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Solar Energy Facts and Myths (FAQ) – Written by: Editorial staff greenenergy®

With solar energy I can produce all the energy I need and not pay a monthly bill to the network provider. This is a fact when a system is off-grid since energy storage batteries are used, allowing the consumer to generate 100% of the energy they need. When a system is interconnected to the public network, 100% of the energy consumed can be generated, but this will depend on diverse factors such as the available space, the dynamics of consumption (the way and time in which the energy is consumed) among others. Correct training and in-depth knowledge of national regulations will allow a design to maximize energy coverage, savings and performance. Hence the importance of using selection criteria that go beyond price to choose the company that supplies, installs, operates and maintains the solar project.

 Having an off-grid system is a risk. This is neither a myth nor a fact, since the only “risk” is to energetically depend on the installed equipment. Hence the importance of having a high-quality system, designed and installed by certified professionals. A fault in the installation might cause an undefined power outage.

Having an off-grid system is illegal in Costa Rica. This is a myth since having an off-grid system is a private energy solution. It could be compared to the fact of deciding whether using the public water network or a private water well. The only condition is to completely isolate form the public network and become “an island”.

In a cloudy day, the photovoltaic system does not generate electric power. This is a myth since, as long as there is sunlight (radiation), solar energy is being generated. Nevertheless, this production will be less during rainy and cloudy days. When designing a photovoltaic solution, the specialists consider the historical climatology of the sites to predict the months, days and moments of less radiation and this way consider the decrease in the production of energy, so that the desired result is achieved.

The cost of a photovoltaic system is too expensive. This is a myth since the cost of the system will depend on the consumer’s energy demand, available space for installation (access, location, infrastructure) and mainly on the objective. Some projects focus on savings, others seek for CO2 compensation and environmental imagen, and other a mix of both. These factors can determine the size of the systems and therefore their costs.

If I live at an apartment building, I can install solar panels to give energy only to my apartment. This is a fact if the apartment has an independent energy meter and available space on the roof. Because the roof is shared with other apartments, a permit from the other landlords will be needed to make the installation.

The savings percentage in the electric bills differs between sites. This is a fact. The percentage of savings will be determined by diverse factors. It is not possible to standarize a savings percentage.

Through photovoltaic systems, CO2 emissions are reduced. This is a fact; photovoltaic solar energy is a type of clean energy. This means that to produce energy through this technology, there is no negative environmental impact, compared to a fossil fuel power plant generator. Hydroelectric energy is considered a clean energy, however, building these types of production plants can be very harmful for the environment (ecosystem affections).

It is impossible to calculate the avoided CO2 emissions through a photovoltaic system. This is a myth since the data shared by the Energy and Environment Ministry of Costa Rica are obtained through our national energy matrix. Also, the inverters monitor the performance of faults and other factors of the system to calculate the avoided emissions compared to a fossil fuel energy source or to a negative environmental footprint.

If I have solar panels, I can increase the energy consumption and get the same savings. This is a myth since the design of a photovoltaic system is done based on the energy consumption history. Assuming that the demand of energy will behave similar to the consumption history, the system installed is one that can supply that demand. So, two things can happen if a consumer thinks that he can spend more energy: 1) the demand increases, therefore, the projection of the savings will not be fulfilled and 2) energy might be wasted, meaning a low economic and environmental conscious.

If I have solar panels, I no longer have to pay an electricity bill. This is a fact if your system is off-grid, that is to say, that it is not connected to a public power network. However, it is a myth if your system is connected to the public power network, you will get an electric bill but this might come with a preference rate.