As the demand for electricity rises and is projected to escalate dramatically in the coming years, the Department of Energy (DOE) will be installing solar panels on the rooftops of select private schools in Metro Manila to conserve energy and defray costs.
Referred to as the solar rooftop program, the project is expected to produce up to 2.4 megawatts (MW) in the chosen campuses, during its initial phase. Each school will have as much as 100 kilowatts capacity.
The solar panel providers will receive a fee for every megawatt consumed. In 10 years, the solar panels will be theirs.
The power produced by the solar panels is estimated at P9.50 per kilowatt hour, lower than the P11.50 rate of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), thus power from Meralco will only be tapped when necessary, such as when it rains or when the sky is cloudy.
Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla says this pilot project will require an investment of around 10 million pesos for each school, or 240 million pesos in sum for all 24 participating schools.
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The funds, which initially were to be taken from the Malampaya fund, will be sourced instead from the private sector. Six firms will be taking part in the government program, given their existing patronage of solar power undertakings.
Rotational power outages all over Luzon will be more possible to occur given the higher power demand. The construction of more power plants is under way, but is not expected to be finished by early 2015.
Should the project be a success, the program will extend to all private schools covered by Meralco, such as those in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, as well as areas in Quezon, Pampanga, Laguna and Batangas.
“All schools within Meralco’s franchise area would need some 270 MW of solar rooftops,” said Petilla in an interview with Business World. “So if successful, the target is, by 2015, all private schools will already source part of their electricity needs from solar power.”