When you learn to see your expenses as investments you get to make better buying decisions. Although a lot of us know that solar power would be cheaper, in the long run, a lot of people just settle for generators (with a guilty conscience). I believe people act based on the information they have, so I have gathered some experts to elaborate on the issue.
Solar generator = Solar panel + Inverter(with charge controller) + Battery
Numbers don’t lie, so for easy comparison, we will put the popular (I-better-pass-my-neighbour) 1.5-2kva fuel generator against a 1.5kva solar generator on we will take solar to the generator. Note that this cannot power most pressing Irons or even air conditioners.
|Purchase cost||₦37,500 – ₦65,000||₦180,000 – ₦625,000|
|Running cost @ 6hrs a day||₦957 @1.1 litre/hour||₦0|
|Total cost for 5 years||₦1,784,025 – ₦1,811,525||₦180,000 – ₦625,000|
I typically run my generator for 6-8 hours a day. The Honda 1.6kva generator consumes 1.1 litres per hour as reported on their site, and a litre of petrol is about ₦145. This doesn’t take into account maintenance or oil changes.
While discussing with a friend about the public healthcare facilities in Nigeria and the noisy diesel generators they use, I mentioned the solar generator I had just installed. He had this smirk on his face that he usually has when he has to pay a bill.
Upfront, generators are roughly an order of magnitude cheaper. It is almost ridiculous, especially when you consider the income profile of most Nigerians. How would I explain being broke while having an inverter in my house? I could stop buying fuel for my generator, but could I sell the power in my charged batteries?
Even if I got my solar generator at the most expensive, ₦625,000, my investment in solar generators will save me about 1.2 million in 5 years, approximately 56% of my investment year-on-year for 5 years, 5 peaceful, noiseless and mechanic-free years. Then my friend was sincerely suggesting that I should have considered treasury bills. I almost wept for my who people suffer for lack of knowledge.
The economics may not scale at the same rate for those using solar generators with more capacity, especially when you consider replacing diesel generators. The fact still but the fact remains that solar generators are the best option for power in Nigeria.
When we consider the Noise and Air pollution of regular fuel generators, there is no bone of contention against solar generators. Generators are not only dangerous they are really expensive but our society is not well educated on the true cost so they don’t get to see what is really involved in making this decision.
Binilith Mahenge, President of AMCEN says that 2˚C increase in global warming would put 50% of the African population at risk of undernourishment due to the detrimental effects of climate change on agriculture on the continent. This he draws from the IPCC special report on global warming of 1.5 ºC. In other words, your generators contribute to the rising price of foodstuff we all complain about.
The Electrical Engineer
Nigerians find it hard to turn off the light during the day, conserving energy is clearly not part of our culture. For people outraged by blackouts and frequent power outages, lit bulbs could lighten your mood all day— especially when you remember you no longer have to buy fuel :).
Using Solar generators would teach you to monitor your energy consumption. Because when the sun sleeps, the energy stored in the batteries and the rate at which you use them will determine how long you those bulbs can stay on.