Solar powered airconditioners on trial in Sukang

National 2 minutes, 3 seconds

BELAIT

THE ASEAN award winning solar project at Sukang's Balai Ibadat is now trialling the use of air conditioners which are exclusively powered by the existing solar photovoltaic (PV) system.

The prayer hall's 10 kilowatt peak (kWp) system, installed in 2011, was initially set up to power 13 fluorescent light tubes, four to six sets of fans and a portable audio (PA) system, but the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA) are testing to see if the system can also provide air conditioning periodically across the day.

During an maintenance inspection to Sukang last week, MoRA’s Head of Building Estate and Maintenance Senior Special Duties Officer Pg Alli Pg Hj Mohammad said that two 1.5 horsepower air conditioners were installed in the past three months, to provide the community from the remote village more comfort when they pray.

“So far, the imam has reported that the air conditioning can actually work off the existing system, provided its use is kept economical and reserved during prayer times and special functions,” said Pg Alli.

However, the integration of air conditioning to the existing system still needs work said Pg Alli, as the power has tripped several times when both air cons are operational.

“The positive is that solar panels and systems have now become much more cost-effective than they were five years ago. So installing a few more panels to generate more electricity (for the air cons) is something we want to look into,” said Pg Alli. The prayer hall, like the village's school, is located off the main power grid. It previously relied on generators, but buying and transporting the diesel required was especially problematic, with the closest fuel station at least a two hour drive away. Pg Alli added that Muslim villagers have been taking to the prayer hall more frequently since the construction of the solar PV system, also using it for religious functions outside regular prayer times. “Using whatever resources have been given to you, but at the same time, saving them is what Islam teaches. We are using the sun, not wasting its energy,” said Pg Alli. The solar PV system, which placed second in the renewable energy project: off-grid category at last year's ASEAN Energy Awards, generates about 13,140 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year and is estimated to have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 18,400 kg. MoRA collaborated with the Energy and Industry Department at the Prime Minister's Office and the Brunei National Energy Research Institute for the project.

The Brunei Times