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Solar Electric Ventures to Carlow (Interview)

Mary Anne: At 6 o’clock now, I’m joined in the studio by Robert Goss from a company called Solar Electric and you’re Wexford based.  The company is, anyway.  Not you Robert but – yeah.

Robert: Yes, I commute from Thomastown over the hill trough Kiltealy, outside Enniscorthy to a place called Killane. So, I have the most beautiful commute.

Mary Anne:  Oh lovely! It is a really idyllic area.

Robert: Yes – yes, that is correct, yeah.

Mary Anne: Absolutely.  So, Solar electric you’re going to venture over the border into Carlow next week for the Ploughing Championships.  You’re setting up there. You might tell us a little bit about the company itself and what you do.

Robert: Yes, Solar electric was started 2011-2012 by Tom Foley who is my business partner.  We’ve been in the domestic and industrial solar PV business since then. And solar PV, as you probably know, not the solar hot water systems of old but the solar panels on your roof that make electricity. We’ve been, fortunately, successful locally and across the country with domestic solar and in very big projects like those for the Defense Forces – those for big bakeries and so forth.

Mary Anne:  That’s fantastic. And you were just telling me that you were in Germany recently looking at a specific type of battery that you now have an offer for people.  Basically, it’s storing energy during the day – releasing it at night.

Robert:  That’s exactly right, Mary Anne.

Mary Anne:  Bring in the tech stuff.

Robert:  Yeah, so.  It sounds technical but it’s simply not.  The whole great thing about solar is that it makes electricity during the day. So, obviously during daylight hours. That’s fantastic for people who are home during the day.  People who are doing their washing during the day.  People who are using electricity to, maybe to, heat up water. But there’s a whole lot of other people who are going out to work during the day to pay the mortgage.  And for those people, it makes a lot more sense to have a battery.  And we import the Sonnen battery from Bavaria.

And we’ve been working with Sonnen now since 2016 – with this battery.  And what that does really is, it will store up the free daytime electricity and then give you electricity through the evening that you’ve stored up. So, it performs that task of storing up power for you to use later. And really, if you have a big enough battery it probably won’t run out until 8 o’clock tomorrow morning.

Mary Anne: Until up to a few years ago I’m just thinking, now you know, in terms of solar technology, it was very rare that you would see people who had solar panels on their roofs, or in their gardens or in their sheds or wherever they were.  But now you see it quite often. Have you seen a big increase in the last few years in sales for people looking for that kind of technology?

Robert:  Absolutely! So, the new houses that are being built nearly always have it.  But we’ve had some great customers here. I can remember Dr. Murphy down by the Noor in the city centre. But he was an early adopter, someone who was interested in renewable energy. There were enthusiasts at the start but now it has become round in the mill. A bit like electric cars.  They used to be just a thing for people who really were into it. But now it’s become a widespread thing.

Maryanne:  All right. Okay.  And what kind of customers are you getting then?  Are you getting a lot of people who want them on their houses?  Are you getting businesses?  More so, people looking to set up farms?

Robert:  Yeah, the main customer group at the moment is domestic, in terms of volume.  And there are people who are saying “Look, I have a little bit of money saved up. I get nothing for that in the Credit Union.  Nothing for that if I put it on deposit.   What I can do with this money is I can buy electricity for the future.  Electricity is probably got the [inaudible] price with the carbon taxes and one thing or another.  So, they feel if they put solar panels on their roof, whether it’s a simple installation for around about 5000 euros and they get a 1400 grant. Or whether it’s something bigger with a battery which might cost them twice that. People are investing in solar if you like.

Maryanne: Okay. And I see you’re working in a number of schools then as well at the moment and around the place as well.

Robert:  That’s the most exciting project.  I’ve been very lucky to work with the Tipperary energy agency and friends of the earth on the solar for school’s project.  They called it “Hands up for Solar!” which was the friends of the earth’s campaign. We have got 5 schools to do. One in Northline which is to be the first one in Dublin. But the most exciting one of all is in Inishmaan on the iron islands.  And I went there last Friday for the first time in my life and boy, what a place.

Maryanne: It’s beautiful isn’t it?

Robert: Absolutely fantastic! Yeah, and welcoming people. And people are very into green technology. So, it was a great day for me to talk to the school children to measure up and of course taking great care to measure up and of course taking great care to measure up because we’re not going to find an electrical wholesaler on Inishmaan.

Mary Anne:  Hopefully not.

Robert:  So, we got to go over everything we need when we go and install.

Mary Anne:  All right.  Okay. And this – the battery you’re telling me about.  The Sonnen battery people will be able to get that now.  It might be a little bit pricey at the moment.  But then you were talking about the – you were talking about the virtues of the grants that are available now.

Robert: Yeah.  We’ve got a really forward-thinking approach, I think, from sustainable energy authority.  You know, they’ve got a specific grant for batteries, and that’s really the idea that if you have solar in your house, SEAI would like you to consume everything you make and not spill it back to the grid. So, the batteries are an important part of that. And thus, we’ve got the guys from Sonnen coming over to the show.  They’re arriving in the UK.  Well, actually the installing guys – the stand builders are here today putting the stand-up.  But we’ve got some guys coming over from Bavaria on Monday to help us.  So, they’ll be the technical experts if some of us from the UK and Ireland can’t help you.

Mary Anne:  All right, okay. So, you’ll be able to find – oh sorry – people will be able to find you out there, at the ploughing championships for the three days anyway.  For Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Robert:  yes.  I’m working the 3 days – stand 585.  We’re closer to the yellow car park down the bottom I’ve learned.  We’re actually pretty close to the catering which is great.  If you want a cup of coffee or burger.

Mary Anne:  It’s okay.  You must be getting queries from people all the time about, you know, the benefits really of solar energy.  is it cheaper?  It is cheaper obviously in the long run.  it must be.

Robert: Well, yeah.  It’s a very straight forward story. you’re paying around about 20 cents for electricity during the daytime in this country. And we can substitute that electricity with an investment say – of around – if you’re investing 5000 and then maybe getting a grant off that so it’s taking you back to 3 and a half.  That will pay itself back on that electricity that you saved in around about 7 years. So, it’s a good story.  Nothing’s for nothing. You have to make an investment but you’re certainly getting that money back pretty quickly.

Mary Anne: and there’s a great – you have a great website as well coz I was looking at it before we came on air there. And you can have a look at the projects that you’ve already completed and all about the company and stuff like that and where to get in touch when as well.

Robert:  Yeah, have a look at solarelectric.ie. We’ve got a solar calculator on there.  So, if you put in your address and your EIR code and some idea of the electricity that you’re using.  We can start to think about a recommendation for the right size.  We want you to have the right size PV system for your use.  We’re all different.  You know, some of us are doing washing twice a day. some of us have a heat pump in the house or these new technologies. Some of us have an electric car.  So, for those people they’ll need more – more electricity. So, we’d like to know a bit more about our customers and then respond with the right offer.

Mary Anne:  Fantastic!  Really, really interesting, Robert.  And I wish you the best of luck with the Ploughing Fair for the next week.

Robert: Thanks, Mary Anne.  I think I may have to take a rest for a weekend in preparation.

Mary Anne:  I’d say you might and the weekend after that as well. But Robert Goss, from Solar electric.  Thanks very much for calling in and of course as he said people can find a little bit more about you online or just call to you at the ploughing Block 3, Row 25, stand 585 and we’ll get that out again if people miss.

 

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Here’s why you need to embrace the solar revolution.

Solar power has come a long way since scientists discovered the solar cell in the 1800’s.  There have been incredible improvements in solar technology over the years and yet solar
energy and just how it works remains a mystery to many.

So we’ll break it down for you here in bite size nuggets:
Solar cells are found within the panels we provide and convert the sun’s rays into electricity.  A panel on the roof or on the ground in your garden turns sunlight into DC electricity through
the cells that are on the panels. So if you have ten panels each operating at 300 watts, it makes a 3kw array.  From that array the power is taken into an inverter changing DC electricity into AC which goes straight into your fuse board. Then everything in your house takes its energy from solar power before it buys it from the grid so the inverter is doing the business of balancing grid and solar every millisecond.  If you are an electric car owner as increasing numbers of Irish people are – charging your vehicle with PV is the only way – (hint: having a carport makes it all the easier).

So why choose Solar Electric? With over 15 years of experience in solar energy we are the biggest supplier of solar panels nationally.  At Solar Electric we source our solar panels directly from China and they are delivered to our headquarters in rural Co Wexford via Holland, saving you, our dear customers, money.  We can design a system that will suit you for the next 25 to 30 years, all covered by a warranty.  We have a depth of knowledge that other companies don’t have: in short we have encountered every kind of house, farm and business.  We have the know-how having worked in the solar power industry across Europe over the past two decades.

Solar Electric founder, Wexford man Tom Foley installed the first system on his garage at his home. The system was straightforward to install and was very soon producing enough electricity to make a significant impact on his family’s daytime usage. He founded Solar Electric and in the early days of the business’s existence, Tom dealt with all projects personally.  Tom participated in a Conergy training session at Ecobuild in London where he was joined by current Design and Operations Manager, Paul Murphy. Paul’s practical knowledge of roofing types was soon supplemented by an in-depth understanding of inverters and mounting systems and to this date he oversees all installations from initial design through to the commissioning and sign-off.

Robert Goss came on board and brought a wealth of experience having been involved in the industry since 2010.  In the intervening years, we at Solar Electric have continued to lead the Irish Solar PV market, installing more solar panels than any of our competitors and helping our customers to reduce their electricity bills by up to 50 per cent.

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