Netshield can assist in working out a customised solution according to your specific needs at a small fee, recommending equipment that will give you an optimum solution that satisfies your electricity generation requirements.
With constant load shedding, insufficient power supply and never ending price increases for electricity in South Africa, more and more people are considering to move their businesses or/and homes partially or permanently off the utility grid or decreasing their dependency on utility power.
Is it for me?
While renewable energy is a well-discussed topic, it is still a fairly unknown phenomenon in South Africa, and the actual idea of making a move can be quite daunting. “Where does one start? How much will it cost?” are some of the questions that come to mind.
As needs differ from one person to another there is no one-solution-for-all that can be offered. Ultimately if what you select is not tailored to suit the specific requirements, you may well end up purchasing the wrong equipment, or even sub standard equipment, both which would have to be replaced to successfully complete the installation of the systems. Costing you more than what it was ultimately intended to save you!
Where do I start?
So what can you do? Involve the experts right from the get go. Involving experts or experienced consultants during your planning process will help reduce your risks of selecting the wrong equipment, as well as ensure you have a proper and adequate needs analysis of your environment that covers costs and specifications, right from purchase to installation.
While the technology exists to make the change to a different / alternate energy source, the real onus lies on your shoulders to make the switch. As much as it is about switching to new systems, it also entails you changing your mind-set to one that advocates more effective power usage. This can kick off with simple things such as fitting energy saving globes or LED based lighting, switching off lights when not needed, taking into consideration the relevant wattage rating of devices when purchasing appliances, all of these will make a difference to your electricity bill.
What are my options?
You may be one of those people who are considering dipping your toes in the water as a start and going partially off the grid, which is the preferred option when retrofitting existing infrastructure, in order to save money in the long run. However you may be one of a handful of people looking to go off the grid permanently in order to be in full control of their power supply.
1. Grid tied system (Best for retrofitting on existing installations)
A grid tied system is a solution that is designed to feed power to your environment from both the renewable sources you have in place as well as the Power Utility power grid. It consists of solar panels and a control unit that ties into the utility grid, here the number of panels you have in place that are able to draw power from the sun, determine decreased wattage use reflected on your electricity bills.
While this is a great way to save money and lower electricity bills it will fluctuate as the climate changes through the seasons in South Africa. So as an example in certain areas of South Africa January is a very cloudy and rainy month, compared to April, which is sunnier. A real benefit if that these systems can be fitted with less expensive smaller battery subsystems to enable the use of critical services during a power blackout, these critical services could include lighting and power to a television set but would definitely exclude stoves, geysers, electrical stoves and other high power devices.
Where is the benefit?
The downside to systems without a battery subsystem is that there is no increase in the reliability of your electrical feed. It does however reverse the metering process, decreasing your electrical bill by the amount of energy that is fed back onto the utility grid. This ultimately reduces the cost of ownership as the energy storage system or battery as it remains one of the most costly components and most maintenance intensive components of any renewable energy installation.
The greatest advantage of a grid tied system is the reduced cost of ownership!
However remember that when considering how many solar panels to buy, factors such as angle, space, strength and position of the roof should be taken in consideration as this might affect the energy output. It is also wise to try and calculate wattage usage during the day in order to not buy unnecessary panels.
2. Stand Alone Systems (best for new and remote installation)
This system has no access to the utility grid and has the advantage that the initial investment is partly covered by the cost that would have been needed to extend power line infrastructure to the point of installation.
This is true “off the grid” living and these systems increase the sense of pride of being self-sufficient, and not bound to a utility, which for some people is worth more than just saving money.
If a sufficient area is available a “solar room” complete with batteries, inverters, remote management systems, solar tracker and panels can be erected to ensure that a customised solution can be completely self-sufficient, can then be built. Here, a solar array, developed and designed by Netshield, is mounted on a motorised carriage that follows the sun during the day and then turns back east during the night. This type of system will ensure you can take advantage of over 40% more absorption and power output. This coupled with a Netshield management system, will provide information such as how much electricity is generated and how much is used, and can be accessed at all times.
3. Hybrid System (best of both worlds – recommended)
Hybrid systems really do offer the best of both worlds as they not only increase your independence but also increase power reliability, as the systems in place feed from, and feed to, multiple sources and loads.
A hybrid system is based on a “Grid Tied” solution with a battery bank (small or large depending on your installation requirements) and includes sources like backup diesel or compressed air driven electrical generators. This allows you to store sufficient energy, decreasing utility dependency and increasing reliability through back generation.
Remember! Large storage batteries are very expensive and need to be housed in a well-ventilated temperature controlled environment. With this type of hybrid environment, the advantages are that if the weather is not sunny enough to supply your needs / demand, electricity will still be available from the grid or other sources. This could be a less expensive and more reliable solution than a complete stand alone one.
In this case it would be like driving a hybrid car, very economical on running costs but could ultimately be pricy on the initial financial layout. The hybrid system is definitely the preferred route as this maximises flexibly and reliability and decreases your grid dependency to virtually nothing.
EDGE [ED]tv Video on Netshield Renewable Energy Solution