University of the Philippines Los Baños

The Farming Systems and Soil Resources Institute of the Agricultural Systems Cluster, College of Agriculture, was named Philippine winner of Advantage Austria’s Energy Globe Award 2013 for a project that has lighted up households in remote areas of Palawan that are not connected to the electricity grid. The award was presented by officials of the Austrian Embassy to Dr. David Manalo, the University Researcher behind the project “The Floating Power Charger: Providing Light While Conserving the Environment” on May 21 in Makati City.

The project has bested over 1,000 projects from over 100 countries that compete annually for the award. The “Floating Power Charger Project” has provided a clean and healthy source of light for households that used to depend on kerosene lamps for light during night time. These kerosene lamps can cause serious illnesses from long exposure to its smoke. The project harnesses hydropower to charge batteries that light up electric bulbs that have been provided to the households. As a payment for using the system, every user is asked to plant trees for the time it takes to charge the batteries.

Dr. Manalo is planning to replicate the project in other areas and to offer microfinance for families that cannot afford to buy car batteries. Dr. Manalo has been known to come up with innovative, creative, and simple solutions to environmental and other problems, and reaping recognition for them.

In 2006 and 2007, he won the World Bank Innovative Development Competition and the St. Andrews Prize for the Environment, respectively, for the “River, Fiber and Power Project.” In 2012, he led a team that won in a global challenge “to come up with an idea in local communities to help save the planet and people from the effects of climate change” posed in the Ninth Global Development Marketplace by the Global Environment Facility, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the World Bank Institute.

The team that had Dr. Jesusita Coladilla of SESAM and Dr. Rectorino Escobin of ASC as members came up with an early warning system for the occurrence of floods. The Energy Globe Award, which was initiated in 1999 by Austrian engineer and environmentalist Wolfgang Neumann, is the world’s most important environmental accolade. It recognizes projects – from high-tech to simple – which deliver efficient ideas and answers to environmental problems, be it through energy efficiency, renewable energy applications, or a cautious approach to resources.