THINK ON THESE : Power from the sun

A day before the Valentine’s Day celebration, I was able to witness the signing of an agreement between PetroGreen Energy Corporation (PGEC) and Mapúa Malayan Colleges Mindanao (MMCM). The former will install a 360-kilowatt peak solar rooftop power project inside the campus.

“The groundbreaking collaboration… reflects (our) dedication to sustainable development and incorporating green technology into education,” Dr. Dodjie S. Maestrecampo, MMCM president, pointed in his speech. “Not only does it promote the use of renewable energy, but it also serves as an educational resource for our students, demonstrating our commitment to innovative and socially responsible learning.”

F.G. Delfin, Jr., the president and chief executive officer of PGEC, said that the solar installation also aims to inspire students in Mindanao to specialize in energy science, engineering, and environment-related courses, so they become skilled professionals who will help propel our country’s future progress.

“The journey towards a net-zero society requires efforts big and small,” said Delfin, adding that the rooftop solar project “is very modest in terms of PGEC’s renewable energy portfolio” but it demonstrates the synergy of Yuchengco Group of Companies (YGC) “In responding to tasks for a net-zero future.”

Both PGEC and MMCM are YGC members.

PGEC Engr. Ryan Erik F. Quindoza is very much thrilled about the project. It’s their second rooftop solar project and the very first renewable energy project in Mindanao. PGEC’s first rooftop solar power project was installed in Binondo, Manila two years ago.

“Once operational, we estimate that Mapúa MCM will benefit from a 36% annual reduction in its electricity cost,” said Engr. Quindoza. He added that the rooftop solar project is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2024.

Currently, MMCM consumes about one megawatt of electricity per month. With a reduction of 36% of its electricity bills, the solar power project is a great saving for the school.

The industry standard for most solar panels’ lifespans is 25 to 30 years. Most reputable manufacturers offer production warranties for 25 years or more.

The energy from the sun is free. At night, people pay for electricity so they can have light. So why not harvest the power from the sun and convert it into electricity at night? That’s what solar power is all about.

Solar power is one of the renewable energy sources. “Renewable energy offers tremendous potential and, combined with improvements in energy efficiency, could fuel the economy of the future,” said Janet Sawin, an expert on international energy and environmental policy at the Washington, D.C.-based Worldwatch Institute.

“The future is in renewable energy — not in outdated and environmentally destructive fossil fuels,” agreed an official of the Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

The cost of electricity in the country is touted to be among the highest in Southeast Asian countries, according to a paper penned for the Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development of the Ateneo de Manila-Department of Economics.

In the Philippines, the kilowatt per hour (kWh) is $0.16. In comparison, the cost of electricity in Thailand and Indonesia is $0.10/kWh while in Malaysia, it is even lower at $0.05/kWh. At $0.18/kWh, Singapore surpassed the country’s record.

Industry players said about 50% of the country’s power generation comes from coal, with natural gas and renewables accounting for just more than 20%. The remaining comes from oil-fired boilers. The country’s electricity consumption is expected to triple by 2040 – from the 90.2 TWh (Terawatt-hour) in 2018 – due to its rapidly growing economy.

Right now, solar power provides only two percent of the energy needs of Mindanao. If only the power from the sun is totally harnessed, the figure could go up to about ten percent.

Solar power is one of the reliable renewable energy sources of the Philippines. Other renewable energy sources are geothermal, wind, biomass, and hydropower.

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy,” said American inventor and businessman Thomas Alva Edison. “What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait till oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

Journalist Mio de la Cruz seemed to agree. In an article which appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, he wrote: “On a scorching summer day in a tropical country like the Philippines, the sun beams out approximately 1,000 watts of energy per square meter of surface area that it shines on. If we could harness all that energy, then we could easily power our homes and offices for free.”

If you produce your own electricity by using solar power, you are actually introducing long term savings and you are no longer fully dependent on power providers. Even during brown-outs, you can still enjoy the electricity which you yourself generated using the power of the sun.

“Renewable energy in the Philippines is often more efficient than extending the electric grid,” said a report from the Environmental News Network. “The prohibitive cost of building power lines and the difficulty of transporting fuel for generators to remote, developing areas makes solar power an ideal solution.”

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