Hacking The Sun: Is Solar Getting The Attention It Needs In Ghana?


It’s a normal week day and the Sun is blazing hot. There are no clouds in the sky and my weather app says it’s 31 degrees.

In other parts of the country, the weather is normal. Hot and humid. In addition to being hot and humid, some parts of the country don’t have electricity and are not connected to the grid.

But people who are connected to the grid are facing huge electric bills thanks to high tariffs.

It’s 2016 and it’s kind of surprising we’ve not moved towards solar as the best alternative energy.  Interestingly enough, Ghana only uses 1% – 2% of Solar energy. Honestly, that’s kind of pathetic.

There are some major solar energy projects going on in the country right now.

Blue Energy, a renewable energy developer is building a 155MW solar plant in Nzema in Ghana. The power plant, which at the time of planning would be the fourth biggest of its kind in the world. The project was due to finish at the end of 2015. But we’re in November 2016 and the latest update is that the project will be operational in 2017.

Looks like we have to wait and see right?

11-0411a
Nzema Solar Project. Still waiting to go live

But besides that, why aren’t we using more solar to power our homes and institutions. Seeing some of the streetlights and traffic lights equipped with solar panels is a good look but what about residential homes and office buildings.

So why isn’t solar taking off in Ghana? A couple of reasons

Knowledge

I for one would have no idea where to start in planning to get solar for my home. Solar technology isn’t really plug and play. There’s a lot of components that go into it. There’s the solar panels, the battery, the inverter, something called a charge controller(??)

Yeah. You need to know a lot of this stuff. There are solar technology experts to help with this stuff and you will probably go back and forth with them. Sometimes it feels like you just want to stick with what you have.

Cost

The price of solar has been coming down over the years but the price to install is still on the high side. If you would have to get all the equipment including the Solar panels and batteries plus installation, you’re probably looking at $6000 – $8000. In Ghana cedis, that’s about 24,000GHC – 32,000GHC. (But you have to also factor in how much energy you need to power your home)

That’s a lot of money!

But you could say that it’s an investment considering that it can cut your costs and take off ECG which could say you a lot of money in the long term. But that initial price can be a turn off.

New Technology To The Rescue?

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-1-57-50-pm
Tesla Solar Powered Home

I’m a big fan of Elon Musk. I even wrote a post about wanting Mr Musk to push EV cars to Ghana. Recently, Tesla purchased a company called SolarCity. SolarCity established itself a big player in the solar industry by providing lots of residential and businesses owners with good options on purchasing and install solar solutions in the US.

Before purchasing SolarCity, Tesla unveiled something called a Powerwall.

tesla_powerwall_2_release_date_specs_uk_price_1
Powerwall 2.0

So what exactly is it? It’s basically like a giant battery which can be used to power your home. When combined with Solar technology, you could essentially use your solar powers to charge the battery in the morning and afternoon when the sun is out and run on battery in the evening.

It’s a very cool concept. The price for a Powerball is around $5,500. Installation is about $1000 and that’s about $6500. That’s essentially 26,000 GHC.

You can still use electricity to power the battery but it would be more energy efficient to use solar.

The Solar Roof Concept

After purchasing SolarCity, Elon Musk unveiled something alongside the Powerwall 2.0. He revealed a “Solar Roof“. It may sound like this is just a roof with solar panels installed but it is an actually roof with solar cells embedded in it.

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-1-57-26-pm
Concept of the solar roof

It’s a marvel really when you look at it. Here’s a sample of solar roofs:

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-1-57-34-pm
All these roofs have solar cells embedded

That’s really cool. If we’re combine these solar roofs and the Powerwall, you could essentially cut yourself off from ECG and not pay electricity.

But in our part of the world, cost is still a major factor.

The prices for the solar roofs haven’t been revealed yet but if we add up cost of the Powerwall + Solar roof + Installation, you could be paying $10,000+ which equals up to 40,000 GHC +.

Again, that’s an investment. You’re looking at the long term in savings.

Just imagine a business like a restaurant or hotel leveraging solar energy and essentially saving huge costs in electrcity.

Businesses have already started folding up because of high costs of electricity.

To be honest, it makes no sense to not leverage solar energy to power everything around us. There’s no reason that countries in Europe do solar so much better than African countries when it comes to using solar energy.

The attention given to the recently discovered oil fields is not helping. There was news that a coal plant was to be built but it looks like it might be happen anymore.

We have to be serious with this.

Going solar is a no brainer. If Government could really put in huge subsidies to help average consumers get access to solar components, that’s a big deal.

We need to hack the sun. The cheat code is right there. There’s no point in not using it.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s