Ara Alejo

On May 14th 2024, we inaugurated the very first Free Solar Generated Charging station at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP). Through the collaborations with the university and the dedication of the students we installed a Charging station in the Students Holding Area in the PUP Institute of Technology Campus in Sta. Mesa, Manila. This project led by Students of Electrical Engineering Technology Students with guidance from faculty and administration of the institute and coordination with the PUP Center for Environmental Studies.

The solar-powered charging station can accommodate charging up to 10 devices. [Photo: Nadia Cruz]

It was around last year when we started planning on what campus project we can do together with the students. We started to think of developing a renewable energy project designed by the students for the needs of the students.

Harnessing the power of the sun through solar panels. The power generated from the sun is then transferred to a generator that regulates the energy being released to the outlets. The solar panels are readily available and accessible as there are growing number retailers that offers solar panels that can be used for for community-led energy solutions. [Photo: Nadia Cruz]

Back when I was still in the university, I remembered our experience on how hard it was to access energy. We didn’t have many outlets where we could charge our Nokia-keypad phones back then. Sometimes to use the overhead projector we had to get a long extension cord, long enough that we can plug it in another classroom. 

Now, the students and the PUP community can charge their devices. Each outlet has its own timer to ensure that devices can be charged and at the same time ensure that there is enough power from the generator. [Photo: Nadia Cruz]

We thought that maybe it is a great idea to install a charging station for the students, especially today that the main tools for learning were mostly digital and can be accessed through the internet. 

Javezel, one of the researchers from the project demonstrates how the charging station works. Outlets can be activated by pressing the button above each outlet. It provides up to 40 minutes of charging and has an automatic 5-minute rest period before plugging into another device. [ Photo: Nadia Cruz]

So in the process of the collaboration with PUP, we helped to increase the capacity of students and faculty on Community Owned Renewable Energy. This brought a discourse on  PhotoVoltaic Systems installation and the theory on why organizations and community ownership are important to these kinds of projects. Our organization has looked for partners that can help us in developing a project.

We met Ferolin and  from the university’s electrical engineering technology program, their thesis was to develop a Solar Charging Station Project. Our collaboration with them has come up with a design that can provide energy access and is replicable, so that it can inspire more communities to adapt it according to their energy needs.


Ferolin Nohay, John Paul Teope, Javezel Obenza, Jennie Oswa, Chelsey Reyes, and the advocacy officers for PUP, Ara Alejo and Jawo Jayme presented the solar charging station to the PUP-Community on May 14, 2024. [Photo: Nadia Cruz]

The project itself involved planning of timeline, project costs, and identifying what is needed to push through the design of the project.


We thought of this project to be simple, and be easily done in two to three months. But we’ve faced many challenges along the way, procurement process, where to buy all the materials. What was needed for the project. Securing permits for locations of the project. And the effects of slow onset weather events affecting the academic calendar and class schedule of the students.

PUP President, Manuel Muhi tries and tests the charging station by charging a tablet device. Dr. Muhi also commended how decarbonization can be practiced in the university by utilizing energy solutions that is centered to the community. [Photo: Nadia Cruz]

But through all these processes, Not only Ferolin’s Team did this project, many of the Institute of technology community have sacrificed and devoted their time in helping with the design, the actual fabrication, and programming of the electronic components. 

PUP Institute of Technology Dean, Ramir Cruz shares how renewable energy solutions can be replicated, implemented, and how it can potentially used to provide energy access to indigenous communities from nearby PUP branches. [Photo: Nadia Cruz]

The PUP Institute of Technology, Society of Engineering Technology Students, PUP Center for Environmental Studies, Students, Faculty and 350 Pilipinas joined together to launch the community-built solar charging station at the PUP Sta Mesa. [Photo: Nadia Cruz]

We’ve seen not only students are devoted to streamlining Renewable Energy as a source of power. But also see how dedicated the Faculty and Employees are to trying to think outside the box on how to develop a technology that would challenge our country’s dependence on fossil fuel.


This reminded me why as a PUPian, I also devoted my life to giving back to the people, I learned and embraced PUP’s vision, always remembering the line from the PUP Hymn “gagamitin ang karunungan, mula sa’yo, para sa bayan”. And now it made me realize that we still have hope, on this fight for climate justice we have hope. Especially when most vulnerable people extend a helping hand to reach others, and create a ripple effect that would strengthen our power, to create more solutions to the crises that we are already facing right now.

We wanted to show how our future can be powered by the sun and the wind and how renewable energy solutions can be championed and owned by the people. [Artwork by: Nadia Cruz]

Our ultimate goal is post carbon society, where we can enjoy living in a healthier and cleaner world. But we can achieve this little by little by creating solutions based campaigns and projects. Letting people experience what it feels like to live in low carbon and give hope that we can have this, our future can still have this but we must start acting now. Little by little but stronger and stronger.

As power that is strengthen collectively by the people, harnessing the energy from the sun, a power that is from the people, to its people.

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About the Author

Ara Alejo is a climate activist and 350 Pilipinas’ advocacy officer for Polytechnic University of the Philippines