Used solar panels flood Raqqa markets 

Solar panels on a house roof in Raqqa city - 28 March 2022 (Enab Baladi/Hussam al-Omar)

Solar panels on a house roof in Raqqa city - 28 March 2022 (Enab Baladi/Hussam al-Omar)

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Raqqa – Hussam al-Omar

The 35-year-old Basil Daoud inquires about the quality of the solar panels he intends to buy for his home in northeastern Raqqa city to generate some energy amid long electricity outages. The seller claims that all goods are of high quality, but the specifications differ according to the price difference and that the cheapest are the second-hand ones.

Daoud seeks to install a set of solar energy panels in his house and rely on alternative energy to provide electricity following the significant increase in the number of hours of power outages in Raqqa over the past months.

Speaking with Enab Baladi, Daoud indicated that his friends had bought used panels and had advised him against buying them due to their poor quality; they told him that he should not be “tricked” by the large disparity in prices of new and used panels.

Cheaper prices

The prices of solar panels available in the Raqqa region vary depending on their manufacturer, standards, materials, and sizes. Meanwhile, used panels’ prices are halved in price compared to the same size for new panels.

The prices of new solar panels in the markets of Raqqa start at 30 USD and gradually increase in proportion to the size of the energy panel and the generating capacity.

Enab Baladi observed a large spread of used solar energy panels from European sources in the markets of Raqqa, most of them reaching the city through the areas controlled by the Turkish-backed Syrian opposition.

But in regard to their operating efficiency, the panels have technically expired since they were in the country of origin.

Market ruled by supply and demand

Mazen Yassin, 40, electrical shop owner, admitted that the used solar panels he sells are of poor quality and inefficient in operation like new ones.

The import of used panels was based on supply and demand in the market, and most merchants do not import goods if they do not guarantee their sale, while the sale of these panels achieves an increasing demand in the Raqqa market, especially after the increased hours of electricity cuts and the high cost of fuel, Yassin said.

Solar panels are used to provide electricity for homes and some industrial workshops, such as sewing workshops, egg incubators, and poultry houses.

A member of the Consumer Protection Directorate said that the markets of Raqqa are flooded with many goods, some of which are not fit for local consumption or do not have good or even acceptable specifications.

According to the local official, the Supply and Control Directorate will not intervene in solar panels trading if no one files a complaint about buying a poor quality used panels, adding that the matter remains between the seller and the buyer as long as a formal complaint is not submitted to the supply control institutions in Raqqa.

The average cost of installing a solar panel system to generate about four amperes of electricity is about 1000 USD, divided between the purchase of panels and energy conversion devices, while the price decreases by 30 percent if used solar panels are installed.

Shops selling solar panels are spread in Raqqa, in particular, in the city center, in a gathering of electrical equipment stores known locally as “The Electricity Gateway, or al-Abbara” (a special market for electrical tools), in addition to other stores in the city’s markets.

Local organizations in Raqqa provided courses to install solar systems, at the end of which the trainees received tools to install free energy panels from the organization.

Other organizations also supported some alternative energy projects in Raqqa and its countryside, such as irrigation projects with alternative energy and electricity supply projects for poultry.

 

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