Solar Panel Installation

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SOLAR PANEL GUIDELINE FOR RESIDENCE

Prepared by: Chin Xin Ying and Nabilah Najah bte Saleh
Green Brunei Interns from UTB taking BEng Civil and Structural Engineering

Figure 1. 3KWp Residential solar at Muara (Megawatt Solar, 2017)

Objective of this guideline:

To provide interested homeowners with some basic information on how to plan a solar PV system to generate electric power in residence.

What is a solar PV system?

Solar photovoltaic system is one of renewable energy system which uses PV modules to convert sunlight into electricity that can be either used directly or stored (i.e. in batteries).

Why go solar?

  • Solar energy is a renewable energy source. It can be harnessed in all areas of the world and is available every day as long as there is sunlight.
  • You can reduce the impact of your carbon footprint by utilizing solar energy which is non-polluting and does not release harmful gases like carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide or sulphur oxide.
  • Cabling and trenching works can be very costly due to the installation and maintenance process. Hence, for landscaping and outdoor lightings, solar is the cheaper and more convenient option.

How can I maximize solar energy production in Brunei?

Location: Top of building facing sky with minimal shading from tall buildings or trees
Angle: Lying the panel flat (0°) produces maximum energy in Brunei, slightly tilting angle ( less than 5°) would be preferable to allow rain water to run off properly.
Roof area: Depends on how large the system is.
Orientation: Panel installed facing south to be most efficient in Brunei.

What are the components in solar PV system?


What are the different type of solar power system?

  • Off Grid system
    This is an independent connection or standalone system that would be fully dependent on solar energy. There is no electrical power supply from the government. There is a need for batteries in this case, to supply continuous power during the night. If more autonomous (rainy or cloudy) days are required, additional batteries will be required. Load is limited by the power supplied by the solar panels.
  • Hybrid system
    This system use solar energy connected in house and government power supply as back up. When the solar energy is inadequate to power the house, the electrical power supply from the government would be used. Thus, sharing the task to provide electrical power in the house.
  • Solar light products
    Other solar light products are used such as security lights, garden lights, high mast flood lights, and parking and highway streetlights.  All of which are integrated with solar panels and using LED chips and drivers.

How do I size my system?

The size of your system depends on your power consumption of loads that need to be supply and available roof space.

(i) Calculation of power consumption

A. Find out from the electric bill to know your total electricity use in kilowatt-hours per day. Alternatively, add the kilowatt-hours needed for all appliances together to get the total kilowatt-hours per day used by the appliances.

Table 1. Example of estimated daily load consumption (energyusecalculator.com)

B. Total kilowatt-hours per day provided by solar panel can be calculated through online solar panel software or using the formula shown below:

Amount of solar energy = Solar Panel Capacity × No. of hours × Capacity factor

Take solar panel capacity at 10kW and capacity factor at 13% (for Brunei), daily amount of solar energy could be calculated using the formula above.

Amount of solar energy produced in a day = [10kW × (24H) × 13%] = 31.2 kwH

C. The size of solar system can be designed based on the amount of solar energy produced and the power consumption of load (electrical appliances) that need to be supplied.

(ii) Available roof space

Find out the roof space area that is available for solar panel at your residential. Check if there is enough space to accommodate the PV modules required to supply the load.

Example:
Each 260W PV module is around 1.6m × 1m and a 3kW system would take about 19.2 m2 of roof space.

How much does it cost to buy solar panel?

Cost of solar power system depend on individual quotation from solar panel companies, type of solar panel system (hybrid or off grid) and the size of the system. Usually bigger system has less cost per kW of system. The batteries usually cost around 30-40% of the overall cost of the system. Off-grid system usually requires batteries, while hybrid system does not necessarily require battery.

Typically at the moment, residential installation of solar cost about B$3000 – B$4000 per kilowatt for hybrid system and B$8000 – B$9000 per kilowatt for off grid system.

Maintenance is negligible unless there are replacement parts required.  Cleanliness of solar panel can be done by cleaning the panels with water once in 2-3 months to remove the dust or animal droppings.

How much money can I save by using solar panel?

For a 10 kW solar power system and capacity factor of 13% (for Brunei), such system can produce approximately 227,760 kWh of energy over their lifespan (10 x 13% x 24h x 365 days x 20 years). As Brunei uses block electric tariff, electricity tariff of BN$0.06 per kWh will be used in calculation. This is based on estimation of lowest monthly electric consumption charge for domestic usage. As a result, you will save around $13,665 worth of electricity over the lifespan of your solar power system.

Is there any regulations needed from government to install solar panel?

At the moment, there is no regulatory governing the installation of solar panel in Brunei. Companies follow international standards for solar PV systems that convert solar energy into electrical energy, as well as for all the elements in the entire system. For hybrid solar power system, Department of Electrical Services will be informed on the installation by the company and approved licensed electrician will be engaged to commission the installation. It is advisable that the designer or installer to not allow direct connection to the public utilities to avoid backfeed. For off grid system, installation can be done by the licensed electrician.

Which companies offer solar PV system services in Brunei?


References:

Other sources of information:

  • Energy and Industry Department, Prime Minister’s Office
  • Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation, Ministry of Development
  • Green Building Council
  • Everything Solar Brunei
  • Megawatt Solar Solutions
  • Morsjaya Electrical Co Sdn Bhd
  • Sun Wei Trading Sdn Bhd