1MW Photovoltaic Power Plant Photo credit: CEPALCO
Phoyo credit: Gregg Yan
100% Renewable Energy Goal Achieved:
100% Off-Grid Renewable Energy For Mindanao's Rural Communities
The Alliance for Mindanao Off-Grid Renewable Energy (AMORE) is a program that aims to bring renewable, off-grid electricity and clean water to remote, conflict impacted communities in rural Mindanao. Communities in the program must be low-income, yet show great potential for economic development, and be at least 5 kilometers from an existing electricity grid pole. As of September 2009, the program had brought power to more than 13,000 households in over 400 barangays (villages) in 12 provinces, most of which are in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. AMORE is implemented by Winrock International and funded by the United States Agency for International Development, the Department of Energy, the former Mirant Philippines Foundation, and Sunpower Foundation, among others.
Technologies used in the program are solar photovoltaic (PV) battery chargers, PV solar home systems of 20-50 watt-peak (enough to power 2-3 CFL lamps, a radio, and a black and white TV), 210-300 watt-peak community PV systems for schools, health centers, and community centers (enough to power 4-5 units CFL lamps, an LCD TV, a DVD player, a sound system), and 20-45 kilowatt micro-hydro systems.
The AMORE program trains local community members to manage and efficiently run their own renewable electricity installations, organizing them into Barangay Renewable Energy and Community Development Associations (BRECDAs) where citizens build skills and knowledge necessary for community development. Each BRECDA chooses their own leaders and rules, raises their own money, and completes the proper government registration of their organization. Women and children are encouraged to participate, and BRECDAs organize locally and regionally to share best practices and resources.
The AMORE program has had the added benefit of inspiring environmental stewardship, as people learn the importance of water and other natural resources to their livelihoods and way of life.
While most of the program's projects have been funded by subsidized grants, AMORE is now working on helping local renewable energy providers develop economically sustainable business models.
One example of an AMORE project is Lam-Alis is a small rural community located in the province of Sultan Kudarat.. Like most sparsely populated rural areas in the Philippines, the people had to stop work when the sun went down, and children had to study with kerosene lamps at night because they were far away from the grid and had no access to electricity. This began to change in 2004, when the AMORE Program came and created a 9 kilowatt, off-grid micro-hydro source for electricity using the local creek. This allowed more than 80 households to get power.
The local people created a membership group called the Lam-alis Christian-B’laan Renewable Energy Association (LACREA) to administer this new project, along with a clean drinking water program that AMORE helped them develop.
LACREA collects PHP100.00 per month (USD2.3/month) for electricity and PHP10 each month (USD0.23/month) for water from community members who opt for the service. Failure to pay risks having electricity cut off by a woman from the village who strictly enforces the rules.
By March 2011, LACREA had more than three hundred thousand pesos (USD7,000) in its bank account and had evolved from a simple manager of new renewable energy and water sources to a thriving example of rural economic development. In addition to membership dues and electricity and water fee payments, the association was collecting money from three new sources it had created: a lucrative corn mill, a fish pond and a lending business. Because of its cheap micro-hydro sourced electricity, the association's milled corn is particularly profitable compared to other millers in the area. The micro-hydro plant has run off water that is used for the fish pond, which has created another source of income. Additionally, LACREA was able to start loaning money at 5% interest to help neighbors during the harvest season.
Other benefits to the people of Lam-Alis include elementary students having the opportunity to be introduced to computer technology donated by IBM and access to national television to be able to stay up to date on news and current events.
This next phase involved LACREA purchasing and lending out battery systems that have allowed 40 more households to connect to the micro-hydro plant.