IS SOLAR ENERGY EFFECTIVE? WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A PRINTING COMPANY APPLIES SOLAR ENERGY IN OPERATIONS?
Recently, energy shortage has become a critical global issue. This is caused by short-term events such as wars or supply chain issues and long-term events because fossil fuels (oil, coal, etc.) will eventually run out. Solar energy is expected to become a leading sustainable energy source.
After 5 years of using solar energy for production, we would like to share our experience with Anh Khoa’s Brother with our followers, who may be interested in implementing this energy source.
Advantages of solar energy:
1. Always available: energy from the sun is an unlimited source that can be extracted anywhere. Contrary to common beliefs, solar panels can also operate in areas with cold climates and without frequent sunshine. With year-round sunshine, Vietnam is an ideal location to install solar panels as they can produce more energy here. Usually, in Ho Chi Minh City, electricity begins to generate at 5:30AM and ends around 5:30-6:00PM. From 11:00AM to 1:30PM, Anh Khoa’s Brother uses 100% solar energy for production, which includes 5 industrial printers, 65 computers, 2 CTP, 40 fridges, 8 large capacity circulating cold air cooling systems (for the whole factory), and over 40 post-press machines of all kinds.
2. Reduce costs: the most attractive characteristic of solar energy is the ability to save a significant portion of monthly electric bills. If the printing company can sign a contract with EVN (a traditional electricity provider), they can sell the electricity produced from the solar panels when they are not using electricity. Installing solar panels can bring huge investment returns beyond expectations. In previous systems, power capacity is only 86-92% of the design capacity. Solar energy systems allow higher power capacity at around 99%.
Currently, Anh Khoa’s Brother is using 43% solar energy, meaning we only pay 57% of our electricity bills to EVN. The production/consumption ratio of the solar power system is 86%. There are times when solar energy is not sufficient for our production needs while there are other times when we cannot utilize all solar energy and have to sell to EVN. Nevertheless, from 6:30PM to 5:30AM the next morning, we have to use electricity from EVN.
In September 2022, Anh Khoa’s Brother sold 22.890 KW produced from our solar panels to EVN.
3. Another factor to mention is the price of setup solar panels has reduced significantly. The new solar energy systems at Anh Khoa’s Brother cost not even 50% compared to the investment capital requirement per 1Kwp 5 years ago. The payback period used to be 10 years, but now it only takes 5.5 years.
Disadvantages of solar energy:
1. Initial investment requirements: this is not a small sum. In reality, we are paying about 12.500.000VND/1Kwp, and this is the highest capacity that the solar panel can generate (when the sun is ideal). Unlike advertisements, each day, there are only 3.7 – 4 hours that a solar panel can generate at this capacity. The cost mentioned above does not include the cost to set up a fire prevention system on the roof and setting up support systems.
2. During holidays or weekends when the factory is not in production, the electricity generated will be wasteful because there is limited usage. Therefore, the investment would be more effective only for those who are able to sign a contract to sell to EVN.
3. Solar panels require a large roof area that satisfies all requirements to install the panels.
4. Lack of mobility: after the panels are set up, they are difficult and expensive to move to another location. As a result, when we are selling our factory, we should consider that we may have to sell solar panels as well. When we are leasing the factory, installing the solar panels pose risks because we might have to move them later.
5. Government policies become more tightened over time: fire prevention on a factory’s roof is a major focus for government regulations. We should avoid installing solar panels without approval from the Fire Prevention Police department. Installed solar panels that are different from the approved design will also result in denial.
Summary: solar panel systems bring highly effective results, and it is an amazing investment if the printing company has enough capital, proper roofs, and can sign a contract to sell electricity to EVN.