How can Solar help ARRA members?
Most homeowners living in the ARRA region are in the very fortunate position that we do not have much Loadshedding. So why should we even consider installing Solar systems in our area?
For one, the Price of Electricity has been rising exponentially, contrasted to decreasing price of Solar systems becoming cheaper by the year. We have now surpassed the breakeven point where it is cheaper for a household to generate its own power at a rate considerably cheaper than what we are buying from Tshwane.
One in in every 3 houses in Australia already has a Solar System, with that figure expected to breach 50% within the next 12 months.
So what type of systems are worthwhile installing in the ARRA area seeing as we do not have power outages compared to many other areas in the greater Tshwane?
The cheapest option giving by far best return on Capital is to start by adding or connecting a simple Retro-Fit Solar Heat Collector to your existing geyser. How the system works is that the water gets heated by the sun in the heat collector which then gets circulated through the geyser by means of a tiny 12 Volt pump. This small pump gets its energy from either a timer (GeyserWise is a household brand), or by using a small 18W PV solar panel which generates the energy needed to drive the pump whenever the sun shines.
2 types of Heat Collectors are available: a Flat Panel or the Vacuum Glass Tubes (more expensive, but with a slightly better heat collection ability).
The cost of such a system ranges from R10 000 to R15 000 for a 200l geyser.
How long would it take to recoup the costs of your capital outlay?
Using a simple “rule-of-thumb”, the energy needed to heat a geyser from 25C to +- 60C would be +- 10kW (every time you heat your Geyser). This equates to +- R30 per day or a whopping R900pm!! This is assuming you heat your geyser only once per day. In our family of five this figure goes up closer to 20kW per day – showering only – teenagers enjoy long showers!!
Considering overcast or hazy days, one can expect a return of 42%-48% on the initial investment. No investment will ever give you a Guaranteed AND Tax-Free Inflation linked return which can come even close to such a return!
Another approach would be to view your geyser as being a “big battery”. The sun heats the water in Heat Collector, which gets stored in the 200l Geyser – 10kw of energy per 200l. It becomes cheaper adding more Solar Geysers to one’s house than installing the current expensive batteries.
From a Makro perspective, if only 100 houses were to install Solar Heat collectors, the Generation AND Storage of Energy would amount to 1000kW or 1 Mega Watt PER DAY!! Multiply this on a larger magnitude and Eskom will not know what to do with all their energy!
The second type of Solar Panel, referred to as Photo Voltaic or PV Solar System, are the actual Generators of electricity, which through a Larger String Inverter or a Micro Inverter gets converted to 220V (vs. the heat collector which heats water)
The advantage of the Micro Inverter is the simplicity of being “almost a DIY project”: put 3 to 4 PV Solar panels on the roof, plug them into the Micro Inverter which in turn plugs into “even a wall socket” – and voila, you are generating 1500W of Electricity per Micro Inverter (when the sun shines)!!
Everybody is talking about “going off the grid” i.e., not depending on Eskom power AT ALL and being completely self-sufficient.
In our ARRA area where power outages are rare, going totally “Off-Grid” is, an unnecessary waste of resources (with the current costly battery prices needed to store the energy generated during the day).
Currently it is considerably cheaper installing a Grid-Tied System without batteries. Having a Grid-Tied PV Solar system, you first use your OWN Solar Generated power during the day, and use Tshwane power to “Top-Up” any shortfall when the solar panels are not able to supply enough power, e.g. overcast days when the Geyser needs to be heated or power hungry items which consume more power than your Solar Panels are able to generate e.g. stove, vacuum cleaner, dishwasher etc.
For the 4-6 hours of energy needed at night it is more cost effective to use Municipal power (small scale Storage of Energy is still too expensive to warrant the financial outlay, what with the amount of energy needed at night, half of which most people are asleep).
Some estates in Tshwane have gone as far as allowing households in their estates to send their Excess power BACK INTO the Grid and get compensated at a Feed-in Tarif (slightly lower than the purchase price of electricity). This serves a double purpose, taking a large strain off the Grid in these estates (less “tripping” of switches).
In our ARRA area we are ideally suited to in fact help Tshwane lower their Grid Load during the day with any excess PV Solar power households produce due to our area loadshedding schedule being “on-line” most of the time.
The return on Investment for a typical PV Solar system (without batteries) is 18%-24%, a very attractive return by anybody’s standard. We so often tend to forget that our Electricity purchases are being made with AFTER TAX Income. Remember, the saving you make is not only Tax Free, but is also guaranteed (when the sun shines!!) We now need to encourage our Ward Councilor to put pressure on the Municipality to allow us to “FEED INTO the GRID”, even if we only get small credit for our energy “feed-in”– it can only be a win-win to lower the strain on the Grid and Energy Infrastructure, with all the PowerStation “breakdowns”.
We are also on the cusp of a future in which Electric Cars will become more mainstream, with the ideal times to charge their batteries with excess Solar PV power. You can even run your house off your car battery, the so called Vehicle to Home or V2H, making the Vehicle “ a big battery on wheels” so to speak.
First however, start with the low hanging fruits – adding a Retro-Fit Solar Heat Collector to your Geyser/s and save a fortune environmentally “doing our little bit for the Planet” (and helping Tshwane and ESKOM!?).