Should you go 100% Solar?
Going completely solar seems like a fantastic idea. Now that you have decided to adopt solar, it is simple logic to end the dependency on the (annoying) power supply company (utility/discom) with the (awesome) self-generated Solar power. And your local Solar Installer is also all for this idea.
Solar has several advantages and probably by now you know them by heart. Solar technology is
– Long Life
The line of thinking described above wants to replace existing grid power with Solar. And this thought process is common amongst people looking to install Solar PV Systems at their home or worksite. The reasoning typically goes as follows–
My consumption is ‘x’ units per month so I need ‘y’ kW size of Solar System to fulfill that demand.
To this reason, anything smaller is not worth pursuing. The idea of having both Solar and grid power seems unpalatable. Having a grid connection along with solar, suddenly seems to take away all the benefits that Solar promises. We have encountered this very often in our meetings with people.
Now if you are living in a place with acute shortage of electricity, this may be a fair argument. However, in urban parts of Maharashtra where electricity supply is quite robust, going 100% solar can be overkill. It may actually reduce the overall benefits while also increasing the monetary outlay.
How may that be? Let us explain
Here is breakup of residential tariff structure for Mahadiscom (Maharashtra).
As can be seen the first 100 units of electricity are supplied at extremely cheap rate. The next 200 units are fairly competitive. Any consumption above this amount is expensive. So it makes economic sense to draw the initial few 100 units from utility supply, and offset remaining using Solar power.
The inverter technology has sufficiently advanced to enable grid and solar power to work together in cohesion. Typically, power generated via solar will be used as priority. Grid power kicks in as the demand increases beyond the solar generation. This gives you the option to replace only those units that fall under the expensive tariff slab. And this way you also maximize the benefits of using solar power.
Therefore, it should be assessed whether adding those extra panels and increasing the system size are worth it from economic standpoint.
Expensive Real Estate
Space is at a premium in urban areas. It makes sense to optimize the usage of available roof-top or ground area for installation of Solar Panels. Hence over design of system is usually not beneficial to the customer.
You may have limited space and hence cannot generate sufficient power to match your consumption. Should that stop you from going ahead with Solar Installation? As explained above, using Solar to replace ‘high tariff’ units only increases the value addition it brings.
Any saving directly affects the bottom line. The decision to install a solar plant should be made based on proper cost-benefit assessment. The fact that Solar power does not meet the complete requirements should not be perceived as a deal breaker.
Through this series we intend to create awareness and help people make right decision in adopting solar. Do let us know of your thoughts by commenting below.