Philippines Seeks Microgrids to Solve Power Gaps

Oct. 31, 2023
More than 4 million Filipino households are unserved or underserved by the national power grid. The country’s Department of Energy is turning to microgrids to help electrify all households along the nation’s 7,461-island archipelago by 2028.

The Philippine Department of Energy (DOE) has released an invitation to bid on the construction, installation, and maintenance and operations of microgrids in support of its 2023-2032 National Total Electrification Roadmap (NTER).

The NTER, which was released at the same time as the invitation to bid, outlines how electrification efforts, including the construction of microgrids, will deliver reliable, secure electricity at reasonable rates to all Filipino households by 2028.

Electrifying an archipelago

The Republic of the Philippines is an archipelago made up of 7,461 islands. The nation’s physical landscape presents significant electrification challenges, especially when it comes to connecting remote communities to the national grid.

Currently, nearly 4 million Filipino households are deemed either unserved or underserved by the nation’s power infrastructure, and many of them are in remote rural areas.

According to the DOE, more than 1.2 million households are unserved, or in locations with no electricity access, including access to distribution lines, individual home systems or a connection to a microgrid.

The remaining 2.7 million live in underserved areas, and while they do have access to electricity services, it’s not on a 24/7 basis.

The government created the NTER because it recognized that improving access to reliable electricity will not only reduce poverty and increase quality of life in these areas, it will have a positive effect on the country as a whole.

Electrifying remote communities with microgrids

A microgrid is a smaller version of the electric power grid that serves a defined area like a neighborhood or a remote area. Microgrids typically utilize multiple distributed energy sources such as solar, energy storage batteries, gas or diesel generators or even the grid.

Every microgrid has a controller that optimizes how the connected power sources are used based on the operator’s goals – typically a combination of increasing electric reliability and resilience, decreasing emissions and reducing energy costs.

Because microgrids can be designed to be either grid-connected or operate completely off grid, the technology is well-suited to meet the electricity needs of both the unserved and underserved communities.

Remote microgrids, or those used in areas without access to a central grid, are popular in difficult to electrify areas, such as rural communities in Africa.

In the Philippines, the Microgrid Systems Act (MGSA), more formally known as Republic Act No. 11646 or The Act of Promoting the Use of Microgrid Systems to Accelerate the Total Electrification of Unserved and Underserved Areas Nationwide, was signed into law in early 2022.

First submission deadline is in mid-November

The invitation to bid is the DOE’s first step in implementing the NTER and the MGSA. Through the bidding process, the DOE is looking to identify qualified candidates to provide the construction, installation, and maintenance and operations, including customer billing and collections, of microgrid systems across the designated service areas.

The initial auction will be broken into 49 lots covering 98 unserved or underserved areas of the country. It is expected that more than 15,000 households will benefit from the microgrids built in this first wave.

“The implementation of MGSA is poised to play a big role in the electricity ecosystem and power distribution and generation in underserved and unserved areas of the country,” according to a statement released by the DOE.

Expression of interest submissions are due by 5 p.m. Manila time on Nov. 15, and bidders will be notified of their prequalification status by Nov. 21. The DOE will host a prebid conference for qualified bidders on Nov. 29.

Final bids are due Dec. 27, and it is expected that the winners will be announced in mid-March 2024.

Additional information on the invitation to bid, including eligibility requirements, is available on the Philippine DOE website.

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About the Author

Kathy Hitchens | Special Projects Editor

I work as a writer and special projects editor for Microgrid Knowledge. I have over 30 years of writing experience, working with a variety of companies in the renewable energy, electric vehicle and utility sector, as well as those in the entertainment, education, and financial industries. I have a BFA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona and a MBA from the University of Denver.

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