Source: eKapija | Thursday, 01.12.2011.| 15:10
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Power supply grid is not the only solution - How to provide electricity without paying bills

Comfort at village houses and weekend cottages where electricity is not yet available can also be provided by means of alternative systems. Connections to the power supply grid are impossible to get in numerous places because of both huge amount of money that needs to be invested in non-existing low- and mid-voltage grid and the impossibility to resolve property relations. There are also protected zones where the construction of an electric grid is not possible in spite of the existence of residential facilities in them.

Installation of solar panels may be one of the solutions for getting electricity, and it pays off even when the connection to a power supply grid is possible.

It takes much time and a pile of papers (information about the facility, energy capacities, the person who submits the request, the proof of legality, ownership, geodesic plan...) to connect a facility to the power supply grid, and the connection fee is also quite high.

It takes several days to install solar panels, requests and appeals are not needed, the price is a bit higher than the price of connection to a power supply grid, but what must be taken in account is that there are no electricity bills.

However, the biggest problem in the use of independent systems is the accumulation of energy during rainy days, which is a limiting factor. When using such system, users must give up electric stoves and water heaters because they consume too much energy. One of possible solutions is to replace an electric stove with a gas stove and an electric water heater with a solar one.

Srdjan Dragojlovic, graduate electrical engineer and director of the company S.O.K., explains for eKapija's readers what is necessary to provide to use electricity obtained from solar energy.

- The size of a system does not depend on the size of the facility, but on the number of consumers. If we take into account that an average weekend cotage has 5-6 energy-saving bulbs (the best are LED bulbs), refrigerator, TV, radio, water pump, stove powered by gas or solid fuel and solar water heater, the planning, equipment and the installation of a solar system cost about EUR 2,840. The price includes 2 photovoltaic panels of 170W each, 2 VRLA 150Ah/12V batteries (batteries are intended for solar systems), a 20A charging controller, and an 800W/1600W invertor.

Dragojlovic stresses that it takes a day or two to install the system, and when asked about the system maintenance costs, he replies:

- The battery needs to be replaced every five years (if the system is constantly in use). The current price of a battery for such system is EUR 600, but I assume that the prices will drop in the years to come. Batteries should not be exposed to low temperatures.

There are also other alternative systems recommended by our interlocutor.

- If the location is suitable, I also recommend the construction of hybrid systems utilizing both solar and wind energy. The problem is that we have no information on the strength and duration of wind in some bigger locations, let alone small and micro locations.

It is difficult for a house to be self-sustainable in terms of energy because, as our interlocutor points out, conditions are limited by the number and type of consumers and the absence of the 100% guarantee that there will be enough electrical energy every day of a year.

However, power supply companies are also unable to guarantee that they will be able to immediately repair all defects in mountain areas during the winter.

M.K.

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