by Dhale Angelo D. Santos and Nigel Q. Lutao, JULY 2022
Installation of solar panels for more efficient electric power generation and consumption is slowly becoming common practice for businesses and even for local homes around the Philippines. This allows anyone to harness the free and abundant energy the sun outputs daily and use it as an alternative source of electricity instead of the usual pure on-grid solution. A great example for this is our Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification for our headquarters, MPT South Hub (MPTS Hub). The MPTS Hub uses an on-grid connected solar power system that does not require the use of a battery. A solar power system usually involves the following: a solar array, usually in the form of a photovoltaic (PV) lined modules for solar energy collection, a charge controller, a battery for energy storage and an inverter to convert the collected DC energy to AC for regular electricity usage. Our opting out of the inclusion of a battery means we do not store energy during the day, and we do not use the solar energy generated at night. This is mostly due to the unnecessary and costly maintenance challenges a battery will cause such as the frequent replacement of battery cells for each solar power system. Instead, the MPTS Hub solar power system actively generates energy during the day and simultaneously powers the building without needing as much or any of the energy provided by the Meralco on-grid system. This not only gives us less cost logistically but also less cost environmentally considering the clean energy production that solar power systems provide compared to the usual greenhouse gas producing energy generation systems. Due to the sustainable and environmentally positive results, the installation and usage of solar panels has also been implemented to one of MPT South’s major expressways namely the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX).
As of writing, CALAX has 6 solar power systems installed at toll plazas (TP) along the expressway. It has units at Silang TP, Sta. Rosa TP, Laguna Boulevard TP, Laguna Technopark TP, and Mamplasan TP. The solar power systems supply the bulk of the energy consumption required by the operation and maintenance (O&M) facilities around their corresponding toll plazas. Their solar panels are usually attached on the roof of the O&M facilities near the TP or on the roof of the TP itself as seen in the following images:
The solar panels are mostly beneficial during the day when the sun is present for generating electricity. It can be seen in the graphs below that the generated solar power provides the bulk of the electricity for the whole day of operation for TP1 B/D (Silang TP) and TP2 (Sta. Rosa TP). The solar energy provided in kilowatt per hour (kWh) is identified by the blue areas in the bar graphs while the electricity provided by the regular electricity grid is identified by the orange areas.
It should be noted that the graphs provide the totality of the energy consumption of each TP which means it includes the energy needs during night operations as well. This is the reason the graphs for TP3 A/B (Laguna Boulevard Entry TP) and TP5 (Mamplasan TP), for example, all have higher electricity grid consumption due to the additional energy needs of all the expressway lighting at night.
To put it in the environmental impact perspective, the total performance of 98.49 kWp (from May 2021 to May 2022) of all the TP solar power systems avoided the release of roughly 43 tons of CO2 to the atmosphere which is also the equivalent of planting 1282 trees. This is definitely a good start to our goal of establishing a greener expressway.
The company hopes to install more solar panels throughout the future subsections of CALAX and along the already existing expressways of CAVITEX and C5 Link. The company also envisions that aside from these solar powered systems, we will also have electric vehicle charging stations in our expressways in order to also encourage our motorist to shift to greener technologies.
About the writer:
Dhale Angelo D. Santos. A licensed Electrical Engineer who discovered writing as his unveiled passion to share his engineering skills and knowledge in a creative way.
Nigel Q. Lutao. Always balancing a firm view on reality with a hint of carefree idealism, I constantly try to convey the harsh truths while reaffirming the hope of a kinder and brighter future.