What is a Solar PV System and How does it work?
Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems convert sunlight into electricity using grids of solar cells, made from thin layers of specially treated silicon. The electricity is then fed to a unit called an inverter. The inverter is the ‘brains’ of the system: it controls the flow of electricity provided by the panels and converts it into a form usable by ordinary appliances. Inverters also contain protective circuitry to prevent damage to the power grid or the building’s wiring and appliances if there is a malfunction.
The inverter is connected to the building’s switchboard and electricity meter, where the electricity can either be used within the building or fed back into the main electrical grid and sold back to your power supplier if you are not using it. You can even monitor your solar energy production and consumption in real time on your computer or smartphone. Some systems use on-site batteries to store excess energy, but these are more appropriate for buildings that cannot be connected to the power grid because of their expense.
How can Solar power my club?
In the past 10 years, power prices have increased at an average of 5.5% annually - so it’s not hard to see how generating your own free electricity from the sun can save you money! To achieve the greatest return on your investment in a solar PV system, it’s best to use as much of the system’s output as possible straight away, rather than being reliant on selling it back to your power supplier. This is because power suppliers pay very little for electricity fed back into the grid, and could reduce this further or even stop buying it altogether in future. Therefore, PV systems are best suited to clubs that use a lot of electricity during the daytime when the sun is shining. Large daytime power users include heaters, irrigation pumps and cool-stores. Your solar company will help you decide what size of PV system is most cost-effective for you.
HOW WILL SOLAR POWER MAKE MY CLUB MORE SUSTAINABLE?
While it’s true that much of New Zealand’s electricity is generated from renewable sources, 15% is still produced from fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas. These fuels are in finite supply, and emissions from their use contribute to air pollution and climate change. Solar PV energy offers an alternative that produces no emissions or pollution, and is effectively inexhaustible.
How can I get started?
At LiteClub we’re keen to help clubs save money and become more sustainable by switching to solar energy. If you’d like a free, no obligation feasibility study from a solar system installer in your region, please get in touch with us - we’re happy to help. In addition, you might want to shop around to get more than one quote so you can compare prices. Once you have decided you want to go ahead and install a solar PV system let us know, we can write a support letter that your club can hand in with a funding application.