Shalani helps unveil 1st solar-powered school in NCR

Posted at 06/02/10 5:34 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A local public high school in Valenzuela City is now the first solar-powered school in the National Capital Region following the donation of six solar panels by an American corporation.

Sitero Francisco Memorial National High School (SFMNHS) in Barangay Ugong, Valenzuela City recently received a 1kW photo-voltaic solar array from the Wanxiang America Corporation through the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). The solar panels costing more than P500,000 will be used to light a nine-classroom building this June.

For four years, school principal Cesar C. Villareal pushed for solar energy initiative as one of his flagship projects. Science department head Jameson H. Tan looked for potential donors and found FEE. In October 2009, the solar panels were shipped from Illinois, USA and arrived in Manila in November that year.

The Valenzuela city government shouldered the duty tax and installation costs.

Rep. Rex Gatchalian (left), DepEd-Valenzuela schools division superintendent Dr. Flordeliza R. Mayari and SFMNHS principal Cesar C. Villareal at the ceremonial switching on of the project. Credit: www.valenzuela.gov.ph

Valenzuela City first district congressman Rex T. Gatchalian, on behalf of Mayor Sherwin T. Gatchalian, led the ceremonial switching on of the school's main solar panels. He also unveiled a commemorative marker dedicated to the project, along with DepEd-Valenzuela schools division superintendent Dr. Flordeliza R. Mayari, NCR HEKASI district supervisor Dr. Luzviminda Ona, 2nd District councilor Shalani Soledad, barangay officials and FEE representative William Manz.

Valenzuela City councilor Shalani Soledad (standing, sixth from right) and Rep. Rex T. Gatchalian (standing, fourth from left) led the unveiling of the project's comemmorative marker in the campus together with key officials and project proponents. Credit: www.valenzuela.gov.ph

"The city government supports projects like this. I share Mr. Villareal and Mr. Tan's vision. I hope to be able to tap renewable energy, such as the solar power, in local government buildings someday," said Mayor Sherwin T. Gatchalian in a statement.

With the new solar panels, SFMNHS also becomes the first school in the country to have a hybrid energy setup (solar energy with on-grid energy setup). It will also join the ranks of US-based "green schools."

This is not the first time SFMNHS made history as it is also the first school to hold computerized campus polls in the country.

Addressing climate change

"The solar panels can generate 1kW to 5kW per hour, depending on the intensity of the sunlight, which can be used while being generated," Villareal said. The unused generated energy will be stored in eight deep-cycle batteries that never stop charging even after sunset, as the solar panels continue to absorb power available from the night sky.

Rep. Gatchalian commended SFMNHS for being at the frontline to address the issue of climate change. "This is an innovative, creative and aggressive step to deal with man's overuse of fossil fuels. This solar project could be just a small step when measured against the issue of climate change, but it will engender a big effect to the community and the citizenry as it stirs activism towards the issue," he said.

Once operational, the solar project will help students become more aware of their energy needs, the science behind it and other vital issues on energy utilization. As part of the project, a web-based solar monitoring station will be installed for use by science teachers and students to monitor the energy production of other affiliate solar schools abroad in real-time. Accessed data will be used in studies about electricity and renewable energy sources and generation, the use and advantages of alternative energy sources, and on friendly competition between solar schools on energy conservation and development.

In the future, SFMNHS plans to develop a "green building" which will harvest rainwater for energy generation and ventilation, preparation of landscapes to reduce heat, reduction in usage of water, recycling of waste water and use of other energy efficient practices.