Diesel or solar: Could a push to power the Philippines turn greener?

(Reuters, 24 Oct 2018) A solar grid is making life easier for the forest rangers of Norzagaray - could it help other remote communities as well?

In battling the timber poachers who roam the thick Sierra Madre forests near his home, Larry Garaes has found a new ally: solar panels.

With solar chargers, the radios he and other forest rangers rely on no longer run out of power on multi-day operations in the mountains, he said.

"Communication between rangers is a lot better. Now, we can catch the poachers while they are in the act because we can coordinate our moves quietly without resorting to shouting at the next ranger - unlike before," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Access to clean energy is bringing a range of unexpected benefits around the world. On the longest mountain range in the Philippines, those benefits include better forest protection – and power for tribal people who once lacked it.

More than 2 million households – or about 10 percent of all households – in the Philippines lack electricity, according to a 2017 report by the country's Department of Energy.

About three quarters are in remote rural locations, in a country spread over thousands of islands, according to the Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG), which is trying to get them connected.

Because bringing the national grid power to many of those people is not cost effective, the state National Power Corporation has charged SPUG with setting up and running small power plants in these areas.

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Reuters, 24 Oct 2018: Diesel or solar: Could a push to power the Philippines turn greener?