Mini grids eyed for rural electrification

AMEM35 REPORTS DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi (center) and delegates meet the press at the conclusion of the 35th ASEAN Ministers Energy Meeting and Associated Meetings at the Conrad Hotel. With Cusi, who is AMEM35 chair, are (from left) ASEAN Center for Energy Executive Director Dr. Sanjayan Velautham, ASEAN Secretariat Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN Community and Corporate Affairs AKP Mochtan PhD, AMEM35 Vice Chair and Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry S. Iswaran, and International Renewable Energy Agency Director General Adnan Amin.

THE Department of Energy (DOE) is considering the recommendation of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to deploy mini grids to help accelerate rural electrification.

This was stressed by Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi as he received Thursday (28 September) a study conducted by IRENA during the concluding ceremonies of the 35th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM35) at Conrad Manila, Pasay City.

The study is entitled “Accelerating the Deployment of Renewable Energy Mini-Grids for Off-Grid Electrification — A Study on the Philippines”.

Cusi said, “The IRENA study supports the country’s total electrification goal for Filipino families to enjoy equal opportunity to access basic electricity services.”

“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,” Cusi said.

The study explored the issues and barriers to the implementation of mini-grids through a comprehensive review of government legislation and programs and select international studies.

The study entailed a documentary review, focus group discussions and field studies in four sites, which resulted in several key recommendations to accelerate the deployment of energy mini-grids via renewable energy (RE) and other emerging technologies for off-grid electrification in the Philippines.

The study’s key recommendations are the following:

* define roles and responsibilities to remove overlapping roles, functions and accountabilities to acknowledge stakeholders’ roles and to define private-sector boundaries;

* undertake comprehensive and strategic planning for total electrification, missionary electrification development, stronger coordination among relevant agencies, grid and off-grid development efforts, and resource utilization, especially RE;

* establish a clear policy approach for mini-grids to introduce a graduation policy for the universal charge for missionary electrification entitlement;

* revise regulatory approach for mini-grid projects to remove existing barriers and  facilitate smooth entry in the market by streamlining processes, updating procurement rules, and improving tariff determination procedures; and

* increase project development and execution support for more accessible financing, and promotion and understanding of RE by all stakeholders.

IRENA is an intergovernmental organization that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, and serves as the principal platform for international co-operation, a center of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on RE.

The international agency also promotes the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of RE, including bioenergy, geothermal, hydropower, ocean, solar and wind energy, in the pursuit of sustainable development, energy access, energy security and low-carbon economic growth and prosperity.