Philippines - Solar electrification of 8 schools in isolated communities
- Selected project
- In progress
Presentation of the NGO
The Foundation Stiftung Solarenergie – Solar Energy Foundation
Since 2004, the German Stiftung Solarenergie – Solar Energy Foundation (StS), a not for profit organization, has been working towards poverty alleviation and job creation through energy access in off-grid areas in Africa and Asia – comprising of Ethiopia, Kenya, and the Philippines. Additional countries of operations are Uganda and Cambodia. For 13 years, StS had been active in providing power for health centers, light for education, and strengthening of local solar ecosystems through support to local SMEs.
In the Philippines, StS is represented by the Foundation for Rural Electrification and Economic Development (FREED). True to StS mission, FREED is focused on the empowering marginalized and isolated rural villages through access to sustainable solar solutions. To promote and help facilitate growth and development in our partner-communities, the initiatives of StS Philippines are focused on the following:
– Empowering education (through improved learning environments) – Empowering health (through improved health facilities and services) – Empowering communities (through increased livelihood potential and improved access to solar technical support) – Empowering emergency responses (through disaster resiliency and appropriate relief and recovery assistance in times of disasters).
The context of the project
The Philippines is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia, with a rich history, a wealth of natural resources, and an ethnographically diverse population. It is composed of 7,100+ islands, and is home to 103.3 Million people, including 110 ethno-linguistic groups (data StS 2017).
The archipelagic nature of the Philippines, combined with its mountainous topography, weak public sector, and ongoing regional conflicts, are the major factors that hinder the delivery of basic social services – including access to good, quality education, and access to power and electricity – to a big part of the country.
In addition, the Philippines is located within the Pacific Rim of Fire. This makes the country at high risk of experiencing strong, frequent typhoons (about 20 each year), floods, and earthquakes. These natural hazards and calamities further widen the gap of access to basic social services to about 1-4 million who are displaced annually.
According to the National Electrification Administration (NEA) and our estimates, there are about 15 Million Filipinos that live in totally unelectrified areas. This data does not include the millions more that have very limited supply of electricity (electricity supply of only 3 hours per day), or those areas that experience frequent power interruptions during rainy season.
To maximize resources and impact, StS/FREED operations since 2014 had focused mainly in geographic clusters where there is reported high density of Filipino population are below the poverty line, and has limited or no access to grid electricity.
Presentation of the project
The energetic issue
According to the Philippine’s Department of Education (DepEd), there are about 8,000 schools with no access to electricity. Their 2014 data shows that there is a total of 1,435 unelectrified schools in Palawan and Eastern Visayas, combined. These schools cater to the education of about 200,000 students, as facilitated by about 4,000 teachers.
Most of these schools are located in isolated, marginalized rural communities. The teachers travel for hours through different, varied means of motorized and non-motorized transport, including trekking and river crossings, to reach the schools. The teachers live in the school or the community during most days of the week (for others, months at a time), as daily commute to the town proper is mostly impossible. For the teachers in unelectrified communities, teaching-related tasks and regular house chores are very hard to accomplish soon as the sun sets. The dim lights from flashlights, their mobile phones, and kerosene lanterns are their only source(s) of light. Regular, night-time tasks need to be accomplished by 5PM or 6PM. These tasks range from checking of students’ works/papers, preparing lesson plans and DepEd-required reports, preparing for activities and events, to cooking, washing of dishes and doing their laundry. For them, and for the community, everything is at stand still right after dinner.
Conduct of classes are also greatly affected with lack of light. For most of these areas, classrooms are especially dim during rainy days. Teachers have to end classes as early as 2PM, as teachers and students find it hard to see the board, to read, and to write.The lack of electricity also hampers the use of important teaching tools, such as loudspeakers, audiovisual equipment, and computers.
In the schools that we are targeting, the teachers live in small cottages built or provided for them by the community. These cottages usually have a kitchen and dining area (which sometimes serves as work area), 1-2 bedrooms, and (potentially) an outdoor lounge area (where they entertain visitors or do their work).
The classrooms operate from 8AM – 4PM, with potential extensions up to 10PM in preparation for activities and events directed by DepEd or the community. This is where classes are held, meetings with parents are conducted, visitors are welcomed and entertained, and even serve as evacuation sites during emergencies.
It has been planned to install a PV system that will suffice their lighting needs and basic charging requirements.
The OV Camp is a modular plug-and-play PV system with enough flexibility to ensure appropriate light and power to the schools, depending on usage. The system consists of the following elements:
– 55w panel
– 12Ah 12.8V LiFep04 battery
– Lighting (for dorms) 2 pcs 200 lumens (2w LED), 2 pcs 400 lumens (4w LED)
– Lighting (for classrooms) 2 pcs 1000 lumens (10w LED tube light)
– Energy hub – capacity to charge mobile phones, power banks, tablets, portable speakers, digital cameras