LAGUNA, Philippines – A private hospital in the city of Calamba is now using solar and wind energy to supply 20% of its power needs.
In a ribbon cutting ceremony held on Thursday, February 5, a 150-kilowatt solar panel system was unveiled atop 5 buildings of the Calamba Doctor's Hospital in Calamba, Laguna. (READ: 'PH can rely on renewable energy as stable power source')
By the end of the month, a 1-kilowatt helical wind turbine will be added to the system. It is possibly the largest renewable energy (RE) system to be powering a hospital in the country.
"It's to put the hospital and the corporation in touch with the green revolution, to do our part in decreasing our carbon emissions. And of course, it will be more efficient and cheaper in the long run," hospital president Dr Domingo Amistad told Rappler.
"We thought, this year 2015 would be an energy crisis year so having solar power will probably augment our requirements."
The entire system, projected to produce 193,925 kilowatt hours every year, promises to reduce the hospital's monthly electricity bill by 20%.
Hospital administrator Dr Jose Rene de Gano said they usually pay between P800,000 and P1 million ($18,100-$22,700) a month to Meralco for power. The renewable energy system is projected to lessen that bill by between P160,000 and P200,000 ($3,600-$4,500).
In exchange, the hospital will pay P16.5 million ($374,000) for the system. Ten percent of that is a deposit while 90% will be paid over 5 years.
Amistad said the decision to buy the system from RE company Orion Group International was a "no brainer" because the installment they are paying is 20% to 25% lower than what they would have paid Meralco every month for the power now supplied by the solar and wind system.
At the end of the 5th year, the 10% deposit will be returned to the hospital and the entire system will belong to them. From the 6th to 25th year, the projected lifespan for the system, the power generated by the system are all savings.
The solar panels were installed just around two months ago but already the hospital is feeling the impact of the RE system.
"For the first time, last month, we paid less than P1 million ($22,700) to Meralco. We only paid P700,000 ($15,900) and that's after only 15 days with solar power," said Amistad.
In fact, De Gano said the hospital produces excess energy in the early mornings when the doctors are not yet in their clinics.
They'll get a better idea of how cost-effective the system is when the hospital receives its February electricity bill.
The installation is also projected to reduce the 120-bed hospital's carbon footprint.
According to Orion Group International, the amount of renewable energy generated keeps 135 metric tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the air every year. This is the equivalent of emissions 30 cars will make in a year or the amount of carbon dioxide 3,500 trees can absorb in a year.
Amistad and the other members of the hospital's board of directors are so optimistic about the RE project that they plan to expand the system from 150 kilowatts to 300 kilowatts.
The board of directors, who between them are connected with 25 other hospitals, are all considering introducing renewable energy to these institutions.
Calamba Doctor's Hospital is hoping to sell back its excess energy to Meralco to augment the power distributor's supply. They have applied for a Net Metering agreement but they say the application is still being processed.
Renewable energy is being touted by scientists, environmentalists and world leaders as one of the best weapons against climate change.
Adoption of renewable energy could wean people away from using fossil fuel as a source of energy. The combustion of fossil fuel is responsible for most of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause the planet's warming.
But experts say renewable energy's biggest selling point could be its potential to reduce energy expenses of consumers.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.