PacB Group // Commercial Solar Panels Offer a Viable Power Option for Businesses


Commercial Solar Panels Offer a Viable Power Option for Businesses

While solar panels are a common sight in many South African suburbs, they are still less common in commercial circles. One of the main differences between the residential and the business consumer is, of course, the amount of power each tends to require. In practice, that which can be made available from the sun’s radiation is determined solely by the total surface area of the installation available to collect it.

A panel is made up of connected photovoltaic cells, each with a sandwich-like structure consisting of two different doped semiconductors. The upper layer, which faces the sun, is electron-rich, while the layer beneath it has an electron deficit. Photons striking the upper layer displace electrons, which are then conducted to the lower layer to create a flow of electric current. Because the output from each individual cell is relatively small, they are connected to form panels with a combined output.

Although most domestic users only seek some free power to help limit their monthly bills, commercial users of solar energy will generally require rather more and, for example, may need to maintain full power during a mains outage. By way of comparison, a house of around 185 square metres is likely to require an array of around 4 000 watts and, depending on the size of the particular panels used, this would work out at somewhere between 12 and 18 panels. Obviously, individual consumption will vary with the number of occupants and uses for electricity, so it is normal to base the number of panels needed on the average consumption during a typical year. A typical simplex dwelling should have more than enough roof space, but this may not be the case in some modern duplex homes and apartments.

Commercial solar installations must often be even larger, especially where they are required to maintain full power during a mains failure. By contrast, a 10 kW array will require a much larger area, and could consist of between 30 and 40 panels. An installation, such as this, could generate anything from 35 to 45 kW a day, although the precise figure will depend upon geographical location, the time of the year, and the orientation of the array relative to the sun’s path.

A commercial solar installation can be a particularly practical option for an office park. In this type of location, all of the tenants will be able to enjoy the benefits of a shared installation. Not only will this facility serve to increase the appeal of the venue, but it will also reduce its operating costs. The panels can be installed on the shared roof space, but may even be extended to some of the green areas, at ground level, if more generating capacity should be required.

In several parts of the world, including South Africa, together with wind farms, massive ground-level arrays have already begun to compete with coal-fired, gas turbine, hydroelectric, and nuclear power stations for the supply of electricity from solar energy on a commercial scale. In keeping with the need for more sustainable energy, on the local scene more than thirty, with capacities ranging from just 5 MW to 75 MW, are already operational and several more are planned. More modest installations have also proved invaluable to schools in remote areas that are not served by Eskom. Here, learners previously without electricity are now able to share in the benefits of urban pupils who have long enjoyed the use of electronic media.

The twin threats of limited fossil fuels and climate change continue to haunt us and, whether it is obtained from the wind, the waves, or the sun, the need for more sustainable power is becoming more urgent by the day. In the forefront of companies driving green power solutions in South Africa, PacB Group are experts in the field of domestic, industrial, and commercial solar energy.

Our qualified technicians offer support and advice in the selection of the right power solution for your needs by calculating your power requirements.

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