These Filipino Inventors Are Creating Renewable Solutions

Wind and Waves: Youth Inventors Lead Renewable Energy Solutions

Louie wears DONA LIM shirt, VIN ORIAS trousers, and LOUIS VUITTON shoes. Photographed by Patrick Diokno for the June 2024 Issue of Vogue Man Philippines.

Young inventors Louie Villalon and Patrick De Guzman want to make a positive impact on the Philippines’ energy crisis.

“I always ask myself, ‘What is the problem?’ And then, after identifying the problem, ‘How can I help?’”  Louie Villalon shares. Villalon and Patrick De Guzman know that changing even a small part of the world requires a constant process of tinkering, creating, and innovating. The two young inventors are using their technical skills to develop resourceful solutions to the Philippines’ energy challenges, approaching problems one step at a time. 

Louie’s approach reflects the understanding that change requires a commitment to identifying problems and finding solutions. “I still solve every challenge step by step because you can’t solve it all in one go,” the 30-year-old mechanical engineer says. 

“You need to be passionate. You must be authentic, and it must be tremendous… don’t just do it for yourself, do it for society”

Villalon co-founded Dali Innovative Solutions in 2021, a start-up dedicated to delivering renewable energy to off-grid communities in the Philippines. Its star invention is a small-scale energy solution called VORTEx, short for Versatile and Offshore Recyclable Turbine for Exergy. Utilizing recycled plastic materials, the product harnesses the power of the wind to create electricity. Now at stages of development, with a pilot model currently funded by Shell and being tested in a facility in Mindoro, Dali hopes to be able to help Philippine fisherfolk power lights on their bangkas [small native boats].

“Most fisherfolk still use conventional technologies, such as diesel engines,” Louie explains. “However, this can lower fishing yields due to the noise of the engine. They also use small battery packs to power lamps, which attract fish to shallow depths for them to catch with nets. But if there’s no light, there’s no catch. Simply putting up a battery that can be recharged along the way can improve their yield.” 

Many Filipino fishermen work late nights and early mornings, and when their batteries run low in the middle of the ocean, they’re forced to return home without a catch. By attaching the VORTEx to their fishing boats, they’ll be able to produce energy on the go, needing only the wind. The device was first conceptualized in Batangas, and Louie hopes to target other areas in the country such as Bicol, Tacloban, Tagbilaran, and Cagayan de Oro. 

Patrick De Guzman, on the other hand, sees the potential of using ocean waves as a source of energy. 

“We don’t run out of water,” he shares. “It’s not like before where our fossil fuels needed to be dug up, imported from other countries to the Philippines. The Philippines have lots of water. Why aren’t we using it?”

Patrick wears NECESSITY SENSE jacket, UNIQLO shirt, VIN ORIAS trousers, PREVIEW shoes. Photographed by Patrick Diokno for the June 2024 Issue of Vogue Man Philippines.

The 23-year-old law student is the mind behind the Marissa Turbine, which he named after his late mother. The name is quite apt as Marissa means “of the sea.” The tidal turbine creates energy through the waves; as a body of water’s movement makes the submerged turbine spin, it generates energy, which is stored in a generator. A long wire brings this energy from the sea to the shore. Drawing attention to the importance of eco-friendly design choices, the sleek and minimal component linked to the turbine is made out of acrylic materials akin to those used in water jugs. With its current form, it can generate 500 watts of power, which is enough to power one Filipino household.

His start-up Saltric, which is incubated by Ateneo Intellectual Property Office and DLSU AnimoLabs, is in the process of testing the invention in Bulacan rivers. The Marissa Turbine was also demonstrated and won awards at the 2024 Global Student Entrepreneurs Awards by Entrepreneurs Organization held in Singapore in April 2024. De Guzman eventually aims to introduce the turbine to communities in Occidental Mindoro, a province that often endures power crises. In April 2023, a state of calamity was declared in the area when 20-hour daily power outages lasted for a month and a half.

Patrick’s advice for individuals hoping to create change is simple: “You need to remember three things: You need to be passionate. You must be authentic, and it must be tremendous,” he shares. “Don’t just do it for yourself, do it for society, right?”

Louie and Patrick’s renewable innovations prove hopeful in the middle of energy challenges, including depleting gas fields, increasing electricity costs, and enduring blackouts. Both the VORTEx and the Marissa Turbine have the potential to pave the way for a more energy-independent future in the Philippines. 

Vogue Philippines: June 2024 Issue

By DANIELLE RAMOS. Photographs by PATRICK DIOKNO. Vogue Man Editor DANYL GENECIRAN. Grooming: Don De Jesus. Talents: Louie Villalon, Patrick De Guzman. Producer: Anz Hizon.
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