• Solar power for everyone



    EVERYONE has heard of solar light and solar lamps, which illuminate the homes of those who are off-grid, or have no access to electricity as they may be far from txhe source of power. There is the famous WakaWaka, which donates another light source when you buy one from them, similar to Tom’s famous “one pair of shoes buys a pair for an underprivileged child.”

    But what about solar panels? We often see huge set ups with billboard size panels slanted towards the sun’s direction, and we imagine they must be so expensive! There are solar panels on rooftops to even just power the water heater in a home.

    I remember giving a talk in a solar factory in Laguna whose parking lot roofs were all solar-panel lined. The whole parking lot was solar-panelled and I was overwhelmed. So, I thought, my dream of using solar power in our little farmhouse must just be a dream and will remain as one. As I only saw huge set ups powering big buildings.

    On a trip with Promotion on Green Development or ProGED of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the GIZ to a German city called Feldheim, we saw a self-sufficient town living off grid because they produced their own power. All from solar panels which rotate and follow the sun, capturing all its energy in a temperate country like Germany, where sunlight is not 12 hours all year.

    On a recent trip to Bacolod, I saw a solar panel set up to power an inverter air-conditioner. Now that sounds really geeky. First of all, the inverter air-conditioner already uses much less electricity. And add to that, a solar panel that powers it during the daytime hours. It’s almost double negative. Use less power, and use solar power at that. Goodbye, electric bills! So, it is now possible.

    I have yet to install a similar solar panel in our building’s deck to power even just two inverter air-conditioners. But now I know it is possible. Thanks to Ramon Uy Sr. of RU Foundry who showed me it could be done. He has a working model in his store that uses the air-cons from 8 a.m. and to 5 pm, all for free electric bills.

    That’s for air-conditioners. A luxury appliance for the more privileged.

    But you know where solar power is needed most? In the places where children cannot study at night when sunset comes. In places where mothers cannot read a bedtime story to their children. But maybe that is also the reason why children are told stories by grandmothers and not read to.

    Solar power is now cheaper and more efficient. There are solar lamps for emergency kits that can show you the basic principles of how the sun’s power is harnessed for later use. And there are solar panels to even charge mobile phones, or give the light we most need at night.

    And now there are solar lamps that will power your airconditioners. Geeky but good.

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    Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra, Podium, Centris QC mall, Davao and Cebu City. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates and NGOs on sustainability, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at puj@echostore.ph


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    1. We are working with a woman from the Philippines to start a solar village. She is delivering lights to children for reading, solar cell phone chargers and stoves to villages and building a health center. There are some wonderful stories about how these devices are making a difference for the people in the darkness.