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Viable Contracts For Off-Grid PV Procurement

Based on an original work by Jim Finucane and Christopher Purcell, I adapted the key decision points that can affect the outcome of a project to provide the best solar photovoltaic (PV) practices for Bhutan. In simple words, I took the essence from Jim and Christopher to author a version for Bhutan. For the non-energy specialists, it sets out an approach to project development and implementation and provides the basic guidance on key risks and mitigating measures, which can serve as a checklist for discussions with PV and other experts. Raaj Santosh Chief Executive Officer International Assignment Services (Independent Specialist: Super Reviewer)

The original version of this work was prepared principally by Jim Finucane and Christopher Purcell (Drawing on experiences and good practices from throughout the world) with guidance and assistance from a World Bank project team consisting of Anil Cabraal (World Bank Senior Consultant), Kate Steel and Maria Hilda Rivera (The World Bank Africa Energy Unit, AFTEG) and Bipulendu Bipul Singh (The World Bank, Energy Sector Management Assistance Program, ESMAP). The observations and guidance presented in this report are based on the operational experience of the Jim Finucane and Christopher Purcell and other team members with PV projects in more than 20 countries over the past 15 years in the Africa, Latin America and Asia regions. They also draw on the reviews of a May 2010 Dar es Salaam workshop of PV experts and project specialists, as well as from the July 2010 peer-review carried out by a group of World Bank renewable energy specialists.

Executive Summary
For facilities in remote areas beyond reach of the national grid, photovoltaic (PV) systems may offer the most practical and least-cost way to access electricity. A PV system uses predictable solar resources and has long been cost competitive with diesel generators and other alternatives. If the electricity grid is not expected to arrive in the near future or if diesel fuel is unavailable or too expensive, a PV system may offer the least-cost technology for providing electricity service. While solar PVs have been deployed across the remote and rural areas in Bhutan to meet essential service needs of communities, its long-term sustainability has been below par, in part due to lack of attention to proper design and provision of long-term maintenance services. Reliable, long-term operation requires that PV systems be well-designed and installed, using equipment of sound quality. Equally, if not more crucial for PV systems are the institutional arrangements that ensure the uninterrupted recurrent funding for maintenance, repairs, component replacements, and spare parts. When any of these elements is missing, done poorly, or done in ways inappropriate to the context, system failures can result. In past decade, technical reasons have often been cited for PV system failures. In certain cases, donor funds have been used to install multiple PV systems at the same facility. Rather than repair components or replace batteries installed under a previous project, it has sometimes appeared easier to procure and install a new system under a new project. But such an approach, which can only be sustained for as long as the chain of donor projects lasts, is ultimately wasteful. In such cases, rehabilitating older systems should be considered, along with putting in place viable long-term maintenance and funding arrangements. The key aim should be sustainability the reliable, cost-effective operation of a system over its design lifetime. Any PV system presented at the design stage as the least cost solution for powering a home or school or health clinic will only succeed as least cost if it operates over the long term. To avoid the common pitfalls of many off-grid PV projects, a viable strategy for off-grid PV procurement must be developed. Good practice guidance is provided on the key technical requirements for viable PV contracts.

The key to success is maintenance continuity, and the basic rule is you get what you pay for. While it is imperative that good maintenance capacities and practices be put in place together with viable institutional arrangements for funding post-project maintenance (including component replacements), the choice of approach depends largely on assessments of the local context. In summary, this report offers practical operational guidance to procure PV systems in ways that enhance cost effective supply and sustainable post-project operations.


In off-grid facilities, PV systems are either stand-alone or centralized configurations that serve multiple units. The systems deliver either direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC). The main system components are the PV panel, deep cycle battery, and charge controller; in addition, an inverter is used in systems that deliver AC electricity.

PV Panel.
The PV panel or module consists of cells of thin semi-conductor material that convert radiation from the sun into DC electricity. The panel is covered with a transparent material that is sealed for waterproofing and framed for easy mounting. Panels are mounted in a sunny location (shade decreases performance) at a tilt, with the angle equivalent to the sites latitude or best energy capture, but not less than 15 degrees to facilitate run-off of rain, dust or snow. Mono Crystalline, Poly Crystalline silicon and Amorphous silicon (thin film) panels certified to international standards with up to 25-year manufacturer warranties are generally a safe choice, although when companies go out of business or multiple mergers and sales occur, the practical viability of their warranties may come into question. The long-term trends of declining costs and increasing conversion efficiencies for PV panels are projected to continue. Panel costs now represent 40 % of initial installed system costs.

Deep Cycle Battery.

PV batteries, which store the energy generated by the panels, are easily the most problematic component of the off-grid PV system. They are also the most expensive component on a life-cycle basis. Deep-cycle, lead-acid batteries, with a life span of 5 years, are well-suited to PV systems, although they often are not available locally, which is an issue at the time of replacement. Thus, deciding how to handle battery replacements should be tenaciously addressed during project preparation.

Charge Controller.
The charge controller protects the system investment and can lower life-cycle battery costs. It regulates the power from the panel to the battery, stops the charging when the battery is

fully charged and cuts off the power from the battery to the loads when the battery is depleted below a safe level. Robust charge controllers with established track records that can optimize usable power delivered by the PV system are available using Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) technology.

The inverter converts the batterys low-voltage DC electricity into standard AC voltage output, permitting the connection of a wide range of electrical appliances. If the system is used to power DC loads exclusively, an inverter is not needed. For remote homes, stand-alone PV systems may be the most cost-effective solution to meet electricity-service and reliability requirements.

Sustaining PV system operation in poor, remote communities can be problematic. Without providing repair and maintenance, many systems become inoperative after 3 years. Reliable, long-term operation requires that PV systems be well-designed and installed, using equipment of sound quality. The key aim should be sustainability, which at the minimum is the reliable, cost-effective operation of a system over its design lifetime. Any PV system presented at the design stage as the least-cost solution for powering a home will only succeed as least cost if it operates over the long term.

Procurement and implementation rollout delays.

Design contracts with detailed technical specifications and strong certification, warranty, and commissioning conditions. Standardize to as few building blocks as possible. Closely supervise equipment supply and installations. Ensure technical system design by wellqualified PV specialists aware of current best practices and not linked to potential suppliers. Consult with off-grid PV specialists and seek independent review by super reviewers.

Poor-quality, inefficient designs and equipment. Over- or under-investment in wrongly-sized systems of too high or low quality.

Super reviewers think differently from procurement authors and can act as effective 3rd party quality assurance at key points. Source solar-resource data from websites or maps; use month of least sunlight (worst case model) as the design month. Estimate system sizes using basic conversion ratios and estimating factors. Design PV systems via an iterative process, considering: current and near-term energy use (the introduction of electricity may result in such unanticipated demands as television sets + satellite receivers, video players, radio and music systems, computer-based distance education, cell-phone charging); best available solar resource data from vicinity or databases that extrapolate resources; energy-efficient lights ( LED) and appliances (but do not set the number of lights or lighting quantity or quality too low); Mandatory : good-quality components, using international or equivalent standards for panels, batteries, controllers, and energysaving lights (LED); Budget capacities to meet the recurrent costs of maintenance, repairs, and component replacements; and local O&M capacities, including maintenance providers at central, district, and village levels. Establish system ownership. As a prudent rule of thumb, annualized recurrent costs should be estimated at about 15 % of the installed cost of stand-alone systems, which would cover periodic

Lack of funds for battery replacements every 4 years result in system shutdown.

replacements of major components, routine maintenance, and repairs. It would also include what is frequently not anticipated: support for essential tracking of system maintenance and performance, higher-level troubleshooting, and supervision. Failure to budget for and fund recurrent costs is often the major factor in system failures. Misuse, poor maintenance, and lack of maintenance or troubleshooting skills. Secure firm commitments for recurrent budgets for maintenance and component replacements. Outsource maintenance to local community or an NGO to build local-service capabilities. Recruit or retain staff in remote areas. Fix and enforce rules for system use and maintenance. Be clear on the scope of PV systems (e.g., they are not for ironing, cooking, or heating which consume larger energy). Ensure user training in appropriate use and load-management practices. Track PV system maintenance and performance to anticipate and address problems before failures occur. Organise at least 4 visits a year to conduct preventive maintenance + cleaning the components and if necessary change the panel tilt angle to capture more energy during seasonal sun paths. Closely supervise contract implementation, maintenance, and performance.

Sudden failures due to lack of system performance tracking and supervision.

System Design Issues and Guidance

PV panel and battery sizing. An option sometimes considered cost effective is to slightly increase the PV panel size, possibly to compensate for reducing battery size, particularly as the prices of PV panels continue to decline. While slightly oversized panels might address a concern about not fully charging batteries, using slightly smaller batteries would lead to allowing a greater depth of discharge PV panel sizing for seasonal solar radiation. This can be risky as not fully charging batteries (during inclement weather) and allowing greater depth of discharge are both associated with reduced durability. Using batteries in a cycling regime outside their optimal regime can sharply reduce battery life and raise operational costs.

In regions with pronounced, extended rain or cloud cover seasons as in Bhutan (at least 6 months when the sunlight window is small) MPPT unlike conventional PWM controllers it may be possible to design a system to are most effective under these conditions: In avoid increasing size of PV panels. winter or cloudy or hazy days when the extra power is needed the most. Cold weather - solar panels work better at cold temperatures, but without a MPPT you are losing most of that. Cold weather is most likely in winter - the time when sun hours are low and you need the power to recharge batteries the most. Low battery charge - the lower the state of charge in your battery, the more current a MPPT puts into them - another time when the extra power is needed the most.

Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) technology can be used in charge controllers.

You can have both the above conditions at the same time as in Bhutan. Proven MPPT controllers are manufactured in USA. Battery choice. The choices are typically locally available, Installing quality, 4-7 years deep-cycle AGM batteries and then replacing those in systems that are still operational.

less expensive batteries versus higher-cost but longer-life, imported deep-cycle batteries. Life-cycle cost analysis points toward quality, genuine, deep-cycle batteries as the first choice if the long-cycle life can be realized. Engineering design margins. A good practicethough not always followed as it increases costsis to include margins for temperature effects, component degradation over time, and other causes of losses in the performance and lifetime of components and systems. Technical standards. Good practice is to require that PV system components meet international standards and to send clear requirements for documentation of compliance.

True AGM battery is manufactured in USA.

Omitting engineering margins in the urgent rush to design minimally-sized and lowestcost PV systems will compromise system reliability and ultimately increase life-cycle costs.

There should be little, if any, compromise on standards for the main components. It would be a mistake to bend to local commercial or political interests. Procedures for accepting certifications of equipment conforming to specifications should be practicable (multiple choice) and based on independent assessment of local capabilities.

Procurements and Contract Management

Many off-grid PV projects flounder at the procurement stage. Non-conformance to transparency, equal opportunity and compromises during the procurement process set the stage for subsequent low system sustainability. The table below highlights the PV procurement problems frequently encountered and actions to avoid them.

Too few qualified bidders and high prices, associated with: Limited, late promotion; information not widely distributed.

Publicize the proposed specifications early and often beyond traditional sites via ADB and local newspapers; network and promote widely. Strategically phase and time procurements. Allow reasonable time of at least 3 months in order to comply with requirements. Most International bids (foreign bidders eligible) allow 3 months or more for a bidder to present a bid proposal.

Small size of contracts: No certainty on future flow of contracts reduces interest of potential bidders, particularly large foreign suppliers, most of which have limited interest in off-grid market. Perceived high risk of non-eligibility of PV system equipment and barriers to prepare bids deters bidders, particularly foreign bidders.

Dont purchase in instalments. Purchase in bulk to get benefits of discount in prices. This also will bring reputed and large foreign bidders to participate with advanced technologies. Phase deliveries, if bulk deliveries are too large. Use a web link to allow download of complete bid documents so that prospect bidders can scrutinise their PV capacities prior to registration and formal purchase of bid documents.

Bidders lack knowledge of remote project communities.

Make it mandatory for foreign bidders to work with a local agent (preferably NGOs who work in remote communities) to represent and install PV equipment.

Poor-quality equipment and installations, associated with: Not using international standards; unclear process for determining acceptability of alternative standards proposed by the bidder. Unclear or inconsistent specifications. Difficulties confirming that equipment and installations meet technical requirements; lack of accredited facilities to test components; expensive and time-consuming pre-shipment testing by contracted laboratory; difficulties in determining which laboratories are accredited to perform required certification. Unclear process for acceptance of certifications and installations. Use detailed specifications for equipment and installations. State name, type and unique numbers of specifications if any to comply. Specify multiple and if possible proven PV international standards. Use qualified, independent PV professionals for technical design and supervision.

Specify multiple and if possible proven PV international standards. Set stringent requirements for documenting that equipment conforms to specifications.

Allow multiple opportunities including reasonable time of at least 90 days to establish equipment eligibility. Establish clear process for accepting certifications and installations with standard commissioning checklist and forms. Poor performance by winning firm, associated with: Changed on-the-ground conditions. Unforeseen logistical issues. Poor, rushed installations, often subcontracted on a unit basis. Rushed capacity building and training. Lack of quality assurance by contractor. Bidders must work with a local agent who will advise the prospect bidder on the ground realities. In most cases this should be an entity that has experience is providing such services in remote areas. Installation is a semi-skilled activity and must be executed by a trained member of the local community although most NGOs provide or facilitate this training through Facilitate post-award contract modifications based on changed conditions.

their partners and have significant technical human resources. Late, inadequate supervision of installations and maintenance in remote locations by implementing agency. Provide strong supervision with professional technical support for installations and maintenance.

Procurement Method
International Competitive Bidding (ICB) is used, given the supply capabilities of PV contracts in multiple countries and that, in most cases, PV panels; true deep cycle AGM batteries, Controller and LED lamps will be imported. A bidders conference, conducted can be an effective way to provide vital information about sites, distances and logistics, and organizational and environmental conditions.

Promotion and Publicity

Timely publicity increases awareness and provides an opportunity for smaller, usually local NGOs and firms that may not be individually qualified to form alliances. Promotion should begin well before and extend beyond publication of mandatory procurement notices and official gazettes. Publicity teasers can be posted on official websites and widely circulated as done the Philippines Rural Power Project. Targeted promotion of off-grid PV contracts covering regional and international renewable and solar energy networks can also widen the circle of potential bidders. It is important to note that there is no restriction on the advance circulation of draft technical specifications and promotional information on the project concept, areas, and timetable.

Phasing Deliveries and Scheduling

For large projects, phasing deliveries, say every 36 months, will accommodate the capacities of smaller, often local NGO and firms. This should not be mistaken for not procuring in bulk to enable discounts in price. In many cases, phasing deliveries will also permit a good fit with the capacities of the implementing agency to manage the tender and supervise implementation in multiple remote locations.

Phasing deliveries also gives project managers the opportunity to steadily modify and improve procurement details and align them with cumulative implementation experience and lessons learned. Procurements should be timed with an eye to the weather, local holiday seasons, and business practices - conferences or events. In many countries, it is advisable to avoid scheduling field visits for bidders conferences during intense rainy seasons or during major conferences or events or tender openings in early December or closings in early January.

Bidder Criteria
To implement PV contracts, bidders must meet specific criteria, which should work as an effective filter for deciding on their qualifications. Specifically this must apply to the provider of PV panel as the warranty of PV panel runs up to 25 years. The qualifications must include the financial condition of the bidder, production capabilities and supply experience. The bidder should be required to list successful project experience in supply of PV Systems. This criterion allows validation of PV panels and equipment and uncovers quality, technical and delivery practices of the bidder during the bid evaluation process. Installers are small NGOs or local firms that provide supervision and trained labour to install and maintain PV equipment at rural communities. They must be assessed for their capacity to implement at remote regions. This would require that installers possess the requisite tools, have trained human resources (who have been trained by a credible training organisation in this field) and preferably based in remote regions where such installations are likely to occur. Typically installers provide for inception report, installation, commissioning, training local users in operating the SHS, establishment of local-service capacities and after-sales services, maintenance services, record keeping and reporting. The implementation plan will include personnel (trained credentials), schedule of transport to site, tools and equipment used for installations and whether these must be procured, timetables for inception report, delivery and installation in the communities, initial maintenance and other services. Taken together (organization, personnel, scheduling and logistics) these should form a whole that is practicable and capable of meeting the contract requirements on schedule.

Concise and unambiguous criteria ( specify type of certification with its name and unique number) and forms should be included in the bid document package to reduce the risk that a bidder submits, wins, and is subsequently found not qualified. Due diligence is done on the data and references provided by the winning bidder prior to contract award.

Viable PV Contracts.
The PV contract involves: (i) equipment supply and delivery; (ii) equipment installation and commissioning; (iii) initial defect warranty - maintenance for 1 year. Large tenders might attract the attention of large companies with the requisite financial and technical capacity. However major international PV companies focus almost exclusively on the large and rapidly growing ON Grid-connected market. A common scenario is that a large firm with adequate financial capability but minimal offgrid PV experience wins the contract, handles component sourcing and system integration, and subcontracts installations and maintenance to local NGOs or firms. Good practice is usually to construct tenders of significant size to attract major international PV companies.

PV system packages: Standardized components.

Components should be standardized as much as possible on the sizes. Stick to one size of panel, charge controller and battery across all facilities to facilitate interchange and lower the costs of installations, training, maintenance services, stocking of spares and component replacements, and supervision.

International Standards.
International or equivalent standards should be used for the main system components (i.e., panels, batteries, controllers, and energy saving lights). This will strengthen the bidding document by reducing uncertainties for both bidders and evaluators and reduce the risk of supplying substandard equipment. The leader in standards development for PV and the balance of system components is the International Electro technical Commission (IEC), which is representative of the committees and working groups of standards agencies from most manufacturing countries. Reference is also made to PVGAP certification, which has now been completely integrated into IECEE-PV. However, as very few products bear the PVGAP mark and seal (only a few models), this requirement is largely ineffective in practice.

Equipment certification conforming to specifications

The bid documents should define how conformance of equipment with specifications is to be documented. With international standards and detailed specifications, qualification can be based on acceptable certifications by acceptable laboratories. Thus, acceptance of equipment is based on acceptance of certifications, not on tests conducted for the project prior to shipping or after arrival in the country. In any case the facilities to conduct the necessary tests are not available in Bhutan and at most countries that require significant off-grid rural PV services. The main components should be certified by laboratories with ISO 17025 accreditation to undertake the specific tests. Panels and other components that have the Photovoltaic Global Approval Program (PV GAP) Quality Mark or the Golden Sun Quality mark issued by the China General Certification Centre will have met this requirement. The PV GAP Mark ( is administered by the IECEE ( ). With the support of GEF and WB, China General Certification Center established and executed the National Certification Program for PV Products used in rural PV projects employing specifications (from which the charge controller PV GAP specification is derived from) and named it as the Golden Sun Certification. For details visit: Note: Golden Sun = PV GAP = IEC when it comes to SHS certifications.

Guidance on International Standards for Off-Grid PV System Components.

System Component Panels Use IEC standards or Golden Sun certification. Equipment Standards and Guidance IEC 61215 Ed. 2.0: Crystalline silicon terrestrial photovoltaic modules - Design qualification and type approval. Golden Sun certification IEC 61427 Ed. 2.0: Secondary cells and batteries for solar photovoltaic energy systems - General requirements and methods of test. PV GAP, PVRS 5A Lead-acid batteries for solar photovoltaic energy systems General

Batteries Use IEC standards or PV GAP or Golden Sun certification.

requirements and methods of test for modified automotive batteries. Golden Sun certification IEC 62509 Ed.1: Battery charge controllers for photovoltaic systems - Performance and functioning. PV GAP, PVRS 6A Charge controllers for photovoltaic stand-alone systems with a nominal voltage below 50V accepted for use in the IECEE PV scheme. Golden Sun certification Accept Efficient Lighting Initiative standards ( for low watt LED lamps. PV GAP, PVRS 7A Lighting systems with fluorescent lamps for photovoltaic standalone systems with a nominal voltage below 24 V. IEC 60969 Ed 2: Self ballasted lamps for general lighting purposes - Performance Requirements. Balance of System components and minor equipment (battery Enclosures / Boxes, panel mounting structures, switches, cabling and wiring, breakers and fuses and fuse holders) Use IEC standards. IEC 60669-1: Switches for household and similar fixed-electrical installations. Part 1: General requirements. IEC 60227-1-4: Polyvinyl chloride insulated cables of rated voltage up to and including 450 V/750 V-Parts 1-4: General requirements. For battery enclosure and mounting structure, require declaration of compliance with the specifications and drawings and provision of detailed drawings. Project Specification Certifiable. IEC 62124-2004: PV stand-alone systems Design verification. Golden Sun certification.

Charge Controllers Use IEC standards or PV GAP or Golden Sun certification.

Energy-efficient LED lamps Use ELI or PV GAP or IEC standards.

Solar Home System Use IEC standards or Golden Sun certification.

The typical range of component performance warranties are as follows: 1. PV panels: 20 years to 80 % of original specified output. 2. Charge Controller: 35 years. 3. Batteries: 35 years. 4. LED Lights: 3-5 years. The basic requirements for equipment performance would cover the following: There would be a specified 12 year defect liability period on quality of equipment and installation following acceptance, during which any omissions or faults would be attended to without cost to the purchaser. Should a stipulated portion (e.g., 10 %) of any class of equipment fail within the specified period, that whole class of equipment would be replaced by suitable compliant equipment without cost to the purchaser. Any failure of system components during their respective warranty periods, through no act of negligence on the part of the user, would mean prompt on-site repair or replacement, free of charge, by the contractor.

Equipment certification conforming to specifications

Some purchasers may wish to arrange for samples from winning bidders or pre-shipment inspection of equipment by an independent, contracted inspection agency to ensure that the equipment to be shipped is, in fact, the certified equipment offered in the bid. The main components of PV systemsPV modules, controller and batteriesare commoditized, and there is seldom value in requesting samples from winning bidders or visiting factories to inspect production.

Blueprint Installations
A useful first step is for the supplier to complete a series of pilot or blueprint installations, hopefully in a relatively accessible location, which can be closely inspected by all key stakeholders together with technical PV specialists. The purpose is for the contractor and implementing agency to reach agreement that the blueprint installations indeed meet all requirements prior to the start of a large, rapid rollout of multiple installations. The blueprint installations are used as benchmarks for

acceptance of future installations, as well as for training both installers and inspectors of installations.

Bhutan has unique topography and climatic conditions which include high altitudes, low atmospheric pressure, extreme temperature variations, cloud cover for almost 180 + days in a year, excessive rainfall during summer and heavy snow fall in winter at higher altitudes, etc. In summer months it rains excessively and in winter it snows. In between Bhutan is covered with clouds. During spring and autumn there is medium to weak sunlight. One way of balancing these topographic and climatic variables is to employ a charge controller that uses Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) technology to harvest additional 30% of energy in a given small sunlight window to recharge the batteries. Another way to enhance would be to deploy PV panels with above average power conversion efficiencies of crystalline silicon solar cells in modules.

MPPT Charge Controller

Maximum Power Point Tracking is microprocessor controlled. The charge controller looks at the output of the PV panels, and compares it to the battery voltage. It then figures out what is the best power that the panel can put out to charge the battery. It takes the panel voltage output and converts it to the best voltage (Step down Voltage to increase Current - Amps) to get maximum current (Amps) into the battery. It is Amps into the battery that counts. Think of it as a solar booster. A conventional charge controller would not execute the above step optimizing. It simply passes on the panel current using the battery setting voltage. So even if the panel can give more current (Amps) during high sunlight levels, the conventional controller wouldnt know, which means the battery recharge would still be slow, implying the window of opportunity to quickly recharge the battery is lost during maximum sunlight. Most modern MPPT's are around 93-97% efficient in the conversion. You typically get a 20 to 45% power gain in winter and 10-15% in summer or more. Actual gain can vary widely depending on weather, temperature, battery state of charge, and other factors. MPPT's are most effective under these conditions: In winter and during cloudy or hazy or days - when the extra power is needed the most.

1. Cold weather - solar panels work better at cold temperatures, but without a MPPT you are losing most of that. Cold weather is most likely in winter - the time when sun hours are low and you need the power to recharge batteries the most. 2. Low battery charge - the lower the state of charge in your battery, the more current (Amps) a MPPT puts into them unlike the conventional charge controllers - another time when the extra power is needed the most. 3. You can have both of the above conditions at the same time.

Power Conversion Efficiencies

Power conversion efficiencies of PV modules play an important role in weak sunlight conditions. Weak sunlight occurs commonly during winter but it can also occur during summer when the region has excessive rainfall as in Bhutan. Monthly Averaged Insolation Incident On A Horizontal Surface (kWh/m 2/day) Lat 27.5 Lon 90.433 22-year Average Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual Average 4.63

3.91 4.37 4.79 5.43 5.47 5.19 4.92 4.66 4.38 4.53 4.13 3.82

Monthly Averaged Daylight Hours (hours) Lat 27.5 Lon 90.433 Average Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

10.6 11.2 12.0 12.8 13.5 13.8 13.7 13.1 12.3 11.5 10.8 10.4

Although the above table shows an insolation of 5.47 kWh/m2/day during summer, this data which is derived from a satellite doesnt factor the rainfall occurring during summer at Bhutan implying that cumulative summer insolation data can be misleading. Consequently, the sunlight window is either weak or shortened, implying sunlight is partially lost to recharge the batteries in full. (A common reason for battery failure due to consecutive deep discharges) In winter the same applies except that it is excessive snow in higher regions and weak insolation at lower regions. It is in conditions such as above that a PV module of higher conversion efficiency becomes vital to keep the solar home systems balanced.

System Components Factored to meet Bhutan conditions.

PV Panel.
PV panel with above average power conversion efficiencies must be deployed. Module efficiencies range between 15% to 20%.

Charge Controller
Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) Charge Controller - 10 Amps, 12 V must be deployed factoring near growth in usage. MPPT charge controllers cost more than conventional (PWM) controllers.

Panel and Battery Sizing

Table 1: Panel Size Without change in Scope (Load). ESTIMATED DAILY ENERGY REQUIREMENTS AND PV SYSTEM SIZE Appliance Units (no.) Watts (W) Use Watt (hrs./day) (hrs. / day) 5 8 0 0 0 2 45 8 0 0 0 60 113 0.25 28.25 141.25 0.5 70.625 211.875 3.82 55

LED Lamp LED Night Lamp Radio / Music / Video Player TV Laptop Other - Phone Charger, etc. Sub Total (Wh) Margin near term growth in usage Energy demand (per day) Margin technical losses Gross energy use (Wh/day) Full Sun-Hours - Winter PV system Panel size (Wp)

3 2 1 1 1 1

3 0.5 15 50 40 30

Upon review you will find that I have maintained the current load as specified in the tender. I have assumed 1 unit of 30 W adapters that will charge a mobile phone in about 2 hours. I have introduced usage options for a television set, radio and a laptop computer that has a Zero (0) in usage column. Margin near term growth in usage means usage could increase once electricity is introduced. It also means that since I have retained the tender data, I needed a factor for increased light usage in winter, when daylight hours fall to only 10.4 hours. Keep in mind that lights are used post dusk and pre-dawn in rural communities. The tender data assumes 4 hours post dusk and 1 hour pre-dawn. It may not be sufficient. Table 1.1: Battery Size Without change in Scope (Load). BATTERY SIZE Volts 12

Number of Days of Battery Autonomy Design Factor Total Daily Load (Ah)

5 1.5 11.7708333

Battery Capacity (Ah)


I have retained the battery days of autonomy at 5 although for Bhutan it should be 6 or more. Likewise I have assumed the indoor ambient temperature in higher altitudes during winter to be above 9 degrees centigrade and hence used a design factor of 1.5 although for Bhutan it should be 1.6. If I had increased the value of design factors in my calculations, it would have increased the cost of battery to unviable levels given the scope of solar application. However, I assumed the SHS will be using a MPPT charge controller to harvest more solar energy to recharge the batteries quicker and therefore wouldnt need excess backup to discourage deep discharge. A MPPT charge controller reduces the size of the battery to reasonable levels in addition to making the PV system efficient.

Please use the accompanying spreadsheet to model and conduct what if analysis. Keep the watts 2nd column constant. If I introduce Television viewing for only 4 hours every day, the size of the panel with its battery would change. Likewise the capacity of the charge controller would also change implying the capacity to handle a larger load from 7 Amps (that it currently states) to 10 Amps. I recommended a 10 Amps charge controller to factor load growth (Only TV) so that the charge controller can be retained when Television viewing is initiated at a future date. Any load in addition to TV viewing would require a 20 A charge controller. Table 2: Panel Size With change in Scope (Load) ESTIMATED DAILY ENERGY REQUIREMENTS AND PV SYSTEM SIZE Appliance Units (no.) Watts (W) Use Watt (hrs./day) (hrs. / day) 5 8 0 4 0 2 45 8 0 200 0 60 313 0.25 78.25 391.25 0.5 195.625 586.875 3.82 154

LED Lamp LED Night Lamp Radio / Music / Video Player TV Laptop Other - Phone Charger, etc. Sub Total (Wh) Margin near term growth in usage Energy demand (per day) Margin technical losses Gross energy use (Wh/day) Full Sun-Hours - Winter PV system Panel size (Wp)

3 2 1 1 1 1

3 0.5 15 50 40 30

Table 2.1: Battery Size With change in Scope (Load) BATTERY SIZE Volts 12

Number of Days of Battery Autonomy Design Factor Total Daily Load (Ah)

5 1.5


Battery Capacity (Ah)


You notice that if a beneficiary views television for 4 hours a day, the size of the PV panel and battery change to 154 W and 245 Ah against 55 W and 88 Ah for the current scope (lights + mobile phone charging).

This brings us to the most important question in deploying PV systems: The Scope of Solar Home Systems. You will notice that the scope (including anticipated load growth) for a solar system must be known or set in prior unlike margin growth in usage which can be factored within the scope during design calculations. Scope of a SHS is the most important data prior to initiating a PV project (especially for those who receive electricity for the first time) which ironically is explained in the last page. The accompanying spreadsheet provides scenarios to model the scope. Once we have the scope frozen, everything else is computation.