Why you need solar elecrticity

With incessant increase in fuel price and the maintenance cost of generating set which has become part of the necessary expenses to be provided for in the monthly budget for those who can afford it, those whose earnings cannot yet accomodate the purchase of one continue to live in the dream of a better performance from the nation’s electricity providers, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

In actual fact, the unpredictable supply of electricity has become the order of the day in the country and has sacked many booming investments .

But many entrepreneurs have observed that the seemingly unfavourable situation provides an opportunity for Nigerians to think of the alternative way of generating power and, of course, making profitable investment of that. One of those that have taken up the challenge is Mr. Adeyemi Asaleye, a graduate, who had decided to take the bull by the horn instead of waiting for the government white-collar job.

So, he set up the Ashdam Solar Company Limited in 2004 to provide alternative power generation for Nigerians. It is not just a matter of setting up a firm, the emphasis from Asaleye is that there are, indeed, enormous potentials for those who can begin the business.

The opportunities
“Renewable energy offers a path to sustainable socio-economic development of any country. Nigeria, like several African countries, has an abundance of solar energy resources that can be exploited in indirect (hydroelectric power, wind power, biofuel, biomass) and direct (crop drying, water heating, distillation, solar cooking, refrigeration and air conditioning, thermal power generation and solar electricity production using photovoltaic converters) forms,” Asaleye stated.

The first opportunity is that the main raw material, the sun, is readlity available and cost-free. According to Banji Olumide of Banjay Company Limted, the time had come for Nigerians to maximise the solar power. “With the approximate of 120,000 TW at which the solar energy reaches the earth, it is surprising that only about one per cent of this is presently being tapped to produce the 145 GW current global capacity,” Olumide added.

How it works
According to Asaleye, the solar energy is a method of capturing and storing energy from the sun for use in various applications desired by man. The energy, he stated, are captured during the day and stored for use at any time.

On the various applications where the solar PV system could be useful, he said it was useful in hospitals, where it can be used to protect laboratory instruments, heart pumps, ventilators\respirators and other power-sensitive equipment such as vaccine refrigerators, sterilizers in hospitals, water purification system, excimer laser, perfusion applications, as well as for use in lighting of hospitals wards, offices, operating room, labour wards , among others.

Asaleye also stated “solar PV system applications can also be found useful in cyber cafes, where it can be used to power the computers, printers, fax machines, telephones, scanners, electric fans, photocopiers and the air conditioning systems. The solar thermal system applications are also useful in the area of cooling.

Not only that, the business centres and offices can also make use of the solar PV applications where they can be used to power laptops or desktop computers, scanners, photocopiers, printers, telephones, television sets, refrigerators, internet access gadgets, electric projectors, air conditioning systems, and others.

Educational institutions can also take advantage of the solar PV applications to power the lecture rooms, laboratories, student hostels, staff quarters, etc. And, of course, it is very useful in the residential homes, where it can be used to power all electric appliances such as fans, air conditioners, refrigerators, television sets, radio sets, computers, telephones and fax machines.

Advantages of Solar PV system over Nartional Grid system\Generating set
For Olumide, there are no basis for comparing the benefits to be derived from switching to solar-powered energy with the national grid. He said he believed that the former has numerous edges over the latter such that it would amount to a waste of time if one is to start comparing them. For instance, he listed reliability and convenience, efficiency and long term cheapness as some of the advantages that are inherent in using solar energy.

Mr. Adeola Stephens, an engineer with interest in solar energy, said “People should think of the solar energy as a long-term investment and not a purchase. While it is a long term investment, you won’t have to use as much electricity from the national grid and with rising energy costs, the cost of solar energy will always remain free.

Also, because the cost of these systems is always falling, you can have an idea of where you would be in the next few years.” Asaleye said,”As global demand for energy grows and the supplies of the fossil fuels used to generate much of it shrink, the cost of energy is increasing worldwide.

A growing proportion of total energy generated globally is shifting to renewable energy forms. Photovoltaic solar enjoys growing deployment for electricity generation, due in part to the economic benefits associated with it.

“Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Energy allows users to generate their own electricity and thus, approach energy independence. Installing a PV Solar System is an investment that can increase the property values of homes and businesses alike. A photovoltaic solar electric system increases home value by N30,000,000 for each N150,000 in annual reduced operating costs, according to Ashdam Solar Research Department.”

He then went on to give the analysis: “ For energy supply from the national grid, and the generating set, a typical cost for a typical three-bedroom flat could be: Electricity bill per kWh, N4.00; cost for a litre of petrol, N65.00; Cost for 2.5kVA generator set, N30,000.00; cost of maintenance on generator set (3 months interval), N1,000.00; the electricity bill per year, N31,480.00; 10 litres of petrol per day, N650.00.

Total cost for electricity from national grid system and generator set over a year is N320,980. For 20 years, it will be N285,663.20 x 20 i.e N6,419,600.00. The cost excludes wiring cost, installation cost, logistics and inconvenience in looking for fuel around town.

We also have to note that Inflation is affecting fuel price so it increases every time, but the cost of solar PV system is decreasing with time and fuel may not be available when needed. For solar energy, the total cost for the materials is N1,600,000.00, installation charges is N200,000, therefore, the total amount for the project is N1,800,000.00.

Hence, the economic benefits of solar PV system, Back – Up System and hybrid system are as follows:
•Solar PV System saves 100 per cent of electricity generation bills than PHCN or generating sets over 20 years.

•Hybrid system saves 85 per cent of electricity generation bills than PHCN or generating sets over 20 years.

•Back-up system saves 50 per cent of electricity generation bills than PHCN or generating sets over 20 year.

Disadvantages of using solar energy
Asaleye, whose company has won international awards for its numerous projects in the area of solar energy stated “there are no disadvantages at all in using the solar power, except for the initial cost of investment.

People are scared of switching to solar energy to power their homes and offices because of the high initial cost, but the costs are completely offset in the long run as we have shown above. So, people should embrace the initiative.”

Both Asaleye and Stephens said that the governments (at both the federal and state levels) needed to adopt renewable energy programmes that employ various financial incentives such as Feed-In Tariff (The price that a utility company must pay for private generation of electricity).

They argue that many nations of the world were already moving ahead in the area of power generation because the government encourages those who have taken the challenge of researching into solar energy and providing it for the populace. Asaleye also listed incentives on net metering and tax credits as areas where the govenment can encourage its usage.

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