Skip to content

The Philippines' Unexpected Embrace of Solar Refrigeration

Tue, 19 December, 2023

One of IMPHORAA’s pillars is to bring sustainable refrigeration to off-grid rural villages of fishermen as a means of preserving perishable goods and specifically, wet catches destined both for consumption as well as trade. In this context, one of our ambitious tasks over the last months involved the installation of five freezers, a crucial step towards fulfilling our IMPHORAA vision.

The Philippines, although blessed with abundant land, natural resources, hardworking farmers, and reputable agricultural research institutions, still struggles with food insecurity. Surprisingly, approximately 64% (54.9 million Filipinos) of the country’s population suffer from chronic food insecurity.

At the same time, the Philippines wastes approximately 1,717 metric tons of food daily. Fish and wet catch only has a three-day shelf life and unused fish is wasted or turned into dried fish. Traditional sun-drying methods do not comply with export regulations or quality standards for food preservation, while mechanical ways of drying are energy consuming, which is a challenge for off grid communities.

Traditional methods of drying fish for storage
Traditional methods of drying fish for storage

The installation of the five freezers marked a significant milestone in the IMPHORAA project. These freezers, powered by solar energy, were strategically placed in key community centres, being handled by the owners of the local business ventures. The anticipation was palpable as communities looked forward to a new era of freshness and entrepreneurial opportunities.

However, as with any innovative initiative, challenges are part of the journey. The demand for refrigeration in these communities exceeded our initial projections, causing one fridge to break down, highlighting a critical need that had perhaps been underestimated.

The incident underscores an immense need for more refrigeration in the Philippines, extending beyond personal convenience to the very sustainability of vital economic activities. Refrigeration isn't merely a modern convenience; it's a lifeline for these communities. From preserving locally grown produce to sustaining the fish catches that form a staple of Filipino diets, refrigeration plays a pivotal role in daily life.

Through this project we now see and recognise the urgency of expanding refrigeration access in these communities. IMPHORAA's journey to electrify off-grid rural villages in the Philippines is a testament to the transformative power of sustainable energy solutions. As we navigate challenges, we adapt and grow, fuelled by a vision of empowerment and progress. The need for sustainable refrigeration in the Philippines is clear, and IMPHORAA remains steadfast in its mission to meet this need, one community at a time.


This project is supported by Innovate UKs Energy Catalyst Programme (funding by the Foreign, Commonwealth Development Office through their Transforming Energy Access Programme) and UK aid and was awarded as a “subsidy” under the UK International Obligations for Subsidy Control and delivered under Grant 90935 from Innovate UK