Last edited: March 2019
Solar power systems in Ghana can be qualified according to various metrics. Most commonly, systems are classified according to size, application or technology. Below is an overview of the various types of solar systems classified according to these three metrics.
Classified according to size/application
Small (home) systems
Pico Solar (1 – 10Wp) -The smallest of the solar power systems is a pico solar system. Often pico solar systems are portable devices, or at least easy to transport. Most provide a small amount of power for things like a few lights or charging a mobile phone.
Solar Home Systems (10 – 200Wp) – Solar Home Systems come in many different formations and have diverse applications. In general, the roof holds the solar panel whereas the battery is located inside the house. Normally the DC power does not convert into AC power. It normally comes from a solar panel whereas AC power normally circulates in the grid. Therefore, the connected appliances need to be capable of using DC power. Smaller home systems are primarily used for lights, radio or charging mobile phones. The larger systems are adequate to power a TV or for example speakers. Many solar home systems require the payment of a small deposit. Often a daily or weekly mobile money transfer pays off the remainder of the system.
Customized Solar Power System, DC Coupled (200Wp – 60kWp) – A special characteristic of this power system is the custom design application. For smaller projects, this can be a home with some appliances with higher energy use where a solar home system is not sufficient. An example is the connection of a fridge or a freezer to the system. Other larger project can also benefit from these systems, for example a remote hospital or lodge.
Customized Solar Power Systems, AC Coupled (5kWP – 5MWp) – A different version of a custom design application is the AC coupled system. In general, it is a little larger compared to a DC coupled system. Aldo, it most often has a hybridizated generator. Examples of user are again remote hospitals and lodges, as well as power factories use these systems. A minigrid or microgrid is often a type of AC-coupled solar power system capable of powering an entire village, town or island.
Read more about the difference between an DC-Coupled or AC-Coupled system here.
Utility scale systems
Utility Scale Solar Power Systems (1MWp – 100MWp+) – This type of solar power system connects to the national grid. As such, it does not power one particular site, but rather generates electricity used throughout the country. Even though there are many sites in Africa which have very high solar irradiation, there are not that many utility scale solar power systems as of yet.
The Right Type of System
Various factors influence which type of system suits the needs of your project. Choosing solar power in a (new) power solution or project often makes sense. However, it does not always mean this is the optimal choice. Sometimes people would start their search for a solar power system, while actually they could be better off with a battery-based backup system or a generator (or a combination thereof). The below diagram outlines which technologies are often combined to provide a power backup or power generation solution. A good solar power company is able to gather all data necessary in order to provide a solid system design.
Below you find the outline of which combination of technologies might be used, both for a scenario where there is a grid available as well as for a place where no grid is available.
When there is a grid connection
|Option 1||Keep the grid connection, no changes|
|Option 2||Solar only||AC-Coupled|
|Option 12||Generator only||AC-Coupled|
When there is NO grid connection
|Option 1||Keep the current situation (no electricity / other energy or light sources)|
|Option 12||Generator only||AC-Coupled|
This tool can provide a first step in getting to know which type of system might be most suitable for your project: Solar Decision Tree (coming soon)