Solar (PV) Power & What to Know?

What you need to know about Solar PV

While the average cost of grid electricity (residential) is now close to R2/kWh and facing massive annual hyper-inflationary increases, solar on the other hand is dropping all the time and now comes in at around 90c/kWh and lower. Besides the costs of grid electricity, there is load shedding which wreaks havoc with your way of life, productivity and security – at home and business. Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems make use of the sun to generate electric energy during daylight hours. And because solar (sun) is a natural source and not fossil fuels, there are no running and maintenance costs after installation as is the case with gas and generators for example. Right now, solar PV delivers at least a 15% return on investment each year based on electricity savings, far outstripping any other investment vehicle where you could place your money. Investing in solar to save on your electricity costs is a no-brainer, and the very best investment you can make right now for your business or home over the next 25-30 years. The condition of course is that you get your system size, specification and what the ultimate solution for your needs are right from the start. With a renewable energy partner who will be around to provide the support and back-up for the lifetime of your system.

Different Types of PV Solutions

1 Grid-Tie Solution (Saving Option)

No batteries, grid-connected system. This system supplements your grid energy usage. In the event of a blackout or power outage, your solar system is forced to shut down and does not supply back-up. Where Eskom outages are not the issue, but cost savings are, this is a highly practical solution to dramatically reduce your electricity bill by producing as much of your daytime energy requirements as possible while the sun shines. If we take the average sun-producing time in Summer between 07h00 and 17h00, your system will produce five times the capacity of your solar panels, free from the sun each day. A grid-tie system is highly cost-effective and has a much shorter payback period as you avoid the additional cost of the battery-back-up.

2 Hybrid Solution (Savings and Back-up Option)

Provides batteries as well as a grid connection, commonly referred to as a hybrid system. With the correct installation, it will act as a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) in the event of a power outage. The PV system will charge up the batteries first and then the excess production will supplement your household/ business energy needs. Many of our clients start with system 1 with a plan to build up to a system 2 and then add battery back-up at a later stage as their budget allows to build up to a system 2 configuration. The great benefit of solar PV is that it’s entirely scalable and you can add to it as your needs grow. Clients typically opt for this when power outages are an ongoing issue. It’s very important to note that you can only add batteries and Solar panels at a later stage if you have invested in the right hybrid inverter from the outset – i.e. a hybrid inverter that can operate as grid-tie, as well as a hybrid with batteries and solar panels. Not all inverters offer this dual functionality so it’s essential to work with a renewable energy partner who is experienced in this field and understands and works with your long-term objectives.

3 Island Solution (Off-Grid Option)

Only batteries or energy storage solutions with generator, no grid connection, useful for areas where no grid exists, such as farms or remote areas where there is grid connection. But in metro’s we encourage clients to consider a phased or step-up approach from a hybrid to off-grid solutions. The energy produced will charge up the batteries which should allow for 3 – 5 days’ (autonomy) worth of energy needs and these batteries will feed the power requirements of the property. This is typically a more expensive solution because of the total reliance on battery storage.