The world is reaching a breaking point with climate change, and the rush for clean energy has started. In the Philippines, however, the use of solar energy started years ago, with the help of one very important woman in STEM: Tetchi Cruz-Capellan.
Capellan is at the forefront of solar energy. Founder and CEO of SunAsia Energy Inc., she is responsible for bringing energy to thousands of her fellow citizens.
Like many, Capellan didn’t start out in the career she would later become famous for. She completed a degree in Behavioral Sciences at Maryknoll College, a Filipino Catholic girls school (now Miriam College).
Cappellan then completed at Masters of Education in International Development at Harvard in 1988 and in 1990, she became the youngest and first woman to serve as Assistant Secretary in the Philippines Department of Agriculture. She became Undersecretary in 2002; a post she held for four years.
Capellan transferred from agriculture to energy in 2006, when she became the Chief of Party for Winrock International and helped lead the Alliance for Mindanao Off-Grid Renewable Energy (AMORE) project.
A United States Agency for International Development (USAID) project, AMORE was responsible for providing energy to the remote and poverty-stricken villages on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines.
Under Capellan’s direction, 6,000 homes and 500 community facilities received electricity through solar and hydro-power. By the time AMORE ended in 2013, it had provided power to more than 13,000 households.
“When I was still was with the U.S. government and doing rural electrification, we did a survey asking people to list down the three most important things they needed in their villages,” Capellan said, recalling the importance of this project in a 2015 interview with AsianScientist. “Though water was number one, electricity was the second most important priority.”
In 2010, Capellan joined SunEdison, a U.S. solar company, as the Country Advisor for the Philippines. That same year, she founded the Philippine Solar Power Alliance (PSPA), a non-profit organization that fights for policies that support solar power at the government level.
She served on the drafting committee for the Renewable Energy Law of 2008, the Feed-in Tariff Rules of 2012, and the Net Metering Rules of 2013. In 2013, Capellan launched her own solar power company, SunAsia Energy Inc., to develop large scale solar projects in the Philippines.
Located in Cebu, the company is responsible for developing the second-largest solar power plant in the Philippines.
Last year, the company obtained $1.91 million worth of contracts to continue providing solar energy to citizens of Mindanao, under the World Bank’s Rural Electrification Project.
Today, Capellan continues her work in solar energy as President and CEO of SunAsia and President of PSPA. She travels around the world, to conferences and conventions, educating people about the benefits of solar power.
Are you interested in empowering women in the STEM fields? The Women in Science (Wi-Sci) group wants you! Meetings every Monday in the Women’s Center, 2 – 3 p.m.