Everyone is going solar. Some want to use renewable energy, others want green energy, some want to save the planet, others want to cut carbon emissions, and some simply think it is cool. If you want to join the bandwagon, I will tell you why you should, and why you should not, depending on your needs.
First, there are some very good news about solar energy (In this case, we are talking about Solar Photovoltaic, which involves converting solar energy to electrical energy. There are many other uses, such as solar water heater).
- The cost of solar power has gone down, and is on the downward trend. This means that it will keep getting cheaper in the future. Good news.
- The cost of storage is also going down, and storage technology keeps getting better. This is important because any meaningful solar installation requires storage. You can guess why; the sun never shows up at night, and solar panels convert solar (sun’s) energy into electrical energy.
- You can now seamlessly switch between mains ac and solar power, meaning that you use solar power when it is available, and switch to mains electricity when necessary.
Who can use solar power?
Solar power is freely available, as long as you can see the sun. This means that if you have a roof, or some grounds available, you can mount solar panel. Any house owner or property owner can install solar panels, but if you are in a rented apartment things may not work good for you, unless if you are a friend to your landlord, or you are influential 😊.
Solar power can be used nearly in every part in Africa, as the sun is a friend to Africa. The Sunshine duration in Nairobi is 6.8 hours in Nairobi, 9.4 hours in Cairo, and 8.4 in Cape Town. In Kenya, the average sunshine duration is 6.9 hours, which means that we have the sun shining almost all throughout the year, with peaks in January. In short, everyone can board!
You need to have your priorities right. If your side hustle is welding steel gates in your house, or running a posho mill, you are not eligible. To put it more accurately, you can consider solar, but your investment will be in millions. Here we are addressing domestic consumers.
If your monthly power consumption is 55 units of electrical power, your electricity bill would be approximately KES 833 in Kenya, or KES 10,000 per year. This could be the following devices running in the house:
- 100 Watt fridge running full-time
- 30 Watt TV running for 4 hours per day
- Two 10 W bulbs running for six hours per day
- A laptop running for three hours per day
- Three 15 Watt bulbs running for 4 hours per day
For the above, you would need to have at least a battery capacity of 230 Ah, a solar panel of 262 Watts, and an Inverter of about 300 Watts. This would cost about 75000, exclusive of installation costs. This means that it would take you about 10 years to recover your investment. Solar panels have a long usage life, up to 30 years, while for the battery, you might need to replace it at most every 7 years.
Solar Water Heater
I would want to mention a few things about solar waters heaters because they have one of the easiest application. One of the huge costs in small households is heating water, and adopting one can help reduce your electricity consumption significantly. Read about Solar water heaters in this article.