Mar 2, 2011

Rehabilitation of 30-kW Binosawan Microhydro

The project’s main objective is to provide energy access to 140 families in the coastal village of Brgy. Binosawan in Rapu-rapu, Albay province, Philippines.  This will be accomplished through the rehabilitation and upgrading of the 30 kW microhydro power project that was damaged by two supertyphoons in 2006 – Milenyo in October and Reming in November.  Secondly, to increase income through installing 11 kW ice plant and cold storage for their fish preservation and storage which augurs well not only in Binosawan but also the surrounding fishing villages in Rapu-rapu municipality island, as well as the adjacent coastal areas of Sorsogon province.  Lastly, to protect the demarcated watershed against unscrupulous intrusion of a mining firm in the island through appropriate water resource management and strengthening local community support.

Project Context.  The construction of the Binosawan Microhydro Project began in March 2002 and was successfully commissioned in March 2005.  The 30 kW MHP project harnessed the immense potential of the Binosawan River that provided electricity to 140 households in the barangay. 

he project is a multi-stakeholder endeavor involving the local people’s organization Sagip Isla-Sagip Kapwa, Inc. (SISK), Sta. Florentina Parish of Rapu- Rapu, and the Aquinas University of Legazpi City (AUL).  The UNDP-Global Environment Facility and Small Grants Program (UNDP-GEF SGP) and the United Kingdom Embassy provided financial assistance.  SIBAT designed and provided technical assistance for the entire project duration.  SIBAT ( is an NGO working for the advancement of appropriate technology towards the strategic goal of establishing village level sustainable development all over the country.

In the last quarter of 2006, however, operation of the MHP came to an abrupt halt with the onslaught of two super typhoons – Milenyo (October) and Reming (November) – that struck the Bicol Region and did not spare the small community of Binosawan, leaving behind major damages to the MHP parts and structures, aside from the lost of lives and property.  In March 2009, the Barangay Council of Binosawan approved an ordinance upholding the importance of the MHP project in addressing the primary needs of the barangay constituents and the need for rehabilitation as a measure to adapt to climate change impacts.

At present, the MHP system is still non-operational because major rehabilitation repairs are at a stand still due to lack of resources to fund the over-all project cost. 

MHP Rehabilitation and Upgrading Plan

Despite the immense loss and devastation, the resilient Binosawan residents rebuilt their community through expeditious relief and rehabilitation work spearheaded jointly by SISK, AUL and the local parish.   The overall blueprint of this huge rehabilitation undertaking was presented at the “Disaster Rehabilitation Forum for the Island Municipality of Rapu-Rapu” at the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) in Manila on May 2007.

A major part of the rehabilitation plan is the reinstallation of the MHP that had been non-operational but upheld dearly by local residents.  Thus, SIBAT immediately conducted onsite scanning and appraisal in May 2007 to assess the damages then came up with a proposed MHP rehabilitation and upgrading project plan.  SIBAT engineers found that 85% of the damages affected the electrical installations although some electrical materials have been recovered and were found to be reusable.

While the proposal aims mainly to rehabilitate the MHP’s technical aspect, it is similarly deemed important to complete the community livelihood project through the installation of an 11 kilowatt small-scale ice maker facility that would redound to additional income for the families and the community as a whole.  Being a coastal fishing area, Binosawan and its contiguous 22 barangays essentially need an ample amount of ice in preserving the freshness of their aquatic produce.  At present, fisherfolks have to travel long distance to Rapu-Rapu poblacion just to buy ice blocks that are originally supplied from Legazpi City through the sea route.   The existence of a community-owned ice-maker facility would drastically cut the cost of ice blocks, resulting to fresher produce upon reaching the market and generate additional income for the fisherfolks.

Community capacity building trainings are also needed to be undertaken such as the following: Basic and Advanced MHP Technical trainings for MHP operators and project managers; Community-based Watershed and Coastal Resource Management training comprising of basic orientation and workshop to develop the watershed and coastal resource/mangrove management implementation plan; Community-based Climate Change/Disaster Risk trainings and workshops focused on the following: concepts, impacts, SIBAT initiated studies (particularly the Visasyas and Mindanao studies), local strategies for mitigation, adaptation, and risk management; and Community-Based Enterprise Development training to provide basic enterprise principles and skills such as business planning and management.

The estimated rehabilitation and upgrading cost will cover the following expenses to be incurred in the MHP Technical Rehabilitation:  tailrace canal outlet repair, powerhouse flooring, turbine and generator foundation/bedplate/drive system, ice maker and cold storage, transmission/distribution line system, generator, electronic load controller, transformer, powerhouse connection and electrical tools.  Hence, the total estimated project cost is in the amount of Forty-Eight Thousand Euros (€48,000).

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