Access to Energy: A Shell Foundation, Victron Energy microgrid

Palawan island has been chosen several times as the most beautiful island in the world. Not surprising really as the Province of Palawan is an archipelago in the Philippines which includes two UNESCO World Heritage Sites plus breathtaking endless white beaches, wild forests and rugged mountains – all of a pure and untouched nature. But, even beauty can have a downside.

Powerless

Thousands of people still live in such areas where there is no access to electricity and the likelihood of any utility grid connection is aeons away. The Shell Foundation however set about changing that with the advent of a microgrid in Palawan, ably supported by products from Victron Energy. Whilst the Shell Foundation Access to Energy project has been involved with microgrids for some time, this is the first microgrid with Victron Energy in the Philippines – ensuring power for the powerless became a reality.

inauguration

The inauguration of this initial project, in the North of Palawan, took place on October 2nd 2016. Here’s the story of how that came about.

Village Microgrid

Ligad is a small beach village miles away from any mains electricity grid in Barangay Tineguiban, part of the beautiful El Nido area. The Shell Foundation chose to electrify this village by building a microgrid to ensure every home would have basic access to electricity.

ligad

For the microgrid design and installation Shell contracted JK Solar Power House, who are based in Puerto Princesa. For the supply of the off-grid system Josie and Koos Mulder (the J&K in the design and installation company name) chose PhilSolar Equipment and Trading Corporation, who are the the official distributors and importers for Victron Energy products in the Philippines.

Logistical challenges

The logistical challenges were enormous as many tons of materials had to be transported from
Manila to Puerto Princesa, then it was an 8 to 10 hour truck drive, partially over dirt roads. After that it was from Teneguiban to Ligad village on small bangka outrigger boats. No mean feat! When you start to see what was transported it puts the challenges into perspective.

70 electricity posts with street lights were placed around the village.

posts

The Naier 5kW wind turbine was installed on a hill above the village.

turbine

A special powerhouse for the Victron Energy equipment was constructed, along with the adjacent standby diesel generator plant room.

power-house

The 7.8kWp solar array was mounted on the Ligad elementary school building.
schoolEach home has their own kWh electricity meter and power outlets.

meter

The meters are intentional as many people will add extra appliances over time; hence the Ligad Electricity Association (LEA) has been formed to control and manage this. Plus of course the electricity needs to be paid for by the inhabitants, in order to have the funds to maintain this marvellous microgrid system.

Victron Pay As You Go

Whilst the Ligad community now have their own microgrid and their own arrangements to ensure ongoing funding through PAYG energy usage, Victron Energy also have a range of similar systems available to distributors and system integrators that are suitable for solar home systems and mini-grids – which can be used in a similar PAYG affordable manner. You can learn more about these systems here:

https://www.victronenergy.com/markets/payg

Victron Powerhouse

A the heart of the Ligad system is a powerful 10kVA Victron Energy Quattro inverter/charger and two 150V/85A MPPT Solar Charge Controllers.

These, along with the 48V/1,110 Ah battery bank, are all monitored and controlled by a BMV-700 Battery monitor and a Color Control GX (CCGX). The CCGX logs all the data to its Micro SD card which can (if needed) be taken away and used for analysis once the data has been uploaded to the VRM portal. This method is because in this remote area there is no internet or mobile phone access. Usually of course the CCGX would be connected in real time via an appropriate internet router to the VRM portal, where information monitoring and even remote control of the system could be done in real time.

victron-inside

Smiles all round

If the inauguration event smiles are anything to go by, this project is already a major success!

Hitting the ceremonial power button, with Danny Maesen (PhilSolar) on the left and Koos Mulder (JK Solar) on the right.
buttonMarvi Trudeau, a principal from the Shell Foundation, unveils the commemorative plaque.

unveil

Celebrating Access to Energy.
celebrate
The Access to Energy smile.

smilesThe future

It seems that the project has been a great hit as a second one (larger 15.6kWp solar array) is already underway with the contract having been awarded to JK Solar Power House. We have also heard that Victron products will once again be supplied by Victron distributor PhilSolar Equipment and Trading Corporation. More on this next project as the news rolls in…

Conclusion

What a delight to see power being brought to such communities and who better to sum up than Danny Maesen of PhilSolar, who said:

“We are very proud to have helped in bringing this project to fruition and have so enjoyed seeing the happiness this has brought to the Ligad community, both young and old. As a result we trust education will improve, as we hope will the quality of life. Hopefully this all means more children will get better access to study and find better jobs in the future.

A big thank you must go to Koos and Josie Mulder of JK Solar Power House for their immense efforts in bringing this project to a successful conclusion.”

My own thanks to all the parties mentioned above for the information and images used in this blog.

John Rushworth

For further information see:

Shell Foundation

http://www.shellfoundation.org/Our-Focus/Access-To-Energy

JK Solar Power House

https://www.facebook.com/JKSolarPowerHouse

Contact Koos Mulder: koossolarpowerhouse@gmail.com

PhilSolar Equipment and Trading Corporation

http://philsolar.ph

https://www.facebook.com/philsolar.ph

Contact Danny Maesen: info@philsolar.ph

 

 

 

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