I am Rasaq Adeleye. I want to share a few technical details with you on the power and efficacy of renewable energy, based on my personal experience of complete reliance on Solar Systems usage in my apartment for 365 days. I mean no generator usage at all in one year!  Are you surprised? You don’t have to. It’s possible! I manage one of the foremost Renewable Energy Companies in Nigeria as a Technical Director, and I think I’m experienced enough to design solar systems, either for home use, businesses or communities, and provide an informed opinion on the nitty-gritty of the process and the benefits that you stand to gain from embracing renewable energy options, especially the Solar Energy System.

If there is any experience that I have taken away in my practice since I started my career in Electrical trade at Government Technical College, Idi Aba, Abeokuta, in the early 1990s, it would be that many people are interested in having independent, alternative energy sources, but are deterred by their lack of knowledge on how to use them. But that is not limited to just the technical side.  As I relate more with clients on a day-to-day basis via telephone, emails and site visits in my subsequent engagement as a non-renewable energy system technician (especially power generators) in two major multinational companies in Nigeria, I get to realise that carbon-free, renewable energy is the way to go.  This conviction has been further reinforced since 2007 when I started working with a diesel generator company. Many of the clients that I have worked for would prefer a healthy life that is void of the dangers of carbon emissions to the daily hassles that come with depending on unclean and unreliable grid-based electricity supply for their energy demands.  

However, diversifying into the renewable energy sector in 2016, after undergoing intensive practical training/retraining (online & physical) at RETTI Virtual University_ Energy Education, has further shown me that renewable energy sources surrounding us: wind energy, hydropower from flowing water, geothermal energy from the heat inside the earth, biomass from growing plants, and solar energy from the sun, which is the ultimate source, is the only truly healthy and reliable sources of energy.  This realisation makes me want to share what I call my ultimate journey towards energy independence.

As I said earlier, what I am about to share is based on systematic tests, observation; inference and conclusions that I was able to draw within one year of exclusive usage of Solar Energy Systems as the main source, while energy supplied by one of the DISCOs in Nigeria serves as standby only when available. You, too, can begin the journey today, if you care enough about healthy living.  I only suggest that you pay attention to what I will be sharing with you in a moment. But before I go into the technical details, I think I should chip in a few words of enlightenment on the desirability of renewable solar energy sources.

All other uses notwithstanding, one of the most desirable uses of solar energy or energy produced by the sun is for the generation of electricity. The warmth or thermal energy from the sun is captured through photovoltaic cells or solar cells which convert it to electricity. Sun is enough to generate needed energy when we utilise it optimally because energy from the sun is probably the most abundant around us. For instance, the time in which the sun is available is the time we need it least - daytime. 

Second, solar energy is a clean, pollution-free source of renewable energy. It is rugged, reliable, long-lasting, and can be used almost everywhere as an alternative energy source with no damage to the environment regardless of place and time. 

Most importantly, no one needs to be told that environmental pollution from carbon emissions and noise – any kind of noise - not the least noise from petrol or diesel-powered generators, is not good for health. Thus, we must gain direct control over what we are exposed to!

One point to note is that the use of solar as a source of energy requires accuracy of knowledge, including taking into account seasonal variations in the availability of the sun As you will discover from the step-by-step details of my journey into long-term (365 days) exclusive use of a solar source of energy in my apartment, the process requires a systematic approach.  That is why I think making some technical details available is important. 

Exactly on the 4th of July 2021, a complete 2.5kva solar system was installed and commissioned in my home. All that were required included a good Solar System Design, Charge Controller {CC}, Battery Technology Source {BTS} and a reliable inverter with all the components that will balance the system, taking into consideration the following steps: 

Test Requirements:

The first step is an energy audit of the apartment, which involves an inventory or review of all electrical appliances and equipment that are currently used in the home (current loads), to know the total energy requirements of the apartment and the appropriate energy packages/capacity to be installed. 

After a proper energy audit is keenly carried out, the following hardware was procured to carry out the installation:

1.  2.5kva pure sine wave inverter.

2.  60Ampere MPPT Charge Controller.

3.  4 by 320watts Solar Panel.

4.  2 by 220AH tubular battery.

5.  10kva wall mount servo central Stabiliser.

6.  Balance of system devices with an effective earthing.

7.  Other accessories like PV array, battery rack, bolt and nuts among others are included.

It’s that simple, and I did not have to worry about electricity problems; overheating or swelling of batteries.   But I must say that smaller packages were previously in operation before the deployment of the current installations. So, the above-mentioned installations were meant to augment existing capacity. 

Right now, efforts are in progress to upgrade the load capacity of existing installations, especially since a new water pumping machine is being installed. This means that additional panels, batteries and a bigger KVA size of the inverter will be required. 

As I conclude, I should emphasise that there is enough sun to power over 200 million Nigerian homes, both now and in the nearest future. Unfortunately, the potentials of solar energy remain largely untapped. About a third of sunlight that baths the territorial space of the country is reflected directly back into the atmosphere.  The quantum of energy loss could have transformed the power landscape of the country if properly harnessed. It is important that we gain direct control over solar and other renewable energy sources, rather than rely on unhealthy and uncertain sources, including dwindling fuel supplies.

My observation from adopting solar as an independent power source in my apartment is that solar photovoltaic PV is cheaper to install. Compared to connecting to the grid, all you need for installation is the availability of rooftops. It is also cost-effective and affordable to maintain. But more importantly, it is the health-friendly features, such as the noiseless and odourless, that I have had in the last year that constitute the most interesting experience.

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