As the problem with global warming continues to worsen, and as resources decrease faster in front of our eyes, nations worldwide try to look for alternative solutions to address their needs - one of which is the need for energy. Because of this, a lot of them utilize the renewable resources available for energy production such as wind for windmills and sunlight for solar power.
Being located near the equator, the Philippines makes an optimal location for harvesting solar energy as it is within the sun's path in the ecliptic plane throughout the year. Furthermore, other factors like being one of the countries in Asia, along with Japan, with the highest electricity cost necessitate the need for a cheap alternative energy source in the country.
Pursuing solar technology would allow Philippines to be resilient from fluctuating oil prices. With the cost of solar power continuously decreasing over the years, installation costs of solar light in the Philippines are also expected to decrease, although at a slower rate. Such ambition, however, requires good governance and continued monitoring to be able to provide the Philippine electricity market with a competitive alternative energy supply.
Solar Light in the Philippines
Around 16 million people, including 6000 schools, are said to be off the grid with regards to the electricity supply. Such huge numbers emphasize the potential of utilizing solar light in the Philippines. For residents in off grid areas, investments in solar panels, batteries, and other equipment needed for alternative energy are being done.
Liter of Light is a project founded by Filipino architect and entrepreneur Illac Diaz which aims to provide affordable and sustainable solar light to people in the Philippines who have limited to no access to electricity. Initially, their ingenious solution was to use a simple plastic bottle filled with chloride water to be placed within a hole made on the metal roof, which would eventually diffuse the sunlight all over a windowless house. However, since such a method would not be helpful during the night, Liter of Light stepped up their game.
After experimenting with an electric version of the solar bottle using an LED in the cap, Liter of Light started building and distributing DIY solar lights in the Philippines. Instead of buying cheap solar lamps from other countries, they built the lamps on their own through quality components in a simple circuit which can easily be fixed by the beneficiaries themselves in case needed.
The cost quality of the solar lights may range from 890 to 1190 pesos for smaller lamps, while solar lights that are enough to light up a house or a post lamp may range from 5950 pesos to 7100 pesos - justifiable prices for residents in such areas in the Philippines.
The solar lights provided actually brought a lot of benefits to the residents living in the areas in the Philippines where electricity supply is not available. A resident said they could stay for work much longer because of the said lanterns. The lamps were also deemed to be safer and cheaper compared to the gas lamps they used to use before.
Future of Solar Power in the Philippines
As mentioned earlier, due to its geographical location within two Tropical Zones, the Philippines has a strong potential for harnessing solar energy. This, however, requires great dedication in maintenance of the infrastructures to be used, as well as planning how the technologies will be connected given the archipelagic geology of the country. Once the solar power system is fully established in the Philippines, it can be used as a basis by other tropical countries if they also wish to use the same technology.
Given the continuously dropping prices of solar panels, opportunities such as integration of the solar power system to the existing grids also arise. This would require investments for good quality battery energy storages which would allow for such interconnection.
Investments for Solar Power in the Philippines
Aside from the guaranteed energy security and viable alternative to the electricity market, increase in investments in the solar power sector by the Philippine Government opened thousands of job opportunities leading to an increase in employment.
In an amendment set out on March 15, the national annual solar power capacity target was increased to 500MW. This resulted in the government awarding 61 solar contracts, most of which were to be developed in Luzon. If further large-scale development of solar power is to be sought in the country, however, solar maps would be needed, putting focus on specific locations of interest.
Growth of solar power in the Philippines may never be far from impossible, and never in the far future. Given the location of the country and the continuously decreasing prices of components, as well as the increasing benefits of shifting to the use of solar powered systems, the solar power industry in the Philippines will definitely grow to a huge level. It is now left to the government to play all the pieces well together to be able to maximize such winning opportunities.