Les "ER" au service du développement

Solar project to light rural areas
The Philippine Star 02/07/2002
     Electricity from solar power will soon reach the homes of about 400,000 rural folk in Mindanao that are not yet connected to any power lines.
    This will be accomplished with what has been described as the largest single solar energy project in the world. This will be funded with a P2.4-billion ($48 million) aid from Spain.
    The governments of Spain and the Philippines and an expert in generating electricity from the rays of the sun, BP Solar, have signed an agreement that will bring power to remote villages in Mindanao where about one-third of the nationís rural poor live.
    The project was brought to the region through Agrarian Reform Secretary Hernani Braganza, who said that the first phase of the project will light the homes of 5,500 families in 70 villages.
    Lighting homes away from the National Power Corp.ís main electric grids has been found too expensive, Braganza explained. Renewable energy, like solar power, has been proven more efficient. The prohibitive cost of building power lines and the difficulty of transporting fuel for generators to remote areas makes solar power an ideal solution.
    The $48 million (about P2.4 billion) contract, the largest solar energy project in the country to date, is finance by the Spanish government. It will be implemented in two phases, the first of which is scheduled to begin in September.
    Twenty-five irrigation systems and 97 clean drinking water and distribution systems will also be powered during the first phase. Sixty-eight schools and community centers and 35 health clinics will be able to turn on lights for the first time.
    The project will install 35 new power supply systems to help generate income in the remote communities.
    The second phase will provide each of 44 additional agrarian reform communities with a solar-powered health clinic, plus 9,500 homes with solar lighting systems.
    The project includes management and installation, social preparation, community development and training for hundreds of community organizations.
    The solar systems in the Philippines will reduce the dependence of villages on non-renewable energy sources like oil and coal. This will also slow down deforestation, as less wood will be cut to meet daily needs.