Last edited: August 2018
Solar power systems in Tanzania can be qualified according to various metrics. However, most commonly, systems are classified according to size, application or technology. Below is an overview of various types of solar systems.
Classified according to size/application
Pico Solar (1 – 10Wp) – Pico solar systems are the smallest solar power systems and are very often portable devices, or at least easy to transport. This is mostly for providing power for a few lights and for charging mobile phones.
Solar Home System
Solar Home Systems (10 – 200Wp) – Solar Home Systems come in many different configurations and applications. The solar panel is normally fixated onto the roof whereas the battery is located inside the house. Normally there is no conversion in electricity from DC power to AC power. DC normally power comes from a solar panel whereas AC power normally is used in the grid. This means that the connected appliances need to be capable of using DC power. The smaller systems are mainly used for lights, a radio and charging mobile phones. The larger systems are also capable of powering a TV, hair clippers or some speakers. Many solar home systems require the payment of a small deposit. Daily or weekly mobile money transfers pay off the remainder of the system.
Customized Solar Power System, DC Coupled
Customized Solar Power System, DC Coupled (200Wp – 60kWp) – A custom design for this application is the characterization of this class of solar power systems. On the smaller side this could be a home with some appliances with higher energy use. An example of such an appliance is a fridge or a freezer. On the larger side these systems could for example power a remote hospital or lodge.
Customized Solar Power Systems, AC Coupled
Customized Solar Power Systems, AC Coupled (5kWP – 5MWp) – This is a second custom design application class of solar power system. However, in general it is a little larger and most often has a hybridizated generator. Power 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 Solar Power 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 with a very high solar irradiation, there are not that many utility scale solar power systems yet.
Find a list of the largest solar power systems in Tanzania here.
The Right Type of System
Which type of system suits the needs of your project depends on a various factors. Including solar power in a solution often makes sense, however, it is not always the most optimal solution. Sometimes people start their search with looking at solar power systems. Actually, they could be better off with a battery-based backup system or a generator (or a combination thereof). The below diagram outlines the combination of technologies 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 is an outline of which combinations of technologies might be used. This is for both a scenario with an available grid as well as for without a grid.
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>