Switching to solar power? Here’s what you need to know

The promise of solar energy is dazzling: free energy for as long as the sun shines.

Except that it isn’t, really. Harvesting sunlight requires a significant investment in photovoltaic (PV) panels and electrical control systems. There are space and structural issues to consider, along with location and weather. For businesses, the cost is a key consideration, including the return on investment.

Expert answers

There are many independent installers of solar energy systems, but businesses and factories are advised to consult with solar companies that can safely align self-generating power systems with their customers’ machines and equipment.

“You cannot control the intensity of the sun,” explains Robert Pereja, Chief Operating Officer of Spectrum Inc. He points out that when solar output decreases, the system should automatically switch to grid power to prevent damage to sensitive equipment.

Central to any practical solar-energy system is the inverter, Pereja adds. This converts direct current (DC) from the PV panels into alternating current (AC).

“The AC output is then synchronized with the customer’s main circuit breaker and also with the electric grid,” he continues. “This is crucial because if the solar panels produce less than what is required, the grid will compensate.”

Expert designs

Most solar energy components – PV panels, inverters, switchers – are readily available in the market, even as do-it-yourself home kits. But companies have differing requirements, based on the kind of business they’re in.

As a wholly-owned solar-solutions subsidiary of the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), Spectrum customizes solar energy systems to suit the specific needs of any business.

“Our company is presently developing its own app to monitor solar-energy production for all its customers,” announces Pereja. Currently, he adds, available apps only work for specific inverter brands.

Spectrum’s app also gives its customers more control over power allocation and consumption. The app checks the system’s daily and weekly energy output, and the weekly production trend. It also displays other details, such as which days produced more solar power.

Spectrum’s most recent project at the City of Dreams (COD) shows that solar energy systems are highly suitable for power-hungry, 24/7 entertainment complexes.

Related: City of Dreams Manila Looks at P16M in Savings Per Year with a Move Toward Solar Power

Switched on last January 27, the project cost P76 million and involved installing 3,120 PV panels to generate a guaranteed annual capacity of 1.2 MW. This supplies 20 percent of COD's three hotels' power consumption and will yield multimillion-peso savings over time.

The estimates are at P16 million in energy savings per year, for a return on investment within seven years.

Spectrum’s success with COD Manila shows that, with the right partnerships and a willingness to explore possibilities, the path to solar power is clear.

To learn more about the Spectrum and its services, contact your Meralco Corporate Partners through or call 16210.

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