The sun is full of energy; its passion and intensity are endless. All who experience it tag it as “sun-kissed.” The best thing yet is that the sun provides its services for free, and everything the sun touches is made beautiful.
Many of us enjoy opening our windows or the veranda doors in the early summer mornings to feel the radiance of the rising sun – such a warm, pleasing, and rejuvenating satisfaction that follows.
The sun is a rich natural resource that contributes to man’s existence. It produces heat, fuel, and light, all of which sustain us. Scientists have described this form of energy from the sun as a renewable energy source called “Solar Energy.”
Some Facts about Solar Energy
- Thanks to the great physicist Edmund Becquerel who in 1839 discovered how this energy from the sun, which we sometimes feel could burn our skin, can be trapped for sustainable uses. Now we know that Solar Energy is the future of electricity.
- The energy from the sun (solar energy) travels through the outer layer of the earth (space) through waves known as radiation. These waves split into several forms, including light, heat, and ultraviolet radiation. Most elements of the sun’s rays are refracted into space as they are filtered out when they radiate on earth.
- The sun radiates enough energy to supply the world for a whole year. The sun has such incredible power, which has been known to power spaceships since the year 1958 by scientists.
- It is also good to know that other forms of renewable energy, except the Geothermal or Tidal energy used today, derive their power from the sun directly or indirectly.
Understanding Solar Technology Around You
Solar energy is renewable energy. Renewable energy is energy derived from natural sources. The most exciting fact about renewable energy is that it is replenished at a higher rate than consumed. Sunlight and wind are constantly inexhaustible energy sources. Renewable energies are always eco-friendly and easy to use.
Solar energy has different implementation and conversion techniques in two variants which are either:
- Active – using Photovoltaic, Concentrated Solar Power, and Solar Water Heating Techniques.
- Passive – orienting a building to the sun.
Photovoltaic Panels convert the sun’s radiation directly into electricity without pollution or environmental damage. These panels generate the energy to run stoves, pump water, light hospitals or religious houses, and power televisions or electronics. Photovoltaic systems are those panels we often see mounted on the rooftop of residential homes, extending up to 100MW. It has also widely dominated the market segments through its most common forms: roof-top, mobile, or portable systems, and it has accounted for 60 percent of worldwide installations. A small photovoltaic system has enough AC electricity to power an average household or two-bedroom flat in Nigeria.
It is good to note that the price of these solar panels has rapidly declined because of the rising demand.
Concentrated Solar Power uses mirrors or lenses to trap a large area of sunlight in a receiver. It is a dispatchable form of solar that stores energy either in the form of sensible heat or latent heat. Compared to Photovoltaic systems, the growth of CSP has been reported as low in recent times due to its high technicality involved in the installation and the high cost of installation. It is otherwise not common as compared to the latter.
Why Africans Should Switch to Solar Power
In this present day, there are several rural and underdeveloped countries or places in Africa that can’t afford the high cost of conventional electricity. To reduce the poverty level in Africa and attain an excellent socio-economic environment, many organizations have advised that we adopt cheaper and more sustainable forms of energy ‒ solar energy was reported to be the most affordable form of energy in 2020. The location of Africa in the Northern Hemisphere allows the continent experience the full warmth of the sun. The African climate has the best capacity for solar power.
Businesses in Nigeria powered by solar panels in recent studies have witnessed a 20%-40% increase in their operating hours of MSMEs while also avoiding losses in sales through fire caused by faulty electrical wiring.
Assuming solar penetration reaches a peer nation average of 35% by 2030, an additional 5 million tonnes of CO2 can be avoided as household emissions will reduce by nearly 30%.
The benefits of solar energy in African businesses are as follows:
- It reduces production cost
- Saves losses from fire incidents which can result from faulty electrical wiring.
- Increases income of MSMEs
- Little to no maintenance is required
- Constant electricity as the sunny weather condition in Africa is favourable for solar power.
Tips to know before Solar Panel Installation
- The cost of solar panel installation depends on the number of solar panels installed.
- These solar panels store electricity in batteries for future use; all you need to do is fix your panels in areas where they can receive direct sunlight.
- The sun doesn’t complain of its usage or leave you in black-out for several months unexplained. It is sure to be out almost every day and inexhaustible.
- An average home in Nigeria uses 200Kw per month/2500kw per year in electricity (pre-paid meters) so installing a 100-200kw solar panel system is better for reducing the electricity bills.
- The cost of solar panel installation is between N100,000 – N250,000 in Nigeria for an average household.
- Solar panels come in various models, and the cheapest solar panel you can buy in Nigeria costs around N6000 or 8 USD, and the most expensive model cost around N45,000 maximum or 64USD.
- Most Solar Panels used today have average expectancy life of between 20 ‒ 40 years.
REESAfrica has stayed committed to electrifying rural communities in Nigeria using solar power because solar energy is a clean and sustainable form of energy that we all need right now.
While the earth is complaining about our unsustainable energy choices, the sun is willing and ready to solve many of these problems. So, dear reader, use solar energy; the sun is not complaining!
Writer: Paula Ulor
Photo: Times Square chronicles