Solar energy is reliable but the installation can be exploited

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Dear Editor,

A number of people have expressed interest in getting a solar system for their homes and many professionals have indicated that Guyana has pretty decent weather conditions for people to live strictly solar. I have successfully installed solar systems on a few farms in the Lower Pomeroon River and around Georgetown. With a minimum of two batteries and four panels, a home can power its refrigerator, pump water, operate washing machines, and operate many other electrical appliances during the day. Basically, for someone to go solar, there are three methods available; (1) Grid tie system, which requires no battery, but the electric company must install a special meter, which would reverse the meter, sending the excess power reached by the sun to the grid and the power is back when the sun is not available, especially at night. So your electricity bill will be very low or the utility company will have to pay you (not sure how far LPG is with that), and when you have power outages the system shuts down completely. (2) Off-grid system, which requires batteries and, depending on the quantity, you get 24-hour power without LPG. (3) Hybrid system, which works with both battery and LPG power. Each of these configurations uses different types of inverters.

Editor, depending on the type of system you are using, a battery, solar panels, charge controllers and inverters will be required or an all-in-one charge controller/inverter is available. Many people offer solar services, including supply and installation, with less headache expected, but when you get the bill, the real headache begins. If you are not careful, some would give a list of things they would provide and in the process change their plans. There is a person who did business with a company that advertises on Facebook and in the end the customer was informed that there was a shortage of batteries and a shipment was expected and when it arrives it will receive the other pile. Now, many people dealing with batteries will tell you that you cannot add new batteries to old batteries, because the new battery is reduced to the state/stage of the old battery. Meanwhile, the company announced that they have a new shipment of batteries, but the individual is still waiting for the other battery months now. Also, many cheap Chinese inverters and charge controllers that are selling, malfunction. I wrote about this in a previous letter.

Finally, editor, because the system is so complicated and corrupt in Guyana, I advise most of my customers to purchase their supplies overseas and will provide the links to make their purchases. One of my main concerns is the astronomical price that stores charge for these items. A charge controller sells online for around 60,000 GY$, but if you go to a local store, you have to pay between $180,000. – $400,000. There are different types of batteries available locally, but some stores still sell the gel battery at an extremely high price, even though the technology for this type has proven to be a failure, some do not last four years and cannot be repaired, so they stop making them. In a nutshell, because many don’t know about the solar system, they are either scared off or forced to pay an astronomical figure for a useless system. There should be a committee set up to help/advise people who want to go solar. The government should encourage people to make the system readily available if they supply electricity to the grid they will be paid for excess electricity and stop complicating things. There are thousands of homes on the outskirts of the city and in the hinterland regions without electricity, and despite the government’s glorious plans, there is no indication that these communities will soon get electricity.

Sincerely,

Sahadeo Bates

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