Rooftop solar panels: why they’re good and how much they cost.
Solar energy use in homes is a sure way to reduce a family’s monthly utility bill, while also helping curb carbon emissions. It can even raise the value of properties, with research looking at properties in the US finding that homebuyers are willing to pay extra for a solar-powered home. One study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimated that the increase in value can be as much as USD 15k for homes running on solar energy.
Solar is also great for areas with all-year-round sunlight: Besides looking pretty, solar installation can also connect to water storage tanks and be used as a cost-effective way to produce hot water for homes. Plus, solar systems don’t need much space as they’re usually installed on rooftops, and are a great backup for notorious summer power outages.
But those benefits come at a cost: Installing a solar system is a long-term investment that comes with a big-ticket upfront cost. The solar module itself is the most expensive item in an installation, as well as other necessary equipment including inverters to convert the current into energy a house can use and meters to measure output. In the US, the overall cost of a solar system in 2021 ranged from USD 11-15k.
Here at home, a number of high-profile private companies are championing solar installations. Cairo Solar, KarmSolar, and SolarizEgypt have worked on over a dozen solar projects for factories, office buildings, and homes. In Egypt, the internal rate of return (IRR) — or how much money you get back for every EGP you invest in a solar project, is currently at least 25%, SolarizeEgypt managing director Hatem Tawfik told us last year. Families in Egypt can reasonably expect to save EGP 320k in a lifetime by installing solar panels on their homes, while business owners should expect a minimum of 10% savings compared to their current electricity bills, SolarizEgypt estimates.
Famous solar installations in Egypt include: A photovoltaic (PV) system SolarizEgypt installed in Coca Cola’s Sadat City plant, one by KarmSolar installed for Arkan Plaza in Sheikh Zayed, and another by Cairo Solar for Defense Ministry-run facilities in Sinai and Mostakbal City. Speaking to the local press last year, Cairo Solar’s Tawfik said a 1 MW PV plant, which is enough to power a facility with an area of around 10k sqm, costs between EGP 13-14 mn (watch, runtime: 6:52).
If you’re interested in having a solar system installed in your home, smaller 5 kWh systems can cost as little EGP 65k to install over a 40 sqm surface — and are usually enough for an average household — while the cost of installing a larger 10 kWh system can reach EGP 140k.