by Roberto Verzola

Those who do not have access to electricity use candles or kerosene lamps at night. We will compare the cost of these lighting technologies to the cost of electric lighting.

Assume that a candle as well as a kerosene lamp provide as much illumination as a 3-watt lamp.

One candle might cost five pesos and will last for an hour, i.e., 3 watts in one hour (0.003 kWh) for five pesos. The levelized cost (LCOE) of a candle light is therefore five pesos divided by 0.003 kWh, or P1,667/kWh. That’s very expensive.

A liter of kerosene costing 35 pesos might last a week, at 5 hours of lighting every night, or 35 hours for the whole week.

At 3 watts (0.003 kW), this is equivalent to a consumption of 0.105 kWh. The levelized cost of kerosene light is therefore 35 pesos divided by 0.105 kWh, or P333/kWh. Cheaper than candles, but still expensive.

Households connected to the grid pay for around P9/kWh, which is still high by Asian standards, but certainly better than using candles or kerosene lamps.

While we’re at it, let us calculate the LCOE of typical rates in public cellphone charging stations (around ten pesos for fifteen minutes). A five-volt cellphone charger might consume about 0.1 amperes, which means a power consumption of 0.5 watts. Over fifteen minutes (0.25 hours), the total energy consumption is 0.000125 kWh. The LCOE is 10 pesos divided by 0.000125 kWh.

The public actually pays for the electricity in public cellphone charging stations at—hold your breath—P80,000/kWh.

Indeed, it is expensive to be energy-poor.