Could a push to power the Philippines turn greener?

More than 2 million households – or about 10 per cent of all households – in the Philippines lack electricity, according to a 2017 report by the country’s Department of Energy.

About three quarters are in remote rural locations, in a country spread over thousands of islands, according to the Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG), which is trying to revolutionize the present situation..

Access to clean energy is bringing a range of unexpected benefits around the world. On the longest mountain range in the Philippines, those benefits include better forest protection – and power for tribal people who once lacked it.

Sara Ahmed, an energy analyst for the U.S.-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis said Solar micro-grids could fill gaps in providing electricity to many remote areas of the Philippines as they are cheap to operate – and don’t face the fuel transport issue of diesel-run plants.

The state National Power Corporation has assigned SPUG with setting up and running small power plants in these areas as bringing the national grid power to many of those people is not cost effective.

So far 327 such plants have been established, according to the National Power Corporation.

Government plans call for 100 per cent electrification of the country by 2022.

This whole development has also led to battling timber poaching in the forests. Forest ranger Larry Garaes says with solar chargers, the radios he and other forest rangers no longer run out of power on multi-day operations in the mountains.

He further stated “Communication between rangers is a lot better. Now, we can catch the poachers while they are in the act because we can coordinate our moves quietly without resorting to shouting at the next ranger – unlike before.