Solar power can reduce fossil fuel demand
MANILA, Philippines – There is a silver lining to the heatwave this summer. It is the potential of solar power to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, according to solar power advocates.
The Philippine Solar Power Alliance (PSPA) and the World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines (WWF) celebrated the first ever Solar Day Pilipinas 2013 on Friday, April 26.
PSPA president Dante Briones described solar power as a cutting-edge technology and a tool for improving national competitiveness, especially in a tropical country like the Philippines.
“The country is actually one of the leading countries in Asia when it comes to solar energy,” Briones said.
Solar power, a renewable source of energy, is estimated to produce 20-30% less emissions of harmful gases than coal power.
“Why do we have to thoroughly dig the soil just to look for coal when we all we need is to raise our heads to see the sun?” asked Claire Marie Yvonne Lee, PSPA Vice President.
Many businesses and institutions have started using solar panels, said Lee. Some of these are Starbucks, the Asian Development Bank, the Makati Medical Center and the Department of Trade and Industry.
On the retail side, several non-profit organizations and private companies have been distributing small-scale solar panels, mainly for lighting and communications purposes.
On a commercial scale, however, solar panels remain a costly investment for Filipino businesses.
PSPA and WWF admit solar power is pricey. In fact, the cost of acquiring one may exceed the initial savings generated from not connecting to the grid. But they believe that, as costs go down, solar panels will become economically efficient over time. Solar technology is usually covered by a 25-year warranty.
“A solar system is a good investment,” said Lee. “Unlike a car or a cellphone, it’s not a dead investment,” she added.
Lee added a number of banks are also planning to offer loans for Filipinos who want to buy solar panel systems.
According to the National Statistics Office, five out of ten poor families in rural areas do not have electricity. In Mindanao, an estimated 70% of poor families are not connected to any power.
Showcased during Solar Day Pilipinas were products of various solar power developers. The products ranged from solar phone chargers to large-scale solar systems for bigger homes and establishments.
Ten solar power developers namely: Renewables Made in Germany, MERALCO, Tritec, Transnational Uyeno Solar Corporation, GNB Exide, Maschinen and Technik Inc., Cagayan Electric Power, Sasonbisolar Inc., One Renewable Energy Enterprise Inc., Solutions Using Renewable Energy Inc., CEnAG, SunPower Inc., and Propmech joined the event.
Solar Day Pilipinas will be a yearly event from now on, said PSPA Founder and Chair Teresa Cruz-Capellan.
The use of solar power was originally developed in the Philippines during the 1980s as a response to the lack of electricity in far-flung areas. Many lives of Filipinos were changed when solar-powered lights were brought to their communities, Lee told Rappler.
“There are really places that that the grid can’t reach. And that’s what solar power is also for.” Lee said. – Rappler.com
Mary Joie Cruz is a Rappler intern and a student from the University of the Philippines - Los Baños.