By Joe Zaldarriaga

Solar as backup to power recovery from disasters, emergencies

October 4, 2022, 10:43 am

The landfall of Super Typhoon Karding became one of this year’s biggest challenges to the country and the economy, having damaged billions worth of crops and claiming the lives of several people. 

As of this posting, the damages and losses by Typhoon Karding is pegged at PHP3.12 billion, with the rice sector the heavily hit. 

“Karding” is also this year’s strongest typhoon. During its devastation, the highest tropical cyclone wind signal was hoisted over portions of Northern Luzon, toppling power lines and causing power interruptions at a time when the delivery of reliable and stable electricity service is needed most. 

Transmission lines owned by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines were also not spared from the aftermath and heavily affected the immediate restoration of power. 

Power interruptions are inevitable during natural disasters, but the impact can be minimized if the national government and local government units ramp up disaster resiliency operations by investing in solar photovoltaic systems. 

First, solar PV systems are the most reliable source of electricity in off-grid areas, as they are able to power gadgets and appliances that are highly needed during emergencies. 

Secondly, solar PVs can be deployed immediately even without battery storage systems. 

Most importantly, solar PVs are more eco-friendly as they do not emit carbon dioxide that is harmful to the environment. 

At the House of Representatives, Ilocos Norte First District Representative Sandro Marcos ramped up his province’s use of renewable source by partnering with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to identify the areas in Ilocos that are most prone to landslides and flooding, in line with the creation of a masterplan for evacuation centers to be powered by solar. This came from the success of the wind technology in Bangui, Ilocos Norte. 

None other than his father, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. supported the Philippines’ wider use of renewable energy (RE) sources in what he called the “green transition,” where he encouraged the industry stakeholders to bolster the use of wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, and biomass or biofuels to counter climate change. 

The president also cited the country’s precarious power supply as a reason to push for the use of more sustainable and renewable energy sources. 

We must work hand-in-hand for disaster resilience, not only to restore economic and social viability, but to ensure that any negative effect does not worsen. 

But as always, success and achievement of goals always starts at home. The national government itself must encourage the local government units to incorporate the use of RE sources such as solar in their disaster prevention and preparedness. 

Utilizing and fully maximizing the benefits of solar energy can power community resilience through providing homes and institutions the backup power even if power from the grid is yet to be restored. 

Natural disasters are one of the biggest causes of revenue losses for the government, but an economy and a community powered by a stable and reliable electricity recovers more easily.  

Emergency preparedness aside, both the public and private sectors must strengthen partnership for the adoption for RE, not only to bring hope to the communities, but also to create a more livable environment.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Office of the Press Secretary.


About the Columnist

Image of Joe Zaldarriaga

Joe Zaldarriaga is a veteran, award-winning communicator immersed in public service within and beyond the energy sector. He has more than 30 years of experience serving the country’s biggest electric distribution utility and is involved in a number of public service functions, as member of various committees on public safety, power supply security and electrification. Concurrently, he is a prominent figure in the Philippine communications industry, as Chairman and Past President of the US-based International Association of Business Communicators Philippines (IABC PH). He is also an awardee of the University of Manila’s Medallion of Honor (Dr. Mariano V. delos Santos Memorial) and a Scroll of Commendation, a testament to his celebrated years in public service exemplified by outstanding communications.

Joe also shares his opinion and outlook on relevant national and consumer issues as a columnist in several prominent publications and is now venturing into new media via hosting a new vlog called Cup of Joe. Previously, Joe was a reporter and desk editor of a Broadcasting Company and the former auditor of the Defense Press Corps of the Philippines. A true green Lasalian, he finished with a degree in Asian Studies specializing in the Japan Studies program at De La Salle University, Manila, where he also spent his entire education.