Solar PV in Chile

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Britkid
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Solar PV in Chile

Post by Britkid » Tue Oct 13, 2020 7:30 pm

I actually have solar installed myself now, and can share some info about that later. At some point, perhaps in June which is when I will get to one full year with solar, I may be able to share real data on my bills and savings, calculate a payback period and then extrapolate that to other locations in Chile. To cut a long story short, solar already pays in the north and central regions (5-10 year payback).

For now I just wanted to share the news that the government last week announced a new program of solar panels for houses
https://www.casasolar.cl/
You can apply to join this program. But acceptance may require enough people to apply from your area so also encourage your neighbours to apply.

They say that because they are buying in a "Compra Agregada" "el programa espera disminuir este valor en un 20% aproximadamente, al realizar una compra masiva de estos sistemas". It looks like what that means is that they are claiming the systems from them will be 20% cheaper than buying privately because of economies of scale negotiating discounts buying large numbers of panels and other components.

In addition to that 20%, which should be available for all successful applicants, there is a further government subsidy available of up to 50% depending on the value of your home. 57-67 million peso house gets a 30% discount for instance. If your home is worth above 86 million pesos however, you get none.

They are giving two options:

1kWp* systems (probably 3 panels) for about 1.6 million pesos TBC. This will, in the centre of Chile, get you around 1.6 megawatts per year, worth around 200,000 pesos per year in electricity savings.

2KWp* systems (probably 6 panels) for about 2.4 million pesos TBC. This will, in the centre of Chile, get you around 3.2 MW/yr, worth around 400,000 pesos/yr.

These prices include the 20% economies of scale discount but assume a house above 86M pesos with zero further discount. So the prices will be even lower if you get the discount.

The MW generated and pesos saved per year will be a bit better in the north. Worse in the south. If you are not at home during the day much and end up selling back to the grid most of the energy, and you get a poor rate, which is possible, the above annual savings numbers could be optimistic.

The MW generated above assume some efficiency losses at the inverter and elsewhere since the panel level generation ought to be 10-15% higher than those numbers.

These are grid-tied systems, with no batteries. These particular systems won't work in power cuts, and you can't apply if you are off grid.

Video: https://www.df.cl/noticias/df-lab/soste ... 70857.html

*KWp, or kilowatt peak, refers to the max energy. When the sun is directly pointing at the panel in perfect conditions in the middle of summer you should get that amount.

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Re: Solar PV in Chile

Post by admin » Wed Oct 14, 2020 9:08 am

would be interested in your total installation costs and number of kilowatts for the money.

I am actually on the verge of going solar on my house, but I already have a wholesale installation deal that will allow me to sell back to the power company. friend owes me a favor that owns a company that specialize in it.

yea, that cut-off of value of the house (unless they are going with tax value), is rather sad.

if your house is only worth say 50 million pesos in chile, it probably means you can not afford the upfront costs of several million to install a solar system.
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Re: Solar PV in Chile

Post by admin » Wed Oct 14, 2020 9:10 am

I did see an interesting article the other day.

guy in california calculated his solar installation needed like 8 years to pay back.

then he baught an electric car. he recalculated that by primarily charging the car at home, he had brought down the pay back to 3 to 4 years including the car.

I did not dig in to his numbers, but worth looking at anyway.
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Re: Solar PV in Chile

Post by admin » Wed Oct 14, 2020 9:37 am

100 houses minimum?

yea, another government beucratic bullshit program. by the time anyone gets done screwing around with the paperwork on that, you could have fully paid for the solar system doing almost anything else (e.g. like selling empanadas on the street corner).

same b.s. you see constantly with small buisness programs, start-up chile, etc. The time and effort waisted on jumping through the beucratic hoops kills any economic benfits of the program.
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Britkid
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Re: Solar PV in Chile

Post by Britkid » Wed Oct 14, 2020 10:03 am

Yes, what are we to make of this idea: "Este programa requiere la postulación de mínimo 100 casas de una misma comuna o aledaña". Probably Providencia and Los Condes will get 100 applicants and go ahead ... Perhaps one or two places that happen to have a environmentally minded activist or major might get to 100?....but if you live in a small village, it's perhaps a waste of time applying? If I put my super cynical hat on for a minute, the government may just be setting up the scheme to make it look like they are doing something about climate change so they can list "solar panel subsidies" in a list of supposed achievements both at home and internationally. They want to get 1,000 families. 1000 sets of solar panels is not that much. Perhaps if it was 100,000, and some of them with batteries to last through the evening, that might be enough to close a coal fired power station.

In my case admin, I ended up getting solar panels as soon as I had an electric car. In my case, I couldn't sell to the grid. In theory, everyone has the legal right to in Chile, but my condominio, rather than the electric company, operates the electricity bills and they were putting up barriers. So instead of selling to the grid, I just charge the car on every sunny day. However, I work from home. Otherwise it wouldn't work. I think the selling to the grid is the difficult part in terms of tramites and time which is also partly why I skipped that bit. Some money lost, but time saved. However the majority of people will need to be able to sell to the grid to make it work.

I'll get back to you with some info on my system later.

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Re: Solar PV in Chile

Post by fraggle092 » Thu Oct 15, 2020 3:43 pm

While you are investigating, is any excess power generated actually exported to the grid, and if so at what tariff?
Imagine a house shut down with the occupants on holiday and no, or very low power use.

Or is the idea simply to reduce instantaneous grid-fed domestic consumption during the period while the panels are actually working?
That's around 4-6 hours in the middle of a good day.

Use it or lose it is what I guess will happen. The alternative, charging VAT and paying transmission costs to put it on the grid is way over the top for a micro-generator, even if Chile's inadequate electrical infrastructure allowed this to happen.

Just a reminder. In 2016 Energy Minister Pacheco promised that electricity prices would start to drop in 2021.
I haven't forgotten that, and look forward to being pleasantly surprised next year. :)

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Re: Solar PV in Chile

Post by admin » Thu Oct 15, 2020 7:27 pm

my current house connection is 2 kw I believe. I am planning on leaving I think like my garage connections on the main line, so I can do things like run a welder, machinery, etc. machines that have high start-up usage. I am still debating leaving the washer and drier also on the main, as they are in a room on the garage circuit anyway.

I am thinking actually about pumping any excess juice to my sisters house, right next door (about 50 meters to their house).

the only thing kind of holding up this project is I have a bunch of little projects that are very low hanging fruit cost wise. like a solar prewater heater would easily at least cut my gas usage in half, as my calderia both does hot water and heating for the house and has a sofisticate temp sensor. raising the initial temp of the cold water flowing in to it, would provide a major bang for the peso. much of the year it would never kick on, and it would create faster hot water when it does.

I also got some insulation work and windows to replace, among other things.

so, that was sort if my plan up until this week.
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Re: Solar PV in Chile

Post by admin » Thu Oct 15, 2020 7:35 pm

20201015_193252.jpg
see that roll of "wire"?

that is fiber optic hanging from the poll in front my house. supposedly it is suppose to be installed by the end of the month.

I have been waiting almost 10 years for that, at our house outside of town. next fiber connection was like 10 km away at our office in town.
Spencer Global Chile: Legal, relocation, and Investment assistance in Chile.
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From USA and outside Chile dial 1-917-727-5985 (U.S.), in Chile dial 65 2 42 1024 or by cell 747 97974.

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Re: Solar PV in Chile

Post by admin » Thu Oct 15, 2020 7:52 pm

so, putting in solar panels has moved to the front of the project line for one simple reason: uninterrupted power backups for our buisness.

I am thinking of eliminating our office in frutillar. we are not using it anyway right now, and even if we decide to open it backup after the pandemic there will be lots of commercial space for rent.

The big stickler has always been the need for fiber optic for my office servers.

we mostly work from home anyway, and we still have the office in santiago. I am debating building a small office in the corner of our property for my wife and I, even if we ultimately do open another office in town.
Spencer Global Chile: Legal, relocation, and Investment assistance in Chile.
For more information visit: https://www.spencerglobal.com

From USA and outside Chile dial 1-917-727-5985 (U.S.), in Chile dial 65 2 42 1024 or by cell 747 97974.

Britkid
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Re: Solar PV in Chile

Post by Britkid » Thu Oct 15, 2020 9:18 pm

Here are some specs/costs:

870,000 3.25kWp Risen panels (10 x 325Wp panels)
396,000 Batteries: 4x Utracell sealed Lead acid UCG 100-12
615,000 Inverter: Axpert MKS II 5kW
380,800 Cables, connectors, metal rails etc
914,960 Manual labour and other related costs
603,585 IVA (tax)
3,780,345 CLP TOTAL ($US4725 at x-rate of 800)

(This is not what we actually paid. This is the initial quote for a roof installation. We actually changed it later on and asked for a separate structure in the garden which added costs due to the structure and digging a canal in the garden to pass the cables. The reason we did this is because we are renting and this will make it easier to move the panels as well as less worrying for the owner of the house (holes drilled in the roof etc). I´m ignoring those extra costs, as I think the original quote is what is more relevant to users of this forum, most people will look at a roof installation.)

System pointed due north. We can get about 5.7 MWh (Megawatt hours) through the panels per year, perhaps 5.0 MWH after allowing for system inefficiencies. We will only use 4.0 MWh/year. The reason to get more than needed is because the energy isn´t spread evenly throughout the year or the day, and so we still have decent amount in winter and on cloudy days.

We will still need grid connection for 10%-20% of our electricity during the year due to the limitations of the batteries (very cloudy days, batteries run down during the night, high loads).

The projection from the Chilean website Explorador Solar is we`ll get an average 10kWH per day in June/July and average 17kWH/day in December/January/February, which seems consistent with what we are achieving.

This system was done by a friend of mine in RM.

I will reply to some of your other comments shortly.

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Re: Solar PV in Chile

Post by Britkid » Thu Oct 15, 2020 9:43 pm

fraggle092 wrote:
Thu Oct 15, 2020 3:43 pm
While you are investigating, is any excess power generated actually exported to the grid, and if so at what tariff?
Imagine a house shut down with the occupants on holiday and no, or very low power use.

Or is the idea simply to reduce instantaneous grid-fed domestic consumption during the period while the panels are actually working?
That's around 4-6 hours in the middle of a good day.

Use it or lose it is what I guess will happen. The alternative, charging VAT and paying transmission costs to put it on the grid is way over the top for a micro-generator, even if Chile's inadequate electrical infrastructure allowed this to happen.
Usually you sell to the grid both globally and also here in Chile; there is a law in Chile that says everyone has the right to do so. However, in our case, the condominio was billing us not the electricity company, and they were causing problems saying that they weren´t sure if they´d be able to do it. When I weighed up how much hassle it was going to be overall, considering cost and stress and potentially using up goodwill with the condomino administration, and the need for a different inverter, I decided to go ahead without selling to the grid.

So yes we are in a use it or lose it situation. We have batteries but on a sunny day the batteries will not capture even half of the spare energy due to capacity limitation. We will likely end up wasting at least 1 MW and maybe 1.5MW per year about 140,000-210,000 per year. However, that is based on the value to buy electricity at 140 pesos/KWH. The sell rate is going to be less of course, that is quite fair, no-one can run a business selling a commodity at the price they buy it for. But I actually don´t know how much you get when you sell electricity in Chile. If anyone knows, please comment. The term "Net Billing" (used in Spanish language in Chile) is common to refer to this.

So what we do is do all the energy intensive stuff like vacuum cleaner and washing machine in the day which we were doing anyway before we had solar panels. During the peak of the day we also capture energy into the batteries which gets used each day after dark. The bateries are in theory 4.8kWH but with lead acid batteries you only use half the capacity otherwise the lifetime goes bad if they are constantly drained.And then there are efficiency losses. In reality we only get about 2kWH.

That 2kWH is enough to be able to run the lights and fridge and freezer and TVs and set top boxes and internet boxes until the sunrise. Any more powerful appliances used after dark results in the batteries not having enough energy, and grid electricity still being used to make up the difference.

We are able to make not selling to the grid work, because I work from home (office use matches well with sun), my wife is at home most days also, and most of all because I have an electric car, so I just put in on charge in the middle part of every sunny day. However for most people being able to sell to the grid would be needed for solar panels to make economic sense.

Unless...

If we owned the house, we would almost certainly put in a well insulated hot water tank that can be heated up electrically rather than with gas. What you do then is you program your system to heat hot water whenever you have spare energy, so you don´t even need to be able to sell to the grid. So the energy from afternoon sun is available for evening and morning showers. So that is a great option if you can´t sell to the grid, or don´t want to bother dealing with the local government and the electricity company.

I´ve seen some references to ley N° 20.571, which may be relevant here. That law covers some of these relevant aspects.

Britkid
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Re: Solar PV in Chile

Post by Britkid » Thu Oct 15, 2020 10:46 pm

Admin,
According to a solar panel owner in Providencia, “"Nosotros tenemos la capacidad de generar nuestra energía y compartirla con nuestros vecinos, pero eso lo impide la legislación.” Source: https://www.lun.com/Pages/NewsDetail.as ... 1&bodyid=0 T So...it´s maybe illegal? Advise investigate further if doing this.

We also partly got solar panels because of the frequent power cuts. However, many solar panel systems don´t work in a power cut so you have to specify clearly if you want this. Ours works fine. Whenever I get a forecast of rain/storms/winds, or a planned power cut, I can also program the system to maintain the batteries to the max and run the house off grid electricity after dark while waiting for the power cut. I can even top up the batteries with grid if I want to.

Power backup for cuts that last minutes or an hour or two is cheap but backup power with batteries that last for days is expensive. The 400,000 pesos batteries I have (battery cost only, without installation cost and connections) only give me 2kWH of power (probably 3kWH in power cut actually, but can´t do this regularly as it would degrade the battery) and I use 11kWH on average per 24 hours (7-8 for house, 3-4 for car).

However, I can make that 3kWH last 12 hours easily if I do nothing but lights, TVs, set top box, fridge, freezer, laptop, internet box, etc but we can´t use the heavy stuff. If the TVs are turned off as well, I could probably still go indefinitely without grid power even in most cloudy winter days. The exception is a minority of really dark cloudy days which really smash the solar energy gain. In a very rare case of multiple days of power outage in very dark cloudy weather (the kind where you can´t even tell which region of the sky the sun is in) I would perhaps be down to fridge and freezer and lights only.

In summer, perhaps even now in October, I can easily go without grid power indefinitely with normal or fairly normal usage. We managed over 72 hours without using any grid electricity at all some days back.

The other thing to bear in mind with lead acid batteries is that unlike solar panels, which last at least 20-40 years losing only 1% power per year the batteries will typically only last 5-10 years depending on how hard you use them. Lithium batteries last longer, but are more expensive.

You could get say 1,600,000 pesos worth of batteries. Depending on your needs, that might get you through a multi day winter power cut without lifestyle changes, when you factor in that you are still getting a tiny bit of sun as well through the winter clouds. Most clouds reduce my output by between 50% and 90% but I have even had about 95% reduction once or twice in really really dark skies, but in September, most of the clouds were more friendly – about 50% reduction when the sun was under cloud.

If you need to be 100% sure that you will never, ever have a power cut even for 5 minutes during the night after 2 weeks of the darkest possible skies then you need either an lot of batteries, a lot of panels, or a or a noisy, polluting diesel generator. So to go from "I can accept two power cuts a year" to "I can´t accept even one" is a big cost add.

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