Globally, prices of flat plate Photo voltaic solar panels continues to fall as the technology continues to evolve even as it keeps gaining wider acceptance. In Nigeria and other emerging markets, end users are yet to really see the impact of these falling prices perhaps the reason why the adoption of these technology and market penetrations are still very low.
Studies from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) USA, concludes that price of flat plate solar panels will continue to fall as the technology evolves and finds expressions in other areas such as Flotovoltaics, Foldable solar cells and the likes.
In this article, I will talk about some of the hidden truth about PV systems, this is not to condemn the technology but to highlight some of the areas improvements are still required.
- OVER SIZING OR UNDER SIZING
When you place an order say for a 3Kw home solar system and you are supplied a system rated as 3Kw, in reality the capacity of the system you are actually supplied is not and cannot deliver 3Kw. This system in reality will only deliver power between 1.5Kw-2.4Kw as against the 3Kw you had paid for. There are several factors responsible for this, one of which is the fact that the 3Kw design was estimated under Standard Test Condition (STC) or laboratory test conditions which in reality is very difficult to attain. Did you just ask what is then the cost implication of this? In reality, this implies that you are paying more money as against what the system will actually deliver. Another question you are likely to ask is can this be corrected? From a design perspective and supply side, if a customer actually desires a 3Kw to be delivered by her solar home system, then you have to buy a system with a higher rating say a 5Kw or 6Kw model this implies that you have to pay more money since the system has to be over sized in other to meet you demand of 3Kw.
- RELEASE OF POISONOUS GAS
Most off-grid or micro-grid solar system have energy storage or batteries as a major part of the entire system. Field experience and studies shows that in a domestic building, home owners and installers are more likely to place these batteries in the kitchen, lobby, waiting room, or even in the living room. As these batteries are subjected to cycles of charging and discharging, they release poisonous gaseous substance into the atmosphere that shouldn’t be inhaled by humans.
- UNQUENCHABLE RISK OF FIRE
If a DC arc fault or earth fault occurs and this remains uncleared for a long period, it could lead to PV fire outbreak especially if the PV are roof-mounted. In an instance that a PV fire starts, the energy that generates these arc is so intense such that it poses a significant risk to firefighters during their efforts to suppress the fire and so the firefighters are left with no option than to allow the fire burn the entire property completely. There are already innovations to tackle some of these hidden truth but it is yet to be in wider circulation.