Solar Power in brief
Solar power commonly refers to the practice of using the suns energy to generate electricity. (If you are looking for Solar Water Heating click here) The technology for generating electricity from the suns energy has been around for many decades. Most common in simple calculators was a small strip of photo voltaic cells that took in sun light to charge a capacitor or rechargeable battery.
Nowadays we see photo-voltaic cells / solar panels fitted to parking meters, security lighting systems, mobile LED(tag) sign boards, blue-tooth car kits, mobile phones, battery chargers, watches, garden ornamental lighting, the list goes on and on.
The reason for this is, the ability to put solar collectors into these units is quite simple. It is a straight forward proven technology. Now for the big applications!
How do I connect solar power to the national grid?
How do I connect solar power to my home?
The process is surprisingly less daunting than most people think.
In the case of a grid linked system, it works the same way as a hydro or wind turbine connection. The only difference is the equipment generating electricity.
At present there are many companies retro fitting solar panels in and around the homes of people all across Ireland. One major difference between solar panels for electricity and those for water heating is there is not a major need to have the panels close to the house. This is the case with most water heating panels so that the system has maximum efficiency at lowest cost due to less distance to travel to the hot water storage cylinder. Now, while there can be efficiency loss over distance of power lines it is nowhere near the possible losses in hot water systems. With photo-voltaic (PV) panels I have seen them built into a carport, shed roof, mounted on lawns and garden walls. The restrictions are fewer however there is still a need to be very aware of how the power they generate gets to the grid.
Some very technically minded people have built their own Solar Systems and store the power generated in battery banks for use in their own homes or businesses. If you are now that way inclined the most popular method is to connect your system to the grid. Use a registered installer approved by the SEAI and with the ability to comply with ESB requirements for network connection.
How to connect a solar system to the grid
As I write this May 13th 2011, there is only one electricity provider set up to repay for excess electricity generated with a micro-generation Solar system, the ESB.
- You must be an ESB customer.
- Complete a micro-generation notification form available from the ESB on 1850 372757 or download a pdf. version from www.esb.ie
- Allow processing time when you return the form to ESB and do not under any circumstance proceed if ESB do not give notice to do so.
- Contact ESB Networks or a competent contractor to ensure what you intend to install conforms to ESB Networks standards in particular the invertor.
- When installation permission is granted, proceed with works with a registered electrical contractor to ETCI standards. The ESB site will give further details on what is required to meet the ESB Networks department’s standards.
- Once the Solar PV system is installed your contractor is required to send through a valid Completion Certificate to ESB Networks. When this is done the import/export meter can be installed. This is at present a free installation but that is liable to change.
- Not all is yet done. There is a specific tariff you will have to apply for through the ESB Micro Generation Supply section. This is to get paid for your surplus electricity exported to the grid.
Payments receivable for excess electricity produced and exported to the grid are currently paid by two sections of the ESB. The first payment is by ESB Customer Supply @ 9 cent per Kilowatt Hour. This payment is receivable until December 31st 2011. The second payment is from ESB Networks @ 10 cent per Kilowatt Hour up to a maximum of 3000 units per year – this is a support payment with a five year limit.