The Potential of Hybrid Solar Systems for Residential and Business Use
Due to the evergrowing cost of commercial electricity and repeated failures of Eskom’s ailing infrastructure, hybrid solar systems have gained popularity. Nevertheless, even if electricity tariffs were more affordable, the world cannot continue to depend on energy from the combustion of fossil fuels without severe and perhaps irreversible consequences.
South Africa leads Egypt and Algeria in the trio of Africa’s highest carbon emitters with a massive 435,9 million tonnes annually. The two biggest culprits are Eskom and the state-owned producer of petrol and diesel from coal, Sasol. Installing hybrid solar systems is currently the most effective way for homeowners and businesses to help limit the flow of poisonous gases into the Earth’s atmosphere.
Other eco-friendly alternatives to solar systems include wind farms, hydroelectric schemes, nuclear power plants and geothermal energy. However, the current contribution by the former is almost negligible compared to the country’s needs, and hydroelectric power is only feasible in elevated regions with a sufficiently large river. Tapping underground energy sources in South Africa is promising but still under investigation. Nuclear power stations are expensive and can take ten years or more to build.
How Hybrid Solar Systems Work
While some solar systems leverage the infrared rays from the sun to heat water for various uses, photovoltaic (PV) panels are more versatile. They can be used to provide lighting, heating, and power for domestic appliances in the home or computers and other office equipment essential for many businesses. PV solar panels can get hot when exposed to the sun’s rays, but it’s the energy in the sun’s light that is responsible for the photovoltaic effect first observed by Edmond Becquerel in 1839.
The first practical application of this effect followed in 1883, sparking a quest for increasingly efficient options. The modern PV solar panels used in all photovoltaic systems employ semiconductors that release an electron when struck by a photon, a quantum of light energy. The flow of electrons produces a direct current, which can be stored in batteries and converted to AC by compatible inverters before use.
Alternatives to Hybrid Solar Systems
While a hybrid installation is invariably the best choice for home and business use, other options exist. The cheapest of these is:
- The grid-tie system: This option is significantly cheaper than the alternatives because it has fewer components. However, this feature can also make this attempt to minimise capital investment a false economy. Many homes and businesses now have an emergency generator to counter the effects of brownouts and load shedding. Although grid-tie systems may seem more practical, they have no battery storage facility when the mains power fails, so they will cease to work.
- Off-grid systems: If you live or operate a small business in one of the country’s more remote regions, beyond the reach of Eskom’s power reticulation grid, off-grid systems are the only way to leverage solar power. On the plus side, you will have a completely free energy source. However, an off-grid installation will cost you more, and you may still need a generator during the darker winter days.
The Benefits of Hybrid Solar Systems
Although the most expensive option, it is also the most cost-effective. It combines the elements of grid-tie systems with those of off-grid installations by using hybrid inverters to enable DC to AC conversion and battery storage and the following benefits:
- Power whenever you need it
- Significant savings on electricity bills
- The option to sell excess power to local councils or Eskom under a power purchase agreement
- Protection of your family’s future with a more sustainable energy solution
Installing Hybrid Solar Systems
SolarSkye is a leading supplier and certified installer and maintainer of PV solar panels, hybrid inverters and all components necessary to provide solar energy for commercial, industrial and domestic purposes. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to start your transition to economical, reliable, eco-friendly solar power.