For a developing country that’s still trying to surmount economic challenges, this is a rather ironic reality: We have the highest electricity rate in Asia and we are charged exorbitant fees for a basic necessity we apparently can ill afford. Good thing then that the government has placed its support behind renewable energy initiatives, positioning the Philippines as a world leader in the technology with 30 percent of its power generation supported by the renewable energy sector. Looks like there’s hope on the horizon: the day will come when we spend more on ourselves than on our electricity bills.
The Blacks in the sun
Impossibly tall siblings Alex and Sara Black have begun Yes! Solar Cleantech – the local dealership for US-based renewable energy firm Yes! Solar Solutions. During his apprenticeship at non-profit Californian firm GRID Solutions, Alex discovered first-hand how transformative solar power is. “(Filipinos) have gotten so used to the traditional way of implicitly accepting a system where we never had a choice as to where our electricity would come from. We would walk into a home and plug in all our appliances and equipment only knowing that electricity came from somewhere, somehow.”
Dissatisfied with the status quo and recognizing that there were solutions readily available, Alex turned to his sister with a proposal: Change the way that future generations consume electricity. Sara, recognized as one of the country’s most amazing professional photographers, exclaims, “I immediately loved all the possibilities I saw for the product in the Philippines, given how abundant sunlight is here. I immediately told Alex, YES! I am in.”
The backbone of Yes! relies on the values that support the siblings, and their shared vision for the future of the nation. Alex’s vision is massive and worldwide. He quotes Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, Laudato Si, in which His Holiness addresses climate change: “(The encyclical) stressed that developing nations such as the Philippines stand to be the most affected by climate change because of our large dependency on our natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing, and forestry.” It’s a fact: renewable energy will help address climate change. The Philippines is so battered and bruised by mutable weather conditions – climate change is something we all need to think about.
Sara’s values are more close to home. “Participating in solar energy helps each one of us to positively impact the environment by lessening our carbon footprint. Our vision is to create a community of people who live consciously, waste less, and gain more.” In fact, Sara connects the technology of Yes! to the recent movement of sustainable lifestyles. “I’ve been on this journey of wanting to live more consciously, starting with the way I consume food, how I nourish and exercise my body, how I have been developing my spiritual awareness. This technology just gives me another avenue to be more mindful about how I consume and waste, what my individual participation is in the world.”
Money out, benefits in
This renewable energy stuff is a bit of a Catch-22. Lots of people are wary to invest in it because of the steep initial investment. The developing world needs renewable energy more than ever to reduce carbon emissions and to cease the reliance on diminishing fossil fuels – yet by the nature of our economic situation, we’re hard-pressed to afford it. The siblings point out however that solar technology is the most affordable way to address renewable energy – and the easiest way for each individual to participate in the initiative to save Mother Earth.
To participate individually in the change that impacts a nation – this is indeed a worthwhile cause – and empowering indeed. Put it this way: We invest in our appearance, our businesses, in people we care about. We spend money on self-beautification, on commerce, on our loved ones. We might as well spend money on the planet as well.
As their website proclaims, Yes! is all about clean air – clear conscience. It’s been said so many times that it has become cliché, but it still rings true: We really all have a part to play in saving Mother Earth. It’s not enough to expect your neighbor or your government to do something about it; the change starts from within. As with all positive change, it rebounds back to you as well with tangible benefits.
For more information visit www.yessolarphilippines.com
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