Is Roof-Top Solar Generation Profitable?
Roof-top Solar Generation? IS IT WORTH IT?
I think you will agree with me when I say:
The solar PV systems are REALLY COSTLY and it TAKES FOREVER TO RETURN THE INVESTMENT!
OR…. is it worth installing?
Well, it turns out that you can check your return of your investment on your roof-top solar generation in a few simple steps.
This article is a comprehensive guide to understand how beneficial a solar pv system can be to you. Once you can really understand your profit, if you think it is worth installing, you can call an installer or if not, throw that idea out of your mind. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WASTE YOUR MONEY ON USELESS INVESTMENTS!
Before you start reading, I have to remind you that this article is for non-technical readers. This article will help any person who does not have the electrical engineering knowledge. If you are someone who is looking for technical jargon, this is not your cup of tea. I have given all the information in the simplest possible form for easy understanding. So start reading carefully. Do not miss anything!
Solar PV systems has become one of the hot topics in Sri Lanka nowadays. There are more than 200 solar companies in Sri Lanka at the moment. There is a lot of competition among them. I say, the competition is good for you. Here’s why…
The Competition between Solar Companies in Sri Lanka is Beneficial to You – 20% Reduction in Solar PV System Prices Compared to 2016 for Solar Generation
And also, recent tax reductions for renewables and waiving tax charges for solar panels have been the main reasons for the hype. Therefore, the cost of solar panels and inverters have been substantially reduced and a lot of people started importing Solar panels and inverters for their installations. The prices of the installations have also been reduced in the market to an affordable rate. As a result, a lot of people have installed solar PV systems on their roofs and a lot of people are there who are planning to invest on solar PV systems.
So before you install your solar PV system, it is better for you to ask them if they are satisfied with the installation. The best people to tell you about having a solar pv system on your roof is someone who has already installed it.
Unsatisfied customers? Learn From Their Failures Before You Go Ahead With Yours!!!
Its true that due to all the favorable conditions for solar these days, a lot of people have installed roof-top solar generation systems. But, considerable amount of people do not feel satisfied about their solar generation system. For this reason, I’ve researched on this in many places like facebook and other social media. Let me tell you what I found from these researches.
Solar Customers are Losing Faith in the Reputed Solar Companies in Sri Lanka
One of the main downsides of solar companies in Sri Lanka is that they forget about their customers after the solar installation. Some solar generation systems have failed immediately after installation. This may be due to not having the expertise. Solar company provides no aftersales services as well! And the worst part is they even sign an agreement for free aftersales services with solar customers. In turn, this situation has struck the solar market badly. Solar customers have lost faith in the solar companies in Sri Lanka.
these solar companies bring out a lot of marketing jargon and put them into your head. Technical details that you do not even understand. Because they need your sale!
You need to clear your head and ask these two questions from yourself before the solar installation.
- Do you really need a Solar PV system on your roof?
- Is it worth going for such an investment?
Among the people who have planned to install solar PV systems, a lot of people have failed to find answers to these “key” questions given above. To answer these questions you need to have the basic idea of what a solar PV system is and how can it generate electricity.
I have given you all the basic information that you need to know when you install your solar PV system right below. Go through each information carefully and cross check them with your scenario. Nothing in here is technical.
What is Solar Power? How does Solar Panels make Electricity for FREE?
The word “solar” means the sun. Basically, solar PV systems convert the energy from the sun to electrical energy that we can use in our day to day life (230V AC). Energy from the sun is mainly of two forms.
- Heat energy
- Light energy
From these two forms, light energy is used to produce electricity by solar panels. Not the heat energy. Therefore, the amount of light that is coming from the sun is very important in generating more electricity. A more technical term for this is “SOLAR IRRADIANCE“.
Usually the solar PV system is designed by considering this “irradiance” (amount of light) factor. Light is a type of energy form.. Right?
So when light energy hits the solar panels, the energy in light gets transferred into the solar cells found in solar panels. The energy that’s absorbed by solar cells has this amazing ability to convert this energy into electrical energy. In simple terms, it produces electrical current. Got it?
Now do you understand why solar energy is FREE? BECAUSE YOU DON’T PAY FOR SUNLIGHT!!!
What Limits Your Solar Generation?
Lets dive in a bit more deep.
Now you’ve got the basic idea on how Solar Power is made. But there are some other factors affecting the amount of generation. We know that the amount of sunlight received by the solar panels affect the amount of electricity. What limits the sunlight??
In designing the solar PV system to a roof, following factors are considered to be the limitations to get the maximum amount of light.
Path of the sun
- The sides of your roof can be facing either north-south, east-west or somewhere in between. If your roof is facing north and south, you can generate more units from your solar PV system. Else, the solar generation will be reduced a bit. This is explained further in the “Types of Roofs” section given below.
Inclination of the roof
- The more sunlight falling perpendicular to the solar panels, the more solar generation will the panels give you. When the roof is too inclined, it will lose light because of reflection on the solar panel surface. Inclination of the roof matters.
- When there are tall structures near the roof that covers the sunlight falling on to the solar panels, the solar generation reduces.
- The solar generation varies with climate. On cloudy climate, solar generation reduces since the clouds cover the sunlight falling straight onto the solar panels. The maximum solar generation can be expected on sunny days. On rainy days, the solar generation is a minimum.
The installer has to carry out a comprehensive site survey to determine the effect of the above given factors. Once the site survey is over, the solar company or your solar PV installer will give you a quotation. This quotation includes how much cost you will incur to so the solar installation.
I almost forgot! There is another very important factor you need to know when you try to estimate the amount of solar generation that your proposed solar PV system will give you. Like I stated above, type of roof also decides how much solar generation you will gain.
If Your Roof is Facing North and South, You Will Get 10% More Solar Generation Than a Roof Facing East and West
There are different types of roofs. Basically, we can divide them into two groups as,
- Flat roofs
- Roofs with a peak (roofs are inclined, can have one or more peaks)
In flat roofs (slabs), it is easy to orient the solar PV modules to get the maximum generation. A metal structure needs to be installed on the flat roof before installing solar panels. But it is different when it comes to roofs with peaks.
Roof Facing North and South
If the sides of the roof are facing north and south, the roof will receive sunlight throughout the day. Approximately, this type of roof will generate 110 units per kiloWatt per month on average.
This means a 3kWp (kWp means “kilo Watt peak“. The rate at which it generates energy at peak performance) system on average can give 330 units per month! -> (3 x 110)
Roof Facing East and West
If the sides of the roof are facing east and west, then one side of the roof will receive sunlight for a limited number of hours. The side facing east will receive sunlight only in the morning hours and the side facing west will receive sunlight only in the evening hours. For this kind of a situation, the solar generation is a little lower than a roof that’s facing north and south. This type of roof will generate 100 units per kiloWatt per month on average.
This means a 3kWp system can generate 300 units per month on this kind of a roof on average. -> (3 x 100)
Alright! Now you can get a rough idea of the solar generation that you can get from a proposed system. Lets now look at how we can really make our electricity bill zero using solar power.
Choosing The Right Installation Scheme is “KEY” If You Want to Profit from Solar Generation!
Up to now the deal was between you and your solar installation company (ex: Suntek Industrial Solutions). Now this is the part where SEA and CEB comes into play.
“Soorya Bala Sangramaya“ is a program launched by ministry of power and renewable energy in collaboration with Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority (SLSEA), Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and Lanka Electricity Company (Private) Limited (LECO). The main focus of this program is to promote roof-top solar generation in Sri Lanka. According to the program, the consumers are given three schemes to generate electricity on their roof-tops using solar panels.
- Solar generation is directly consumed by the house in the day time. Power from CEB line is used at night. The net usage is carried forward to the next
- Solar generation is directly consumed by the house in the day time. Power from CEB line is used at night. At the end of the month, CEB pays Rs.22 per unit of excess solar generation for 7 years. After 7 years, Rs.15 paid
- Solar generation is directly given to the CEB grid. At the end of the month, CEB pays Rs.22 per unit of excess solar generation for 7 years. After 7 years, Rs.15 paid per excess unit.
Choosing the right scheme a bit tricky. You have to think about how much you can generate from a solar PV system. You can check the information I gave you early to calculate that. Then you can check how much units are you going to use for your home consumption. To find this, check the electricity bill of past three months and get an average.
Finally, The Most Important Question. What is the Profit? What is your gain? Your Return for the Money You Invested on a Solar PV System! How Long Does it Take to Recover the Money Invested?
Now taking you back all the way to the top. I told you that It is really necessary to ask yourself the two questions,
- Do you really need a Solar PV system on your roof?
- Is it worth going for such an investment?
The answer for both of these questions is given in bullets points below.
Finally, all what you have to calculate is the amount you are spending and the amount you are getting back. In other words, you can decide whether you go for a solar PV system or NOT! Also you need to find out how quickly are you going to recover the invested money.
Just follow these simple steps…
- Find out the warranty period of the solar PV system.
- (Units generated from solar pv system per day – units consumed from CEB per day) <- DO THIS SIMPLE CALCULATION. Find the excess units generated. if you cannot remember how to estimate the units generated from solar PV system, refer the section above.
- Find the value of the excess units generated per month (excess units generated per day x Rs.22 x 30 days)
- Divide the your total investment on the solar PV system by the answer (value of excess solar generation per month).
- The answer is the number of month in which you will recover your investment. In more technical terms, we call it the Payback Period.
- Once you recover the money invested, all the income produced afterwards by the solar PV system will be your profit.
Then it will be easy for you to decide whether it’s worth spending your money on a solar PV system. Usually, I do not recommend you to install solar PV systems for electricity bills less than Rs.5000.00.
That’s it! Simple isn’t it?
Check out this insanely important article on solar loans that you can take from government banks and other private banks in the island. There I discuss the best solar loan option that you can go for. Here is the link… Check it out!
I hope this article cleared your doubts on solar PV installations. If you have any doubts feel free to comment them on the comments section at the bottom of the page. I will help you out!