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Lopez Group brings renewables to schools

MANILA, Philippines -  Interesting renewable energy projects and proposals from college students in different schools all over the country are competing in a Lopez Group-supported interschool tilt for the best renewable energy idea or solution for poor, rural communities.

Called the Sikat Design Challenge, the competition now on its second cycle has attracted 36 entries from 30 participating schools in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Their number is almost three times the level during the inaugural first cycle of the competition, said Arthur de Guia, president of the Sikat Solar Challenge Foundation Inc. (SSCFI).

De Guia said the entries for the current cycle include a wind- and tidal turbine-powered buoy with  alarm system against fish pen thieves; a street lamp powered by microbial battery; a solar-powered insect zapper; and solar-powered machine for making salt and purified water.

A non-stock, non-profit company, SSCFI holds the annual school competition as part of its advocacy to promote the development and use of clean and renewable energy (RE) sources. SSCFI was also the same group that organized support for the country’s solar-powered racing car entries in the biennial World Solar Challenge in Australia. One of the SSCFI entries was called “Sikat.”

First Gen Corp., along with subsidiary Energy Development Corp. (EDC) and their parent company First Philippine Holdings Corp. (FPH), supports the Sikat Design Challenge. First Gen, the primary holding company of FPH for power generation and energy-related businesses, produces electricity using clean and low carbon sources of fuel. Through EDC, First Gen uses RE sources such as hydro, geothermal, wind and solar to produce electricity. All three are Lopez Group companies.

Although considered a competition, Sikat Design Challenge incorporates unique features to turn all participants into winners. Lasting 11 months, the competition includes three “gateways” where students could learn valuable lessons and insights. The first gateway comes in the form of a conference-workshop; the second, concept development; and third, prototype finalization.

During the weeklong kick-off conference staged in August 2016, the participants received lessons on such topics as team cooperation, collaboration and networking. They also built on their technical skills, including business and pitching skills, which are important lessons they can apply in their future careers.

After the conference, the participants returned to their respective schools for the second gateway: the development of their concepts and entries. During this stage, which lasted until February 2017, participants were also encouraged to visit poor and off-grid communities. It was during this rural immersion that many participants developed concepts and ideas useful to the visited communities.

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