Renewable Energy Technologies in Communities by Dr. Odulio
Good afternoon everyone! First all, I would like to greet TAO-Pilipinas in their 20th anniversary Thank you for inviting me. I am Carl Odulio and what we are going to talk about this afternoon is renewable energy technologies in communities so our outline for today we will have a short introduction on renewable energy and we will talk about different examples of renewable energy sources after this we have a few examples of applications and we will have a discussion on community projects that were done here in the Philippines So our first part is what is renewable energy renewable energy is also known as clean energy It comes from natural sources that are constantly replenished which means they never run out unlike dirty energy or our fossil fuels that have limited quantity so now why use renewable energy first.. low carbon emissions so that has a good effect on our environment and in using renewable energy we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels third.. renewable energy is free - no need to pay for renewable source but it does not mean the system is free.
We need to set-up the whole system but the fuel itself is renewable so we don't have to pay for it So we have different types of renewable energy sources some examples are solar energy wind energy hydro energy biomass and geothermal later in our examples, we will only give focus on the first three so now let's look what benefits can we get from these various renewable energy sources let's start with solar energy solar energy refers to energy taken from solar radiation or sunlight solar energy convert sunlight using solar panels or use mirrors that concentrate solar radiation solar panels generate electricity for electrical loads or may also be stored in batteries for later use. The concentrated solar or what we call CSP (concentrated solar power) is the thermal energy from mirrors which is often used for heating applications but this isn't as widely known as solar panel what we are going to talk about with regards to solar energy is mostly about solar panels So why do we want to use solar energy first and foremost, it is free the sun is free. We don't have to pay for it. Second, a solar plant is not difficult to operate low maintenance; the only thing you need to do in a solar plant is clean the panels oftentimes, cleaning the panels is only done once a week it doesn't need to be done daily and sometimes it depends on how the panels are installed, it gets cleaned on its own when it rains. We are here in the Philippines we have lots of sunlight so our location here is very suitable for solar.
But of course there are also disadvantages with solar energy First, we can only capture the energy during daylight and not in the evenings. Oftentimes, the solar energy or what we call the sun peak hours is from 10:00 in the morning to 3:00 - 4:00 in the afternoon so it has intermittent supply power goes down with cloud cover so it isn't like diesel or like the generators that we use that are continuous in their supply of electricity Second, if you need batteries sometimes the batteries are as expensive as the solar panel that is why many have been using solar system without the batteries. And of course, another disadvantage is it is very expensive. If you will compare the cost of a solar PV system from the last decade, its cost has significantly reduced but it is still relatively very expensive. Most of our solar installation benefits from the incentives provided by our government. These incentives have greatly helped in the proliferation of solar panels not only in our country but in other countries as well.
The next renewable energy source is wind energy. Wind energy is the use of wind to provide mechanical power using wind turbine mechanical power may be converted to electricity using generator So like solar, this is also free.. of course space efficient.. why space efficient? because it only uses a small space though it is tall but it occupies only a small space of land and it is also environment friendly But wind energy also has its disadvantages Just like solar, it also has intermittent supply. It is not continuous when the wind stops blowing it will also stop generating electricity. Of course, if you will put this in a good location, oftentimes it is found at a mountain top or near the sea where you have strong winds then you will generate a much better wind energy.
One more problem with wind energy is its wind turbines are noisy so they cause noise pollution It is also expensive and the worst disadvantage of all are the numerous bird kills that it causes If you've visited our wind farms especially in the North you will find out that there are a lot of birds getting killed because they hit our wind turbines. So the next is hydro energy Hydro energy uses or gets its energy from the motion of water so similar to what the wind does to the wind turbines generators are powered by turbines that are turned by the motion of water from which we generate electricity we often get the water from rivers and waterfalls so that is the free resource. There are some that uses pump to generate water flow but the use of pump is not efficient in hydro energy because you generate less power. The advantage of using hydro energy is you have continuous source of energy so if you have a river that has continuous water flow, you will have stable power source unlike solar or wind energy.
And of course, water is free and it has good effects to our environment. The disadvantage of hydro is it is also expensive. Most of our systems are expensive at first but eventually we are able to get a return of our investment. But the disadvantage of big hydroelectric plants is they have detrimental effects in the surrounding marine ecosystem because of the dams that are being built So for this specific example of renewable energy source, it doesn't necessarily equate to being environment friendly just because you use renewable energy With the smaller hydroelectric plants, the damage to its nearby surroundings is not so much. Geothermal energy is taken from the heat that comes from the sub-surface of the earth.
Steam from the ground is used to drive steam turbines that drive generators which in turn produces electricity. Geothermal plants are often very efficient. They are environment friendly. No fuel required and like hydro, it is a continuous source of energy unlike solar and wind energy The disadvantages of geothermal energy are its location is limited because you need the heat coming from subsurface which are often found near volcanoes or hot springs and because of this it can be destroyed by earthquakes and it can possibly run out of steam so when that happens you have to find another location Our next is biomass Biomass is any fuel derived from plants and animals such as crop residues animal waste, wood used for heating or electricity generation. When you burn these waste products you can use it for heating applications and you can use it also for power supply. Similar to how coal is used in coal fueled power plants, biomass are burned producing energy that moves turbines which in turn moves generators that produces electricity.
The advantages of biomass are it is widely available, cheaper than fossil fuels and it decreases garbage in landfills and also reduces dependence on fossil fuels So what are the disadvantages of biomass? It is not as efficient as fossil fuel because you need a large space for it or you need more fuel to generate the same level of power as fossil fuels In other situations where wood is used as biomass, sometimes it can lead to deforestation There are different ways to prevent deforestation if the plant owner is responsible. Let's now look at applications of renewable energy sources. Let's start with solar. What we're going to discuss is only solar, wind, and hydro. These are the ones oftentimes used in communities We don't use biomass or geothermal in communities because they are expensive So for solar there are two types first is grid tied this one is connected to the electricity in your house like Meralco or other electric provider in your region oftentimes, you do not need batteries This is what I mentioned previously since batteries are expensive this is what they use, no batteries The electricity that they produce are now being sold to electric providers like Meralco in Manila but you need special meters to be able to do this So for grid tied, it can be large scale you can connect to the national grid, or you can just do it at a community level where you provide electricity to different houses and we also have what we call rooftop solar PV rooftop solar PV are those installed at individual household level Second type is the standalone Standalone solar PV system When we say standalone, it means the system is not connected to the grid you can provide power to different appliances and gadgets but since solar is an intermittent source you will need batteries to store power so if you have a standalone system, it has to have batteries to ensure that anything connected to it will have constant power supply even when there is no sunlight.
The picture shown on top is the home solar - the rooftop solar while the picture shown below is the standalone system - those are the basic components. You have the panel, the battery charger, battery, and of course, the inverter inverter converts the DC voltage to AC Some use DC load. So with the DC load you can directly connect it to the battery So these are the various applications of solar I think what is special here is the solar pumping system oftentimes, the solar pumping system is a standalone system but it does not use batteries. When you have a solar pumping system, this powers a water pump that distributes water directly to the tank So our water tank acts as a storage device just like a battery So when there is no power and the water pump is out, there is still water coming from the water tank. Some other examples given are solar streetlight, battery charging stations - this particular one if I remember it correctly is in Bulacan.
Anyone who needs this can use it to charge since it is a community charging station Of course, for a standalone system because you no longer need to connect to the grid you can use it as backup during blackouts so that's one use of a standalone solar PV system With wind energy, most often what we see are really large installations like wind farms that are connected to our national grid But in smaller system set-up, there are some standalone systems available Like in this picture, you can see a hybrid of wind and solar streetlight so hybrid wind and solar means you are using both wind and solar energy to load power in your batteries so during daytime you can store power in your batteries using solar, you can also use wind but during night time you can still store power because you have wind energy so when you use this, you don't need very large batteries to power your streetlight continuously With hydro, most large hydroelectric plants are connected to the grid there are some small hydro plants like this micro hydro plant in Mindanao which can be used in small communities especially communities near rivers or waterfalls I would like to include here though it is not renewable energy but rather it is a renewable source this is what we call rainwater harvesting system We all know that in the Philippines we experience a lot of typhoons and rain in a year we can collect lots of rainwater And if you have a rainwater harvesting system, you can have several uses for it you can put in a filter so you can drink it but aside from that, you have several uses that do not require filters so the potential savings to your water bill can be 1,000 pesos in a year for a 15 square meter roof if your roof is wider, then you can have more savings in your water bill The set-up is so simple. All you need is a water tank then just divert all the water coming from your roof with a pipe to the tank The set-up doesn't have to be expensive so this can easily be done in households or in small communities Now, let's have a look at these community projects. We will look at two community projects. First, we will look at Project Enkindle in Cebu. This was done primarily as a relief program for typhoon affected communities in 2013.
Second, this was done to promote the use of renewable energy. This project was led by Philippine and Singapore teams. The beneficiaries who received the system established a set of criteria and surveyed different households.
They also conducted trainings so they would know how to use the system For this particular project, it's a solar PV system. Of course, they also identified point persons who will look after the system. So these are the criteria used for beneficiary selection They looked at household income - those who are unable to afford generators or solar PV system have higher priority They looked at proximity to charging stations - if you are far, you have higher priority. And if you are from remote areas, you also have higher priority because they either have no grid connection or it will take time to bring the power back. Another criteria is how many people will benefit. If in this area more people will benefit from the system compared to other areas, they will choose the area with most impact.
Their last criteria is for people with special needs like elderly, sick people who have no access to electricity. These people will also be given higher priority So this is a picture of the installed system 2 types of system were deployed what they call Class 1 and Class 2 Class 1, as shown in the picture here, you have a 50-watt solar panel that can serve up to 3 to 5 households. Of course, they only use this to power lights and chargers. So this one lasts for eight hours to light up three households, charge five mobile phones, run a small electric fan and this entire system costs about 20,000 pesos.
The second one, Class 2 system to promote renewable energy technology It also has 2 types One is purely solar the other is a hybrid of solar and wind so the hybrid is 300 watts to 10 kilowatts while the purely solar is just 3 kilowatts This Class 2 was targeted to be installed in schools and village centers capable of powering three refrigerators, twenty streetlights or ten water pumps The cheapest system costs about 50,000 pesos but bigger systems are even more expensive This table is not complete but I want to show here that they were able to deploy seventy-five systems. So in those 75, 72 are Class 1 while three are Class 2 For this project, about 5,000 benefitted from all of the systems deployed. So what happened to the project now? I just want to give the current situation of the systems under Project Enkindle Around 50% are still functional and one reason for that is at least one member of the household knows how to use and repair the system so they had basic training or if this is not the case, they live near someone who knows how to maintain the system. So this is the main reason why half of system are still functional For the other 50% that are no longer functional, one major problem encountered is that some do not ask permission for their relatives who borrow the system because the system is portable which means you can bring it anywhere they bring it in areas (to a friend or to a relative) where no one knows how to maintain the system so when it needs minor repairs they no longer use the system So that's what happened there which I think is very important.
The system will initially work but when you encounter a minor issue that can be repaired easily, it will no longer be use because no one knows how to repair it which will eventually lead to neglect of the system. So this second project in Gilutongan Island There are two kinds It's either the system was donated or bought by the households themselves Just a little background of the area They have a generator but it can only give five hours of electricity per day Each household pay 1,200 per month for that five hour window of electricity So for this project, one system with a 5.2 kilowatts capacity was donated to a school. For others, it was self-bought which means they paid for the system The prices range from 1,500 pesos for small system to 80,000 pesos for larger systems, some even paid with chickens one small system is equivalent to two chickens That's how their payment system went So smaller systems were easily detachable from their roofs during typhoons. What they did is they assigned a community technician so they rely on the community technician if the systems need repair. So what has happened to this project? what's the current status? For the self-bought systems, the owners made sure that they learned how to operate the system properly and do basic troubleshooting.
But the problem they encountered, because they only have a small income they are only able to buy the needed components when they have extra money so what happens is even if they know how to repair the system but when they need to buy replacements they are hindered by their lack of money so the sustainability of the system is dependent on household income For the school, there was a time when the battery broke down but since the system is under school supervision, budget was allocated coming from the school so they were able to replace the batteries in 2019 So they were able to make it operational with a technician from the school. So the system is still functional. One thing that should be mentioned here is another problem that they also experienced.
Because this donation for the school was coursed through the local village official, there came a time when those parties got into a disagreement - the local village official and the teachers or the school supervisor They argued over the ownership of the system. So I think these are vital issues that need to be address at the start of the project. So if you're going to do this in your area, ownership and rights over the system should have been resolved from the start. Ok so this is my last slide and I hope everyone is still awake. I also hope
you were able to learn something even just a little. Again, thank you very much. Once again, I'm Carl Odulio.
This is my email address. You can send an email if you have any questions. We can also talk later in the open forum.
Thank you very much.