotabato, and South Cotabato.

EU granted a EUR18.4 million (PHP 1.06 billion) investment for the solar project in the region as part of the larger EUR 66 million (PHP 3.83 billion) Access to Sustainable Energy Programme (ASEP). Napocor began the electrification of households in remote villages in Mindanao in 2019, with the technical support of the World Bank. The World Bank-managed Global Partnership on Output based Aid (GPOBA) co-funded an additional 10,000 SHS which are already installed in a prior implementation phase.

Christoph Wagner, Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to the Philippines stated that “the European Union is committed to supporting the Philippines’ thrust to promote renewable energy and improve energy access. We are proud to have financed this action that reached vulnerable and isolated communities directly, providing a sustainable solution to a basic need such as access to electricity.”

Ndiamé Diop, the World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand, said that the electrification is essential for poverty alleviation and inclusive growth, stressing the World Bank is gratified for being able to contribute to the government’s last-mile electrification campaign.

“There are still more than one million households in the Philippines without access to electricity, most of them in remote and isolated regions or islands of Mindanao,” said Diop. “Government leadership, public financing and off-grid renewable energy solutions are critical to bring electricity to these remote and impoverished households and communities.”

The five participating electric cooperatives are Bukidnon Second Electric Cooperative Inc., Sultan Kudarat Electric Cooperative Inc., Davao del Sur Electric Cooperative Inc., South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative Inc., and Cotabato Electric Cooperative Inc.

EU said that the beneficiary households will have the same rights and obligations as those connected in the electric cooperatives’ distribution system. Each SHS package includes a 50-watt peak solar panel, and a charge controller with lithium-ion batteries that can power at least four LED bulbs, radio, torchlight, and USB ports to charge gadgets.

“The project has been successful in many ways – we have provided sustainable, safe, and clean energy in isolated households in these areas and have increased photovoltaic technology talents through professional training to our electric cooperatives,” said Napocor Officer-in-Charge Atty. Melchor Ridulme.

He also thanked the World Bank and EU for supporting the implementation of the project, particularly during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. He further added that Napocor will also be distributing SHS in its Small Power Utility Group areas using Philippine government funds.