Sidi Kaouki: Adding photovoltaics to the OpenVillage House

Small but interesting contribution to the OpenVillage technology (not yet a full Solution though …): Nezza, the owner of the house we are living in here in Sidi Kaouki, is currently on site and we had an interesting discussion about adding photovoltaics to the House (again).

In short, the House had a full off-grid photovoltaics setup with 14 large lead-acid batteries and approximately 2000 W§ in solar panels. Until 2012, when grid electricity arrived at the House and the inverter was stolen so that the photovoltaics setup was neither functional nor necessary.

But the panels are still on the rooftop (see :arrow_up:) and Nezza’s question was how to make them usable again with (1) minimal investment, (2) avoiding batteries because they tend to break and (3) respecting the rule in Morocco that feeding electricity into the grid is not allowed for anyone connected to the low-voltags grid (means, households and small companies).

As a result, I wrote this:

During that research, I found several interesting options, but my favourite is the SolarFighter solution. Also suitable for anyone living in a city who wants to lower their electricity bills, as it has minimal installation requirements (solar balcony, anyone?) and minimal regulatory requirements (since it exports nothing to the grid).

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The solar edge with power optimizers also looks interesting because it can integrate a variety of panels…which is what is at the house, no?

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Yes, the House for sure has a variety of panels :slight_smile: Both per-panel microinverters and a string inverter with per-panel DC-DC converters (the “SolarEdge approach”) work to integrate a variety of panels.

And you’re right, this is a very interesting capability … because second-hand solar panels are very often very cheap (30% of new price) for the precise reason that there are just a few of them and they can’t be properly operated in mixed batch setups using traditional inverters. If I ever want to build a profitable solar farm, this is what I’d do.

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If you have specific questions where you feel stuck, I can ask two friends of mine who host a bi-weekly radio show (on the station I used to manage) called The Renewable Energy Radio Hour. These guys are nationally recognized experts and Mendocino County has the distinction of having the most off grid households per capita in the USA.

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