PacB Group // What Are The Main Benefits of Industrial Solar Power?


What Are The Main Benefits of Industrial Solar Power?

Whenever a new technology is introduced, there is a period during which its inventors first investigate its possible practical applications before the first working products hit the consumer market. At this stage, the cost of acquisition is normally quite high, and the early adopters restricted to those with the biggest budgets. As the demand increases and the development cost are recovered, prices begin to fall to more affordable levels. This has been the case with photovoltaic panels, and it has led to a steady increase in the purchase of industrial solar panels by businesses in South Africa.

Despite the obvious benefits to the planet of a sustainable energy source, most of those CEOs who choose to embrace this technology are more likely to do so as a means to cut their company’s electricity bills. While this is certainly a valid motive, it is important to understand that, even at today’s prices, the overall cost of an industrial solar installation is still quite high, and certain steps may need to be taken if one is to ensure gaining the maximum return on investment.

Firstly, unlike a conventional power plant, which can produce power around the clock whenever it is required, a photovoltaic panel can only generate electricity while it is exposed to the sun’s rays. However, sunshine is an intermittent phenomenon and, in a climate such as ours, an installation will often generate more power than a business can consume. To benefit from that excess industrial solar energy, there are two main options. The first is to capture it with the help of storage batteries and to keep it in reserve to be used on those dull days when the demand for electricity could possibly exceed the supply. The second option is to change the work schedule by shifting peak load times, so that they coincide more closely with peak power production.

Although currently not available on a nationwide basis, there is, in fact, a third option open to users in some areas. Known as net metering, it offers the option to channel excess commercial and industrial solar energy back into the national network in exchange for cash or tariff reductions. It is a system widely used to incentivise the transition to renewable energy in many overseas countries, and it is expected that this will eventually become the standard practice in South Africa, and could eventually be extended to include domestic installations.

Until then, however, given that the price of large-scale storage batteries has fallen considerably while their capacity has been increasing in parallel, this is now a more affordable option and offers the means for all those who generate solar energy, whether for industrial, commercial, or domestic use, to improve the return on their investment.

That the energy from sunshine is essentially inexhaustible represents a powerful incentive for a wholesale transition to photovoltaic power. That said, the process of converting photons into a flow of electric current is, as yet, far from efficient. Typically, the panels located on suburban rooftops are capable of converting between 15% and 18% of the sun’s radiation into electricity while the high-end models used in industrial solar installations are only a little more efficient at around 21% to 23% conversion.

This, however, has not precluded the technology from being used to generate electricity commercially. In China, for example, huge arrays are now producing electricity commercially for much the same cost as a coal-fired power station. Locally, the CSIR claims that, in South Africa, a number of similar projects, undertaken by independent operators, together with wind farms, are already benefitting the country by billions of Rands a year.

PacB Group is a leading local supplier and installer of domestic, commercial, and industrial solar solutions with extensive knowledge and experience of this crucial new technology.

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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