Acciona, a Spanish company that promotes sustainable infrastructure solutions specializing in renewable energy, inaugurated the “Light at Home in Palawan” project that will energize at least 1,200 households in Barangay Teneguiban, El Nido, on Friday, November 17.
The project, initiated by the company’s Acciona.org Foundation, has forged a partnership with the Ayala Foundation, together with the Spanish Embassy in the Philippines and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (Spanish Cooperation), for the project, which also includes Barangays Mabini, San Fernando, and Villa Paz in El Nido, as well as Barangays Antonino and Taradungan in Roxas town.
The project commenced as “Lights at Home El Nido” with an initial installation of 100 photovoltaic solar panels in February of last year and was officially launched in December.
The solar home system provides at least eight hours of electricity to communities in the far-flung areas of the town that are not accessible to the main grid of the province’s energy provider, giving them access to other essential services such as charging cell phones or computers and using electronic devices.
Acciona Managing Director Jose Gabriel Martin Fernandez said the idea for the initiative came during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, although the partnership with the Ayala Foundation had long been established.
He also said that renewable energy has always been one of the company’s primary initiatives, emphasizing that electricity is essential for the development of a community.
“We selected Palawan and El Nido municipality because of their (Ayala) relationship here, but the main reason is that there are many communities without access to basic services like electricity, water, and sanitation,” Fernandez said.
“We focused on electricity because that is one of the main business lines of Acciona; we started in 2008, and we believe that electricity is essential for development, not just because of the direct impact of having or not having electricity at home but also because of what it represents for other questions like education, health, production, and connectivity. So electricity is a basic necessity, maybe a right that has to be covered because of its impact on other essential services for development,” he explained.
Spanish Embassy Chief Economic and Commercial Counselor Sylvia Torices dela Varga said the inauguration serves as a testament to the Spanish government’s commitment to provide access to clean energy to people living in the off-grid communities of Palawan, marking a significant milestone in the journey towards a cleaner and more sustainable future.
“I have had the pleasure of living in this country for 25 years and counting. I have had the opportunity to see how this country is rapidly growing and entering a path of prosperity,” dela Varga said.
“This commitment aligns with enhancing the nation’s energy security and promoting sustainability. We all know it is a basic necessity and essential for the development of every community. The lack of electricity has been a significant challenge to rural areas for so many years, and it has hindered the growth of these communities for many years,” she added.
Furthermore, she said the project will also help improve the quality of life for residents of remote barangays, as it will enhance the quality of education by providing sufficient lighting for their studies.
Spanish Cooperation Coordinator General Violeta Dominguez Acosta, on the other hand, stated that with the realization of this project, there is still more to come.
“This is the first time that Spanish cooperation has supported an intervention in Palawan, but this will not be the last, to demonstrate our commitment to continue expanding to the most important areas for intervention with the most vulnerable families and communities,” Acosta said.
“The Spanish Cooperation is very keen on [other] projects such as energy and sanitation because we are in the middle of the formulation of our next five cooperations with authorities, and we will see that we sign this in February or March,” she added.
Ayala Foundation President Antonio Joselito Lambino, meanwhile, stated that the partnership is the result of the foundation’s commitment to build and nurture the productivity, creativity, and self-reliance of Filipino communities where they are focusing their efforts to bring about improvement.
“This is why we are honored to be part of acciona.org’s Light at Home Palawan project. Light at Home addresses a very basic need. Through Light at Home, we are proud to count ourselves as Acciona’s allies in literally lighting up the lives of thousands of El Nido residents,” Lambino said.
Acciona.org Foundation’s Amanda Bacani also mentioned that following the launch in El Nido, they are actively seeking opportunities to expand the project to other municipalities in the province.
“The foundation received another grant from the Spanish Cooperation Agency for another 1,500 units. So we are looking for another area here in Palawan. But yes, we still have more to come and hopefully more to come,” Bacani said.
“We are in the process of identifying the recipients. Actually we are holding sessions with barangays and communities to explain what we do and see their interest,” she added.