Ateneo energy researchers participate in international collaborative project in Kyoto
01 Dec 2022 | Samuel Matthew G. Dumlao
Ateneo Energy Research Lab researchers Drs. Erees Queen B. Macabebe and Robert Alfie S. Peña, faculty members of the Department of Electronics, Computer, and Communications Engineering (ECCE), and their master’s degree student Mr. Joseph Vincent Lugnasin attended a four-day symposium on community renewable energy held at Kyoto University, Japan from 28 October to 2 November 2022. They were joined by colleagues from Chiang Mai University, Thailand: Dr. Chatchawan Chaichana, Ms. Nilubon Luangchosiri, and Ms. Parimol Tippayamalee, and from Kyoto University itself: Prof. Keiichi Ishihara and Dr. Samuel Matthew G. Dumlao (also an ECCE faculty currently based in Kyoto).
The symposium was held as part of the “Financial support platform for sustainable circular local economy,” which is a project funded by the Toyota Foundation through its international grant program 2021. The multi-country two-year collaborative project of the Japanese, Thai, and Filipino researchers aims to find renewable energy-powered approaches for financially viable community-driven projects to support the growth of agricultural communities in Thailand and the Philippines. In the symposium, the researchers shared knowledge gained from the first year of the project and explored the approaches of Japan in resolving similar issues.
The symposium started with the sharing of the preliminary results of the surveys conducted in Thailand and the Philippines. Each team shared their experiences and acquired knowledge on their respective agricultural communities. The Thai team looked into communities that are suffering from drought, while the Philippine team focused on communities that want to dry their agricultural products. By understanding the situation of each country, the researchers were able to identify common issues and propose solutions. Although political, environmental, and technical issues were also discussed, preliminary findings show that most of the issues are rooted in economic and social problems. Source of funding and the community structure seem to hinder community-driven projects.
The second day of the symposium focused on planning the next phase of the project that centers around engaging with financial institutions that could support the community projects. Funding approaches from Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines were explored to identify potential financial schemes. Since loans and unstable income were previously identified as major problems, loan schemes and structure will be the focus of the second year of the project.
The third and fourth days of the event focused on the approaches of Japan in resolving drought and drying agricultural products. First, the group visited a company on Awaji island drying anchovies that does both traditional open-air drying and modern fully mechanized drying. The group also visited an agrivoltaic farm that combines food and energy production to maximize land use. Such projects could be adapted by the Philippine team for their target communities.
On the final day of the symposium, the group visited Kagawa prefecture to learn about the irrigation projects that helped resolve the drought issues in the area. Several ponds were constructed, which could be used to generate electricity through floating solar projects. Representatives from one of the companies that built the floating solar panels presented the benefits and precautions of their project. These projects gave the Thai team ideas on resolving the drought conditions in some parts of their country.
Members of the project were able to share their initial findings, compare results, and learn from each other. Additional insights were also obtained through the site visits in Japan. The project will continue for another year and will focus on the financial aspect of community renewable energy projects with the main goal of ensuring their financial viability and sustainability.