Going solar: The limitless power of the sun

Going solar: The limitless power of the sun

By: - Content Researcher Writer / @inquirerdotnet
/ 12:45 PM May 08, 2024

Going solar: The limitless power of the sun

Solar energy composite photo from INQUIRER file and stock photos

Where there is sunlight, there is energy.

This is the reality, especially with how the sun’s light generates one of the most essential sources of renewable energy in the world — solar.


As pointed out by National Geographic, this energy from the sun is “created by nuclear fusion […] which occurs when protons of hydrogen atoms violently collide in the sun’s core and fuse to create a helium atom.”


Nuclear fusion is an unlimited source of energy, according to experts. The other process is fission, which involves the destruction of atoms to produce energy.

Nuclear fusion, NatGeo said, can be harnessed “directly or indirectly” for man’s use.

Aware of sunlight’s potential, 60-year-old Mercedes Ocampo, who is residing in Isabela province, decided to install solar panels inside the family compound last year, saying she has heard it could lead to significant benefits.

Ocampo could be one of the 85 percent of Filipinos who believe that increasing the use of renewable energy, like solar, wind and hydropower, is “important.”

Going solar: The limitless power of the sun


Based on a 2023 Pulse Asia survey commissioned by Stratbase ADR Institute, out of the 85 percent, 46 percent said a boost is “super important,” while 39 percent said it is “somewhat important.”

Some 13 percent said they could not decide yet, while two percent believed that increasing the use of renewable energy was not important.


READ: Significant increase in renewable energy investments seen

As the Department of Energy had said, the government has a goal of increasing the share of renewable energy in the power generation mix to 35 percent by 2030 and 50 percent by 2040.

Advantaged PH

Based on a 2012 policy brief by the development NGO Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Philippines can take advantage of its abundant sunlight, pointing to data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

It said the country has 161.7 Watts (W) per square meter average solar radiation, translating to a potential power generating capacity of 4.5 to 5.5 kilowatt-hour (kWh) per square meter every day.

Going solar: The limitless power of the sun


The northern Philippines, GIZ said, has enough sunlight to generate an average of 4.5 to 5 kWh for every square meter every day, while areas in the South can produce an average of 5 to 5.5 kWh.

RELATED STORY: Solar power likely to become world’s top renewable energy choice

GIZ pointed out that harnessing the power of the sun is nothing new, saying that from the introduction of solar-powered calculators in the late 1970s, “the world never stopped searching for ways to use the sun to generate power for vehicles, homes, and industries.”

“This is because solar power is free and clean — no drilling and exploration costs, no spills that can harm the environment, no greenhouse gas emissions,” it said in its policy brief titled “It’s More Sun in the Philippines”.

The sun’s energy is likewise “inexhaustible,” it said.

Energy boards

As pointed out by GIZ, “harnessing solar power is one way to decrease dependence on the increasing and volatile prices of fossil fuels,” saying that solar power can create an energy-secure Philippines.

Based on the websites of solar technology provider Solaric and watchdog group EcoWatch, there are different types of solar panels available, including monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film.

Going solar: The limitless power of the sun


Monocrystallines are made of solar cells that are from a single silicon source, providing more space for electrons to move. These have “higher efficiency ranges and better power capacity,” EcoWatch said.

READ: Renewables on pace to overtake coal as top power source by 2025

Polycrystallines, meanwhile, are “cheaper” and are made of solar cells from several silicon sources. EcoWatch, however, said “they have a lower efficiency,” which means one needs more panels to reach the power output of monocrystallines.

Thin-films are roughly 300 to 350 times thinner than standard silicon, which makes it ideal for portable devices. Each cell is made of three main parts: photovoltaic material, a conductive sheet and a protective layer.

It is, however, less efficient.

Shift to RE

As pointed out in the website Go Solar Philippines, the average cost of solar panels depends on the type of panel, brand, and manufacturer, and the cost of installation.

The average cost, it said, is P30,000 to P50,000 for every kilowatt (kW) for residential use and P20,000 to P30,000 for every kW for commercial use.

It was stated by the US Department of Energy that solar offers great potential to save money, especially on monthly electricity bills, stressing that solar power is “likely to remain a good money-saving option.”

Ocampo, who is using five solar lights for their home and compound — two 30 W and three 100 W — told INQUIRER.net that she is saving over P3,000 a month as their electricity bill went down from P7,000 to P4,000.

As stressed by GIZ, solar energy provides an immediate solution to Philippines’ energy problems, saying that “it is the only cost-effective technology that can be installed and commissioned in as short as a few days to a few months.”

“Solar power solutions are also now made easier to acquire, with more and more solar kits becoming available in the local market,” it said, explaining that these can readily be used in homes and commercial establishments to mitigate the rising cost of electricity and to reduce operating expenses.


GIZ said a typical kit can displace 4 to 5 kW of electricity a day, translating to a savings of at least 30 percent of monthly power bills.

It pointed out that while the cost of a 1-kW grid-tied system amounting to about P200,000 may appear expensive, the electricity offsets for seven years would allow recovery.

RELATED STORY: 7 gov’t buildings in Negros Occ. to tap solar power

GIZ said in the eighth year, “savings generated from the 1-kW system provides additional money in the pocket of the consumers. By the beginning of the ninth year up to the 25th year, when the lifespan of a solar kit is fully expended, solar electricity provides economic relief.”

The downside, however, is when there is not much sunlight.

As the Solar Energy Industries Association said, “photovoltaic panels can use direct or indirect sunlight to generate power, though they are most effective in direct sunlight. Solar panels will still work even when the light is reflected or partially blocked by clouds.”

But in an article by CNET, “solar panels will still generate electricity during cloudy weather, rain or any other period of indirect sunlight, just not as efficiently.”

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“Solar panels are most efficient in direct sunlight and will generate less electricity during cloudy conditions,” it said.

TAGS: Heat, INQFocus, Solar power, Sun

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