Solar Energy in Guatemala – The Sun Keeps Shining -

PV is a method of generating electrical power by converting solar radiation into direct current electricity using semiconductors.

The sun brings us warmth, light, and life. Its powerful rays, when captured, are a remarkable source of renewable energy. Solar power is also one of the most accessible and cost-efficient forms of electricity that is now available to everyone everywhere, including here in Guatemala.

When sunlight strikes a photovoltaic (PV) panel, solar electricity is made which can be used then and there or saved for future use. As Stephen Trott* and Cor Outenaar** – the owners of Sistemas Solares – explain, there are several ways in which solar electricity can be saved, but the two principle ways are by charging batteries or by feeding the energy back into the electrical distribution grid. The first option is sometimes referred to as the “island method”. This method allows you to live “off the grid,” creating your own energy and severing your reliance on expensive centrally generated electricity. The other system is called a “grid tie” and if an electricity grid is available, the grid tie method for storing solar electricity allows you to generate electricity for the electric supply company. You actually benefit by rolling back your meter as a result of feeding electricity into the grid. With this method, you are in effect supplying other customers – your neighbors – with clean, renewable energy rather than “dirty” electricity generated by traditional methods.

Home installation“For locations with an installed electricity input, a grid tie system is the most common type of PV system being installed today. This system requires the least number of components and the design and installation are more simplistic and therefore less expensive. Its energy output is greater, and basically it is the most efficient for converting the sun’s radiation into usable AC electricity for loads. The system also has the added benefit of requiring little maintenance,” explains Trott. “The second major type of PV system is the battery-based system. A battery-based system can be used in remote areas where an electricity grid does not exist. It is also possible to use both systems in conjunction for areas where the grid supply is unreliable or badly regulated.”

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Most nations have realized that traditional electricity-generating methods, principally coal, oil, and gas, are no longer sustainable (not to mention the pollution produced). Because of this realization, they have pledged to reduce their countries’ use of traditional energy supplies by using alternative renewable energy sources. The common choices are: geothermal, hydro, wind, tidal and biomass energy sources, which are often not practical or available to most communities; nuclear energy – an energy production method that has inherent risks which most populations would rather not assume; and PV, which in many and most circumstances is the only practical method, as well as most cost-effective approach to solving the need for sustainable energy. In order to meet their commitment to reduce their carbon footprint, many countries have implemented incentives for those who install PV systems. Because of this international demand for solar energy, the industry has created a more cost-effective manufacturing process over the last few years, resulting in the very positive effect of lowering the price of solar panels for the consumer.

Unfortunately, “There are no government subsidies in Guatemala, and probably never will be,” states Trott, “but purchasing solar panels is a great investment because, in most cases, a payback period of four to seven years is a realistic projection, and once the system has paid for itself, your electricity is free,” regardless of whether the price of your neighbors’ electricity has gone up or not. “Plus, you will personally be helping to reduce the production of greenhouse gases and pollution.”

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Overall, energy produced by PV panels satisfies most everyone’s needs, especially the needs of those who live in the most remote areas where there is no access to the electricity grid. PV systems can provide a huge benefit to these rural communities by bringing electricity – with all its life-changing benefits – to these villages, allowing the residents to charge cell phones, power water pumps, and most importantly bring light into their homes.

Currently, Sistemas Solares, S.A. is working in conjunction with the UK non-profit organization Think Twice Please to help the villages Las Brisas and Pocolo, remote communities on the shores of Lake Izabal, which are only accessible by boat or an hour’s walk to the road from El Estor, also in the department of Izabal. This village subsists on fishing and farming with some of the villagers working on local farms for minimum wage. “This community has a population of 190 persons with 36 homes. It has no running water or electricity, save for one small generator that powers the lights in the church, and it can only be run for a couple of hours per week, as they cannot afford the cost of the gasoline.” The project will provide small solar lighting systems, which will bring light to the homes in the village and will allow residents to charge their cell phones. The project will also provide solar powered running water at a central point in the village to improve ease of access and hygiene.

ExhibitionOverall, solar energy is a viable source of renewable energy that can illuminate the darkness of a villager’s home, cut down or eliminate the cost of electricity for single-family homes in the suburbs or an office building in the city, and reduce greenhouse emissions around the globe. It is sustainable for as long as the sun keeps shining, and with Sistemas Solares’ PV panels, solar energy is available to you, here in Guatemala.

To learn about Think Twice Please, visit their website at www.thinktwiceplease.org.

For more information about solar panels, contact Sistemas Solares.
They are reliable, and have an extensive selection of solar panels, inverters, and many other products, which are in stock and available for immediate delivery.

Call them at 2434-0825/23; email donsol.gt@gmail.com; go to www.sistemassolaressa.com or www.solarnuevo.com; or visit them at Bodasa, Bodega #1, 3 Avenida 13-74, Zona 3, Colonia El Rosario, Mixco.

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* Stephen Trott has several successful businesses in the UK, as well as a UK solar energy company called Solarvis Energy, Ltd, which was formed approximately a year ago at the same time as Sistemas Solares, S.A. He has been in business for over 35 years.

** Cor Outenaar is the owner of several successful businesses in Guatemala, and has been in business for over 20 years.

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