MANILA, PHILIPPINES – An Asian Development Bank (ADB)-supported solar-diesel hybrid power generation system today began providing round-the-clock electricity for the first time to all 244 households on the island of Cobrador in Romblon province in the central Philippines.

The pilot project shows how clean, renewable energy can be tapped to upgrade existing local electricity systems to meet the needs of the many remote and energy-deficient communities in the Philippines and beyond.

“Just yesterday, the electricity supply was constrained to only a few hours a day due to the limitations of the diesel generation system,” said Richard Bolt, Country Director of ADB’s Philippines Office, who inaugurated the system. “From today, a 24-hour supply of cleaner and more affordable electricity will be provided using a hybrid solar-diesel system, benefiting homes, the health center, the school, and local industries.”

Cobrador’s pristine beaches mean it could, with reliable electricity, now attract tourists. The island’s main source of livelihood—fishing—also stands to benefit from the ability to produce ice to preserve the day’s catch. Romblon is famed as a source of marble, and local craftsmen will now be able to use electrical tools for their work. Delivery of social services like health and education should be smoother with more reliable energy, while homemakers will be able to use household appliances to make chores easier.

The new system has a 30 kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic capacity to generate energy for immediate use during the day, and 180 kWh lithium-ion batteries to store excess energy for later use. This is combined with a 15-kW diesel generator and a control system to allow switching to diesel when the solar power is used up.

By using solar instead of diesel to meet the 24-hour energy needs, the system will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 64.8 tons per year, while saving around 24,000 liters of diesel fuel.

ADB rolled out the system under its Energy for All initiative in partnership with the Korea Energy Agency, the Government of the Philippines-owned National Electrification Administration, and the Romblon Electric Cooperative. BJ Power of the Republic of Korea carried out the design, installation and commissioning of the system.

The project supports the Government of the Philippines’ goal of providing continuous electricity supply to 90% of the country’s households by 2017. As an archipelago of over 7,000 islands, meeting the electricity needs of remote communities is both logistically difficult and costly. 

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. 

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