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Frequently asked questions

Why should I invest in photovoltaics?

There is a multitude of reasons. Mainly to minimise our dependence on fossil fuels, which are limited as a resource. It has been calculated that for every kilowatt (kW) produced from renewable energy sources, the emission of 1.3 tons of carbon dioxide, the principal "green house" gas, is averted. Cutting down on petrol use has other benefits that usually tend to get overlooked; many of the things that we take for granted today, such as medicines, plastics, cosmetics, dyes, etc. are all derived from petrol. Less than 2% of the world's annual oil production goes to the manufacturing of such goods, while the rest ends up burned in engines, burners and generators. In the short term, investing in photovoltaics can help achieve national goals in cutting down on gas emissions, and therefore avoiding fines which would be imposed, based on international treaties and eventually saving the taxpayers' money. Furthermore, by installing a PV system we increase the autonomy of our home/business. Finally, it is important to note the considerable financial incentives that are in place; i.e. the high feed-in tariffs which are guaranteed for 25 or 20 years (per case) and which allow the investors to regain the cost of their investment within the first 3-4 years of operation and have a permanent, net profit thereafter. It should also be noted that the hours that solar power production peaks, are the same hours for which power companies usually charge more.

What is the cost and what is the yield of such an investment?

Beyond a base cost that is related to certain key components and which is almost the same regardless of scale, both cost and yield increase linearly as the installed power capacity increases. Just to give you an idea, a 10kW roof-mounted PV system costs somewhere between 35,000€ and 40,000€, while the cost of a 100 kW PV park is in the range of 260,000€ to 280,000€. For an area with an average insolation as that of Ioannina, the expected average monthly revenue in the examples above would be 580€ and 5800€ respectively. Factors that impact a PV system's performance include the geographic location selected for its installation, its orientation and the topology of the surrounding area (tall buildings, mountains etc.). The cost is affected by the distance between the installation and the power company's grid as well as by the technical difficulty of the project.

How can I invest in solar power?

Based on current legislation, aside from autonomous photovoltaic systems, there are 4 different possibilities:
  • roof-mounted PVs, up to 10 kW
  • PVs on land sites, up to 100 kW
  • PVs on land sites, over 100 kW and up to 500 kW (or 1 MW in industrial areas)
  • PVs on commercial - industrial rooftops, regardless of power capacity
Who can benefit from each program and under which circumstances, is explained in the respective sections.

What does a PV system consist of?

First of all there are the solar panels. These are responsible for converting sunlight to direct current. An inverter is placed in line with the panels and direct current is transformed to alternating current (inversion) so that everyday electric appliances can operate. In the case of autonomous systems, there is usually an accumulator (battery), that stores the surplus energy produced by the system and channels it back to the circuit when there is a need (e.g. at night or when there is a high load). Systems connected to the power company's grid are fitted with a second electricity meter that is used to measure the amount of energy fed into the grid, in a manner similar to that used by existing meters to measure the amount of consumed electricity.

What sort of maintenance does a PV system require?

Negligible. Regular washing to remove dust and debris from the panels, as these decrease the amount of sunlight absorbed thus decreasing system yield. It is also a good idea to inspect the circuitry every few years to ensure the smooth operation of the system.

What is the expected service life of a PV system?

Manufacturers of PV equipment usually guarantee that their products will operate above 80% of their nominal/rated values for a period of 20 to 30 years. In practice, this means that your system will keep producing energy for at least 5 to 10 years beyond the time covered by the manufacturers' warranty.

In the case of roof-mounted PV systems, are there any destructive operations that need to be performed?

In order to install the mounts, it is usually -although not always- necessary to drill holes in the roof. It is likely that the insulation of the roof will also have to be penetrated. However, after the installation of the system has been completed, any damage to the roof and its insulation is repaired.

Is there any danger to my ceramic tile roof from the weight of the panels?

Panels and their mounts stress roofs by approximately 25 kg per square meter, about 50% of the weight most ceramic tile roofs are designed to withstand. During the examination stage, a structural inspection of the roof is performed and if deemed necessary, additional supporting elements are fitted before the installation of the PV system.

Legislation regarding Renewable Energy Sources

The Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change has just released an English translation of law 3851/2010 regarding Renewable Energy Sources.

Read more...

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