Solar panels or generator that is the question!!!
We dedicate this article to make a solar panels vs generator comparison. We will see a comparative table that clarifies this dilemma, which is more convenient if installing solar panels or a fuel electric generator.
There are many myths about solar energy, one of them is that it is expensive. Here we will see with real values that this myth is incorrect.
Often, in some isolated areas where there is no access to the electricity grid, generator sets are used.
These equipments come in different powers and there is a great variety of qualities and useful life. Compared to a photovoltaic solar installation, the initial investment is relatively low, however it is necessary to feed it with fuel, which translates into an additional cost to take into account, including the cost of traveling to obtain it.
We will take a generation power of 6000 Watts or 6 kva and that electrical energy is required for 4 hours a day to make this comparison.
At similar power levels, the initial investment in the generator set is an average of $45,000 (although some reach and exceed $90,000) for this power, using only Naphtha as fuel.
For an equivalent solar PV installation, the average cost is $295,000.
By comparison, at first glance it looks like the genset is the hands-down winner, however let’s move on with our comparison.
The useful life of the solar panels is estimated between 25 and 30 years, although the most sensitive component to maintenance is the battery banks, which are estimated at 6 years in the case of the most popular Lead-Acid batteries.
So we will take 6 years as our maximum evaluation period.
In the case of the generator set, the highest cost is that of fuel, which in 6 years of 4 hours a day represents $993,384.- (Cons.: 2.7 liters/hour) taking into account a fixed value of $42 per liter at throughout that time and without counting the value of Oil and transfer.
In other words, the generator set option for 6 years gives us a total of $1,038,384.-
If we cross these data it will give us the following graph:
As we can see, in just 2 years, even without price variations, we recovered the investment.
If we also evaluate points such as: noise, maintenance, wear, price increase, environment, we see that the return on investment in solar energy is undoubtedly better than that of a generator set.
One more reason to choose electrical energy from solar panels
Photovoltaic + diesel generator = the best solution for isolated systems?
Recently, several European companies operating in the photovoltaic industry have presented solutions aimed at combining the operation of photovoltaic systems with diesel generators. This is the market response to the development of the photovoltaic sector towards off-grid systems, built to make their owners independent of power plants and rising grid energy prices.
One of the possibilities offered relatively recently by domestic photovoltaic system installers is to equip this type of system with domestic energy accumulators that store excess unused photovoltaic energy, which its owner can consume when the photovoltaic system is insufficient.
The home energy storage market has recently developed particularly dynamically in Germany, a country characterized by the highest energy prices, after Denmark, in Europe, where photovoltaics at home level have already reached grid parity, and even the production of energy with its use is already cheaper than the energy purchased by German households from energy operators. In addition, the German government supports the development of off-grid solar PV installations through the federal subsidy scheme.
Fronius has announced the presentation of a new solution that combines photovoltaic energy with an energy storage system at the upcoming Intersolar fair. As the German company has announced, its use will be the next step on the way to obtaining “24 hours of sunshine”. Fronius wants to present a new group of inverters called SnapINverters covering the power of photovoltaic systems from 1.5 to 20 kW, which will be developed to optimize the performance of photovoltaic systems combined with energy storage. Similar solutions have already been presented by other leading inverter manufacturers – German SMA or belonging to the ABB PowerOne group.
Another trend in the development of the PV market towards smaller off-grid PV systems may be the development of PV systems that cooperate with diesel generators, which will provide power to their owners during the period of lower solar power generation and allow them to become more independent of energy purchased from the grid.
The aforementioned Fronius is also starting to work on solutions that combine photovoltaics with diesel generators, which consists of presenting an intelligent energy management system called MicroGrids, which takes into account the cooperation of photovoltaic systems with diesel generators. This solution fits the trend of creating smaller stand-alone power systems with power produced and consumed in the same place.
For its part, the Vergnet Group company wants to present a solution called Hybrid Wizard for photovoltaic systems connected to diesel generators. The French company assures that it will be ideal for places with limited access to energy networks, where investors can become independent of energy access problems by investing in renewable energy sources with a “back-up” in the form of a diesel generator . The French announce that their solution -thanks to providing the user with real-time information on energy production- will allow the effects of the work of both sources to be maximized.
– Users of our product will benefit from lower fuel consumption, lower cost of energy production per kWh, resulting in a faster payback period, says David Sacottte of Vergnet Group.