Philippine Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi has expressed intentions for the Filipino government to accelerate the deployment of mini-grids using renewable energy in the country to help achieve its goal of total electrification by 2022.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) handed over a report entitled “Accelerating the Deployment of Renewable Energy Mini-Grids for Off-Grid Electrification- A Study on the Philippines”.

In it, Cusi said: “In a country of more than 7,600 islands, the provision of adequate, reliable, clean and modern energy has long been a challenge, particularly in remote and isolated areas. With the dramatic decline in costs, renewable energy technologies have become a feasible and cost-effective option, not only to meet the basic need for electricity, but more profoundly, as a sustainable solution to support productive uses through mini-grid systems.”

Early on in the report, IRENA noted that within those areas identified for off-grid electrification, mini-grids were better suited to denser communities, while small standalone technologies – such as PV solar home systems – were preferred for highly dispersed households.

The report had five key recommendations including carrying out comprehensive and strategic planning for total electrification, using both on and off-grid applications, particularly with renewable energy.

It also called for the establishment of clear policies for mini-grids and the revision of current regulation for mini-grids to remove existing barriers and improve tariff determination procedures. Greater support for project development and execution is also necessary to facilitate financing.

While the use of energy storage was recommended, IRENA did note some difficulties: “These new technologies are not yet used in many parts of the developing world. These sophisticated technologies require operators who can handle the system properly. In off-grid areas, limited technical expertise exists to deal with complicated technologies.”

Cusi added: “Electrification of households, particularly in the rural areas, remains a big challenge for us. Thus, we have to take advantage of this study to bridge the residual gaps in our electrification efforts.”

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