Solar Power for Replacing Diesel Generators: Top 10 Reasons Why Solar Energy Makes Sense for Institutions.
by Abhishek Gupta
For the last couple of decades Diesel Generators (DG) have been used where ever the electricity grid has failed to deliver, and they have done their job well. But like with many technologies every once in a while there comes an alternative that forces a shift in paradigm. This is especially true in business where competition is a brutal reality and profitability is a ruthless king.
In 2012 a solar power company, made a revolutionary bid to supply solar power for India’s grid at Rs 7.49 per unit (kWh), much cheaper than the cost of power generated by DG. What does this mean for businesses and commercial entities using DG sets?
If power can be supplied to the grid at that price, can institutions generate solar power for their own use at even less? Let’s examine the top 10 reasons why solar energy should be adopted by institutions to stay competitive.
1) Why solar energy makes sense with high current diesel costs:
At the current cost of diesel fuel DG operating cost is about Rs. 18/kWh including taxes, maintenance, transportation and storage costs. Electricity from solar power generation systems can cost as low as Rs. 2-3/kWh. Which begs the question…what would you rather be paying for your power?
2) Solar power for balancing increasing diesel prices:
If you follow the news: any news, you know that the high cost of diesel will continue to rise. Like any other natural depleting commodity, even with the subsidies gone, the post-subsidy diesel price scenarios don’t look good. Starting NOW solar power will always be cheaper when compared to power from DG sets. So if you are using a DG today you are already damaging your business.
3) Why solar energy is better than having high maintenance:
Regular servicing like oil and filter changes increases the maintenance costs of DG. Scheduled maintenance such as de-carbonization, adjustments etc. and unscheduled overhauls such as replacement of parts etc. requires skilled engineers who may not be available on time or at close proximity increasing downtime losses and also increasing costs.
4) Solar power for counteracting storage risks:
Installing DG means keeping diesel storage at hand. Predicting and storing diesel supplies on premises is difficult and cumbersome, not to mention the threat which highly inflammable liquids pose to employee safety and customer lives. Also while it may not be a problem for all locations, increasing costs of diesel will further encourage thefts.
5) Why solar energy scores on health implications:
The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified diesel fumes as carcinogenic leading to lung cancer and treating it same as passive smoking and UV radiation. Not only does burning diesel produce carbon dioxide, contributing to climate change, the fumes produced have been linked to health problems from respiratory and heart disease to even cancer. Running DG sets on premises can have irreversible damaging health implications on your employees.
6) Using solar power for better return on investment (ROI):
For any commercial entity ROI must form a big part of their decision-making process. Any equipment that incurs costs must have an attractive payback period and a justifiable residual life for which they are useful to the business. Even at the current costs of diesel fuel, using solar power for electricity offers a 3-4 year payback for commercial and industrial entities currently using DG sets to maintain business continuity.
7) Why solar energy gives great payback:
Remember, good quality solar panels last well for 25 years, sometimes even beyond. Once your investment in a quality solar power generation system is recovered over the short payback period the power your system will generate for the rest of its life is free. Which means free solar power for your business for up to 20 additional years, as certain as the sunrise every morning. Can you plan it any better?
8) Using solar power for or with integrated systems:
Every business wants to keep their downtime from power issues to a bare minimum. A great way to make ensure reliable continuity is to integrate the solar power generation system with your current grid infrastructure. Quality systems can easily achieve this making sure that your business gets an always on system for continuous and reliable power supply.
9) Why solar energy systems should provide a failsafe design:
A good system provider will recognize immediately that that your solar power system need to work in sync with your current power infrastructure. A commonly asked question is “Will the solar power system trip my grid infrastructure at any time?” Modern quality solar power systems should offer a failsafe design so that any transients, surges or sudden voltage drops don’t cause harm to your infrastructure or stall operations.
10) Adopting solar power for its affordability:
The one reason adoption of solar power for electricity was being delayed by institutional users used to be the initial cost. Buying a solar power system is more expensive than buying a diesel generator. But given the technology developments and the drop in cost of solar power generation systems, one need only look at the implications of operating costs and immediately power from solar becomes much cheaper than power from the DG.
Why solar energy adoption rate in sunshine abundant India is slower than sun-starved Europe is truly ironic. The average solar radiation in India is significantly higher than Germany for example where solar panels do not produce as much annual energy. Institutions should recognize their rooftop potential and immediately start assessing use of solar power for their business operations. Download FREE Solar Power User’s Consumer Guide to learn why solar energy makes sense for your business and how you can use solar power for predictable and dependable electricity.