Shining a Light On Solar Energy
Solar energy is a renewable and sustainable source of power generated from the sun’s radiation. It’s harnessed using solar panels, which contain photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity. Here are some key points about solar energy:
Advantages of Solar Energy
Renewable: Solar energy is abundant and will continue to be available as long as the sun shines, making it a renewable energy source.
Environmentally Friendly: Solar power generation produces no greenhouse gas emissions, making it a clean and eco-friendly energy option.
Low Operating Costs: Once installed, solar panels have minimal maintenance and operational costs, resulting in long-term savings.
Versatile Applications: Solar energy can be used for various applications, including residential, commercial, and industrial power generation, as well as for heating and water purification.
Challenges faced by Solar energy users in Uganda
Solar is expensive: The cost of installing a home solar system is quite costly for example a 3 bedroom house costs between 5 – 10m Ugandan shillings. The professionals charge between 10% – 20% of the total cost.
Unprofessional service providers also make using solar in Uganda a pain. Some sell fake solar products while others install solar for users in a faulty way which makes power run out. Calculations must be done in terms of how much sunshine you’re likely to receive daily. If these calculations are done, you will always have power. If someone doesn’t do the right sizing then you’re likely to run out of power especially during the rainy season.
How do you maintain solar energy?
What kind of system did you get? What are the components, the more genuine, the easier the maintenance.
Clean The solar panel regularly. The solar panel which generates electricity has to be cleaned regularly. If the panel isn’t clean, the capacity to generate electricity is reduced. Use a soft damp cloth, a soft brush to clean the panel. Hard clean materials damage the panel.
How do I know that my battery is due replacement? The manufacturer let’s you know the life span of the battery so you know when to replace it. Some batteries need replacement after a month, 2 years, 6 years or more than ten years. The more durable, the more expensive.
How you use the system determines it’s durability. What you put up the system for is what you should use it for, don’t put extras for example if your system was put up for phone charging, lights, Television and radio, don’t add a fridge to it, you’re spoiling it.
COMPARING ELECTRIC ENERGY TO SOLAR ENERGY
Cheaper to install. Electricity is cheaper in such a way that the user pays a utility company like UMEME in Uganda to do the installations while for solar, the user has to purchase the panels and also handle the installation costs.
Accessible. Electricity is more accessible than solar energy in Uganda. This can be measured by looking at homes in Uganda, if you find 20 homes in Kampala, chances are high that all the 20 homes will be using hydro electric power.
No maintainence cost. Maintaining hydro electricity in Uganda is totally on the head of the service providers. For instance, if an electric pole falls, it’s the duty of the utility company to fix the problem at no extra cost for the users. In contrast, the solar energy user is in charge of maintaining all the equipment, whatever goes wrong is on their head. You’re in control with solar but there’s a cost to it.
Author: Claire Ochola
Contributions from: Mr. Alvin Araka, an energy efficiency expert.