By Ali G. Macabalang
Above are MinDA-supplied photos, one showing packages of renewable energy facilities piled at the foreground of a site of installation in Sitangkai town upon arrival from Cebu last week, right, and another portraying Sec. Manny Piñol with field environment workers in turtle habitats on a nearby island in March 2020, left.
Long-desired electrification of far-flung island towns in Tawi-Tawi has loomed with the arrival last week of enabling equipment in the host Sitangkai and Sibutu municipalities, according to the Mindanao Development Authority (MInDA).
“Finally, equipment for the 1MW (megawatt) Solar Hybrid Project in Sitangkai and 0.65MW Sibutu under the RETS Project has arrived from the Port of Cebu to Sitangkai and Sibutu,” MinDA Chairman Manny Piñol announced in his Facebook page on Feb. 12.
The RETS project is a joint venture of MinDA, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization- Philippines, the provincial government, electric cooperatives and Mindanao State University (MSU) campus in Tawi-Tawi, and the Bangsamioro autonomous government, Piñol said.
The project, funded by the European Union’s Access to Sustainable Energy Program (ASEP), promotes Renewable Energy (RE) strategies and systems on energy efficiency, innovations to support livelihood for poor off-grid and un-energized households in the seaweed producing communities in Sitangkai and Sibutu, he added.
Parts of Sitangkai and Subutu, about 25-minute sea drive to Sabah, Malaysia and 16-hour trip to mother Tawi-Tawi province, were visited by Sec. Pinol in March 2020, making him the first cabinet-level official to have ever set foot on the southernmost Philippine island communities.
In two video clips produced by MinDA, Sec. Piñol disclosed the critical needs to promote and preserve ecology in the islands including the habitats of endangered Philippine turtles (pawikan), the introduction of off-grid renewable energy systems in the isolated communities, and link the same areas to the outside world through internet connectivity.
After his side-trips in the island towns, Sec. Piñol coordinated with concerned local stakeholders and proposed the installation of a self-sustaining electricity system and mini-satellite networks for the province, MinDA communications department Chief Dr. Adrian Tamayo said.
Department of Communications and Information Technology Secretary Gregorio Honasan, through a representative undersecretary, announced at the “Mindanao Speaks Up” forum hosted by MinDA on Feb. 10 its approval of mini-satellite systems to connect Tawi-Tawi’s farthest islands towns to global internet connections.
infant Electric Cooperative (TAWELCO), Provincial Government of Tawi-Tawi, Mindanao State University-Tawi-Tawi, Association of Isolated Electric Cooperatives Inc. (AIEC), Island Light and Water Energy Development Corp. (ILAW), and BARMM Government, funded by the EU-Access to Sustainable Energy Program ( ASEP).
On the electrification venture, Piñol said, the Solar PV-Diesel Hybrid Energy Generation Technology for the island Sitangkai and Sibutu towns will have a total estimated installed capacity of 1.65 MW to serve 3,000 new household connections. (AGM)