Want to get started in Nigeria with renewable energy right away? Take the guesswork out of your decision by checking out our packaged systems.
Solaroid Energy and Services Nig. Ltd. Packaged Systems include the major components needed for a solar installation. Since each installation is unique, some parts or materials will need to be purchased separately to satisfy the needs of your specific project and local regulations.
You will find that people use solar energy all over the world for many reasons: some feel it is a contribution to improving the environment; some want to appear innovative and trendy; some are just techno geeks and think it is fun; some use it because it is financially attractive and affordable. In Nigeria, we use it because we need it.
First of all, lets discuss what todays commercially available renewable energy equipment can do and cant do. The equipment and systems discussed here generate electricity and are not used for heating water or air. Heating is done by solar thermal systems - here we are discussing solar and wind electric systems. Solar electric panels (also called photovoltaic modules) create electricity from light, not from heat.
So, if we are generating electricity, then can we power any electric device? Yes and no. Yes, technologically it is possible to power any load (that’s what we call any device that uses electricity), but there are some loads that are not economically feasible. For example, to power a house full of split-unit air conditioners in Lagos or Abuja with solar would require some capital either out of pocket or loan (unless you are using energy efficient Air Conditioners). As a point of reference, the cost of electricity would usually pay off for itself within three years when considering the cost of grid electricity and that of fueling PMS or Diesel generator within the country.
So, we will suggest buying solar as a replacement for utility power and fossil fuel generator is a worthy investment within the country.
However for those that cannot afford solar panels, buying a power back-up system (batteries and Inverter) is a very good solution for places where the power from utility grid is moderately reliable. These systems store grid electricity when the grid is working and then provide power to the loads when the grid fails. And these are very practical solutions for places where you can expect up to 12 hours of electricity per day.
Now, lets learn more about electricity. Electricity is the movement or flow of electrons creating an electrical current. AC electricity is alternating current and is the kind most frequently used it is the kind of electricity your utility or generator provides. AC electrons change polarity (alternate forward and backward) many times every second. These magnetically charged electrons are seeking to mate up with electrons of an opposite polarity to neutralize their charge. Well sort of to be honest, electricity is a phenomenon that no one truly understands.Most African countries, like European countries, use 50 Hz electricity (usually at 220-240 volts) meaning these electrons alternate 50 times per second. AC electricity cannot be stored in a battery it must be used when created.
The kind found in your car battery, in static discharges, and in lightning. DC electrons move in one direction from positive to negative, and can be stored in batteries. Solar modules produce DC electricity. Solar modules produce electricity through the photovoltaic effect (PV) that causes a flow of electrons within the silica sealed inside the module. The electrons are excited by particles of light striking the silica and travel through the electrical circuits attached to the face of the silica cells in order to reach an opposite charge and neutralize themselves. This flow of electrons from positive to negative is, by definition, electricity.
Solar panels produce DC electricity, and in most cases we store the power in a battery, and then draw it back out either to DC appliances, or through an inverter that will convert it to AC power. The battery, therefore, becomes the heart of the system. The only times your renewable energy systems won’t use batteries is if they are directly powering a DC device like a solar water pump that works only while the sun shines.
The building blocks of an electrical vocabulary are voltage, amperage, resistance, watts and watt-hours. Electricity can simply be thought of as the flow of electrons (amperage) through a copper wire under electrical pressure (voltage) and is analogous to the flow of water through a pipe. If we think of copper wire in an electrical circuit as the pipe, then voltage is equivalent to pressure and amperage is equivalent to flow rate. To continue with our electricity to water analogy, battery stores energy much as a water tank stores water. Although a 12 volt battery is not physically shaped like a water tower, it has most of its stored electricity available between 12 volts to 12.7 volts. When drained below 12 volts, little amperage remains and the battery voltage will decrease rapidly.
In a simple system, a power source like a solar module provides the voltage which pushes the amperage through a conductor (wire) and on through a load that offers resistance to the current flow which in turn consumes power (watts). Power is measured in watts and is the product of voltage multiplied by amperage. Energy is power (watts) used over a given time frame (hours) and is measured in watt-hours or kilowatt- hours (1 kilowatt-hour equals 1000 watt-hours). For example, a 100 watt light left on for 10 hours each night will consume 1000 watt-hours or 1 kilowatt-hour of energy. A kilowatt-hour is the unit of energy measurement that the utility company bills you for each month. Electrical appliances are rated in terms of how many watts (or amps) they draw when turned on. To determine how much energy a particular appliance uses each day, you need to multiply the wattage by the number of hours used each day.
Now that you know the formula for power (watts = volts x amps), be sure to remember that different voltages (i.e. 12, 24, 48) do not necessarily mean any change in total power. For example, 6 amps at 12 volts is the same amount of power as 3 amps at 24 volts or 1.5 amps at 48 volts. It is still 72 watts. A watt is a watt. For our purposes, changes in operating voltages do not change overall power. A 24 volt battery bank of 300 amp hours is equivalent to a 12 volt battery bank of 600 amp hours.