20 March 2012

Subic firm offers renewable energy solutions

A Subic-registered company is now producing cost-efficient and environment-friendly energy and lighting solutions touted to address growing concerns of rising energy costs and degraded environment.

BandaSolar, which traces its roots to Bandacorp PI Inc. that was established here in 2006, is now offering Filipino consumers the benefits of renewable energy with its solar panels and light emitting diode (LED) lamps that could cut down power bills by more than 50 percent.

This has prompted Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Roberto V. Garcia to call for a study on the installation of solar panels for all street lights in the free port and the use of 250-watt LED lamps instead of the standard 1,000-watt halogen lamps.

Bob Silvers, president of BandaSolar, said that his company addresses the concerns of consumers on the seemingly relentless power rate hikes, and seeks to meet growing demand for solar solutions in the Philippines, as well as internationally.

“The first question in the mind of Filipinos is ‘How am I going to cut on my power bills?’ And the answer is: turn to sun and use its energy,” Silvers said during an exhibit of products here. “Solar energy will cut your electric bills up to half or more,” he added.

Silvers said that historically, the use of solar power was limited only to those living in remote locations with no other choice but to device a solar power generator with a cost equivalent to P100 per watt, or P100,000 per kilowatt, enough to light a small house.

Having an average of a 25-year lifetime, solar panels are being sold mostly in China, Japan, India, Australia and South Korea, which accounted for 3.3 gigawatts of demand in 2011, with Japan and China leading in the Southeast Asian region.

“But that was before the solar panels were in mass production in such a volume where it became part of the energy economy competing with more expensive petroleum and other forms of energy,” Silvers pointed out.

He said that, as of last year, the cost of solar panel went down to P50 per watt or P50,000 per kilowatt, “that’s why people really can afford solar power in place of the regular electricity generated by the electric companies.”

Silvers said the cost of using solar power “may sound high, as the first five years after purchasing and installing the solar panel, you are like paying the cost of the solar panel. But after five years, the electricity is free within the period of 20 years or more,” he added.

Industrial users also benefit a lot from solar power because by producing some or all of the needed electricity with solar power, they can eliminate a portion of that variable cost and insulate their businesses against the inevitable rising cost per kilowatt hour of electricity, Silvers said.

He explained that a company using 100 pieces of 150-watt sodium bulbs has to pay an average of P413,870 for power consumption and maintenance cost in 4.38 years of the bulbs’ lifetime. On the other hand, if the same company uses 100 pieces of 100-watt LED lamps, it will only spend P13,699 for maintenance expenses in the 13.7 years of the lamps’ lifetime.

Silvers also said that BandaSolar is offering free consultation to those who wish to know more about solar power, and an introduction to a line of energy-saving devices ranging from air-conditioning system to solar street lights, solar water heater, and even home and industrial solar-lighting solutions.

In Subic, the company has already convinced several companies to shift to solar power or LED lamps to save on energy costs. Its clients here include the Ocean Adventure marine theme park; gastight plastic storage manufacturer GrainPro; packaging manufacturer Pactec; global testing, verification and certification firm SGS; and ink solution provider Printing Images CtC, Inc.

BandaSolar has also installed renewable energy systems for some residences at the Kalayaan and Binictican housing complexes here, as well as for other clients in Pampanga, Batangas, Ilocos Sur and Zambales. (RAV/MPD-SBMA)

Bob Silvers, president of BandaSolar, explains the advantages of using a solar energy system.