Off-grid PV - electricity consumption & high upfront cost hurdles

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Electricity consumption and high upfront costs: a hurdle for off-grid solar systems?

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Electricity consumption and high upfront costs: a hurdle for off-grid solar systems?

Buying off-grid solar systems has been long-time hindered by high upfront cost for the whole system plus variable costs for the battery (which has to be replaced every 5 to 15 years) as well as eventual maintenance work. In particular, households where much electricity is consumed - be it for the number of people in the household or electrical appliances use - the independence from grid supply can be a cost-intensive and risky investment, even taking into account subsidies. Moreover, living in areas with comparably little sun radiation (rural and remote areas), is an additional factor not to invest in an off-grid solar system and remain with the secure on-grid system. On the other hand, electricity has increasingly become more expensive, such as in Central Europe, motivating people to think about alternatives to the dependency from their power supplier.

Solar backup system, the middle path

If balancing reasons about the pros and contras of off-grid solar systems in comparison to on-grid dependency why not go the middle way and invest in a solar backup system? A solar backup system must not necessarily be designed to cover the whole consumption of your household but can be assembled well in accordance with your budget. It can serve as a mean to save electricity cost and concurrently have the security to consume electricity if a power cut occurs.

More affordable Off-Grid system equipment

Additionally, although electricity consumption of a household plays a key role in designing an off-grid solar system, at least the once disturbing factor of high upfront costs is increasingly becoming less crucial since China has become the global manufacturing hub for solar products of every kind. Thus, high electricity consumption of a household must in this regard not be a hurdle in considering independence from a national grid and save money, especially when off-grid solar systems become more and more affordable. Naturally, budgets, consumptions and constitution of households are different, and such is the demand for design and functionality of off-grid solar systems. But where is the red line that has to be crossed to finally consider off-grid solar systems? We at Sinovoltaics would be very interested to know what our readers consider to be this red line. Any comments are mostly welcome!

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Niclas
Niclas is co-founder of the Sinovoltaics Group and Quality Director at 3rd party PV Quality Assurance company Kisun Solar. He is a solar quality specialist with extensive experience with numerous manufacturers in Asia. Niclas has been living and working in East and South Asia for over 7 years, including Mainland China, Taiwan, India and Iran, and has worked on and implemented multiple clean energy and solar rural electrification projects for IGOs and NGOs worldwide, such as UNIDO and Grameen Shakti. Connect with Niclas on LinkedIn