Solar facility to provide energy, jobs in Tacloban


Posted at Sep 24 2014 08:37 PM | Updated as of Sep 25 2014 04:37 AM

TACLOBAN CITY -- A solar facility is being built in Tacloban City to provide an alternative source of power and livelihood for the victims of Typhoon 'Yolanda'.

"The RE-Charge facility will be powered by Tacloban sunshine and Filipino grit. Elements from the typhoon Yolanda relief effort were employed in its construction, including storm debris," said Reina Garcia, program coordinator of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC), the group behind the project.

The solar facility will start operating on September 30 with partners in local government, the academe, businesses, community groups and non-government organizations.

The project will also roll out electronic jeepneys (e-jeeps). E-jeep fleet drivers and solar facility personnel are all from Tacloban.

"The focus is on encouraging the generation of more green jobs and investments in sustainable enterprise," Garcia said.

The facility is located in Burgos Street, near the city's port. Up to 90 percent of the facility's power will come from a hybrid 9.75-kW solar array and energy storage system.

When the battery bank begins to run low, the system will tap into a grid-based geothermal power to provide electricity while the solar array recharges. The system ensures uninterrupted power supply, particularly during power outages.

Container vans which were used to bring relief goods will be transformed into food kiosks, an internet center, and a police outpost. Lumber from trees felled by the typhoon, as well as wood salvaged after the storm will likewise be used in the construction of staff quarters, offices and furniture.

Elevated secure storage areas for critical facility equipment were also built higher than the waves brought by the 2013 storm surge.

"It is not enough to just cope with climate change. Adaptation to new realities should be transformational as well. Climate change provides an opportunity to institute lasting changes in the way development at the local level is designed and directed," said Teddy Arellano, iCSC's Associate for Special Projects.

Arellano previously headed the Oxfam Hong Kong team deployed to Sri Lanka for 18 months to help manage the response to the 2004 tsunami.

"Everything is thrumming with activity and we are making final adjustments, the tweaks and last turns of the screw. We're hopeful and we're excited to rise above the political quarrels and contribute to what the city needs," Garcia said.

RE-Charge Tacloban is supported by the Doen Foundation, National Geographic Society’s Great Energy Challenge, Oxfam, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Rustan's Department Store. iCSC is a non-profit policy group working on fair climate policy and sustainable energy solutions.