That’s not true, but it is a common statement today. The world is talking about renewable energy and for most people, solar comes to mind. If you want to join the bandwagon, perhaps you need to figure out if it is suitable for you. Here are some of the reasons why people are opting for solar energy.
Some people are looking for a cleaner source of energy that is good for the environment. This is a major motivation for many people who are keen on sustainability.
Others are looking for a cheaper source of power. They turn to solar to help lower their utility bills.
Some are looking for independence and a form of power they have more control over. The utilities may not offer the level of reliability that they need.
In areas not served by power utilities, people have no other option. They turn to solar.
Still, others want solar energy because it is cool. They want to throw the lines like ‘since I went off the grid…’ or share photos of their impressive installations. For these, solar is and will remain cool in an Instagramable world.
When it is time to go green, solar power becomes a favorite source of energy. Many people and institutions continue to adopt this source of energy that is essentially free and available in many places especially along the equator.
But it comes at a cost. There are two matters of concern as far as solar energy is concerned:
A major challenge with wind and solar is that they demand for a spinning reserve in order to compensate for the unpredictable nature of these energy sources. If you have 300 MW, you need to set aside a reliable 100 MW on standby, and this often comes from hydro. The problem with this is that hydro is a very cheap source of power and it is better if we are using it at full capacity. This is something that increases the general cost of electricity.
The alternative could be something different, but dirty, such as coal. As a country increases the use of solar and wind energy, the more it will require to have a different source of power on standby.
The process of manufacturing solar panels is not very clean. On the other hand, the panels do not last forever, and need to be disposed.
There are many places without a definite recycling plans for these panels, and soon we might see a lot of waste starting to pile up. Recycling is not easy, and is not cheap. Manufacturers have to be compelled to recycle, and this would be after a long time of use – 20 years or so. This makes the whole process difficult especially in Africa where the solar panels are imported.
While there are such challenges, the future of solar still looks bright. The technology is improving at a very fast speed and some of the current challenges will be solved with time. The future of solar is still bright.
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).
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.
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
Who can use solar
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.