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Old Jan 20th 2015, 10:28 am   #1
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Default Solar Power

HI,

I have seen some posts already on solar power. My interest is that I have a solar business (specialising in PV) in Ayamonte, just on the border with East Algarve.

I notice that in Algarve the existing installers offer excessively expensive options, and some are clearly rip-off merchants.

Hence as we've been working driving down costs in a depressed spanish market I was thinking of offering our solutions to expats in the Algarve.

Obviously i'm not going to use the forum for self-promotion, but I'd like to know where members suggest would be the best places to promote our solutions? What forums, magazines, newspapers?

Is there much interest in general for solar power amongst the expat community?

Thanks alot
Lazza
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Old Jan 20th 2015, 10:38 am   #2
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Default Re: Solar Power

I don't know about Portugal, but in Spain, the threat of some unbelievably ridiculous taxation and daft regulation favouring the energy giants has slowed the adoption of solar to a crawl. It's unclear whether they will go ahead with the law or not, so a lot of people are waiting to see how it will play out.

Taxes, fees: the worldwide battle between utilities and solar | Reuters

'Energy giants out to kill off Spain's solar sector' - The Local
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Old Jan 20th 2015, 10:59 am   #3
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Default Re: Solar Power

HI. Yes, well aware of the spanish situation... well we're based here . Hence why we have developed systems that work in parallel with the grid and not directly as part of it. This way you avoid all the nonsense. However it does require batteries and hence payback is nearer 7-8 years than the 5 years if they allowed net metering to compensate you for the excess energy produced. This is the kind of system I thought may be good for Portugal expats too... hence my post to find out if there is really any interest.
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Old Jan 20th 2015, 11:59 am   #4
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Default Re: Solar Power

The big solar installation outfits in Portugal are notoriously overpriced, but anyone who shops around a little soon finds more competitive prices.
You can advertise in "the Portugal Resident", "algarve daily news" and "the Portugal news" for starters.
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Old Jan 20th 2015, 1:39 pm   #5
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Default Re: Solar Power

The most successful offerings have 2 main components:
  1. A differentiation from the competition (what makes your offerings different?)
  2. A value proposition (not price, but value - do buyers get a better value with your product?).

With respect to #1, targeting expats is a good start. It differentiates you. But are there enough expats to form a viable market? If not, then you need more than just that. The "complimentary" thing is good - "Save money on your electricity" (everybody's interested in that) as opposed to "live off the grid" (much riskier).

And for #2, if the others are so expensive, then this should be a piece of cake.

But I suspect that there ancillary costs involved that you may not be considering. Perhaps there is some tax or fees or other nonsense that is unique to solar in Portugal. Perhaps you must have some special licence and a certified solar specialist on staff. Or is there an overwhelming support burden (do they break down a lot?). I don't know.. but if everyone else is so expensive, I reckon there's a reason.

But not necessarily so. It may be just greed or stupidity. Or is there some sort of 'association' or 'union' or 'club' that you need to belong to? If so, you could make some seriously vindictive enemies if you aren't in their circle - and exhibit 'respect'.

On the other hand, I know the parts and bits can be had for a lot cheaper these days. It's not unheard of that the status quo simply doesn't bother to look, and still pays a fortune for the stuff.

Anyway, good luck. I wish you much success.
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Last edited by amideislas; Jan 20th 2015 at 1:45 pm.
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Old Jan 20th 2015, 5:54 pm   #6
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Default Re: Solar Power

Once yo7 have resolved all the issues of trading in Portugal the various fairs such as the Fatacil and Blip would be worth investigating. Solar generation with the surplus sold back into the grid is treated as income which could be one of the reasons for the small share solar has in the domestic market. Efficient economic systems to power pool heaters and irrigation systems may have more potential in the expat market.
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Old Jan 20th 2015, 11:14 pm   #7
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Default Re: Solar Power

I am with EMR on this, the buying tariff offered by the Electricity company in Portugal (EDP) is more or less equal to their selling tariff. Rather than buying a room full of batteries it makes much more economical sense to sell what you make and buy it back during 'non production hours'. With the prices of panels dropping enormously and the efficiency of panels increasing most people are aware that the prices of panels are in the region of 50cents per watt plus the cost of a suitable inverter. (plus installation of course) and if they didn't know before they do now !

For permanent residents or for houses occupied all summer the option of not doing a grid tie connection at all is becoming worthy of consideration. Just using the PV Panels to power pool pump and aircon during the day and using all generated power 'in house' has quite a reasonable payback time.

In my view it's also a big mistake to base any business of any type on supplying 'expats' they are not a significant proportion of the potential market - if you aim also for the Portuguese market you will find them receptive but either way you will also find it hard coping with legislation and technical inspection requirements. You also need to do your due diligence on others already in this market as you are already late into the game unless you have a USP that cannot be easily replicated.

Last edited by MrBife; Jan 20th 2015 at 11:24 pm.
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Old Jan 21st 2015, 5:04 pm   #8
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Default Re: Solar Power

Thanks for your replies.

We would obviously do whichever installation made most sense, whether it be a net-metering type or a hybrid type. I was simply stating that for Spain we have a hybrid solution due to the prohibitive legislation. The problem with any system that is grid-tie is that it always will rely on some form of legislation and these southern european governments are notoriously unreliable and capricious when it comes to providing a secure long-term legal framework. You could be fine this year, but next year they bring in a solar tax for all legalized installations.. and ouch.

We are also not basing our market on expats, it would be an extra niche market alongside our core business in spain. Precisely because I see a failure by existing companies to supply quality, low cost solutions for expats- at least at first glance.

Please do let me know of any more advice and/or suggestions that you may have

Cheers
Lazza
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Old Jan 21st 2015, 8:38 pm   #9
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Smile Re: Solar Power

Quote:
Originally Posted by amideislas View Post
I don't know about Portugal, but in Spain, the threat of some unbelievably ridiculous taxation and daft regulation favouring the energy giants has slowed the adoption of solar to a crawl. It's unclear whether they will go ahead with the law or not, so a lot of people are waiting to see how it will play out.

Taxes, fees: the worldwide battle between utilities and solar | Reuters

'Energy giants out to kill off Spain's solar sector' - The Local
Both articles, one from March 2014, the other September 2014 both say that the new law although formulated has not yet been implemented. Is that still the case?
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Old Jan 21st 2015, 8:43 pm   #10
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Smile Re: Solar Power

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazza Parks View Post
HI,

I have seen some posts already on solar power. My interest is that I have a solar business (specialising in PV) in Ayamonte, just on the border with East Algarve.

I notice that in Algarve the existing installers offer excessively expensive options, and some are clearly rip-off merchants.

Hence as we've been working driving down costs in a depressed spanish market I was thinking of offering our solutions to expats in the Algarve.

Obviously i'm not going to use the forum for self-promotion, but I'd like to know where members suggest would be the best places to promote our solutions? What forums, magazines, newspapers?

Is there much interest in general for solar power amongst the expat community?

Thanks alot
Lazza
Where in Ayamonte can we find you Lanza?

Portugal has not been stupid like SPAIN and does not yet tax solar but I think the subsidy has been reduced but I think it is still there.

The publications already mentioned would cover your needs but I would add the East Algarve Magazine who might also do a piece on you.
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Old Jan 21st 2015, 8:49 pm   #11
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Smile Re: Solar Power

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazza Parks View Post
Thanks for your replies.

We would obviously do whichever installation made most sense, whether it be a net-metering type or a hybrid type. I was simply stating that for Spain we have a hybrid solution due to the prohibitive legislation. The problem with any system that is grid-tie is that it always will rely on some form of legislation and these southern european governments are notoriously unreliable and capricious when it comes to providing a secure long-term legal framework. You could be fine this year, but next year they bring in a solar tax for all legalized installations.. and ouch.

We are also not basing our market on expats, it would be an extra niche market alongside our core business in spain. Precisely because I see a failure by existing companies to supply quality, low cost solutions for expats- at least at first glance.

Please do let me know of any more advice and/or suggestions that you may have

Cheers
Lazza
Is it feasible to just provide for pool pump and Aircon and not be grid tied also not to have a huge battery bank?
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Old Jan 21st 2015, 11:21 pm   #12
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Default Re: Solar Power

Quote:
Originally Posted by EsuriJohn View Post
Is it feasible to just provide for pool pump and Aircon and not be grid tied also not to have a huge battery bank?
Especially if the pump is 3 phase?
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Old Jan 22nd 2015, 9:19 am   #13
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Default Re: Solar Power

HI

In reply to EsuriJohn. Yes it's totally feasible. It would be a similar setup to what we have used for medium-scale irrigation systems for olive plantations. As the energy requirements are principally in the summer months, the number of panels can be greatly reduced.

The system will be optimised for daytime use to correspond with maximum solar irradiation, this way the battery bank can also be considerably reduced. You program the inverter (or independent relay switch) to shut off at a fairly highly voltage (say 23.5V for a 24V system) this will protect the batteries from overdischarge and ensure that the pump/aircon function only when there is sufficient solar power i.e. sunny days.

The only real question is the financial feasibility. Will it save you money and over how long? This willl depend on a number of factors: whether you have discriminatory off-peak, on-peak pricing per kWh; how much you are paying for your kWh; the power and energy consumption of your pump/aircon... etc. There may be other advantages, you may have a kW power limit and not want to pay more fixed charges to increase you limit.

If the pump is 3-phase it, the cheapest solution usually is to get a 1-phase to 3-phase converter which will bump the price up a few hundred euros.

Cheers

Lazza

ps We have a small warehouse in Lepe, but it's not open to the public- but we're around the area all the time- I live in Pozo del Camino. Happy to meet up in Ayamonte for a coffee and speak my native language whenever suits
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Old Jan 22nd 2015, 5:50 pm   #14
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Default Re: Solar Power

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazza Parks View Post
HI,

I have seen some posts already on solar power. My interest is that I have a solar business (specialising in PV) in Ayamonte, just on the border with East Algarve.

I notice that in Algarve the existing installers offer excessively expensive options, and some are clearly rip-off merchants.

Hence as we've been working driving down costs in a depressed spanish market I was thinking of offering our solutions to expats in the Algarve.

Obviously i'm not going to use the forum for self-promotion, but I'd like to know where members suggest would be the best places to promote our solutions? What forums, magazines, newspapers?

Is there much interest in general for solar power amongst the expat community?

Thanks alot
Lazza
Hi Lazza,

Interested in your post.

When you say PV I take it you mean electricity generation.

There is interest in this here in the Algarve and especially in the Alentejo to the North of the Algarve.

One reason our prices here are high is because VAT is 23% and under the new EU VAT rules applied since 1st January 2015, this would be applied to any sales you made in Portugal.

A positive aspect is that the government here has just implemented a law allowing for the generation of electricity for personal consumption with the possibility of selling any surplus onto the grid.

The problem in reaching the Algarve Expat market is that it is spread out along the 160km of the Algarve and then into the English-Speaking, German, and Dutch Communities.

Could you please pm me with some details or your contact.
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Old Jan 24th 2015, 6:27 pm   #15
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Default Re: Solar Power

Quote:
Originally Posted by EsuriJohn View Post
Is it feasible to just provide for pool pump and Aircon and not be grid tied also not to have a huge battery bank?
In my view yes. Aircon is only really required during heat of summer when solar panels are working most efficiently.

Rather than run an inverter to convert 12/24v to 220 or use expensive gadgets to enable a 3phase pump to operate the best solution is to put in a second low voltage pump (24v) and run that during daylight hours. A simple control box enables the original pump to operate on cloudy days when there is insufficient solar power generation.
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