Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Vintage Solar Power.

PV panels and solar power are such a recent innovation that choosing the right product was always going to be difficult. We choose " Schüco " panels based on our experience of German engineering and their guarantee that after 25 years, a Schüco MPE module in the MS 05 series will still provide at least 80 % of its rated output.

With hindsight, I'm not sure if 80 % of its rated output is particularly good? As technology advances I'm sure many manufacturers will offer 90% or even 95% efficiency on their panels performance. In the light of these comments I was reassured this week by details of a 20 year old system in France using Kyocera panels.

I think my 190W panels are puny in comparison with those available today, 250W and even 300W panels which are lighter and more efficient than mine are widely available. Can you imagine the leap of faith required 20 years ago when the small French village of Lhuis decided to install 15 x 63W panels. 
I'm not sure what they cost at the time, but I'm certain that it was VERY expensive and the return on the initial investment is probably only being seen now.

The 945-watt installation was commissioned in 1992 by Hespul, a French non-profit organization involved in the promotion of renewable energies and energy efficiency. The installation consists of 15 modules each with an output of 63 watts. In the constantly innovating field of solar energy, 20 years is a long time, which makes the long-term performance and efficiency of these modules manufactured with the technology available at that time particularly remarkable. Recent tests showed that the modules still perform at 91.7% of their original maximum power output. That's only an 8.3% degradation in performance from its original power output level. 

Kyocera Corporation is a multinational electronics and ceramics manufacturer based in Kyoto, Japan. If you have their products on your roof, well done....You've probably made a very good choice.

As for the rest of us, I suspect that whatever your manufacturer guaranteed, it looks like their claims will be easily exceeded. 
Hopefully by a significant margin... I produced 2,432 kWh in 2011-2012.  If after 25 years my output has reduced by 8.3% then I'm going to lose approximately 200 kWh's, that's a months production. 

Twitter: (@solaricarus)

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