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Real estate developer Imperial Homes Corp. (IHC) announced it will launch Via Verde, the first solar-powered mass housing project in the Philippines. Set for a grand launching in January next year, IHC said an initial 1,000 units of solar-powered homes will be made available to the public in a three-hectare land in Santo Tomas, Batangas. Each unit will be equipped with 500 watts solar panels that will be installed for free. A unit, with a floor area of 18 square meters in the solar-powered housing project, starts at P510,000. The development of the houses amounted to a total of P180 million and $1 million for the solar panels. “We have a dream to make the Philippines as the solar power capital of Asia as we are one of the countries with the biggest electricity rate and we also have a big irradiation capacity, meaning we have lots of solar power available for use,” said IHC president and chief executive officer Ellen Imperial. She explained that the solar panels in each of the houses are capable of powering a refrigirator for 7 hours, television and electric fan for 4 hours, a pair of mobile phones for an hour of charging and 30 minutes use of an iron for daytime use. The introduction of the 500 watts solar panels can save homeowners up to P1 per kilowatt hour. It also translates to saving $1.4 billion in fossil fuel consumption and preventing 148,000 tons of carbon emission anually. IHC partnered with Belgian solar panel producers Enfinity Group in maintaining and installing the said solar power technology. “The homeowners will pay a rent for the solar panels for maintenance and connection fee. Tehy will also have a choice to ass a more capacity if they find the 500 watts to be insufficient for their use,” Imperial said. The solar panels are offered with 25 years warranty and 12 years guarantee for unit performance. IHC also said it is currently in talks with banks and other lending institutions to quantify solar power upgrades as a legitimate reason for a loan. -Malaya -Jed Macapaga