Barangay Dulao Micro Hydro Project
SIBAT’s programs have been severely hindered by movement restrictions and other challenges imposed by the COVID-19 crisis, as has been the case for the vast majority of HPNET’s partner organizations and members. However, with many promising initiatives in the works, the SIBAT team hopes to resume regular operations before long, to commence new activities and resume various ongoing projects.
A significant ongoing initiative is a project led by SIBAT in cooperation with Misereor, to upgrade the micro hydro system of Barangay Dulao, Malibcong Abra. The remote, indigenous community of Barangay Dulao is a 6 hour drive from the nearest town of Bangued, and predominantly consists of rice farmers. Installed in 1995, the Barangay Dulao micro hydro project (MHP) was the first community-based renewable energy system in the province. Construction of the initial system was led by the late SIBAT consultant, Chris Alfonzo, with support from De La Salle University. Running on a 10kW crossflow turbine, the MHP provides 100% coverage in the Barangay, providing electricity to 67 households, a school, a church and a hydro-powered rice mill.
The Barangay Dulao MHP was implemented according to SIBAT’s participatory approach, with substantive community involvement. The local People’s Organization of Barangay Dulao owns, manages and sustains the system, self-organizing to harness the wide-reaching benefits of the MHP. In addition to powering household lighting, the micro hydro system powers food and crop processing, supporting household needs and expanding livelihood opportunities.
This video from SIBAT offers a glimpse of the community-based approach implemented in the Barangay Dulao system, which follows the approach of SIBAT’s broader Community-based Renewable Energy System (CBRES) program:
25 Years of Community-Based MHP in Abra
As the pioneer of micro hydro projects (MHPs) in Abra, the Barangay Dulao system served as a model which was later replicated in more than 10 barangays and sitios across the province. The MHP thus initiated a turning point for the indigenous people of Abra, bringing clean and reliable energy access with multifold benefits for community development. The micro hydro communities now have improved access to information via televisions and radio sets, students can extend their studies into evening hours, women’s burden is reduced with access to electric appliances, and income opportunities are expanded via MHP-powered livelihood activities.
The communities who own and manage the systems have collectively worked to maximize the socioeconomic returns of their local resources, with continuous technical support provided by SIBAT. The robust infrastructure and ongoing support offered by SIBAT is complemented by the community-based, participatory approach described above -- a combination that has proven its efficacy and impact in Abra over the past quarter-century.
After 25 years of operation, the Barangay Dulao system is in need of repair and rehabilitation. The system currently operates 8 hours per week, with several downtimes due to lack of water and malfunctioning electromechanical components. Thus, the main objective of the upgrade is to provide stable power for 24 hours operation within a week, through the improvement of existing technical components.
The SIBAT team consulted the community People’s Organization (PO) regarding the technical needs of their MHP. The PO suggested: canal improvement, to mitigate downtimes by improving the efficiency of water entering the turbine; upgrading electromechanical components inside the powerhouse (e.g. upgrading generator capacity); and installing an electronic load controller (ELC) to regulate peak hour loads and produce reliable electricity that can accommodate more micro hydro-powered enterprises in the future.
The final plan for the MHP upgrade integrates the results of the community consultation and the findings of the SIBAT technical team. The project will facilitate improvements to civil, electro-mechanical, and mechanical components of the system, as well as installation of an ELC. SIBAT will lead the electro-mechanical and electrical components, and the community and Barangay LGU will lead the civil works. Implementation of the ELC will draw on expertise which the SIBAT team continues to expand and refine, including through collaboration with regional partners, such as their 2019 knowledge exchange with Tonibung, in Malaysia. The project team hopes to complete commissioning for the Dulao MHP upgrade this year.