Recognized for being an eco-friendly and sustainable university, Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) pushes for energy sustainability through the use of solar power technology. WMSU officially launched the 200KW Renewable Energy Solar Facility on August 14, 2018 at the Dr. Juanito Bruno Gymnasium.
WMSU President Dr. Milabel Enriquez Ho said that this project will not only reduce energy costs associated with powering the University’s facilities, but will help WMSU achieve energy sustainability and self-sufficiency in the future. “The installation of this P25 million worth renewable energy facility affirms our commitment in helping the government accelerate the exploration and development of renewable energy resources,” Dr. Ho said. What is even greater to this cause is that the University can help mitigate the effects of climate change through the use of clean or “green” energy. It will also contribute in lessening the country’s dependence on costly imported fossil fuels.
The University currently houses 740 panels at 270 watts per panel installed on the rooftop of the Dr. Juanito Bruno Gymnasium. It has eight units on-grid type inverter rated 25 KW, 400v, 3 phase, 60cycle.
Engr. Richard O. Lizardo, PEE, project head of the implementation of the solar facility, in an interview said that the solar panels were designed as a grid-tied system, where the energy generated from the solar panels complement with the base load power supply received from Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative or ZAMCELCO, the city’s power distributor. The energy harvested from the solar panels can be directly used by all energy-consuming devices such as lights, air conditioning units, computers, and other appliances.
He also underlined the importance of having a grid-tied system than an off-grid system. An off-grid system is not connected to the electricity grid and therefore requires battery storage. “The high cost of batteries and inverters means off-grid systems are much more expensive than on-grid systems and are more appropriate for remote areas that are far from any electricity grid,” said Lizardo. It also requires a huge space as storage of the batteries. These batteries are also not eco-friendly and may pose danger to our health. Engr. Lizardo also explained that even if the facility is grid-tied, it still can be used through a generator set with very minimal consumption of fuel.
Since we are using an on-grid solar facility, the University can also earn through the net metering scheme, added Engr. Lizardo. “The excess power generated from the solar photovoltaic (PV) will be sent back to Zamcelco’s grid and will be distributed to the consumers,” Lizardo said. In effect, the University is able to generate savings by offsetting electricity bills and can also generate income through the net-metering system. The net-metering is a non-fiscal incentive mechanism fully implemented under the Renewable Energy Act of 2008, however, currently Zamcelco has no capacity of implementing the net metering system yet.
The University has already saved at least P400,000.00 in electricity bill for the month of August as confirmed by the Finance Department. This means that the University can save at least 3 million pesos in a year, depending on the amount of energy harvested by the solar panels, considering the types of weather we experience.
The university aims to have more solar power technology projects including the installation of an additional 400KW solar PVs worth P50 million to be installed on the rooftops of the following buildings: Executive Building, Library, College of Nursing, College of Science and Mathematics, College of Asian and Islamic Studies, and the remaining portion of the gym’s rooftop. This project is now under procurement process according to Engr. Lizardo. (Liezel M. Parreño, WMSU-PAO)