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Method of Integrating Solar into the National Network

Roof top installation of a large grid tie solar system completed by Specialized Solar Systems in the Garden Route South Africa

Throughout Africa a central energy distribution method is typical, supplying energy over long distances to networks that are metered and paid by consumers. The energy business model calculates the amount of energy generated, transmitted and sold to formulate a profitable or non-profitable business. In this calculation, the loss of energy through transmission, stolen energy, and unpaid energy becomes the Achilles heel of an archaic business model.

Energy load profiles are determined nationally, and most ‘supply’ networks take the bulk of the load pressure in the morning and evening due to the impact of domestic use patterns. These load patterns determine the maximum generation capacity at a single point in time during the day – characteristically the highest required capacity will be in the morning or evening.

With a solar application, all power is generated during the day. This power does not typically reduce the maximum demand of a national energy network but introduces kWh into the network while the sun is shining. Sometimes this generation is at a higher cost per kWh than that of the network production cost – i.e. the implementation is purely carbon credits and not part of the business model.

Image of a Common National Grid Electrical Load Curve
Above image: A Common National Grid Load Curve

Historically, the high cost of battery storage and inferior long-term design warranties, the load curve (as indicated in the above image-chart) could not be altered. With the introduction of new battery technologies, the pressure on countries to improve their carbon footprint and the kWh price increase, the possibility of an effective profitable business model is now available in delivering alternative energy to the national grid.

A paradigm-shift on the way energy is delivered to a nation needs to be addressed. With the ‘new wave’ of technologies such as telemetry communication and interface control technologies, metering and management of individual clients has become purely an algorithmic calculation.

Decentralizing energy generation and maintaining central grid control and transmission, allows Specialized Solar Systems to refine our business model by applying pioneering methods to specific customer demographics.

Higher LSM customers will have a larger renewable component in their energy supply, ensuring constant payment ratios are maintained; whereby the lower LSM group can start with lower generation plants with a lower income, maintaining the same risk portfolio.

A decentralized energy distributed method allows all the advantages of producing energy from renewable sources, fulfilling carbon credit requirements, while lowering the maximum demand of the network and capitalizing on all the different earning capacities of each population group. This can be formulated on an equal risk portfolio to ensure that supply remains constant (i.e. not dependent on a single generation point) with an affordable roll-out for urban, peri-urban and rural structures alike.


graphic image that indicates the potential effect of decentralized energy on a national load curve
The above graphic indicates the potential effect of decentralized energy on a national load curve

While the above information is relatively common knowledge, the true challenge of a solar integration business model is the implementation. Specialized Solar Systems has successfully implemented sub-central distribution in rural and peri-urban environments. The same philosophy applies to the national network whereby data management and control need to be analyzed and understood.

The most important attribute to the success of the business model is the long-term strategy, which needs to be applied by a country’s mandate.

Should this strategy involve better control, more efficient transmission or renewable green energy? Finding the answers to these questions will lead to a more effective business model. Specialized Solar Systems can assist in this process in an advisory capacity. For further information please contact info@specializedsolarsystems.co.za


Above image: Bird’s eye view of a large grid-tied solar system recently designed and installed in Bloemfontein South Africa by Specialized Solar Systems. The grid-tied solar power generation solar system makes use of 356.4kWP arrays of solar panel banks and 324kVA inverter banks to help supplement power supply to businesses in the shopping center. Client: The Showgrounds Development Trust

More posts:

commercial solar, Grid, Grid Support, grid-tie, grid-tied

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