On-Grid Solar Power Plant System

Kiran Beldar · Jul 20, 2023 · 18 mins read

What is On Grid Solar Power Plant?

An on-grid solar power plant, also known as a grid-tied solar power system, is a solar energy system that is connected to the electricity grid. It works by converting sunlight into electricity using photovoltaic (PV) panels and feeding the generated electricity directly into the utility grid. This setup allows the solar power plant to supply electricity to the grid when it produces more energy than the connected facility requires and draw electricity from the grid when the demand exceeds the solar system's output.

Untitled Draft-imgFig. 1: On grid Solar System (Source: https://farmsonsolar.com/)

How an on-grid solar power plant works:

Solar Panels: The system starts with solar panels, also called photovoltaic (PV) panels, which are installed on rooftops, ground-mounted structures, or other suitable locations with ample sunlight exposure. These solar panels consist of semiconductor materials, such as silicon, that can convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity.

Inverter: The DC electricity generated by the solar panels is sent to an inverter. The inverter is a crucial component of the system because it converts the DC electricity into alternating current (AC), which is the form of electricity used in most homes, businesses, and the electricity grid.On-Grid Solar Power Plant-img

Grid Connection: The AC electricity produced by the inverter is then connected to the building's electrical distribution system. The electricity can be used to power appliances, lights, and other electrical devices within the building. If the solar power system generates more electricity than the building's demand, the excess electricity is automatically directed to the utility grid.

Net Metering: This is a key feature of on-grid solar power plants. When the solar system produces more electricity than the building requires, the excess power is fed into the grid through a bidirectional utility meter. This meter can measure both the electricity consumption from the grid and the electricity fed back to the grid from the solar system. The utility company credits the customer's account for the surplus electricity sent back to the grid.

Electricity Consumption: When the solar panels are generating electricity and the building's demand is lower than the solar output, the building is primarily powered by the solar electricity. This can lead to a reduction in electricity bills or even potential income if the feed-in tariff (the rate at which the utility company buys excess electricity from the solar owner) is favorable.

Grid Interaction: During periods when the solar panels are not producing enough electricity to meet the building's demand (e.g., at night or on cloudy days), the building draws electricity from the grid. This ensures a continuous and reliable power supply regardless of solar output fluctuations.

Benefits of installing on grid solar plant:

Installing an on-grid solar power plant offers numerous benefits for individuals, businesses, and communities. Here are some of the key advantages of installing an on-grid solar plant:

Reduced Electricity Bills: By generating electricity from solar energy, you can offset a significant portion of your electricity consumption from the grid. This can lead to substantial savings on your electricity bills, especially in areas with high electricity rates.

Earn Money Through Net Metering: In many regions, on-grid solar power plant owners can participate in net metering programs. Excess electricity generated by the solar system can be fed back to the grid, and you can earn credits or receive payments from the utility company for the surplus energy you supply.

Environmentally Friendly: Solar power is a clean and renewable energy source that produces no greenhouse gas emissions, air pollutants, or harmful byproducts. By using solar energy, you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to mitigating climate change.

Low Operating Costs: Once installed, solar power plants generally have low operating and maintenance costs. Solar panels have no moving parts, and regular cleaning and periodic inspections are typically all that's needed to keep the system running efficiently.

Stable and Predictable Energy Costs: As the sun is a free and abundant energy source, generating electricity from solar power provides a degree of price stability. Unlike traditional fossil fuels, solar energy costs are not subject to price fluctuations or geopolitical factors.

Reduced Peak Demand: On-grid solar plants generate the most electricity during peak sunlight hours, which often aligns with peak demand periods. This can help reduce the strain on the grid during peak times and potentially alleviate the need for additional power generation sources.

Energy Independence: By producing your electricity on-site, you become less reliant on the grid and the utility companies. This can be particularly advantageous in remote areas or regions with unreliable electricity supply.

Incentives and Tax Benefits: Many governments offer incentives, rebates, and tax credits to promote the adoption of renewable energy, including solar power. These financial incentives can significantly reduce the upfront cost of installing a solar power plant.

Positive Image and Branding: Businesses and organizations that invest in solar energy demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility. This can enhance their public image and attract environmentally conscious customers and stakeholders.

Job Creation and Economic Growth: The installation and maintenance of on-grid solar power plants create jobs in the renewable energy sector, contributing to local economic growth and promoting a green economy.

Components used in installation of on grid solar power plant:

The installation of an on-grid solar power plant involves several components that work together to harness solar energy, convert it into usable electricity, and integrate it with the utility grid. Here are the key components used in the installation of an on-grid solar power plant:

Solar Panels (Photovoltaic Modules): Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic modules, are the most critical components of a solar power plant. They are made up of semiconductor materials (usually silicon) that convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity when exposed to sunlight.

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Mounting Structure: The mounting structure provides the framework for installing the solar panels securely on rooftops, the ground, or any other suitable location. It should be strong enough to withstand wind, rain, and other environmental conditions.

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Solar Inverter: The inverter is a critical component that converts the DC electricity generated by the solar panels into alternating current (AC) electricity, which is the form of electricity used in homes and businesses and is compatible with the utility grid.DC and AC Disconnects: DC disconnects are used to isolate the DC side of the solar system, allowing for safe maintenance or repairs. AC disconnects serve a similar purpose for the AC side of the system.

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Combiner Box: The combiner box is a junction box that consolidates the output from multiple solar panels and connects them to the inverter. It typically contains fuses or circuit breakers for each string of solar panels to protect against overcurrent.

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Metering and Monitoring Equipment: Metering devices are used to measure the electricity generated by the solar system and the electricity consumed by the building. Monitoring equipment allows system owners to track the performance and efficiency of the solar power plant.

Mounting Racks and Rails: These components are part of the mounting structure and are used to secure the solar panels in place. They are designed to provide proper spacing, tilt, and orientation for maximum solar energy absorption.

Wiring and Cables: Electrical wiring and cables connect the solar panels, inverters, and other components to create a complete electrical circuit for the solar power system.

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Grounding Equipment: Grounding is essential for safety, and grounding equipment ensures that the solar power system is electrically connected to the ground to prevent the buildup of electrical charges.

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Utility Grid Connection: The solar power system is connected to the utility grid through a grid-tie inverter, which synchronizes the system's AC output with the grid's voltage and frequency.

Net Meter: A bidirectional utility meter, also known as a net meter, is installed to measure both the electricity consumed from the grid and the surplus electricity exported to the grid during net metering.

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Protection Devices: Protection devices, such as surge protectors and overcurrent protection, are installed to safeguard the system and connected equipment from voltage spikes and other electrical issues.

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Types of on grid solar power plant:

There are different types of on-grid solar power plants, each designed to cater to specific requirements and scale of electricity generation. Here are some common types of on-grid solar power plants:

Residential On-Grid Solar Power Plant: These are solar power systems designed for residential homes. They are typically smaller in size and are installed on rooftops or in the backyard. Residential on-grid solar power plants help homeowners reduce their electricity bills and may even allow them to earn credits through net metering.

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Commercial On-Grid Solar Power Plant: These systems are larger than residential setups and are designed for commercial buildings, offices, and small businesses. Commercial on-grid solar power plants can significantly reduce the electricity costs for businesses and contribute to their sustainability initiatives.

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Industrial On-Grid Solar Power Plant: Industrial on-grid solar power plants are larger-scale installations designed for industrial facilities, factories, and large commercial establishments. These systems have a higher capacity and are suitable for meeting the substantial energy demands of industries.

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Utility-Scale On-Grid Solar Power Plant: Utility-scale solar power plants are large installations designed to generate a significant amount of electricity that can be fed directly into the utility grid. These solar farms can cover vast areas and are often developed by utility companies or independent power producers to supply power to the general public.

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Community Solar Power Plant: Community solar power plants are installations that serve multiple consumers within a specific community or neighborhood. Residents or businesses can participate in the project without having to install solar panels on their own properties. This allows individuals who may not have suitable rooftops or face regulatory barriers to access solar energy benefits.

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Floating Solar Power Plant: Floating solar power plants are installations where solar panels are mounted on floating platforms on bodies of water, such as lakes, ponds, or reservoirs. These systems can be particularly advantageous in areas where land availability is limited or when water bodies can offer additional cooling benefits for the solar panels.

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Solar Carport: A solar carport is a specialized on-grid solar power system where solar panels are integrated into the structure of carports or parking lot shades. It serves the dual purpose of providing shade for parked vehicles and generating electricity for on-site consumption or feeding into the grid.

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Where we can install the on grid solar system:

On-grid solar systems can be installed in various locations, depending on available space, sunlight exposure, and the specific needs and goals of the solar power installation. Here are some common locations where on-grid solar systems can be installed:

Residential Rooftops: Residential rooftops are one of the most common locations for on-grid solar installations. Solar panels can be mounted on the rooftops of houses, apartments, and other residential buildings. Rooftop installations are particularly popular for residential solar projects, as they make efficient use of available space.

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Commercial Buildings: On-grid solar systems are often installed on the rooftops or facades of commercial buildings, including offices, factories, warehouses, shopping malls, and other commercial establishments. Commercial installations can help businesses reduce their electricity costs and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability.

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Industrial Facilities: Industrial facilities and manufacturing plants may have ample space available for large-scale solar installations. These facilities can benefit from the significant electricity savings and potentially reduce their carbon emissions.

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Open Ground Areas: On-grid solar systems can also be installed on open ground areas, such as vacant land, fields, or farmland. Ground-mounted solar installations can accommodate larger solar arrays and are common for utility-scale solar power plants.

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Parking Lots and Carports: Solar panels can be integrated into carports and parking lot structures to provide shade for vehicles while simultaneously generating electricity. These solar carport installations are increasingly popular for commercial spaces, educational institutions, and public areas.

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Solar Farms: Large-scale solar farms, also known as utility-scale solar power plants, are dedicated installations covering vast areas of land. These solar farms generate significant amounts of electricity to be fed directly into the utility grid.

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Floating Solar Installations: In regions with available bodies of water, such as reservoirs, lakes, or ponds, floating solar installations can be utilized. Solar panels are mounted on floating platforms, allowing efficient use of water surfaces for solar energy generation.

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Can we get subsidy on solar plant installation:

The availability of subsidies on solar plant installation varies widely depending on the country, region, and specific government policies in place.

In many countries, governments offer various incentives and subsidies to promote the adoption of renewable energy sources like solar power. These incentives aim to encourage individuals, businesses, and communities to invest in solar energy and reduce their carbon footprint. Common types of subsidies and incentives may include:

Financial Grants or Subsidies: Governments may provide direct financial grants or subsidies to offset a portion of the installation costs of solar power plants.

Tax Credits or Deductions: Tax credits or deductions allow individuals or businesses to reduce their tax liability based on the expenses incurred for solar power plant installation

Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs): Feed-in tariffs are fixed payments or premiums that utility companies offer to solar power plant owners for the electricity they generate and feed back into the grid.

Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs): RECs are tradable certificates representing the environmental attributes of a certain amount of renewable energy generated. They can be sold to utilities to meet their renewable energy targets.

Net Metering or Feed-in Mechanisms: Net metering allows solar power plant owners to export excess electricity to the grid and receive credits or payments for the surplus energy supplied.

Grants or Incentive Programs by Local or State Governments: Some regions or states within a country may have their own incentive programs to promote solar energy adoption.

Can we get subsidy on solar plant installation in India:

The Indian government offers various subsidies and incentives to promote solar plant installation in the country. The government of India has been actively supporting the growth of solar energy to achieve its renewable energy targets and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Some of the key subsidy schemes and incentives for solar plant installation in India include:

Central Financial Assistance (CFA) under MNRE: The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) offers financial incentives and subsidies for various solar projects, including rooftop solar installations and solar power plants. These subsidies are provided to both residential and commercial consumers.

Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) Schemes: SECI, a government company responsible for implementing various solar projects in India, often launches tenders and programs that provide subsidies and financial incentives for solar power plant developers.

State Government Subsidies: Several state governments in India also offer their own subsidy schemes and incentives for solar power installations. The availability and nature of these subsidies may vary from state to state.

Accelerated Depreciation Benefit: Businesses and industries installing solar power plants can avail of accelerated depreciation benefits, allowing them to claim higher depreciation in the early years of the project, reducing tax liability.

Net Metering: Net metering policies are in place in several states, allowing solar power plant owners to export excess electricity to the grid and receive credits on their electricity bills.

Group Housing Societies and Residential Welfare Associations Subsidy: Some state governments offer subsidies specifically for group housing societies and residential welfare associations to encourage the adoption of solar power at the community level.

What is net metering in solar on grid system:

Net metering is a billing arrangement and incentive program used in on-grid solar power systems to measure and compensate for the electricity exchanged between a solar power plant and the utility grid. It allows solar power system owners to receive credit or payment for the surplus electricity they generate and feed back into the grid.

Here's how net metering works in a solar on-grid system:

Electricity Generation: During sunny hours when the solar panels are generating electricity, the on-grid solar power system produces electricity in excess of what is being consumed on-site by the building or facility.

Grid Connection: The solar power system is connected to the utility grid through a bi-directional utility meter, also known as a net meter. This special meter is capable of measuring both the electricity consumption from the grid and the surplus electricity exported to the grid by the solar system.

Surplus Electricity Export: Any excess electricity generated by the solar power system that is not used on-site is fed back into the utility grid through the net meter. This surplus electricity is effectively sold to the utility company.

Credit or Payment: Based on the net metering agreement with the utility, the excess electricity exported to the grid results in credits or payments to the solar system owner. The utility company typically compensates the solar power system owner at the retail electricity rate for the surplus energy supplied.

Electricity Import: When the solar power system is not generating enough electricity to meet the building's demand (e.g., during nighttime or on cloudy days), electricity is imported from the grid as usual.

Net Billing: At the end of the billing period (often monthly), the utility company calculates the net electricity consumption by subtracting the electricity exported (credits) from the electricity imported. The customer is then billed or credited based on the net consumption.

The net metering arrangement allows solar power system owners to effectively use the utility grid as a virtual energy storage system. During periods of high solar generation, surplus electricity is fed into the grid, building up credits. During low solar generation periods, such as at night, the accumulated credits are used to offset electricity consumption from the grid.

Net metering is a beneficial incentive for solar power system owners as it helps reduce electricity bills, encourages renewable energy adoption, and promotes grid stability by balancing energy supply and demand. However, it's essential to note that net metering policies and regulations can vary from one location to another, and the terms and benefits of net metering agreements depend on the specific utility company and government regulations in place.


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