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One of the most confusing things about solar energy is the mysterious link between the installed power and the actual energy output. To put it another way, if you put a 200-watt solar panel on your roof how many watt-hours of electricity would you produce in a day or throughout the whole year? It is very important to underss is location specific. The same 200-watt panel will produce very different amounts of energy if we install it in Seattle, WA and then take it down to Phoenix, AZ. But the real question is: what causes this difference and how can we set realistic expectations about our solar energy potential?

 A gentle introduction to solar radiation

Solar radiation, or insolation, is the “fuel” of all solar energy systems. The performance of solar photovoltaic systems which generate electricity and solar thermal systems which produce hot water all depend on the availability and intensity of solar radiation.

For all practical purposes, solar radiation at the top of the atmosphere can be considered a constant. However, the precise location of a site on Earth and atmospheric effects drastically change the level of radiation at the surface of Earth.

Now let’s have a quick look at the top five factors that affect your solar energy potential.

Average Solar Radaition Map of Nigeria 2011Energy utilization is a core attribute of humanity. With increasing population also comes an increase in the demand for energy. The IEA in its World Energy Outlook, projects about 83% increase in global energy demand in the next 20 years (IEA 2014a). Although countries naturally turn fossil fuels as part of their energy mix due to its plentiful and reliable nature the same report reveals that there would be significant increase in renewables.

Aside the fact that fossil fuels are exhaustible, their combustion also has immense adverse effect on the climate with (GHG) emissions, capable of bringing the world to an abrupt end.  Already, the cost of renewable energy is dropping across several countries, as at 2014, new wind power was cheaper than new coal and gas power in Australia, China and the United States (Sussams, et al 2015). Electricity from roof-top photovoltaic systems is also cheaper than grid supply in many countries and places across the world. (Chen 2014).

Being naturally replenishing resources, the place of renewable energy in the global energy mix is sacrosanct, and tireless effort is required in a bid to perhaps completely transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy.

 
 
Solar Community Solutions
 
Solar Energy has begun to play a pivotal role in transforming the lives of those across rural Nigeria. From providing essential lighting to essential services such as healthcare and education, to providing solutions for irrigation and clean water supply – solar is transforming the world’s rural development initiatives – and we at Simba Solar are working hard to expand these initiatives across rural Nigeria.
 

Whether it’s because of the huge savings in energy costs, or for environmental awareness  reasons, the fact is more and more people are flocking to solar energy as a  reliable source for their home needs. This has made solar panels incredibly  popular in recent years.

However, some may  not be aware of the need for solar systems maintenance. These panels are not  just ‘plug and forget‘, so you must plan for maintaining your solar panels. If  you have –or plan to have- this alternative energy system installed at home,  you may wonder, how to maintain your solar panels?

First of all, refer to your manufacturer’s manual for detailed instructions and warnings.  Never forget you will be working on electrical equipment, and safety becomes of  utmost importance. Some panels require being totally shut down and disconnected  from the grid before cleaning. Use safety boots, and if the panels are on a  roof, you will need to exercise extra caution, and maybe even use a restraint  strap, and anchor it.

sunrun solar installersSolar Panel Design and Installation Made Simple.                             

You’ve made your decision to go solar and you’re ready for installation. Welcome to the growing community of homeowners around the globe who care about energy savings and creating a healthier planet for future generations.The most important thing to remember: We do all the heavy lifting. And you are kept informed every step of the way.

Installing a solar panel can help boost your home’s value. While you may not immediately notice this benefit, you’ll get to know when you’re finally selling your home down the road. With solar gaining unrivaled popularity among homeowners, solar is a very great home improvement project that won’t only improve your home’s resale value, but also pay for itself in form of a lowered electricity bill.

Solar energy saves two kinds of green, your money and the environment. Even though, the initial investment could be far above the ground, the long term savings for the environment and your money could swiftly trump the initial fees. As prices of electricity continue to increase, going solar could significantly be the best option for saving on power bills. Longevity of panels, and general savings gives solar panel an edge over the traditional energy.

 

7  THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

1 . Maximize Your Solar Savings
Like other electronics, PV technology has evolved over the last five years.

There are large differences today in the capabilities of many of the system components. Inverters and panels on the roof, can have a huge impact on the amount of energy your system produces.

More power = more savings on your energy bill.

The inverter, which takes DC energy from the roof panels and converts it to AC, is the brain of the PV system.

A smarter, optimized inverter can be the key to generating more energy than with other systems. How does this work? In traditional systems, installers connect solar panels in ‘strings.’ Just like with Christmas tree lights, where one failed bulb knocks out the other bulbs, one underperforming solar panel will lower the performance of an entire string. With an optimized inverter, power optimizers connect to the solar panels to enable them to perform independently. This results in more energy for your home.

Know before you buy
Ensure that the system you buy is optimized and has the ability to harvest maximum power from each panel.

Ask your installer about options like cellular connectivity, consumption metering to track energy use, and battery integration to enhance your system. Plus, using a strong brand, like SolarEdge, could help future proof your investment. SolarEdge is an award-winning supplier to the global inverter industry. You might not have heard of SolarEdge, but the odds are, your installer has! As far as inverters go, you can’t go wrong by choosing one of the industry’s leaders.

technicansA successful inspection on a solar project starts with those involved being intimate with the entire process. Each inspection task needs to be planned and delegated to the correct person. It is quite difficult to find a professional engineer or high-level electrician who has installed thousands of modules or managed miles of PV wire. It is equally difficult to find an installer that calculates point loading studies. Trying to be all things to everyone is usually what leads us at PV Pros to find deficiencies during site inspections.

Even the best in the business make mistakes. February’s three-part podcast “The Effective Manager Value Chain: Fixing Deliverables” from Manager Tools made a great point that it is undoubtedly difficult to identify problems in the moment with employees, managers and more to worry about. Inspection work through a third party allows for complete attention to all the details.

Every inspection starts with a document review. The inspectors need to know the approved plans and specifications so they have a reference point for all determinations. Once the review process is complete, the lead technician can delegate tasks to team members. At PV Pros, we have our lead technician first look for workmanship and compliance with good industry practices. Start with high-level questions: Do field conditions reflect project plans? Is the site neat and orderly? Are replicable processes uniform across the site? This will quickly set the bar for what to expect deeper into the project.

parallel batteries
Lead-acid deep cycle batteries are often considered to be the "weak link" in renewable energy systems. However, today's renewable energy batteries are better than ever, and so are the devices that regulate and protect them. Battery failures are rarely the fault of the batteries themselves! Follow these guidelines to avoid the vast majority of all battery problems.

Size a battery bank and PV array properly
A battery bank should be sized (as a minimum) to a capacity of 5 days of load. Energy use in most home power systems increases over time, so consider sizing larger than that. Why? After 1 year of service, it is NOT advisable to enlarge a battery bank by adding new batteries to it, because batteries' voltage response changes with age. Stray currents flow, causing losses and failure to equalize. A PV array, if it is the primary energy source, should be sized to produce (on average) 30% more energy than the load requires. This compensates for battery losses and for less-than-average charging conditions. Luckily, a PV array can be expanded at any time.

systems analysis

The North American power grid has been described as the largest and most complex machine that has ever been devised by mankind. Like a drop of water rippling through a pond, a change in one part of the grid, can impact the entire system. The grid must instantaneously respond to any change in electricity loads such as the turning on or off a light bulb. Likewise the grid will respond to any variations in power injections into the system. It is in this realm that systems analysis is used to quantify not only grid impacts on time scales that range from fractions of a second to decades, but also implications for natural resource consumption, financial viability, economics, and the environment. Renewable power resources that have variable and intermittent production levels such as solar are particularly challenging to assess, especially as the penetration of these technologies comprise a significant percentage of supply-side resources.

Since each solar technology has a unique set of properties and attributes, technology impacts on energy, economics, and the environment are not all identical. For example, photovoltaic technologies generate different amounts of electricity based on efficiency levels under different sunlight conditions. Also, some concentrated solar technologies can store a limited amount of thermal energy that can be used to produce electricity after sunset, while other technologies only produce power when the sun is shining. As solar power production fluctuates over time, the grid will instantaneously have an equal but opposite reaction reducing the need for generation from other technologies, most of which are fired by fossil fuels. In general, this reduces depletable fossil-fuel consumption, air emissions, and water consumed by power plants.