NEA urges co-ops to use minigrids in rural areas

By Jordeene Sheex Lagare – September 22, 2018
from The Manila Times

THE National Electrification Administration (NEA) is pushing for power cooperatives to use minigrids to bring electricity to remote areas still not connected to the Philippines’ main grid.

In his remarks at the Philippines Mini-grid Business-to-Business (B2B) Forum in Manila on Thursday, NEA Deputy Administrator for Technical Services Artis Nikki Tortola encouraged the co-ops to “pursue the use of minigrids and distributed generation.”

According to him, solar home systems for dispersed households have limited ability to meet growing energy demand, while minigrids offer a possible way to supply power to far-flung areas despite their high up-front costs.

Also called an isolated grid, a minigrid generates 10 kilowatts or 10 megawatts for a small number of consumers through a distribution grid that can operate independently.

“In increasing universal access to energy, remote communities need a flexible, stable and reliable electricity supply for sustainable socioeconomic development…” Tortola said.

His remarks came a month after NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong said his agency was considering renewable energy (RE) sources to speed up rural electrification.

These include solar photovoltaic (PV) mainstreaming or solar home systems for areas not connected to the main grid.

Masongsong had urged power co-ops to “think outside the box” and maximize the opportunities extended by the European Union-Access to Sustainable Energy Programme (EU-ASEP) and World Bank to provide electricity to areas without it.

Tortola said on Wednesday one of the items under NEA’s master plan was the implementation of the rural development program through the government’s electrification program.

During the forum, he said 1,777,695 households would require electricity between 2018 and 2022, based on the submission of electric co-ops as of this month.

There are 2,399,108 unserved households, while the number of unenergized areas for off-grid electrification is 1,702.

In a press briefing, Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella said Mindanao would be the focus of his department’s missionary electrification program, noting the region’s need for increased electricity access.
The government is targeting the 100-percent electrification of households by 2022.

The forum, which ended on Friday, gathered more than 200 foreign and local investors, as well as power co-ops, to look for opportunities to invest in RE minigrids.