Empowering Indigenous Communities through the Sun

by Engr. Jason Occidental

Manurigao, Davao de Oro - Members of Engineers Without Borders Philippines from Ateneo de Davao University received a grant from the Philippine Department of Science and Technology to deploy a 50 kW Community-based Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Microgrid for an upland village in Manurigao, Municipality of New Bataan in the Province of Davao de Oro.

The Solar PV microgrid is a hybrid and off-grid solar-PV designed to power remote communities, such as that in Manurigao. The system is designed to be community-based, wherein the community members will manage the operation, distribution, and maintenance of the system.

This ensures that the community takes ownership of the system and would formulate decision-making that will be based on their community’s needs. Typically, renewable energy projects in remote communities do not last long due to the lack of knowledge from the community to maintain and repair. The Community-based Microgrid provides a new approach that empowers the community to maintain and operate the system and contribute towards their economic growth.

The community has now registered as an indigenous people’s cooperative in early 2020, wherein the power system would energize their homes (around 68 households to date), post-harvest equipment, and other public infrastructure.