Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Solar panels, Avissawella, Sri Lanka.

Eight solar panels on the roof of the house
Fronius inverter near the distribution box
Electricity board supply (input) meter and Solar output to the mains meter
We have been using three photo-voltaic solar panels to charge a battery during the day. This was used to light up six CFL bulbs in our house at night over the last 12 years. This cost about Rs.60,000/ but has served us well. We have now switched to LED bulbs on this and it gives even better service. The draw-back was the battery which needs replacement every three years and costs Rs.10,000/. This is called an 'Off-grid' system and operates on 12 volts direct current.
Recently I thought of installing a 'Grid-tie' system to save on our electricity bill which uses up 200 odd units per month. I looked around and opted for this 8 panel system. It feeds about 300 Volts direct current on a sunny day to the inverter which converts it to 230 Volts alternating current and feeds it to the mains. I paid
up to Rs.6000/ for my monthly electricity bill, using above 200 units earlier. After installation of the 'grid-tie'  Solar panels I have used anything from 10 to 20 units only per month. The electricity bill came to less than Rs.200/ per month. The installation cost Rs610,000/- and was done by Solartherm, near the  Castle street level crossing, Borella, Colombo, Sri Lanka, in one day using Solar panels from Sun Power Canada and Inverter from Fronius of Austria. The installation of the two meters for input and output of current was done by the Ceylon Electricity Board which supplies the mains current.
The parliamentary legislation needed to use a grid-tie system was passed in the Parliament of SL in 2009 and is now operational.
Instead of putting my six lakhs on a gas-guzzling car I diverted it to solar panels and am proud of it.
This is my contribution to a Green Earth.
In 2004 I came across a wind-mill generator and installation package in the UK for 1200 Pounds sterling. The wind-mills were made in China. Why can't we use this on  a large scale in Sri Lanka. There is plenty of wind round our coastline and our central hills.

I hope more wind-mill generators and solar  panels for individual homes are installed in Sri Lanka to use on a 'grid-tie' basis.  It is time the Government stepped in and granted a subsidy to householders on these systems. We can wean our way out of dependence on oil and coal. Since more than 50% could be from public financing the burden on the government would be less than on a project similar to Norochcholai.