Solar Photovaltic (PV)based electricity generation is one of the ways that Sunlight can converted into electricity. There are other ways in which we can generate electricity from the sun. But for various reasons (like efficiency, technical progress and also feasbility to name a few) Solar PV has come the farthest in terms of penetration into society. This is also one of the reasons behind telling our readers about the 1Kw Solar Panel price in Chennai. Now, the technology itself is not something thats new. And by not new I mean really, not new. We already knew back in 1839 how to harness sunlight in a way that generates power. Moreover, sunlight is a tangible and life-essential commodity in today’s world.
Its emergence, however is one that has been propelled by two factors. The first, and the major factor of the two is Climate Change. So even though we knew we could generate power from the Sun, we didn’t opt for it. We opted instead for sources that contained vast amounts of carbon in them. And due to almost two centuries of exploiting those sources, we have driven up the average temperature of our planet to a large extent.
An extent because of which we are now forced to rely on nature. Ironical? I guess so. The second is Abundance. The simple reason is that there is more sunlight hitting the earth every day than there is sources with carbon in them under the earth in terms of the electricity we can produce from it. For all intents and purposes, it is basically limitless. And therefore, by extension, it is also cheaper to use it cause well, the Sun is not owned by anyone. It belongs to everyone, just like the air we breathe does.
So there has been a rapid rise of Solar PV installations all over the world. And the best part is anyone can do it. So with how current power grids are designed, it is obvious that every individual cannot erect a coal plant in/near his/her house and extract coal (or any other widely used fuel source) to generate power. But like I said, the sun shines every day, without fail (well sometimes its a bit cloudy). So all you would need — like literally all you would need — to not rely on the utility you pay money to anymore is a 10 X 10 space on your roof, a Solar PV system and voila. No more relying on the utility, worrying about paying bills, worry about prices or most importantly, about power cuts. You make your own electricity, and you use it yourself — Independence.
However, since Solar PV is not a seasoned player in the world, the understanding of how it works, what it costs, and what overall benefits it brings has not been understood very well. I mean till now we had absolutely zero understanding of how our electricity is made and so we had no idea whether what we paid was even the right amount. You get quoted an amount and you pay it. So, in this article, we will address one of the main concerns of someone buying/investing/ considering a Solar PV system. What includes such a system and what does it cost. By the end of the blog you should be able to make a nice estimation of how much of a hole a Solar PV system will make in your pocket and whether it is really worth it. Spoiler alert : It is.
So a solar PV system consists of 3 major categories of components –
It is important to go through a basic understanding of what these components are to understand how they affect the price of a system.
The Module aka the Solar Panel(s) are the the actual device that receive the sunlight. Sunlight shines on the face of the panels. Many panels put together make up the module. It is unnecessary for us to go into the technical details and intricacies of how they are made. But it must be said there are different types of modules depending on what material is used to make them. As a result, different materials give you a different performance and hence cost different. Imagine the difference between brands of top-end smartphones. There is not a profound difference in performance, but various requirements call for various brands. Same with the modules. Broadly, they are divided into Mono-Crystalline and Poly-Crystalline, but there are other smaller divisons and specs.
Now once the sunlight has been received by the panel, inside of it, various interactions take place (which are not of significance to this article). However, a problem is that the electricity produce by solar panels are DC and we generally use AC for all our appliances. The solar Inverter is what does the conversion. Since it “inverts” DC to AC, the name follows. However, the name can be misleading because modern inverters do not do only that. Think of the Inverter as the CPU of the Solar PV system. Aside from DC to AC conversion, it monitors the amount of electricity produced by the module and communciates with the in-house power box to understand how much power is to be used and how much is not required. The two broad categories of inverters are micro-inverters and string-inverters.
Lastly, the BOS — (Balance of System) are the components that make it possible for whole system to work — like peripherals. Mounting structures, wirings, earthing etc. They may seem like inexpensive, which they are individually. But when put together they do contribute a significant amount to the price of a system.
So, now that we have gone through the components, lets see what costs what and how different combinations of the three can yield different results. In terms of the 3 components this how they rank in terms of their contribution to the total cost of the system :
The components make up the investment cost of the system, i.e. what the system costs when it is installed. However, like all products, Solar PV also has O&M cost. However, the beauty of solar PV systems are that they need almost zero maintenance over their lifetime of 25 years. They are robust, easy-to-use and once installed, need almost no attention than the occasional cleaning of the panels due to dust or other accumulations on the surface of the panels. Think of it like washing the wind shield of your car.
That means, the largest conributor to the cost of the system is the Solar Module itself, which makes sense because the other two devices are used in plenty of other applications, meaning that they have already been “in the game” longer than the Module. To give you a sense of the costs, here are the effective price of two type systems. The first one gives you variations for the 1Kw Solar panel price in Chennai
|Module Type||Inverter Type||Kw Sizing||Price (Rs)|
|Module Type||Inverter Type||Kw Sizing||Price (Rs)|
We realize that “kW” might be a bad way to present the capacity of a system or in other words, “what it can produce”. Because most of us know our electrcity consumption by the price we pay for units consumed and not by capacity. So a better way to look at the above is, a 1kW system can take care of half the needs of a household, that on a bi-monthly basis consumes 500 units of electricity. A 2kW system can take care of all the needs of the same household. Now you can easily see what happens if you stack up the kW — I will let you do the math.
Why bi-monthly? Because you get your electricity bills on a bi-monthly basis in India. So all you have to do is pull up your power bill and see what you would need.
Now, even a 1Kw Solar Panel Price In Chennai has the perception of being expensive. That is because people think of the high initial investment. While it is true that the upfront costs of Solar PV systems seem high, it is also true that it is the only time you will be spending money on it. You are paying now, in lump, for all the electricity you need for the next 25 years.
Thats not the only advantage. Think of it this way — How long till I have made the money I have invested back by generating electricity every day? This is known as the payback period, or simply, the break-even time. So after producing enough electricity so thay you have made your money back — break-even — you will be effectively generating power for free. It is like buying a house. Once you are done with the mortgages, the house is yours. And right now, you are living on rent by paying the utility on a monthly basis. Of course in the case of a Solar PV system, you make your money back much quicker than you do for a house. Again, independence.
Now, even a 1Kw Solar Panel Price In Chennai has the perception of being expensive.
But then the question is, how do I compare it with what I pay right now for my electricity? Because right now I pay for every unit of power that I consume — a tariff — INR/kWh. Bingo. Which means we need to know what it costs you for every unit of electricity that is generated. This is otherwise called LCOE (Levelised Cost of Electricity) — and is represented in Rupees/kWh. And the LCOE of the system is calculated in this manner
LCOE = (Money Invested)/ kWh
Where kWh represents the total kWhs that the solar panels produce over their lifespan of 25 years and money invested reperesents all the money you will spend on the installation of a solar PV system and the O&M costs. When you divide all that you will spend by all the power that you generate, you actually know how much you pay for every unit of power that your panels make. Which means, now you can just compare the LCOE with your local utility power price and see for yourself what the cheaper option is.
What also must be considered is, that in the case of Solar PV, you pay now for the next 25 years hence the LCOE is almost a constant amount for that period. However, with power prices, they always keep increasing. Which means if you still keep relying on the grid, you will be paying 1.5 — 2 times more in the next 3 years already. And just in case you are still in doubt, Solar PV is cheaper when we compare INR/kWh costs as well.
And finally, maybe a good reminder for the reader that the price you pay currently for your power does not take into account all the costs of generation. That is, the price you pay, is not a true reflection of the costs incurred by power producers to produce it. Like for example, costs of carbon. Pretty soon, legislation will levy a Carbon Tax on utilities that use fossil fuel generation sources, and this has got to do with regulatory action against climate change. And to whom will the costs be transferred to? Well of course, you. Solar power generation, however, has no carbon emission, and hence, no tax.
So, that ladies and gents is how the cookie crumbles when it comes to the costs of a Solar PV system. To recap —
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