Filipino Drivers See (Solar) Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Car drivers in the Philippines capital Manila are seeing the light thanks to solar power. The renewable energy is being used to illuminate a poorly lit four-lane tunnel that crosses one of the city’s key thoroughfares.

The current lighting system in the Boni tunnel was replaced with solar-powered light emitting diodes or LEDs. The solar powered LED lighting system is from Philips.

Mania Boni Tunnel

image via Philips

In total 94 22-watt LED tubes generating 30,000 burning hours were fitted. The LEDs are partially powered by solar panels which were installed in a park situated on top of one of the tunnel entrances.

The solar panels can generate 6,648 kilowatt hours per year and cover about a fifth of the total tunnel power demand. In order to prolong the life of the solar system lithium ion batteries have been used in the project.

The solar lighting system was put in place thanks to a public-private partnership supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), who has supported the Philippines government’s efforts to introduce an energy-efficiency and conservation program through a $31.1 million loan approved in 2009. So far the loan has gone towards funding the retrofitting of government buildings and public areas with energy-efficient light systems.

Some of the money has also helped fund a massive exchange of incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps among residential users, as well as a government-initiated pilot program involving e-Trikes.

“ADB is proud to be associated with an initiative that helps the country move towards lower carbon emissions,” Anthony Jude, Director in ADB’s Southeast Asia Department, said in a statement. “This project demonstrates technology alternatives – long-lasting batteries and solar power – that will improve people’s life through green technology.”

The tunnel lighting project is a partnership between the Department of Energy, the Department of Public Works and Highways, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Mandaluyong City, PNOC Renewables, and Philips Electronics and Lighting.

The Philippines is not a place one readily associates with renewable technology. However, the country has had one or two aces up its sleeve in recent years, most notably the development of its own electric vehicle (EV).

The GT111 EV was begun as a “halo project,” designed to create awareness and attract investor attention. Filipino automaker Gitano teamed with an international consortium to produce the GT111. The EV was showcased at the end of last year at the Special Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas.

The GT111 is now intended for mass production with plans to market it in Europe. Gitano, who created the car in collaboration with another Filipino firm Michel Motorsport, has received the backing of the Philippines Department of Energy in his project.

In a letter addressed to Gitano designer and prototyper Michel Motorsport’s president Jan Kierulf, the country’s energy secretary Jose Rene Almendras said that the e-sports car would bring pride to the Philippines and put it on the global map of e-vehicle development. “It is a source of pride that our country is helping to lead the electric vehicle movement,” Almendras wrote in the letter.

Paul Willis has been journalist for a decade. Starting out in Northern England, from where he hails, he worked as a reporter on regional papers before graduating to the cut-throat world of London print media. On the way he spent a year as a correspondent in East Africa, writing about election fraud, drought and an Ethiopian version of American Idol. Since moving to America three years ago he has worked as a freelancer, working for CNN.com and major newspapers in Britain, Australia and North America. He writes on subjects as diverse as travel, media ethics and human evolution. He lives in New York where, in spite of the car fumes and the sometimes eccentric driving habits of the yellow cabs, he rides his bike everywhere.