solar panel in apartment

Can You Install a Solar Energy System If You Live in an Apartment?

Although many Malaysians live in an apartment, but this should not be a problem to access solar energy.

If you live in an apartment building, you may think that having a solar energy system is not an option, because you don´t own the property, or you don’t have access to the roof.

Your main concern could also be that it is not worth your investment because you don’t own the property.

Some landlords might not want to install a solar power system, mainly because the initial cost is high, and they don’t receive the benefits if they rent out the property.

But this is not true at all. In fact, landlords can truly benefit from installing solar systems in their apartment buildings.

An important question you should ask is whether or not your apartment building is suited for solar power.

Consider this:

  • Solar power systems are better in apartments with four stories or less. If the building has more than four stories, you may also install a solar panel system, as long as the installers have a good and secure place to work and there is a way to get the system to the top.
  • Solar power energy can be distributed from a single Photovolataic System among multiple meters.

Now it is possible to install the same PV systems for everyone in the building, thanks to the virtual net metering, which is a lot less expensive.

Benefits

There are several benefits for the landlord to install a solar panel system in the apartment, such as:

  • Allow people to generate their own electricity
  • Export excess electricity to the grid
  • Reduce electric bill

No matter where you install the solar power system, it should always be secure firmly to resist strong winds.

This is especially true in high apartment buildings.

Your solar consultant should verify this, and if you have any doubts it is a good idea to contact a structural engineer.

External walls and roofs are also strong enough and you should not have any problem installing a solar power system.

Note that installation in a high building apartment will be more expensive, and it’s even so if your building has steep roof.

Before installing a solar power system in the building, consider the following:

 

Waterproof

Many building walls and roofs have a waterproof membrane.

It is better if you don’t penetrate the membrane when converting to a solar apartment.

Search for solar panels systems that are designed for flat roofs.

Sometimes there is no way to avoid penetrating the membrane but this should kept to a minimum.

So consult your solar installer if there are any leaks.

 

Fire

Walls between apartments are usually fire proofing.

So it is a good idea to ask your solar panel installer if the solar system would compromise it in any way.

This is something you should also discuss with the fire service company of the building.

 

Permits

Your solar company in Malaysia should make sure if you need any permits to install a solar panel system in the building.

Finally, make sure that the solar company in Malaysia you are choosing has experience installing solar panels on apartment buildings.

Check for reviews, talk to past customers and look for the warranty on solar panels.

Solar energy is not only good for the environment, it’s also amazing in lowering operating costs and increasing return on investment for apartment owners.

The Solar Industry in Malaysia is expanding and solar panels are getting cheaper and cheaper every day. So go green and help save the environment as it has never been easier.

types of solar power systems

Types of Solar Power Systems

Malaysia is the perfect place for the generation of solar power. Malaysia’s location, which is near the equator, receives between 4,000 to 5,000 Wh per square meter per day.

With its unique advantage, the solar industry in Malaysia has grown in the last years, with the creation of solar farms and other solar power companies. Solar farms in Malaysia are considered one of the most resource-efficient in the world.

Some of these solar farms produce enough energy for 1,800 houses every day.

Are you aware that there are different kinds of solar power systems? In fact, the most common types of solar energy systems for homes are grid-connected, grid-connected with energy storage, off-grid, and DC systems.

The most common type among the four is the Grid-connected system, although grid connected with energy storage is becoming very popular despite the high cost of building it.

Let’s discuss more about the different types of solar power systems.

 

1. Grid-Connected System

This type of solar panel system is the most common one. It is connected to your local electric grid and your home. If your array generates more energy than what you use, it sends the excess back to the electric grid.

This way you are selling your extra solar power back to the utility company where it can be used by your neighbours or others.

This type of system requires a few panels, wiring boxes and disconnects and an inverter. Also, you have to make an interconnection agreement with the local utility company.

Advantages

  • Initial Cost: Purchasing a solar power system for your home can be very expensive. But grid-tied systems are much cheaper since they use less equipment than the other types of rooftop solar power.
  • Low Maintenance: The operating cost of grid-tied systems is very low. Solar panels have 20 to 25 years of warranty.
  • Reliability: Grid-tied system is simple and can have no downtime (without electricity).
  • Flexibility: You have the chance to design your system with an alternative energy source and a utility source. This way you can change the system to meet your needs in the future.

Disadvantages

  • The setback of this type of solar power system is that when the sun goes down, you are not able to use any of the energy that the solar panels produce. This can also happen if your electric grid is down; your solar panels will be shut off automatically, too, leaving you without energy.

 

2. Grid Connected Solar with Energy Storage

This type of solar power system is also known as hybrid solar. In the last couple of years, this energy system is becoming very popular, even though it’s more expensive.

It is similar to the grid-connected residential system, but comes with an energy storage system usually in the form of battery backup.

The hybrid system consists of a PV array, a charge controller, a battery bank and inverter and in some occasions a tertiary power source like a wind turbine or a gas generator.

Advantages

  • Energy Storage System: If your solar power system produces excess energy, it can be stored in the battery. So even if there is no sunlight, you can still power your home with solar power. If there is a power outage, your home will still have power for hours.
  • Save Money: The battery can provide additional opportunities to save money because your energy storage system can make sure you are using its power instead of the power of the grid.

Disadvantages

  • Cost: The system costs more because you need to change the batteries regularly. Although the cost of batteries has gone down in recent years, they still need to be replaced at some point.
  • High-Level Expertise: This solar power system is more complex so you may require a solar installer with a higher level of expertise to design and install. So make sure you find out from your solar power company if they install this type of system.

 

3. Off-Grid Residential Solar Panel System

The off-grid residential solar panel system is a lot like the hybrid system. It also uses solar panels and an energy storage system.

The off-grid system is installed in very rural, remote areas, where it is expensive to run a power line to a home.

The system is more expensive because it is bigger since it’s not connected to the electric grid. This requires more solar panels and batteries.

Advantages

  • Independence: One of the best things about this type of solar system is that you don’t depend on the utility company. You are not subject to the terms and policies of the utility company.
  • No Blackouts: Another benefit is that when everyone else has no electricity, your home will still have full power. This is very important with people with health conditions that require electronic devices or refrigerated medicines.
  • No Electricity Bills: Because you are producing your own electricity you will never again have to pay a bill to the utility company.

Disadvantages

  • Higher Initial Cost: If you don’t have a connection from the utility company, you will need a backup battery when there is no sun. Adding this source of backup will increase your solar costs.
  • Limited Solar Energy Storage: If the weather is cloudy for a few days and you don’t receive any sun, you may run out of stored electricity.
  • Energy Efficiency is a Must: You need to be very careful about your energy, or you may not have enough power for your home.

Should you go off-grid with solar power? Well, that depends on your main motivation.

If you want to produce your own energy, want an end to blackouts or eliminate your electricity bills, having this type of solar power may be right for you. It’s also highly suitable for those who don’t have any electricity connected to their home.

But if you just want to save some money, it can be more feasible to consider a grid-tied photovoltaic system instead.

4. DC Solar Systems

DC Solar System will power an RV or cabin, but this type of solar system doesn’t typically power a whole house. It differs from grid-connected solar power system because DC solar systems don’t use an inverter to convert DC electricity produced by the solar panels to the AC electricity used in most homes.

Instead, it provides electricity to DC appliances and/or a battery bank. This is the most basic type of solar power system, and it is intended to be used only when the sun shines. The system is very affordable and easy to install.

However, once the sun goes down, the power stops. It is perfect for remote locations that require low voltage. You can use this type of solar power system for certain things like:

  • Water Pumping applications
  • Venting Fans
  • Certain Electronics.

Advantages

  • High System Efficiency: Because there is only one conversion, DC Solar System is more efficient.
  • Simple Installation: A DC system can use only one inverter, which means simpler installation.
  • Easy to coordinate: Because DC system only has one inverter, it is easy to coordinate advanced functionalities that are required in some locations.
  • More energy to the battery: As the energy flow is not limited by the inverter capacity, the system is able to route more energy to the battery.

Disadvantages

  • High cost: You will need to spend a considerable amount to buy a DC solar system.
  • Solid sunlight required: DC system will only work when the sunshine is solid. You can use DC system when there is no sun, but the battery will need to be fully charged by the sun.

These are the four different types of solar panel systems that are available for homes.

To know which type to use for your house, review your requirements with a professional solar installer who will be more than happy to explain to you and offer you the available options.

 

solar panel with high rise building behind

How do solar panels work?

Solar energy is obtained by turning the sun’s energy into electricity. This electricity can be used for your home or business. The sun releases packets of energy called photons, which can be used in remote places and even in space.

Today solar energy can be used for multiple things like heat for making hot water, heating up building and cooking, generate electricity with solar cells. It also can be used for drying clothes, and by plants for photosynthesis.

Solar Panels rely on light from the sun, not heat. If the climate is extremely hot, solar panels are usually less efficient. They convert sunlight into DC electricity. When photons touch the silicon cell in the solar panel, the electrons are released creating energy.

Solar Panels are made up of interconnected cells that together form a circuit. They come in various sizes, styles and they have different purposes. A single solar module only produces a limited amount of power, and that’s the reason why most installations contain multiple modules.

Photovoltaic System

The typical photovoltaic system includes:

  • Array of photovoltaic modules
  • Inverter
  • Battery pack for storage
  • Interconnection wiring
  • Solar tracking mechanism (optional)

The most common use of solar panels is solar water heating systems. The price of this type of renewable energy in many countries is cheaper than the ordinary fossil fuel electricity.

In Malaysia, the government has several strategies to encourage the use and growth of renewable energy as sunshine is abundant all year round in the country. The demand for solar energy has risen more and more each year as consumers and businesses learn more about the benefits not only for the environment but also to the economy.

According to the Sustainable Energy Development Authority of Malaysia (SEDA) the market for solar energy has growth much more than any other renewable energy technology. Around 95% of the applications were for less than 72kWp, showing the acceptance of this type of energy from the general consumer.

Malaysia is the world’s third-largest producer of PV cells and modules putting the country in a good position to benefit from the growing solar power usage worldwide.
Shopping for solar used to be a long and complicated process, now it is easy and you can request free quotations. There are hundreds of solar companies in Malaysia, so find the one that is right for you.

As you can see there are many reasons why homeowners go solar, with the most common ones being:

  • Improving the environment
  • Cutting energy costs

But they are other benefits as well:

  • Renewable Energy Source: It can be used in all areas of the world and is available every day. Solar energy cannot run out, we will have access to this energy as long as we have the sun.
  • Diverse Applications: With solar power you can produce electricity or heat. So you can produce electricity in areas without access to energy grid.
  • Low Maintenance Cost: Solar energy systems don´t require a lot of maintenance, you just have to keep them clean. But you should only clean the panels a couple of times a year. You can hire cleaning companies or you can do it yourself. The majority of solar panel manufacturers will give you a 20 to 25 years warranty. The only part of the solar system that need to be changed every 5 to 10 years is the inverter. So after the initial cost, you can expect very little spending on maintenance.

No matter what your motivations are for going solar, just remember to do your research and contact at least two solar power companies to get the best deal. Remember solar power is expensive but your investment can return in seven to eight years, plus studies show that houses with solar panel systems have higher property values and sell more quickly.

As people learn and become more educated about the benefits of solar power, the demand for this type of energy will increase. Keep in mind that the sun is a near-infinite source of energy. So, use it to the fullest to save the environment and money at the same time!

Electric Generation chart by source

Wind and Solar to ‘Dominate’ Future of Electricity by 2040

Renewable energy is indeed the future, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s latest report, which forecasts technologies such as wind and solar to “dominate” the future of electricity by 2040, making up 48% of the world’s installed capacity and 34% of electricity generation.

“This year’s report suggests that the greening of the world’s electricity system is unstoppable, thanks to rapidly falling costs for solar and wind power, and a growing role for batteries, including those in electric vehicles, in balancing supply and demand,” said Seb Henbest, lead author of NEO 2017 at BNEF.

Renewable energy-generated electricity will rise 169% by 2040, and reach 74% penetration in Germany, 38% in the US, 55% in China and 49% in India.

BNEF’s New Energy Outlook (NEO) predicts US$7.4 trillion to be invested in new renewable energy plants by 2040 also; which is 72% of the US$10.2 trillion that is projected to be spent on new power generation worldwide. Of that investment, solar takes US$2.8 trillion and sees a fourfold increase in capacity.

China and India account for 28% and 11% of all investment in power generation by 2040. Asia Pacific sees almost as much investment in generation as the rest of the world combined. Of this, just under a third goes to wind and solar each, 18% to nuclear and 10% to coal and gas.

Solar Specifics

The NEO details how the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) from solar PV, which is now almost of quarter of what it was in 2009, is set to drop another 66% by 2040. By then, US$1 is expected to buy 2.3 times as much solar energy than it does today; which is significant as utility-scale solar prices have recently fallen below US$1/Watt according to GTM Research.

Furthermore, solar is already on par with coal prices in the US, Australia, Germany, Spain and Italy. By 2021, BNEF forecast that this trend will permeate into China, India, Mexico, Brazil and the UK.

On the residential side, by 2040, rooftop PV will account for as much as 24% of electricity in Australia, 20% in Brazil, 15% in Germany, 12% in Japan and 5% in both the US and India.

At the same time, utility-scale renewable energy plants will continue to grow, further reducing the need for existing coal and natural gas plants. In fact, BNEF forecast coal use in Europe will fall by 87% in Europe by 2040 and 51% in the US. However, coal will continue to grow in China by a fifth over the next decade, but is expected to reach its peak in 2026.

Global emissions too are projected to peak in 2026, but be 4% lower in 2040 than they were in 2016.

“One of the big questions for the future of electricity systems is how large amounts of variable wind and solar generation can be accommodated, and yet keep the lights on at all times,” the report reads. “Sceptics worry about ultra-cheap renewables depressing power prices and squeezing out base-load coal, gas and nuclear plants.”

Energy Storage

In order to support the increased amount of variable renewable power on the grid, energy storage – both in the form of utility-scale and small-scale battery systems – will have a big part to play in smoothing out the peaks and troughs in supply.

BNEF expects the lithium-ion battery market for energy storage to be worth at least US$239 billion between now and 2040. Utility-scale batteries will be increasingly competitive with natural gas to provide system flexibility at times of peak demand. Small-scale residential and non-residential battery systems will account for 57% of storage worldwide by 2040.

“NEO reflects the understanding our team has built up over more than a decade of how technology costs and system dynamics have evolved, and are evolving,” said Jon Moore, chief executive of BNEF. “This year’s NEO shows an even more dramatic low-carbon transition than we have projected in previous years, with steeper drops in wind and solar costs and faster growth for storage.”

Source: https://www.pv-tech.org/news/wind-and-solar-to-dominate-future-of-electricity-by-2040#