A green future | Henry empeño

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – The dark blue array of solar panels may look incongruous atop the two stocky buildings that, in the days of the Cold War, were also referred to as bomb shelters. But the Space-Age look of the photovoltaic assemblies on the roofs of the administrative offices of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) provides not only a trendy upgrade, but a much needed upgrade.

SBMA President and Trustee Wilma T. Eisma said Subic Agency is now adding renewables to its energy mix with high hopes of generating substantial savings and remaining competitive for future business.

Technicians from Kennedy Energy and Development Corp. are installing solar panels for the grid-connected solar power system at the top of building 229, which houses the administrative offices of the SBMA.

For starters, SBMA has just fitted two of its main offices – buildings 229 and 255 – with a grid-connected solar power system that would save 12 to 39 percent of their current cost of electricity consumption. .

Last week, project contractor Kennedy Energy and Development Corp. finished operating the rooftop photovoltaic array on existing power grids in preparation for fully powering up systems, Eisma said.

Then, after 229 and 255, SBMA will have six more buildings and facilities, including the Remy Field sports complex, for similar solar system upgrades.

“SBMA is going green – which is not only good for the environment, but is even economically inevitable because that is how things are going,” Eisma said enthusiastically on Monday. “Either you switch to renewables or you become inefficient and less competitive.”

“With these solar energy sources, we plan not only to save on electricity bills, but also to sell some of the excess energy that we can export to the grid,” Eisma said.

“This, you will say, is the sustainability of an important aspect of SBMA operations,” she added.

Technicians connect the solar power system to the electrical distribution panels in Building 255.

Pilot project

THE grid-connected solar power system that SBMA is adopting uses free energy from the sun to provide power. Energy is harnessed using solar panels or photovoltaic modules mounted in a frame for installation.

The photovoltaic cells in solar panels generate direct current electricity which is then supplied to electrical equipment or stored in batteries.

SBMA finally jumped on the green bandwagon after a 10 kilowatt pilot project at the SBMA regulatory building was successfully completed after installation in August 2018.

It was a full year before a bill calling for the installation of solar power systems in state-owned buildings was tabled.

As BusinessMirror reported on August 12, 2019, then Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Ralph Recto noted that government agencies and local governments “consume at least 24 billion pesos per year” and that this consumption “increases by 1 billion pesos per year. “

According to records from the telecommunications department of SBMA, which is the agency’s main unit in the solar power project, the SBMA’s grid-connected solar power pilot system generated 5,140 kilowatt-hours (kWh) at during the first five months following its installation in August 2018.

The following years gave equally satisfactory results: a total of 13,381 kWh in 2019 and a total of 13,940 kWh in 2020.

The savings generated by the 10 kW system, meanwhile, reached 44,615 P in the five months of 2018; P116.147 in 2019; and P130.871 last year, according to SBMA records.

Cost efficiency

WITH the convincing results of the pilot project, Eisma said they expected similar or better results for the upgrades to Buildings 229 and 255, which make up the first phase of the SBMA solar power program.

“Our calculations make savings of around 807,476 P per year for building 255, with a reduction of almost 39% in electricity consumption, while the savings for building 229 would be around 415,970 P per year, that’s a reduction of almost 12% in the use of electricity, ”said Eisma.

According to Engr. Tony Rafanan of SBMA’s Telecommunications Department, installing solar power systems at SBMA facilities would cost an average of 6 million pesos per building and, in the case of Remy Field, could reach 19 million pesos.

However, each building installed with the solar power system will be able to generate savings ranging from P60,000 to P120,000 per month, depending on the power generated by the system, he said.

He explained that in the case of Building 229, which was installed with a 153 square meter solar panel, the nominal energy savings were 12 percent. On the other hand, Building 255, which has a larger solar panel of 298 square meters, would generate savings of around 39 percent.

“The higher the power produced, the greater the savings,” Rafanan added.

Return on investments

Apart from saving on electricity consumption, it is also possible to derive income from the grid-connected solar energy system.

Rafanan explained that even though the grid-connected solar power system significantly reduces electricity bills, it could sell excess energy back to the grid through net metering. This would be especially true on weekends, when most SBMA offices are closed and little power is being consumed.

He also pointed out that the system will also automatically prioritize the use of the solar source, thus keeping the grid usage at the minimum level.

While the solar power system would incur significant installation costs, Rafanan said the returns on investment only come in a few years, making the conversion to solar power even more attractive.

In the case of buildings 229 and 255, Rafanan said that with a total project cost of P 6,854,000, which is the bidder’s price for the two buildings, and with the energy demand cost of P 465,286 P per month, each powered by solar energy. building can generate annual savings of 1.22 million pesos.

“At this rate, we can already expect a return on investment or ROI in just 5.6 years, which is very favorable given that solar panels have a lifespan of 25 years,” he said. he also stated.

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About Lois Mendez

Lois Mendez

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