Tacloban City, September 30, 2014—A solar community center opened quietly today, rising from the rubble of a once floodswept 750-square meter plot of land in downtown Tacloban.
The opening saw the city’s first sun-powered electric jeepneys, or eJeepneys, roll out—four units of what is expected to become a 26-strong fleet by 2015. A solar-powered videoke party is slated to take place in the evening to demonstrate that solar power works day and night.
“It’s time to embrace sunshine, one of Tacloban’s greatest yet most neglected treasures. We are excited to contribute to the government’s efforts to build back better and brighter,” said Reina Garcia, program coordinator of the solar facility’s proponent, Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC). The solar facility is run under the organization’s RE-Charge Tacloban project.
The RE-Charge Tacloban facility is a community hub for renewable energy and an incubation center for sustainable livelihoods and renewable energy-powered social enterprise. It is iCSC’s contribution to help steer Tacloban toward better development and climate resilience.
The facility uses a hybrid off-grid solar photovoltaic system with battery backup and grid-tie capability that is connected to the geothermal-powered Leyte grid. The system uses 39 250-watt Renesola virtus II polycrystalline modules which have a 25-year performance warranty. A Schneider 48 volt inverter converts the direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC).
When extra power is required, the geothermal-powered grid is utilized, allowing the facility’s battery bank to be recharged by the solar array. This allows electric vehicles to be charged 24-hours a day, with faster charging capacity during daylight hours. Combining solar and geothermal power also allows the electric vehicles to be 100 percent fossil fuel-free, which helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Around 5.5 kilowatt hours of solar radiation falls on Tacloban daily, almost twice the amount of sunlight enjoyed by Germany, yet so little of it is utilized. In contrast, cloudy Germany utilizes over 50 percent of its meager share of sunshine. Tacloban’s future will be far brighter when it begins to use more of what it already has,” said Chloe Hill, a graduate student from the University of Freiburg, Germany, who is conducting an economic feasibility and emissions assessment study of the facility.
“Supertyphoon Yolanda was not the first and is certainly not going to be the last extreme event to ravage the country. We are determined to invest in the idea that we can become more resilient when we pursue better, brighter development,” said Menard Angelo Castillo, a youth volunteer at the solar facility and currently a third year student majoring in Industrial Education at the Eastern Visayas State University.
RE-Charge Tacloban is supported by the Doen Foundation, National Geographic Society’s Great Energy Challenge, Oxfam, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Emirates and Rustan’s Department Store. iCSC is a non-profit policy group working on fair climate policy and sustainable energy solutions.
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