By Kimani Kuria
Clean energy is the solution to the problem of climate change and a consistent degradation of the environment. Governments have set up long term sustainable development goals aimed at making a complete switch to clean energy. Fuels currently in use have led to an intense decline in the quality of air humans breathe and the overall life quality. Solar energy is a viable solution for clean energy in Africa and particularly in Kenya due to the favorite climatic conditions. It thus comes as a money-saving technology when people switch from electricity use to solar-powered lighting, heating, and mechanical systems. It also saves Kenyans from the vampire nature that is Kenya Power and Lighting Company monopoly.
Companies in the Solar Energy Sector
Several companies in the solar energy industry are taking the lead in installations and training people in the use of solar panels. There is a solar panel production facility worth millions of shillings set up in Naivasha County in preparation for the inevitable switch to clean energy. It is a cheaper option that brings urban life closer to them, extending work hours, making studies more comfortable, communications being upheld, and no smoke while cooking. Some of these companies include Solar King, Gulf Energy, Go-Solar Systems Limited, Indigo, Dayliff, Sollatek, and Solinc. The monetary savings that result from an investment in solar power is estimated at a percentage of twelve to fifteen.
M-kopa, an initiative by Safaricom, is one of the leading solar energy providers in rural areas. The systems work by offering customers a solar kit, comprising a solar panel, two LED bulbs, rechargeable radios, an LED flashlight, and mobile charging adapters, which they pay periodically. Customers receive free installation, a two-year warranty, a four-year life battery from Safaricom, and training on using the system effectively. The systems cost Ksh 20,000.
Cost of Solar System Installation
To determine the total cost to be incurred in setting up a solar system in a household, it is mandatory to establish the goal. Some homeowners would like to make a complete switch to solar power, while some prefer a hybrid system, one that uses both solar power and electricity. One then needs to determine their average daily energy usage. This can be established by calculating the amount of power the appliances one has at home consumes. For instance, the following basic household items consume this amount of power:
To determine the number of watts consumers use per appliances per day, you multiply the appliance wattage by the number of hours the appliance is used daily. For example, if one uses a smartphone recharge twice a day for three hours each, the wattage consumed is (6w×6 =36w). The customer then needs to obtain a final figure of the total wattage consumed per day.
Moreover, to establish a particular panel to purchase, determine the percentage of the energy use you would like for solar energy to offset. For instance, if one’s total daily wattage is 100w one would like to offset 90% of that using solar energy, their ideal solar panel should be able to power (90%×100w=90w). One then chooses a panel that can power this. From the table below, the customer would go with a 100w solar panel.
|AVERAGE RETAIL PRICE
Not to worry about the numbers; there are numerous energy calculation applications online that can accurately give an exact figure. It is crucial to keep in mind that one needs an additional budget for solar equipment, labor, and inverters for DC-AC power conversion to power machines such as televisions and radios. String inverters (3w-40w) retail for an average of Ksh 6,000, Micro inverters (2w-40w) retail on an average of Ksh 5,000, and the PV optimizers (4w-40w) retail for an average of Ksh 8,000.
Solar Energy is the way to go!