Category Archives: News Article

SIBAT continues to progress open-source ELC technology for Micro-Hydro

Following the installation of a pilot system last year which served the community of Gacab in Abra, SIBAT committed considerable resources to further the development of the project in collaboration with EWB-UK and Tonibung (Malaysia).

Electronic Load Controllers (ELCs) are used to balance the power demand with the power generated by the Micro-Hydro turbine. The pilot system was capable of managing up to 8KW of power on a single-phase mini-grid. Further development work has incorporated support of 3-phase mini-grids, much larger system capacities (up to 24 KW), and load management in multiple steps which helps to provide a better quality electrical supply through noise reduction.

Another important additional feature is a data-logging capability which allows the local Micro-Hydro operators or SIBAT’s engineers to analyse usage data of the mini-grid. This can be helpful with fault diagnosis but more importantly can help with load scheduling and usage optimisation so that the community can make the most of their electrical supply.

SIBAT’s engineers have built two complete ELC’s, one single-phase and one 3-phase, which have been fully commissioned. The new single-phase ELC replaces the pilot system in Gacab, while the 3-phase system has been installed in Balbalasang, Kalinga. Both are capable of managing over 20 KW of Micro-Hydro power.

SIBAT will continue with ELC development and utilise its capability to manufacture ELCs “in house” to complement its efforts in supplying many off-grid communities with appropriate and sustainable sources of power.




Commissioning the Pilot System of an Open Source Electronic Load Controller (ELC)

After a year of development, the pilot system of an open source Electronic Load Controller (ELC) has been deployed in the indigenous people’s community of Gacab in The Philippines. The project was carried out as a collaboration between SIBAT and EWB-UK to expand SIBAT’s capacity to self-manufacture and maintain ELCs which can be utilized in many of their micro-hydro projects.

ELCs are used to balance the power generated by the micro-hydro system with the power demand of the consumers in order to maintain a good quality electrical supply, preventing damage to appliances and power generation equipment.

After an initial test deployment earlier in the year in April, unfortunately the system suffered a direct lightning strike which took both the generator and ELC offline, the unit was fault-diagnosed and repaired by SIBAT and EWB-UK engineers before being successfully re-installed alongside additional lightning protection for their whole micro-grid.

This process in itself shows the benefit of an open-source design as it gives local engineers the power to diagnose and repair the system with minimized cost and down-time. An online resource containing tutorials, schematics and software is currently under-development to accompany the project in the hope that others, particularly in the Hydro Empowerment Network, can benefit from, and contribute to further development of the design.

SIBAT Attends Training in Malaysia to Help Promote the IPAM Portal

Together with representatives from the Pesticide Action Network Asia & the Pacific (PANAP) and Kudumbam of India, SIBAT attends a two-day training workshop from March 17-18, 2017 held at Rainbow Paradise Beach Resort, Penang, Malaysia.  SIBAT sent its representatives April Joy Balmaceda, Jose Raphael Lopez and Shen Maglinte to learn how to utilize the International People’s Agroecology Multiversity (IPAM) portal with its different platform to promote agroecology.   IPAM is an initiative to establish a university-type learning mechanism using the web as a tool where the vast reserves of knowledge on agroecology practice and experience are shared so that more people would be knowledgeable about it and hence could be able to practice and do advocacy. SIBAT is one of IPAM’S Field Learning Site (FLS).

This  is a form of alternative learning approach where ownership of agro-ecology knowledge are reverted back to their rightful owners- the farmers,  especially those who go against  chemical farming  espoused by agri-corporations.  This is also veering away from traditional university practice where only certified degree holders are recognized as owners of knowledge leaving out producers of this knowledge especially the farmers and their experiences.  IPAM is not meant to be just any ordinary database of knowledge that can be googled out but aims to be more interactive. 

IPAM’s portal has five platforms namely Knowledge – a one stop resource centre on agroecology, Research – a forum to promote and share ideas and do collaborative work on participatory researches, evidence based documentation,  innovations and case studies on agroecology, Learning – a platform that offers both on-farm  and online training courses, learning modules, webinars and videos for short-term sessions and long-term curriculum, Community Building – inspiring stories from the ground  on agroecological practices, innovations and techniques and Action – a platform for community and movement-building through campaigning, networking and mobilization.

Data Logger for Community Microhydro: the latest test was a success!

The latest test conducted by volunteers from Imperial College London – Engineers Without Borders was a success. The latest prototype of the Data Logger allows SIBAT to monitor the real time performance of the MHP parameters – voltage, frequency, and current — with on-line data update every two minutes. The data that will be collected through the data logger will help SIBAT and the local operator immediately analyze the potential problem of a Microhydro power system, and will do away with the long travel time to inspect the performance of a Microhydro.

The Data Logger is being tested in the 20-year old Gacab Microhydro in Malibcong, Abra province.  SIBAT hopes that the final version of the data logger will be completed next year, for all the areas with MHP to benefit.

Another successful test conducted, together with SIBAT’s CREATech personnel, was on the Microhydro-powered milling machine for households and clusters, intended to be used in the uplands of Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).  Said equipment processes a number of crops – rice, corn, coffee, other beans, and rootcrops for flour making.  SIBAT also hopes that the final version of the milling machine will be completed next year so, all the remote areas will benefit from it.

SIBAT had produced the efficient sugarcane press this year, also powered by the Microhydro.

The latest batch of students spent a one month working intensively on these prototypes.  The two prototypes would not be possible without these amazing students, namely Michael McCartney (Mechanical Engineering), Chong Geng Lin (Mechanical Engineering), Marin Teleu (Chemical Engineering) and Thomas Hartley (Electronics Engineering & Computer Science) who served their time and talent for the rural communities of the country.

Apayao and Nueva Viscaya Reps met to exchange experiences on Microhydro

PO leaders from Micro hydro partners in Apayao and Nueva Viscaya provinces, met in a consultation hosted by SIBAT held at Mangarita Organic Farm (MOF) on February 23-24, 2015. The event aimed to gather said partners to share lessons about their MHP projects. the status of the projects was also discussed, that led to the formulation of upgrading plans for more than a decade-old MHPs.

The MHP sites represented in the consultation are: Sitios Lapat, Buneg, Bubog and Katablangan in Apayao and Nueva Viscaya.

The consultation was preceded by a meeting of representatives from 18 MHP projects in Abra Province last May, 2014. The representatives of Kimbutan MHP(now equipped with ELC, with civil works rehabilitated, transmission line replaced and watershed forested) shared their experiences on upgrading their system in 2011.

LGU representatives were invited to both consultations to create strong collaboration so that they can extend their support for future upgrading. The Apayao event was attended by Engr. Freddie T. Nicolas and Engr. Henry B. Caluducan from the Provincial Planning Development Office of Apayao.

The sharing revealed the capability of organized communities to sustain the system in the long run, despite the problems encountered such as: poor maintenance, lack of technical know-how of local MHP operators and poor tariff payment.

The participants are capable of performing basic repairs and maintenance of the project, and expressed their desire for more technical training, for operators with proper criteria. The CBRES organizations will also undergo training in July 2015.

The Apayao LGU representative committed support through small funds for post-harvest applications to be powered by MHPs. They suggested that the communities formulate resolutions, send these to the board member of the provinces, who have previously donated rice mills now being operated by the CBRES.

Furthermore, SIBAT expressed its commitment to support the system upgrading through technical advisory and assistance and sourcing for potential funders.

The partners from different sites expressed their gratitude on the electrification provided by the MHPs, and to SIBAT for the continuing of assistance provided to the projects. SIBAT in turn, thanked the community representatives for their resilience to sustain MHPs, and to harness the water source for the long-term benefit of the community.

India-Trained Solar Mamas are Back and Ready to Serve Poor Villages

They left the country in September 2014 first time away from their villages and a bit uncertain about life in India. They are now back, beaming with pride as they are fondly called solar Mamas, after six months of training at Barefoot College in Tilonia, in the state of Jaipur in India.   The three  village women were:  Zenaida Benitez  from   Hilotongan,  one among the Yolanda-battered islands of Bantayan, Northern Cebu;   Mildred Barona from the upland Itneg village of Lacub in Abra;  and Arcelyn Dalingay from the village of Gawaan, in Kalinga province.  They were chosen based on maturity and status in the community that project their unwavering commitment to serve.  The training was sponsored by Barefoot College with assistance from the Indian Government through its Indian Technical Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Program.

SIBAT facilitated the selection and pre-training activities with the aim that the three could help SIBAT to electrify off-grid communities, and train other women and men on solar home lighting systems.   They were among 7 Filipino women (the others were 4 Aeta women from Tarlac and Zambales) who were selected and accepted into the program last year.

A one-year plan under SIBAT’s Renewable Energy Program has been drawn up to implement solar home lighting projects utilizing the skills of the solar Mamas.

Barefoot College representatives came to   the Philippines last April and validated baseline surveys of the communities in aid of developing proposals to secure funding for the solar home systems they will assemble.   With fund availability, rural homes in off-grid areas of the Philippines could soon bid goodbye to wick lamps and enjoy the bright illumination of solar-powered home systems skillfully assembled by the solar Mamas.

Organic Farmers and Consumers Pursue Participatory Guarantee System (PGS)

Small farmers and advocates in the province of Tarlac, are pursuing PGS or the Participatory Guarantee System, as alternative to the provision under section 17 of RA10068 otherwise known as Organic Agriculture Law, that says produce checked by Third Party Certification (TPC)  are  only the ones  allowed to be labeled as organically produced .  The label shall contain the name, logo or seal of organic certifying body and the accreditation number issued by the Bureau of Agriculture Fisheries Product standards ( BAFPS).

Farmers frowned at the exorbitant cost of Third party certification with a tag price ranging from P30-40 thousand pesos per crop valid for only one year.  This amount is way beyond the purse of small farmers who have perennial problems accessing for even a small capital for production. Only rich farmers or corporations can afford Third Party certification.  The provision has become a deterrent and disincentive for small chemical farmers comprising a large percentage of the farming populace to switch to organic farming.

The PGS which is now widely adhered to and accepted by international organic movements such as the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) and recognized even by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as a pro-small farmer alternative to Third party certification.   PGS is built on trust and integrity of the primary stakeholders, i.e., farmers and consumers   who conduct the certification process themselves,   through adherence to certification standards, guidelines, regulations and processes similarly observed by Third party certification.

SIBAT pushes for the PGS certification approach in the province and acts as the Secretariat of PGS Tarlac.  It has given PGS trainings since 2014 and has come up with   the operations manual and standards for vegetable production, certification process flow, roles and responsibilities of inspectors and quality control officers.  To date, SIBAT has organized the formal structure of the PGS organization and is presently preparing to process applications in June 2015. By end of this year, PGS Tarlac will start producing farmers with organic certification in the province.

Paraiso Organic Tiangge Opens in Tarlac City

Consumers  and health buffs came in droves  to the first Friday opening of the Organic Food Tiangge, participated by 12 organic producers in Tarlac last March 20.    Urged by the demands of organic producers and farmers in the province for an outlet of their produce, the Department of Agriculture in Region 3 allotted a space in front of its building in Paraiso, Capas, Tarlac for an Organic Tiangge that opens to the public every Friday.   The DA subsidizes seller-producers by providing booths and promotional assistance.

There are 12 initial  sellers in the  tiangge  each carrying a wide  array of products  ranging from fresh organic vegetables, processed organic food items like peanut butter, chips, herbal products , eggs  and even  delicious organic lechon.

The selling group was led by SIBAT’s Mangarita Organic Farm (MOF), the Capas Organic Farmers Producers Cooperative (COFPC) and the Association of Tarlac Organic Producers (ATOP).   The group aims for the Organic Tiangge to become a mainstay in Tarlac and attract more consumers to buy from the produce of organic farmers.