Solar photovoltaic (PV) power is a renewable energy source that converts solar radiation into electricity. Such a system typically consists of an array of solar modules, an inverter, a mounting structure, as well as a monitoring system. Grid-tie technology enables the system to feed surplus energy into the grid, thus eliminating the need for batteries and reducing the cost of the system. Given the extensive lifetime of such a system and the favourable return on investment, a solar PV system is a great way to offset a portion of your facility’s energy consumption.
Some of the benefits of utilising solar PV can be summarised as follows:
- Significant energy cost savings and financial gain
- Sustainable source of energy
- Aesthetically pleasing
- More than 25-year lifetime
- Environmentally friendly
- Green image can lead to improved competitive advantage
- Quick and easy installation
- Minimal maintenance and operating costs
Eskom is currently running a programme by which larger PV systems are subsidised under the Standard Offer Programme (SOP) funding mechanism. Should the project be registered as a SOP project, the payback period of the project would be reduced significantly. This rebate is, however, subject to ESKOM approval and only valid for a limited period, since it is a pilot programme under the IDM program.
Base Load Constraint
The base load of a facility is the minimum demand for continuous electricity. As a first phase, it is essential that the base load of the facility is not exceeded so as to minimise the amount of excess electricity being fed back into the grid. This way, the system’s payback period is optimised since no credit is given for surplus power, although feed-in tariffs have been published.