Use of rooftop solar panels in Philippines pushed
German and Philippine solar technology developers are pushing for a massive installation of solar panels on rooftops of households, commercial establishments and buildings as these could help ensure the country’ energy security over the long term.
“As we enter 2013, we would like to focus on the solar rooftops because we believe this is going to be a major initiative by the [solar] industry in providing solutions to our problems in the energy sector,” said Theresa Cruz-Capellan, one of the founders of the Philippine Solar Power Alliance (PSPA).
“There are about half a million new residential projects that are going on stream every year. If only 10 percent of these can be convinced to put solar panels on their rooftops, that will be a big help to both the distribution utilities and power generation companies,” Capellan said. She added that it would also help reduce the country’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.
The potential market for solar industry players was estimated at about $450 million, or P19 billion, yearly. This was based on the 50,000 households (representing 10 percent of the half a million constructions yearly) that can install solar panels with a capacity of 2 kilowatts.
To produce a kilowatt of solar power from these rooftop panels, one would need to invest about $4,500 for the actual components and installation works. This investment can be recovered in about seven years but the solar panels usually last for at least 25 years, said Capellan.
She said investors in solar energy were also in talks with real estate developers and the Climate Change Commission for the possible inclusion of rooftop solar panels in housing projects within “ecotowns.”
Thomas Chrometzka, head of international affairs of Germany’s Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft e.V., said that the potential of photovoltaic systems globally continued to be underestimated in some parts of the world. In Germany, however, rooftop installations account for about 80 percent of the installed solar capacity of 30 gigawatts.
Chrometzka said rooftop solar panels could be a viable solution for the Philippines given its high solar irradiation level.
The Philippines is said to have solar irradiation of 1,900 kilowatts a square meter.
Electricity produced from solar energy, however, remained marginal compared to other renewable energy sources, such as hydro and geothermal, due to the perceived high costs of solar panels and installation.
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