Renewable energy from the sun is an infinite, sustainable, and ubiquitous resource. This resource, despite its greatest potential of providing reliable and cost-effective electricity, remains largely untapped.
Island- provinces comprising the MIMAROPA Region— Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan— are not connected to the main power grid in Luzon adversely affecting access to electricity, especially in far flung areas to few hours a day. As a result, power disruptions that interrupt operations in critical community facilities in the region such as rural health centers, schools, and emergency shelters, among others, frequently occur. Due to this, many locals have long struggled to maintain access to effective and efficient services that could serve the needs of the community at large, specifically proper rural healthcare and disaster relief operations, which are less than adequate in many areas in the region.
Rural Health Units (RHUs) serve as the main avenue to access primary healthcare services such as, but not limited to, birthing, maternity care, checkups, and other emergency treatments for rural
communities in MIMAROPA. Unfortunately, most of these RHUs bear the brunt of recurring power outages and are left with no choice but to operate without electricity, a difficult situation, not just for health workers but to patients as well. Furthermore, schools, when used as emergency disaster shelters also need emergency power sources to effectively aid the victims of floods in the region and keep communication lines open.
To address this, solar technology is poised to play a pivotal role in reducing risks and improving energy security in MIMAROPA to improve the overall quality of human condition.
Towards this end, the Department of Science and Technology-MIMAROPA is all set to install Solar Energy Systems (SES) this year to generate clean and sustainable electricity to power 29 RHUs and seven secondary schools spread across the MIMAROPA Region’s five island- provinces.
The project is a joint venture of DOST- MIMAROPA, Department of Health-MIMAROPA (DOH-MIMAROPA), and the Local Government Unit of Mogpog (LGU-Mogpog) to help vulnerable communities which often suffer from loss of electricity, access to technology that will withstand frequent power outages caused by lack of reliable energy source or severe disaster phenomena.
The SES will provide RHUs and emergency shelters in MIMAROPA reliable and affordable electricity for lighting, vaccine refrigeration, the operation of telehealth device (i.e RxBox), communication, and distribution of information even during natural disasters or other emergencies. The technology will also permit such centers to be operational on a 24-hour basis. Without this intervention, vaccines could not be kept at proper temperatures to preserve them; emergency response operations would be an issue in times of distress due to cellphones without power; and the possibility of failure of emergency treatments will go high.
This project is DOST-MIMAROPA’s vision that is quickly becoming a reality. The installation of SES in RHUs in MIMAROPA and secondary schools in Marinduque amounting to a total of PhP 7.7M are set to be completed in April to May 2017, respectively.
How did it start?
The use of solar energy systems as an alternative source of power is the first of its kind in MIMAROPA. The project, worth PhP 30,000.00, started out in December 2014 when SES was installed in a small RHU in Brgy. Dolores, Sta. Cruz. Continuous lighting and ventilation were guaranteed to the health facility that will aid doctors and health workers in giving optimal service to their communities.
The small initiative in Brgy. Dolores has then expanded to other areas in Marinduque. Many have warmed up to using alternative sources of energy after seeing how the technology has significantly improved the delivery of healthcare services in the small barangay. The year after, SES were installed in other RHUS located in Brgy. Bantay, Boac; Brgy.Maniwaya, Sta Cruz; and Brgy. Poblacion, Buenavista. In Brgy. Buenavista, SES is used to integrate power to their RxBox unit— a telehealth device used for diagnostic procedures and storage and referral of clients’ medical records. Now with a reliable power, rural settings gained access to portable telehealth devices, improving medical care and saving lives.
DOST-MIMAROPA also brought alternative power supply to elementary schools and 18 barangay halls in Marinduque. In partnership with various LGUs, these facilities were installed with SES to become “disaster-ready” as the region is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. These solar-powered facilities are being used as evacuation centers, providing light, electric fan, and charging systems that kept devices working to maintain communication among evacuees, their family members, and response team, following a disaster.
As a definite proof of its benefits, SES installed in barangay halls, schools, and rural health units in Marinduque was able to save the province from the wide power outage that plagued eight areas— Boac, Buenavista, Gasan, Mogpog, Santa Cruz, and Torrijos, following the onslaught of Typhoon Nina just last December 2016. According to local government officials, the facilities with SES became the only electrified buildings in the community which they were able to use as emergency shelters as they provide disaster relief to everyone affected.
Apart from evacuation centers and rural health units, MSMEs in the region also benefits from the numerous advantage of using solar as an alternative source of energy. Three processing plant in Marinduque were equipped with SES which permits continuous production with reduced operating expenses.
The Solar Energy Systems project highlights the benefit of adopting solar power as a source of electricity. This is a part of DOST-MIMAROPA’s commitment to sustainability as well as improving the environment and helping communities through innovative solutions.
For more information about the solar energy systems project, you may contact DOST- MIMAROPA at (02) 837-3755 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.