Solar power in proper perspective for laymen


The present energy disaster is the ‘talk of the town’. And fairly legitimately so, because it impacts all walks of our financial, monetary, and social life throughout all segments of society, threatening the very primary of our wants. With a 10-hour energy minimize imposed day by day at the moment on the time of writing, total enterprise and private lives at the moment are in full disarray with this ‘mother of all crises’.

There many opinions, typically complicated, circulating concerning the energy disaster, made by an array of people that profess to have all of the options. 

Sri Lanka will not be in need of specialists in each potential discipline. From economics to energy, power and tourism to atmosphere, you identify it, they’re a dime a dozen, sprouting up throughout. It is vitally clearly seen that the Authorities offers ear to such ‘experts’, thereby lending credibility to those views, leaving the voices of the educated professionals ‘out in the wilderness’, unheard. (Bear in mind the notorious COVID-curing concoction!) In fact, the truth that some professionals are appearing unethically, compromising their standing, by resorting to corruption and blindly following politicians, doesn’t assist the trigger. 

The present energy disaster is a living proof. The widespread ‘rallying call’ has been renewable power, (solar energy specifically) because the remedy for all ills of the present energy disaster. Little doubt a few of these calls have been from real individuals sincerely involved concerning the atmosphere. However ‘making a lot of noise’ with out understanding the actual background to the issue, is detrimental. 

So, presuming that some primary clarification can be helpful to many, on this very topical topic, I’m delving into this difficulty to try to unravel the complexities of solar energy in layman’s phrases. (Normally, my opinions are centred round tourism, wildlife and atmosphere, which I do know one thing about. So, some might imagine energy programs is a brand new topic to me and add me additionally to the class of ‘experts’ talked about earlier. Might I hasten to make clear that this opinion on electrical energy is penned after ‘oiling the rusty cog wheels’ of my early electrical engineering schooling)

Solar energy is clear

Solar power could be very ‘clean’ power, there is no such thing as a doubt about that. It’s theoretically ‘free’ from the solar, and is a perennial supply of power. On common, the earth receives about 173,000 terawatt hours (TWh) in a single hour from the solar, whereas people the world over consumed in 24 hours 160,000 TWh (Enerdata 2018). So theoretically the solar produces all of the power we want for a day, in only one hour. However harnessing it for correct use has challenges. 

Solar energy generates in a different way 

Soar energy is Direct Present (DC). Common house home equipment function on Alternate Present (AC). Due to this fact, solar energy programs want specialised hi-tech tools (inverters) to transform DC to AC. One can in fact rewire lights to work on DC however different electrical home equipment equivalent to fridges and washing machines want AC energy.

Therefore as a result of want for such specialised hi-tech tools, solar energy installations are costly. 

Nonetheless internationally prices are coming down. However within the present Sri Lankan context it could be prohibitively pricey now with the prevailing change charges. (I lately referred to as a photo voltaic set up skilled and requested about upgrading my current photo voltaic system to a battery storage arrange. His reply was ‘Don’t even consider it, simply purchase an strange generator’)

Solar energy will not be constant

Solar energy is comparatively unreliable as a continuing supply (‘dispatchabilty’) since any cloud cowl causes drop within the output. Installations should be in open air, free from any obstructions that may trigger shade. The newer photo voltaic panels have greater in-built expertise so that in overcast days the photo voltaic panels will nonetheless ship some output however it should nonetheless be at a lot decrease output. 

Solar power must be saved

Solar energy is abundantly obtainable solely throughout daytime. Therefore the power must be saved in battery banks. Such battery banks are fairly costly and wish good upkeep which all provides to price of set up. The price of battery banks is at the moment lowering. 

Solar panels want massive space

Solar panels want correct orientation to the solar, and wish massive open areas for set up. As a rule of thumb, you require 10 sq. metre space for a 1 kW photo voltaic system capability. A mean small home would want about 2.5 KW which suggests the realm wanted can be about 25 sq. metre or 270 sq. toes (about 1/3 the scale of a badminton court docket).

Web metering supplied by CEB

The online metering scheme supplied by CEB successfully offers an exterior ‘storage’ for shoppers. The CEB successfully ‘buys’ the surplus energy from the shoppers, and reduces the quantity from the payments. 

It does not likely assist the CEB as they actually are not looking for the surplus energy produced by shoppers throughout the day time. CEB solely wants further energy throughout the evening time peak (beneath regular circumstances that’s). However within the present context it could assist preserve some hydro and thermal era throughout the day time.

As well as, the fluctuations within the output as a result of unreliability of the dispatch, causes problem for CEB to keep up the general grid energy system equilibrium. 

Particular strategies and tools are wanted to counteract this. (It is because of these technical causes that the CEB is reluctant to advertise extra internet metering programs) 


There isn’t a doubt that renewable power and particularly photo voltaic, is the best way ahead for a tropical nation like Sri Lanka.

However a rustic can’t rely completely on renewables because of its intermittent nature. 

Nonetheless, as defined above, photo voltaic installations do have many challenges specifically in interconnecting to the nationwide grids.

Merely setting remoted targets for renewable power will not be enough. 

A collection of peripheral augmentations to the grid must be undertaken concurrently for giant scale alternate power installations to be built-in (power supply portfolio combine administration).

Home photo voltaic installations might develop into very cost-prohibitive with the present FX foreign money disaster, and should make ROIs not viable anymore

In fact, if there’s a tariff revision on electrical energy charges, then as soon as once more the equations might develop into viable. 

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