Philippines: Harnessing Solar Energy for Off-grid Rural Electrification E-mail
Saturday, July 18, 2009

Photovoltaics is the most popular technology choice for off-grid rural electrification. In the Philippines, some major socio-economic programs of the government utilize photovoltaics to bring electric power and economic development in remote rural areas. The main advantage of PV over other renewable energy technologies is its virtually inexhaustible source of power, i.e., the sun. PV converts solar radiation directly into electricity. The geographical location of the Philippines enables it to harness solar energy because of high daily insolation, ranging from 3.5 to 5.2 kWh per square meter, and the low seasonal variation of solar radiation. The solar potential is greatest during the summer months of May to July when the sun is positioned over the Northern Hemisphere. Conversely, the months with the weakest sunlight are November to January.

In addition, PV systems are modular and can be employed for both small and large-scale power generation. High reliability, long lifetime, low maintenance cost and zero fuel requirement of PV modules have made the technology a viable and cost-effective option for remote site applications where the costs of grid extension and maintenance of conventional power supply systems are often prohibitive.


Philippines: Harnessing Solar Energy for Off-grid Rural Electrification

Prepared by the Society for the Advancement of Technology Management in the Philippines with the support of the Department of Energy and U.S. Agency for International Development as part of the Technical Assistance to the DOE for Enhancing Private Sector Participation in Renewable Energy.

While PV technology is already considered commercial, costs remain high as the industry struggles to make its transition from R&D level production to large-scale manufacturing. Nonetheless, the interest on PV has not waned; worldwide, research and development activities on the technology have been sustained. Since 1975, much of the work on PV is focused on increasing the efficiency and stability of different PV cell technologies and on reducing manufacturing costs. In addition, crystalline silicon cells, the dominant PV cell technology, is profiting from the huge R&D activities in the semiconductor industry. The upshot is a steady decline in the price of PV module – from US$4.75 per Wp in 1990 to the current price of US$3.50 per Wp. By 2010, the price of PV module is forecast to fall between US$1.50 to US$2.00 per Wp.2 These developments have increased the attractiveness of PV as a technology choice for rural electrification.

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