Published on November 26th, 2018 | by Kyle Field0
Solar + Storage Minigrids Are Electrifying Towns Across The Philippines
November 26th, 2018 by Kyle Field
The small Filipino town of Paluan on the island of Mindoro has been electrified with the installation of its own Tesla battery powered solar plus storage minigrid.
The new minigrid provides power to local residents who had been living on just a few hours of unstable electricity that came and went as inconsistently as the weather. To solve the situation, a new solar plus storage plus diesel solution was installed that provides stable power to residents 24 hours a day, 7 days per week for the first time ever.
The system leverages a 2 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic solar installation and a 1.8 MW / 1.5 MWh Tesla Powerpack installation. The solar installation provides the bulk of the electricity required to supply the needs of residents, and the Tesla Powerpack installation stores up excess daytime solar production which can be used through the night.
Three diesel generators with a combined capacity of 1,260 kilowatts (kW) was added to provide supplemental power during peak usage over the evening hours and to offset the seasonality of the solar generating system.
The installation highlights how relatively simple it is for those islanded from existing electricity supply networks to install a microgrid, minigrid, or full-blown grid of their own, built on a foundation of currently available solar and storage solutions. Importantly, the installation was justified and funded without subsidies, demonstrating how competitive and practical solar plus storage installations are, even in rural regions.
The new system in Paluan is effectively a smaller version of what Tesla installed in Samoa, with its Tesla Grid Controller taking over to manage the balance of the solar generation, energy storage, and hydroelectric storage on the island. No overpaid, overcomplicated, high priced, centralized, polluting power plant needed. This is the manifestation of a paradigm that has shifted, as is now being rolled out around the world as established business leaders pivot towards the next generation of energy generation and storage solutions.
The system was installed by a local solar company, Solar Para Sa Bayan (SPSB), which translates to ‘Solar for the country’. The company currently supplies power to nearly 3,000 customers on the island of Paluan, while delivering significant reductions in the cost of electricity at the same time.
The new installations are being led by the head honcho at Solar Philippines, Leandro Leviste, who also runs the first solar PV module manufacturing facility in the country. His bullish move into solar, including microgrid and minigrid installations, is making waves as he disrupts not only the entrenched electric utilities, but also the growing solar industry with his low prices and diverse set of solutions.
The market is ripe for disruption, with more than 30 million Filipinos who live without reliable access to electricity. The island nature of the nation and rugged mountainous terrain makes the prospect of local energy generation and storage installations more lucrative as the cost of tapping into centralized electrical grids puts them out of reach for most of the unserved or underserved in the country.
“The problem of the global microgrid industry is that it has limited itself to subsidized projects, which are limited by the imagination of policymakers,” says Leviste. “The only way to make microgrids scale today is to be willing to do unsubsidised, even initially loss-making projects, banking on both growth in demand and decrease in PV-storage costs to turn a profit over time. We’re betting our customers in Asia and Africa will one day have standards of living, and thus consumption, at even a fraction of what households in the US and Europe have today, and that our microgrids can help them reach that point sooner, so we’re effectively in the business of ending poverty.”
His end to end vision that connects the business side of the solar microgrid and minigrid world with the energy poverty it has the potential to alleviate or eliminate identifies him as a new generation of leader. Leviste clearly sees not only the potential of today’s current and future solar plus storage technologies, he is also actively building a company that leverages those solutions to bring about real change for Filipinos across the country.