Sustainable Living - Solar Energy for the Home

Sustainable Living - Solar Energy for the Home

Living in a country abundant with oil and gas, we have been blessed with high energy subsidies and a comfortable way of life. Being a non-renewable resource, however, we are encouraged to become more efficient in our energy usage and consider more renewable resources for the future. More importantly, the noticeable environmental effects of long-term carbon emissions globally has led to a stronger sense of urgency in our national drive to achieving sustainable living.

Green building is no longer just a growing trend in housing developments, but a necessity as we strive to create homes with lower carbon footprints and increased energy efficiency. Photovoltaics, or converting solar energy from the sun into electricity, has long been a popular option for home owners world wide. Yet, despite the constant sunshine we enjoy in Brunei, only a very small number of home owners have invested in photovoltaics.

We asked a local consultant from Quaezar Energy Solutions to shine some light on photovoltaics over the next few weeks to give Bruneian home owners a better understanding of this bountiful resource and how sourcing energy from the sun can be a great environmental, as well as financial, investment for their future.

1) Can you give us a brief overview of photovoltaics?

Photovoltaic (PV) is a device that allows us to harness free and green energy by converting energy from sunlight (solar energy) into electrical energy. Because we will never 'run out' of sunlight (not for another billions of years, that is), solar energy is considered 'renewable energy'.

There are generally two ways to utilise solar energy for home owners. First is by consuming the electrical generation for your own use and the second is to pump it into the grid, i.e., to sell it to your electricity provider. The second option can be very lucrative as power from renewables are often priced higher than the conventional generation. This however, is dependent on your country's renewable energy policy.

In many countries, a Feed in Tariff (FiT) scheme has been introduced to increase renewable energy penetration. Under FiT, home owners can sell power generated from the PV system installed on their roof top at a pre-agreed price for a pre-agreed period, typically 15 to 30 years.

The Government of Brunei is targeting a 10% injection of renewables by 2035 and is planning to introduce a FiT scheme sometime towards the middle or end of 2015.

2) Is it something home owners should consider?

If you are eligible for FiT or simply aiming to be self-reliance on electricity, then it is definitely something you should consider as solar panels have a lifespan of 20 years or more and have very low maintenance cost.

3) Are they worth investing in?

If you are eligible for a FiT scheme, it definitely is worth investing in! For example, in Malaysia, with a tariff of about RM1/kWh, home owners receive a return on their investment after only 7 years then went on to enjoy additional income for the next 10 to 15 years. A typical 4kWp installation in Malaysia will generate a revenue of about RM7,000 per year.

Since PVs have a life span of about 20 to 30 years and very low maintenance cost, the installation will provide you a long term income and increase property value as it is akin to owning your own 'power station'.

4) Is the technology accessible?

Yes, there are actually many solar energy providers worldwide who can supply and install solar panels for home owners. We (Quaezar Energy Solutions) not only help home owners get access to these technologies but also help in the designing and the installation of your PV systems.

Hamidah Ismail of Quaezar Energy Solutions

Next Month: Photovoltaics at Home - Benefits for Home owners.