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Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development Forum

Local (Palawan-Philippines) and global aspects of renewable energy

Posted By: Hugh Trudeau and Stefan Gössling
Date: Wednesday, 9 August 2000, at 2:37 p.m.

In Response To: Clean renewable energy / Cousin Island-Seychelles (Kerstin Henri - replying to Mali Voi)


Moderator's note: Two articles have been received relating to renewable energy, one describing the localised use of solar energy in Palawan in the Philippines and the other discussing global aspects relating to air travel, tourism and climate change. These two contrasting points of view have been combined in one contribution.


I was most interested in the article on clean renewable energy. I have been living in a remote (out of the city) area of Palawan, Philippines for some time. I am now hooked up to the power grid, but when I first came 8 years ago I was using solar electricity. I continue to maintain the system for backup purposes to this day. The main problem is that the output of such systems is limited and depends on the storage capacity (batteries) as much as it does on the solar panels. The package must be balanced such that the input from the solar source matches or exceeds the output during the dark hours when you need the electricity. If output is limited only to lights and perhaps a radio, there is no problem. It is when you want refrigeration and other power-hungry appliances that the problem arises. The battery life is limited even under ideal circumstances to about 3-5 years (providing they are properly maintained).

Another problem is the question of using DC or AC power. The solar panels put out DC power. Unfortunately, there is a limited availability of DC appliances and they tend to be more expensive. Then there is the wiring, it requires heavier wiring for runs of any length to use DC power. If AC power is desired then one must have an inverter and this is also expensive if it has any reasonable output capacity.

I would be interested in pursuing an approach to solar energy from the perspective of finding suppliers and reducing costs. Government involvement is necessary to cut customs duties and perhaps to provide incentives to individuals to use this technology more.

I will be happy to provide further information.

Mr. Hugh Trudeau,
Palawan, Philippines


I appreciate the work done in the Seychelles to obtain electricity from renewable energy sources in the future. In fact, the Seychelles are one of the very few countries actively seeking to establish low-impact, high-value tourism. My congratulations!

However, scientists and activists working within tourism should be aware of the fact that tourism will remain an important factor in the use of fossil fuels - in spite of local solutions in favour of renewable energy systems. This is because air travel is responsible for about 90% of the overall contribution of a typical journey to global warming, while the share of energy used within the destination (for day tours, cooking, air-conditioning, etc.) is of the order of 10%. Air travel is of particular importance, because the emissions have special effects on cloudiness and ozone distribution at flight altitude, which exceed the impact of emissions released at the earth's surface by a factor of about three. With respect to its global consequences, tourism based on air travel is not a sustainable development option. Small island states, which are often very dependent on tourism, are paradoxically those most threatened by sea-level rise as a result of climate change.

The work I have done on tourism-related energy use will appear in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism by the end of this year ('Sustainable tourism development in developing countries: some aspects of energy use'). You are welcome to send me an e-mail if you want to receive a copy of the article after publication ().

Mr. Stefan Gössling,
Human Ecology Division,
Lund University, Sweden

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