As load-shedding intensifies and electricity prices surge, an increasing number of homeowners are gravitating towards solar energy, attracted by its substantial cost- and energy-saving potential.

“The onset of the new year is the ideal time to consider your household’s energy needs for the next twelve months, and start planning how you can save energy, save money, and ensure you have sustained access to a reliable source of electricity – especially as diesel prices rise, making generators even more expensive,” says Rein Snoeck Henkemans, MD of Alumo Energy.

“For that, nothing beats the long-term savings potential of a professionally installed, quality home solar system which could serve your family for decades to come, and increase the value of your home.”

Heading into 2024, he notes that there are a few solar trends that homeowners should consider:

Advancements in smart monitoring technology

As solar grows in popularity, and international solar producers innovate to keep up, the technology running the systems is rapidly advancing, making new systems even more efficient than their predecessors.

“In the near future, we anticipate a significant shift towards artificial intelligence-enabled smart monitoring systems. These advanced systems will collect data, and continuously analyse and learn from it, optimising energy production and consumption in real-time and also detect potential issues,” Snoeck Henkemans explains.

Battery efficiency improvements

Continued work is being done to develop batteries with higher energy densities and longer lifespans. The use of new and advanced materials in battery manufacturing can lead to more efficient energy storage.

Smart battery management systems with integrated tools have a substantially increased capacity to optimise the performance of batteries in solar systems. These systems can monitor and manage the state of charge and other important parameters of a battery, thereby enhancing its efficiency and lifespan.

Solar systems are increasingly migrating from low to mid or high voltage batteries. High voltage batteries are better for the system, delivering the same amount of power using less current and improving the overall energy transfer efficiency. These batteries are also more compatible with modern appliance and, for example, electric vehicles, which often require higher voltages for optimal operation.

Innovations in battery manufacturing processes will ultimately lead to more efficient and cost-effective batteries, which includes the development of more sustainable and scalable manufacturing processes.

Shrinking divide between grid energy costs and solar instalments

The cost of solar panels and related equipment has decreased significantly over the years, as technological advancements have improved the efficiency of solar panels, and economies of scale have reduced manufacturing costs. Additionally, a global oversupply of components has seen many suppliers reduce prices to sell stock – a trend that should continue for the first six months of 2024.

“This bodes well for homeowners, as price decreases will make it even more cost-effective to install a solar system instead of relying on grid energy, which is getting more expensive every year,” says Snoeck Henkemans.

He notes that energy prices continue to rise while homeowners have less hours of electricity every day. In July 2023, the price of Eskom-supplied electricity soared by 18.49%, with more above-inflation increases expected this year.

“Rent-to-own options, such as those provided by Alumo, could cost the same as your monthly energy bill. This would mean that the full amount would be paid off within a short few years, and homeowners could save substantially on their monthly electricity bill. The other benefit of these systems is that they provide homeowners with constant access to an energy supply during load-shedding, while lowering energy usage throughout the rest of the day,” concludes Snoeck Henkemans.