Shopping malls lead clean energy shift with solar roofs

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 27 2017 11:31 AM

Solar panels are shown on the roof of SM Mall of Asia. Photo from SM Supermalls website

MANILA - While the rest of Luzon grappled with insufficient reserves last week, one of the country's giant malls was undisturbed, thanks to its rooftop solar panels.

Robinsons Land's Starmills mall in Pampanga is among many shopping centers in the country that have switched to solar energy to cut costs and help preserve the environment.

The mall operated by Robinsons Land sources 95 percent of its daytime electricity from solar, according to Solenergy Systems Inc, which installed the solar panels on Starmills.

Solar energy "greatly reduced the overall electrical consumption of the malls," Robinsons Land Corp engineering project manager Ambrosio Ferris S. Tangco III told ABS-CBN News.

Robinsons Land said it would soon install solar panels in 2 Cebu malls, one in Tagum City and another in Palawan. Currently, 11 Robinsons malls use solar and the company hopes to finish nearly half of its solar projects by the end of the year.

"As one of the biggest consumers of electricity, having our own renewable source of clean energy allows us to reduce our carbon footprint and do our share in protecting the environment by using less electricity produced by the burning of fossil fuels," Robinsons Land president Frederick Go said in a statement.

Rival SM announced last month that it installed solar panels on its malls in Cauayan, Cabanatuan and Iloilo and similar facilities would be installed in Trece Martires, Seaside City Cebu, Dasmarinas, Olongapo, and Tuguegarao Downtown.

SM installed its first "green roof" in 2014 on SM North EDSA, its first supermall branch.

In Iloilo, Gaisano Capital Mall has 1-megawatt solar facility that reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 840 metric tons, said Solenergy Systems Inc marketing manager Leandro Crisostomo.

Installing solar panels on old buildings is a challenge, Crisostomo told ABS-CBN News.

Crisostomo said mall operators who hope to tap clean energy should include provisions for solar energy during the design phase.