Solar Modules – What is the best for you

There are a lot of different solar modules available in the market, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some modules have a higher efficiency while others are flexible. In this newsletter I will explain the important things to look for when choosing to best solar modules for your project.

Efficiency:
Efficiency and price is not linear – with higher efficiency comes exponentially higher cost! High efficiency is required if you do not have enough roof space and low levels of energy from the sun. In South Africa we are in the fortunate position to have ample roof space with a lot of energy from the sun! The run of the mill efficient panels with the best price tag is best suited for South Africa.
Lower efficient solar panels will require slightly more roof space to provide the same yield
High efficient solar panels will require slightly less roof space to provide the same yield

Guarantee:
All the reputable solar modules has a 25 year performance guarantee – nothing less that this should be accepted. In addition to this, you must ensure that your supplier will be around in 25 years to honour any claim. Using one of the top tier manufactures will go a long way towards this …

Thin Film:
This film solar modules are flexible mats that produce electricity. They represent the most expensive option, and is not required for most business and residential applications

Hybrid Modules:
Hybrid modules produce electricity and hot water. These modules are very expensive.
If you assume all the hot water generated can be used in the operations, then the return on investment will be twice as long as for normal solar modules.
There are no solar modules available from a Top Tier manufacturer, which will make financing through a major financial house very difficult.

Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline

The two most important evaluation criteria is the supplier and energy cost over the lifetime of the investment.

Manufacturers:
It is very important to buy solar modules from one of the top tier manufacturers in the world. The rating represents quality in production and the strength of the balance sheet.
Bloomberg publishes an annual report that rate the top tier suppliers:

Cost / kWh
The most important evaluation criteria is the Capital Cost / kWh generated over the lifetime of the installation! The lowest energy cost will be from Polycrystalline solar modules. These modules are also less affected by high temperatures we sometimes experience in our summers.