Over 20,000 residents in island communities to gain access to digital financial services

Island communities across the Philippines are set to receive access to financial services and renewable energy as Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation’s (RCBC) DiskarTech and One Renewable Energy (OREEi) seal a partnership that is estimated to benefit over 20,000 Filipinos residing in these communities.

One of these communities is Mararison Island, off the municipality of Culasi in Antique which, through OREEi’s initiatives in partnership with the Asian Development Bank and the local government, now enjoys 24/7 access to electricity from their previous 4 hours a day. The partnership is expected to open economic and social development opportunities for Mararison and all other islands.

“This partnership is part of our mission to promote inclusive digital finance to our unbanked and underserved kababayans. Serving the OREEi communities and widening the reach of Diskartech will help us in achieving this objective,” said Lito Villanueva, RCBC’s executive vice president and chief innovation and inclusion officer.

Mararison’s solar-powered hospitality

The Mararison Island Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Hybrid Pilot Project showcases a public-private partnership between Antique Electric Cooperative (ANTECO), the electric distribution franchise holder; the local government of Antique; One Renewable Energy Enterprise, Inc. (OREEI), the technical partner with partial grant from ADB.

Mararison is one of many small islands in the Philippines where economic growth has been hampered by lack of livelihood opportunities and limited electricity service. The main industries on the island are tourism and fishing. On Mararison, electricity was generated from diesel-fueled generator, providing power only four hours a day. Due to the costs and difficulties transporting fuel, the approximately 160 households on the island have had to pay a much higher tariff than those on the mainland where electricity is available 24 hours a day.

Under the pilot project, the existing diesel power plant was replaced a 50-kW PV system with a 273 kwH lithium-ion batteries and 54 kW diesel generator that is designed to supply the current and future needs of some 200 households and commercial establishments catering to local tourism in the island. The power plant is equipped with energy management system (EMS) that allows for automatic switching of the diesel generation as needed and provides real time data on the operation of the power plant which can be monitored remotely.

The system is designed to generate 80% of power from the solar PV system, stored in the batteries and delivered to the households using the transmission and distribution lines of ANTECO. The diesel generator will supply any shortfall from solar production.

The introduction of an innovative pre-paid metering system for electricity consumption will ensure 100% HH inclusion, energy efficiency and give the consumer the capacity to budget their electrical consumption. At the same time, collection issues are a thing of the past as the local electric cooperative no longer needs to deploy collection agents monthly.

With reliable and continuous 24/7 electric services, islanders now have greater income generating opportunities, such as better food and lodgings to attract more tourism and refrigeration for fishers catch preservation and better market prices. Lower power prices will leave more income for the islanders for other essentials such as food and education, and also give them greater connectivity through mobile phone charging, access to TV and radio, and internet services. Access to household appliances such as rice cookers, simple washing machines, and irons have also reduced the work burden on the island’s women.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development Mr. Bambang Susantono said the role of the private sector in this project is showcasing a new business model for deploying a distributed renewable energy system.

“ADB’s support of this venture is proof of its desire to concretely contribute to the government’s target of 100% household electrification by 2022 through private sector participation in the energy sector,” he said. “The success of this project will encourage more investors into the country’s off-grid electrification efforts using distributed renewable energy system, thereby promoting the goal of increasing energy access and inclusive growth.”