DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines – Silliman University in this city and First Solar Orion Energy Solutions Incorporated signed an agreement Friday for a P100-million solar power generation project in the campus.

Silliman University president Dr. Ben Malayang III and Orion president Rynor Jamandre were the signatories of the agreement for the prototyping of the first and largest solar power generation project at the institutional level.

Malayang said the project will be at no cost to the university, which provides only the space requirements, while Orion, one of the largest producers of solar power in the world, will develop, install, and maintain the 1.2-megawatts of power.

The project was designed to reduce by about 98 percent carbon footprint of the university, which has been a supporter and active campaigner on the protection of the environment. Malayang said it came very timely with the recently concluded Paris pact on climate change mitigation.

Jamandor said Orion had chosen SU as the recipient of its build-operate-transfer scheme project, which could give the university a savings, equal to P10-million of fuel costs or eliminating 250 gasoline-fed cars off the streets. This will be the biggest educational solar program in Southeast Asia, he said.

As soon as the Department of Energy, the Energy Regulatory Board and other government agencies give the go signal for Orion to proceed with the project at SU, Orion during the first six months would install the solar panels on pre-identified roofs of structures and grounds in the campus.

Jamandron assured the public that Orion’s solar panels are of better quality and costs less than those being made in China.

Malayang said the use of solar energy on campus depends highly on variables, such as high demand of power and usage on school days, or on lean days, such as during semestral and other breaks. The SU Medical Center will also be included in the project, he said. .

In case of excess solar energy, SU will be sharing it with consumers from the outside, said Malayang, adding that Orion can sell it elsewhere. The university however will maximize the use of the solar power load allocated to it, and the project will also benefit about 240 poor households nearby, pre-identified by the SU.

Jamandron said the solar project can last up to 25 years at full load although its life span can stretch up to 40 or 50 years with about 80 percent of the energy supplied.

At present, SU has a required power load of 1.3 megawatts, majority of which is sourced from the Negros Oriental II Electric Cooperative that gets most of its supply from the geothermal power plants of the Energy Development Corporation, with the remainder from the coal-fired KEPCO plant.

Jamadron said SU is now expected to gain an estimated minimum savings of P2 million in power consumption bills, or a maximum of P5 million.

It would take about ten years, though, for Orion to recoup its investments, but what is now more important is that the SU has taken the lead in having a solar power project. (FREEMAN)