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Sustainability and Thailand's Solar Home System: Is it still achievable? Observations from Tak province by Renewable Energy Conference, BITEC Fredrik Bjarnegård 6 July 2006
“The Service & Support Department is like the guy in the parade who walks behind the elephant with a broom and a big bucket”
Thai Solar Home System (SHS) in context • 290,716 households without grid connection before SHS • 188,995 SHS in all Thailand • 15,000 SHS in Tak Province • Thai installed PV in 2003: 6 MWp • SHS program adds 23 MWp! • Responsibility of SHS will be transferred from the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) to Tambon (county) governments Tak Source: PEA, May 2006
Thai SHS in Tak province Rated 150 W, 50 Hz, 230 V Inverter / 10 A Charge controller Rated 120 peak Watt single crystalline PV module AC outlet for TV or other appliances Two 10 W tube fluorescent lights with electronic ballasts 12 V, 125 Ah deep cycle lead-acid battery
SHS Warranty • Warranty periods • Complete system: 2 years • Solar panel: 5 years • Charge controller/Inverter: 3 years • Battery: 2 years • Light/Ballast: 2 years • The system warranty is expiring within a few months • Very few villagers informed that there is a warranty • Huge need to inform villagers about warranty
SHS Warranty • Postcards with warranty and maintenance information could be distributed by Tambons • Idea presented at meeting with DLA (Department of Local Administration)
Installation company SHS user Tambon PEA Repair/replace equipment in response to warranty claim How to claim the SHS warranty • Villagers need to inform Tambon (local administration) government of broken systems • Tambon needs to send claims to PEA provincial office • PEA forwards warranty claims to installation company • Installation companies must repair within 1 week. • Otherwise they will be fined 200 baht per system per day
Costs for replacing SHS • Equipment replacement cost: 130 to 300 baht/month • Villagers cannot afford new equipment when it fails Accumulated costs for replacing Thai SHS
BGET SHS trainings in Tak province • Technician trainings in two districts • 3-day theory & hands-on training • cooperation with Tambons • The technicians • are provided with a tool box • get a SHS manual • http://www.palangthai.org/docs/TechManualThai.pdf • survey all SHS in their village cluster • make minor repairs and system improvements • educate homeowners in system use & maintenance • send surveys to BGET via the Tambon office • could help with repairs after the warranty expires
BGET SHS trainings in Tak province Districts in Tak province • Mueang Tak • Ban Tak • Sam Ngao • Mae Ramat • Tha Song Yang • Mae Sot • Phop Phra • Umphang • Wang Chao Priority 1: 8,692 SHS Priority 2: 3,834 SHS
BGET SHS trainings in Tak province Trainings already performed in ten Tambons
Problems found during training surveys User error: bypassed controller battery overcharge • Villager bypasses broken controller and charges battery directly from PV • Battery over-charged. Electrolyte level drops and plates are exposed to air. Battery fails. 1 2
Problems found during training surveys User error: Controller bypass leads to burned diode 1 • Villager bypasses broken controller and charges battery directly from PV • One mistake of reverse battery polarity blows up bypass diode in PV junction box, melting junction box. 2
Problems found during training surveys User error: Villager used inefficient60 W light bulb
Problems solved during training surveys New inverter replacement: Solartron and PEA provided 15 inverters for the first 2 trainings
Problems found during training surveys Manufacturing defect: Missing connector (Junction Box) Missing Correct Consequence: module never worked
Problems found during training surveys Manufacturing defect: Diode with wrong polarity Correct polarity Incorrect polarity Consequence: module never worked
Problems found during training surveys Installation error: Burned Diodes from Panel Reversed Polarity Consequence: System broken since the first day of installation
Problems found during training surveys Installation error: Battery failure caused by solar panel installation in shady location 14:00 Saw Kre Ka village, Tha Song Yang District
Problems found during training surveys Installation error: Bad panel locations
SHS status survey • Survey based on sample of 405 systems from Tak • All systems in Tak province installed by Solartron. • Failure rates from other provinces or companies. • Anecdotal experiences from Chiang Mai and Krabi provinces show considerable failures as well.
Contact BGET Salinee Tavaranan, BGET Project Director Tel: 055-542-068 Mobile: 01-376-2027 www.bget.org