Commercial Solar Systems

All You Need to Know

Energy is a major recurring cost of running every business. With the cost of energy continuously increasing, businesses need to implement energy efficiency measures, as well as explore alternative sources of energy.

One alternative that is gaining popularity around the world is the use of grid-connected/grid-tie solar systems. These are solar systems installed without batteries (batteries are very costly) and generate power for direct consumption alongside power from the grid.

Businesses with 24-hours constant operations have a chance of offsetting up to 30% of their total energy, while those whose operations are mainly during the day can offset up to 50%, because the hours of solar generation are aligned to the hours of peak energy consumption.

Example of Solar Installation for Commercial Premises

This article gives an example of a business whose load profile (consumption pattern) shows that operations are mainly at daytime and demonstrates how installing a grid-tie solar system can result in realization of up to 50% energy savings.

Before Solar Installation:

The premises relies 100% on KPLC power, and for this example it is assumed that it consumes 1200 kWh per day (1200 token/units per day).

The current power installation is directly from the grid to the house through the utility meter as shown below:

Since the business operations are mainly during the day, the energy demand is highest between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. as shown below.

Solar Integration

A grid-tied solar system mainly consists of solar panels connected to solar inverters. The solar inverters convert the DC power from the solar panels into AC power (240V) that is the same as power from the grid. No batteries are installed. The solar system generates power to supplement power from the grid. A control mechanism is installed to ensure consumption of solar is given priority.

As a safety measure, grid-tie solar systems do not generate power when there is a grid outage, and therefore should not be perceived as back-up systems. This is mainly to ensure safety of the utility workers by preventing the energization of the powerlines by the solar system during maintenance of the grid lines.

After Solar Installation:

In this example it has been established that installing a 150 kWp Grid-tie solar system could reduce the consumption of power from KPLC power by 50% as shown below.

With solar integration, the premises loads (power consumers) are always connected to the grid. The control mechanism for the solar system ensures that any time there is solar power, it is consumed first, and any deficit required to satisfy the load is drawn from the grid.

If at any instance the generated solar power is more than what the load can consume, the control mechanism commands the solar system to reduce its production so that there is no surplus power being fed into the grid. This is popularly known as zero feed-in. In some countries, it is allowed to feed power into the grid, and this is used to offset purchases from the grid in what is referred to as net-metering.

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