Solar Elecricity

 

 

When driving around the countryside here, it is a common site to see fields of solar panels which are capturing the sun’s energy and converting it to electricity which is fed into the grid so the power providers can sell it back to us.  As you drive past, you may be asking yourself how you can also use the sun to generate your own electricity at home and help reduce your electricity bills. Well, you can do this with a solar panel electricity system, also known as photovoltaic (PV).

 

 

How do I make my own electricity?

If your house is already connected to the electricity grid, then you will probably need to have a grid connected solar electricity system. Basically, this consists of solar panels, or a solar array, which provide your home’s power needs during the day time while still being connected via an inverter to the local electric grid network. The grid provides power during the night time, or times when the solar system is not meeting all your electricity needs such as during a prolonged cloudy spell, which is luckily not that common in this area of Spain!

 

 

How do I connect to the grid?

As well as installing the necessary equipment, you will need to ensure that the installation has the correct permissions and certifications from the power supplier and the Ministry of Interior to ensure it meets current safety and electrical legislation.  Your installer should provide that as part of the installation process, as otherwise if the system is not correctly registered, you may be subject to fines or prosecution.

 

 

What if I am not connected to the grid?

Don’t worry, you can have an off-grid system and store surplus photovoltaic electricity in batteries for when you need it.  In addition, you could also consider having a generator as an additional back-up.  This kind of installation is not subject to the same registration requirements as the grid connected one. 

 

 

What maintenance do Solar PV Systems require?

Good news! If the system is correctly installed, it should require very little maintenance. It is important to keep the panels clean so they can capture as much of the sun’s energy as possible. Also keep an eye on any trees that may grow up and create shade for the panels as this will make the system less efficient.

Renewable Energy Feature

 

 

You may have seen various articles in the Spanish press recently about the current drought that Spain is experiencing.  Although periods of drought are relatively common in Spain, this September was the driest this century.  As the lack of rain has continued into Autumn, we have seen devastating wild fires in the north and speed limits put in place around Madrid to try and reduce the pollution affecting the city.

 

However, the drought this year has also had another, possibly for many people unexpected, effect.  It has caused an increase in the cost of electricity.  According to laSexta Noticias, this Summer our electricity bills have been 6.5% more expensive than last Summer, which works out around 68 Euros more per household for the first six months of 2017 than for the first six months of 2016.

 

The reason for this cost increase is that in 2017 hydroelectricity has only met about 10% of the total electricity demand in Spain compared with 20% for the same period in 2016.  Usually a cheap source of power, the lower amount of hydroelectricity being generated is affecting prices in the market.

 

When it rains, the power companies have to switch on turbines to protect the dams around the reservoirs from being breached and this movement of water generates a cheap source of power. However, when there is no rain and the water levels in the reservoirs are low, the power companies can choose when to activate the turbines and various sources allege that the time when they choose to do this is when electricity prices are at their highest. In the meantime, our electricity must come from other more expensive sources.

 

What can you do as a consumer? Well, it is always important to be careful with your water usage and not waste this precious resource. Here are some handy tips to follow:

  • Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth
  • Always use full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher
  • Take a shorter shower
  • Fix a dripping tap

 

As last month’s article highlighted, you can also make use of another renewable energy source, the sun, to generate your own free electricity and heat your water to lower your electricity bills. Lack of rain means there has been more sunshine which is great for generating solar energy, but solar panels still work on cloudy days too if we do get that longed-for rain.

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