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Basic components of a solar system

With the electricity costs and demand rising over the edge, most people are turning to a clean renewable, reliable and eco-friendly source of energy – Solar. Let’s look at some of the basic components that make a solar system and their importance.

  • Solar Panels

Solar panels, also referred to as photo voltaic panels, are built from a large number of individual solar cells, also called photo-voltaic cells. The greater the number of solar cells, the more effective the solar panel functionality. The main thing to know about solar panels is that they absorb the sunlight and convert it into power that can be used for many different applications (street lighting, heating systems, machine installations, charging of phones, cameras, signage and many other energy driven devices)..Solar panels are the most noticeable component of a residential solar electric system. The solar panels are installed outside the home, typically on the roof and convert sunlight into electricity. Solar panels are given output ratings in watts. This rating is the maximum produced by the panel under ideal conditions.

  • Solar Inverter

Solar panels and batteries produce DC (direct current) power. Standard home appliances use AC (alternating current). An inverter converts the DC power produced by the solar panels and batteries to the AC power required by appliances.

  • Solar Battery

Solar power systems produce electricity during the daytime, when the sun is shining. These solar batteries (deep discharge batteries) are a key component in a renewable energy system. Solar batteries require energy storage produced by a , a solar panel which will be connected to the utility grid. Solar batteries are very useful if you want to use an independent electricity network or in case of a power failure. Your home demands electricity at night and on cloudy days – when the sun isn’t shining. To offset this mismatch, batteries can be added to the system.

  • Solar Charge Controller

The solar charge controller – also known as charge regulator – maintains the proper charging voltage for system batteries.

Batteries can be overcharged, if fed continuous voltage. The charge controller regulates the voltage, preventing overcharging and allowing charging when required.

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Solar Panels for sale in Zimbabwe

How much do Solar Panels cost in Zimbabwe

Solar Panels for sale in Zimbabwe

You have probably heard about how solar energy can reduce your electricity bills,but how much do solar panels really cost in Zimbabwe?They now cost less than seventy cents per watt can you believe it?Generating your own electricity means that you will be using less from ZESA . This will immediately translate to savings on your energy bill. The more energy you produce, the less you will need from the supplier which will increase your energy self reliance.

Why you should consider using Solar panels

In Zimbabwe we have an abundance of good quality sunshine throughout most of the year which  can be converted into electrical energy by solar panels.Solar Panels are the core of a Solar Power System.Solar panels convert radiation/light energy from the sun, directly into electrical energy, without moving parts, noise or emissions.There are four types of panels namely

  • Mono crystalline
  • Poly-crystalline
  • Thin-Film Solar Panels
Solar Panels Installation Zimbabwe

Solar Panels Installation in Zimbabwe,Helensvale

The Mono/Poly-crystalline silicon panels are newer technology and of much better quality and last for many years with warranties of twenty-five  years at 80 percent to 90 percent efficiency.The solar panels that are sold in Zimbabwe are usually the poly crystalline and the mono-crystalline


Where can solar be installed

As long as there is sunshine, solar energy can be deployed anywhere. This is particularly useful for remote regions with no access to any other source of electricity. There is a vast amount of people around the world with no access to electricity. Independent solar systems could be deployed in those regions and improve the lives of millions of people. Moreover, solar energy is also used to power up all the home appliances.

You will not miss your favorite television channels anymore if you invest in solar energy. The grid is less vulnerable to blackouts if there are many power plants which are spread out. A grid with high penetration of solar energy has thousands of energy production centers which are widely spread out. This improves the security of the grid in case of overload, natural or human-caused disasters.

Solar Systems

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If your energy bills are excessive, then the installation of solar panels can help. Each panel that you install is able to generate power simply by soaking up the sun. This solar energy is controlled by a charge controller and then delivered to a battery or an inverter.

Batteries provide a simple solution for harnessing the power of your solar panels. You can purchase batteries with standard 12V for powering electronics and small appliances.You may also install an inverter, which converts the DC current to AC. With a large enough solar array, you should then be able to power just about any appliance in your home.

You can expect to trim a significant portion of your energy bill, depending on the size of your solar panel array. The average household uses about 900 kWh per month. The utility rates can vary, though, the average in the Zimbabwe is about $0.1 kWh. This comes out to about $100 per month for standard electrical use.

Assuming you use a 3 kW solar panel system, you can generate about 450 kWh over the course of the month, which should be half of your energy consumption, effectively saving you about $50 per month.

You could enjoy around $600 per year in savings. With the average solar panel lasting up to two decades, you may be able to save $12,000 over the lifetime of your solar panel system. Though, these costs can be reduced further with the installation of an electric meter.

The installation of solar panels not only saves you money, it helps you limit your dependency on the local power grid. When was the last time that you experienced a power outage? How long did it last? With a solar panel array, you will not have to worry about these issues, as you are generating your own power.

Start cutting down on your energy consumption. Do your part to limit your carbon footprint. Discover the joy of solar systems installation. Contact the professionals today, for solar panels installation in Zimbabwe.

All it takes to get started is a phone call. Talk to a professional about your needs and explore your options. Come up with an energy solution for your home that saves you money and helps you get off the grid.Why worry?Go Green,Go Solar

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Zim faces massive load-shedding •$43m power import arrears cited • Eskom threatens action in 8 days

Felex Share Senior Reporter—
Zimbabwe might experience massive load-shedding starting next week if Zesa Holdings fails to settle an outstanding power import bill of $43 million owed to Eskom of South Africa and Hydro Cahora Bassa (HCB) of Mozambique. Eskom supplies Zimbabwe with 300 megawatts, while HCB chips in with 50 megawatts.

The South African power utility has threatened to switch off Zimbabwe if Zesa fails to pay the arrears in eight days.

Zimbabwe consumes about 1 400MW daily against a generating capacity of around 980MW.
Zesa owes the two power giants over $100 million, but the $43 million is emanating from a payment plan it has failed to honour due to foreign currency shortages.

Earlier this year, Zesa made payment plans with regional power utilities and should have paid $89 million between January and April, but it managed to pay only $46 million.

The payment plan included last year’s arrears.

The firms gave Zesa up to May 31 to clear the arrears, but with only eight days to go, the power utility has not paid anything.

Zesa chief executive Engineer Josh Chifamba yesterday confirmed they were still to settle the arrears.
“We are yet to service the debt, but we are making frantic efforts to pay and revert to the original payment plan,” he said.

“We have been having meetings with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to find ways of coming out of this (problem). Hopefully, this week something will come up because everyone knows the effects of failing to pay.”

Zimbabwe has been enjoying steady power supplies for the past 16 months owing to various initiatives, which included imports.

Major creditors are Eskom, which is overally owed $80 million and Hydro Cahora Bassa of Mozambique ($40 million).

It is understood that HCB officials will be in the country tomorrow “to see how far Zimbabwe has gone towards raising the money it owes them”.

Eskom interim group chief executive Mr Matshela Koko recently wrote to Eng Chifamba indicating that supplies would be cut with effect from June 1.

“The balance as at end of March 2017 according to the plan, should have been R484 721 980, but the actual balance was R603 176 479, leaving a shortfall of approximately R118 454 499,” Mr Koko said.

“I refer to your finance director’s request to our Mr Segomoco Scheppers requesting further accommodation by Eskom by allowing Eskom’s remedial action as provided for to be delayed to end May 2017.

“Eskom do hereby confirms acceptance of this request and requires that; the current outstanding debt should not increase and Zesa shall take all steps necessary to ensure the outstanding balance as at 14 April, 2017 is maintained or preferably reduced, Zesa will restore the repayment plan by ensuring that as at end May 2017, the outstanding balance, including all subsequent invoices will be R491 416 426 or less.

“Kindly confirm Zesa’s acceptance of this accommodation being offered by Eskom. Kindly note that no further lenience or accommodation will be made in this regard and Eskom will draw down on the guarantee, raise the appropriate interest charges and curtail supply immediately should the balance not align with this proposal as at 31 May 2017.”

To back up power imports, Government recently issued an R500 million ($35 million) guarantee to Eskom and it is that surety that the latter is threatening to call up.

Industrialists and miners yesterday implored monetary authorities to prioritise power provision, saying any cut on supplies would affect industry and winter wheat cropping.

Chamber of Mines president Mr Issac Kwesu said: “Once they cut off it will be insufficient to meet national demand. If more than 300 megawatts is cut off or reduced, it means the authorities have to re-prioritise so that the productive sectors are given importance considering our role in the economy. From the mining industry we are saying whatever situation, give us what is available so that we keep on carrying the economy in terms of adequate foreign exchange. The economy has been improving and it means the monetary authorities should give Zesa a priority the same way Zesa has been prioritising us.”

An official from the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) added: “Respective authorities have to move with speed to ensure the money is availed otherwise we don’t want to move one step forward and two steps backwards.

“We have policies put in place to turn around the economy and without power we will be shooting ourselves in the foot. We should not undermine our efforts and reduce the business confidence, which is on the high.”

The country’s economic blueprint, Zim-Asset, identifies energy as a key enabler under infrastructure and utilities, as well as the value addition and beneficiation initiatives.

This cluster needs massive support and its failure spells doom for the country.

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Lights out for wasteful lighting

Jeffrey Gogo Climate Story 

A NEW law banning the sale of power-guzzling light bulbs takes effect today (May 1), as energy regulator, ZERA, seeks to pivot the economy away from energy inefficient lighting systems at a time climate change is escalating.

The law prevents the familiar incandescent light bulb, and other high energy consuming products such as fluorescent tubes, from being sold, made or imported into Zimbabwe, ZERA says.

Traders had three months to clear out inventory of inefficient lighting before the ban, announced in January, took effect.

From today, retailers and wholesalers who continue to stock the old-style bulbs, or consulting engineers that recommend inefficient lighting, will be liable to a fine or face six months in jail.

This is no fluke, the regulator warns. “On the date the regulations come into effect it will be illegal to sell or offer for sale inefficient lighting products,” Misheck Siyakatshana, ZERA’s technical director said, by email.

“So the offence is in the selling or offering for sale of these products,” he said, as ZERA expects the transition to low-energy bulbs to be complete by year-end.

Zimbabweans have slowly stepped up their purchase of alternative energy-saving lights like compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diode (LEDs) since power utility Zesa Holdings rolled out a $12 million campaign in 2011 handing out millions of efficient bulbs.

The utility hoped the campaign would encourage consumers to give up the traditional filament bulb, which, according to ZERA, still account for up to 15 percent of all lighting systems in Zimbabwe

But the newer lights cost more, nonetheless, at least the upfront cost – $2 and $3,50 each for CFL and LED, respectively, but both use much lower power and last almost 10 times as long as the incandescent that costs 50 cents, on the average, experts say.

Now, by banning conventional lighting, ZERA is looking at more effective ways of boosting energy efficiency in households, schools and businesses.

Chief executive, Gloria Magombo, has said the change-over to low-energy lights could achieve between 30 to 40 megawatts in savings.

There is more. Combined with Zesa Holdings’ prepaid metering programme, the switch could also have a dramatic impact on Zimbabwe’s climate change goals, preventing the equivalent of 1 300 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over the next 13 years, according to the Government’s plan under the Paris Agreement.

Zimbabwe aims to cut emissions by 33 percent overall, or 17 300 gigatonnes, by 2030.

This is to be achieved mostly by increased investment in hydro and solar power, as well as improved efficiency in household and commercial energy use, the plan says.

“Using less energy means less burning of coal and other fossil fuels, thus reducing (Zimbabwe’s) carbon footprint,” said Eng Magombo via email.

Can manufacturers pull it off?

Sales of traditional bulbs have been slowly dying out over the last few years, said Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Denford Mutashu, as alternatives have come to market and people warm to the idea of more efficient lighting.

But he is concerned whether domestic manufacturers were up to the task.

“As much as we support initiatives that conserve energy, we are still want to ascertain the capacity of the manufacturers of lighting products, whether they will be equal to the task, to feed national demand,” Mr Mutashu lamented, by phone.

He said he didn’t want “to see a situation that leads to shortages, that lead to an increase in prices,” imploring ZERA “to make sure that this will not happen.”

But the backlash from the manufacturers was even stronger, even though admitting production of efficient lighting products could be slow in the first few months post-the ban.

“This (the concern on shortage of low-energy bulbs) is an unresearched view,” Busisa Moyo, who heads the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, told The Herald Business, by phone.

“We need to carry out the necessary research for those who are in lighting, to establish how much of the energy saving lights do we import for now while we build local capacity to produce these bulbs. There are no manufacturers of LED lighting in Zimbabwe. This (the ban) should be seen as an opportunity for creating new industries, which will eventually do away with imports. I think this is the conversation we should be having.”

The tough switch

Getting consumers to switch-over to a higher priced product even though it lasts longer is like selling ice to Eskimos.

Already, some consumers didn’t like the look of early CFLs and LEDs – which tended to give off a dim white light – but both now come in a range of hues, from yellowish warm to cooler bluish.

So, ZERA has found a clever way of getting round this problem: it is now selling the more efficient bulbs as an environmentally-friendly technology that is not only worth its price, but also saves energy.

The energy regulator has been running campaigns on TV and in the Press promoting this idea to the public. It could work.

Anything that improves household electricity supply Zimbabweans will easily relate. They have laboured through frequent power outages long enough they know what it means to be in the dark. After-all, there is something to ride on – the past Zesa giveaways – a campaign described by Eng Magombo as “a huge success.”

God is faithful.

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Solar feasible in Zim: Study

Golden Sibanda Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE has received massive endorsement as a prime destination for solar power projects after Chinese firm, Shanghai Electric Power Design Institute, completed a bankable feasibility study that okayed the Gwanda Solar plant.

SEPD, unit of multi-trillion dollar Chinese electrical engineering giant, Power China, completed the first ever solar project feasibility study in December last year in a development that will unlock funding for the $175 million Gwanda project.

China Eximbank has since approved the feasibility study report and requested to meet project contractors to discuss the next step entailing a multi-million dollar financing facility for the project.

Tenderer, Zimbabwe Power Company, has already commissioned the bankable feasibility study, which dispels decades-long unfounded skepticism about feasibility and viability of solar power projects in the country.

Among its objectives, the feasibility study was meant to study the design and optimisation scheme for photovoltaic power station system, including selecting and mounting photovoltaic modules, analysing the generating capacity of photovoltaic system and main electrical wiring for the solar plant.

Local private firm, Intratrek Zimbabwe in partnership with China’s and the world’s largest manufacturer and seller of low-voltage electrical products, ChiNT Electric Co, are in the process of building a 100-megawatt solar power station in Gwanda. This will be the first such plant in the history of Zimbabwe.

The feasibility study, which endorsed the viability and practicality of building solar power plants in Zimbabwe, concluded that there are excellent solar radiation conditions in Gwanda, as recorded at West Nicholson Meteorological Station.

Such conditions prevail across most of Zimbabwe meaning there is limitless potential for numerous such initiatives across the country, which China Eximbank says is ready to finance.

SEPD calculated that the Gwanda solar project is feasible at a tariff rate of 18c per kilowatt hour, a tariff experts at Zimbabwe Power Company and Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority contend is reasonable and practical, given the urgent need to address Zimbabwe acute power deficit.

According to the findings of the study “all the project’s economic indicators conform to relevant stipulations” necessary to have a solid, viable solar power plant in Gwanda.

But the critically important issue is that the landmark study has opened up requisite financing from China Eximbank for the Gwanda project and potentially more financing for future projects, after the bank indicated interest to fund similar projects.

The Gwanda project will be built at an engineering, procurement and construction cost of $175 million.

“Following our approval of the feasibility study report, we propose a face-to-face meeting, so as to negotiate the next step financing plan,” said China Eximbank in a letter to both Intratrek Zimbabwe and its Chinese partner, ChiNT Electric.

This development comes as huge relief to millions of Zimbabweans, industry and commerce who have borne the brunt of acute power shortage in a country where demand peaks at 2 200MW while available capacity hovers around 1 300MW.

Contracted to Intratrek and its Shanghai Stock Exchange-listed partner, ChiNT Electric Co, the Gwanda solar farm project is expected to create hundreds of jobs during construction while local service providers will benefit from lucrative sub-contracts.

The Gwanda solar project, which has progressed at frenetic pace since the tender was awarded by the State Procurement Board, is the first major non-hydro, renewable power plant in Zimbabwe.

Among the solar energy’s “Green attributes” compared to thermal are reduction of harmful emissions namely carbon dioxide (157 tonnes) sulphur oxide (500 tonnes) and nitrogen dioxide (500 tonnes).

Other two solar projects awarded by SPB to ZTE Corporation and 17 Metallurgical China, Muntai and Insukamini, are still to provide preliminary feasibility study reports.

The 154-page proposal dated December 2015, falling within the submission of stipulated contract period, quotes extensively from country’s blue-print, Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-economic Transformation 2014-2018.

Power China, whose unit undertook the Gwanda bankable feasibility study, has a $70 billion asset base and boasts world-leading engineering, procurement and construction company services in the development of hydropower, water works, thermal power, new energy, and transmission and distribution projects, adding to achievements in the fields of infrastructure, equipment manufacturing, real estate and investment.