Posts Tagged ‘Electricity’

Our Carbon Footprint – June

Now we’re into Summer, our Carbon Footprint results are well overdue:

Our Energy Consumption: 2559 kWh

Our Carbon Footprint: 648 kg of CO2

And, as we’re still with Good Energy, who only supply electricity from renewable sources,  we can remove electricity from our carbon footprint:

Our carbon footprint with 100% renewable electricity: 550 kg

So there we go – going down, albeit affected by the driving from our recent holiday. We need to work on getting the gas down further though.

How much energy does your car use?

As part of our Energy Descent Plan we’re trying to progressively reduce our energy consumption – fuel for the car, electricity and gas in the house. This’ll save us significant money but also will reduce our carbon footprint and dependance on Fossil Fuels.

The first thing is to work out how much energy we’re using, and to that end we’ve started measuring it monthly. We’ve just finished the second month of monitoring our car usage, although they have been two crazy months (due to moving in to the eco-house) so the results may not be typical of our normal lifestyle. We’re converting all our energy use to kWh/day so that we can compare fuel/electricity/gas on an equal basis:

Month Miles MPG Litres Used kWh kWh/day
June 429 46 42.4 454 15.12
July 423 47.2 40.74 436 14.06

So we’ve already seen a significant drop in our daily energy consumption from the car 😀

I’d have to say that is a bit of a fluke – we haven’t tried particularly hard to reduce our consumption yet. It’ll be interesting to see how our consumption changes as we settle into our new routines here.

As it’s the first of the month I’ve just taken the first Gas and Electric readings in the eco-house so we can work out our standard consumption for those next month too – it’ll be interesting reading and will give us a base to measure our changes.

One of the first learning  points from this is that if we had a plug-in electric car we’d have to have at least 15 kWp of solar panels installed – that is a LOT of solar panels. It makes you realise how big an impact the car has on our energy consumption.

Shopping List – latest update

Steadily firming up the shopping list for our new house – here’s the latest list, with links. 

Kitchen

Dining Room

  • Expandable table

Playroom

  • Instant-heat to stand in front of (Gas?)

Lounge

  • Wood-fired stove
  • Central Pendant light in diffusing shade – 12v CFL?
  • Two Standard/Reading Lamps – 12v CFL?

Garden

  • Kitchen Scraps Compost: Black Soldier Fly Composter / Worm Farm 
  • Firewood store, and at least 12m³ of wood
  • Greenhouse with Aquaponics system

Heating & Hot Water

Power & Light

Water

How are you coping with the snow?

Whether you’re out building snowmen or huddling around a radiator, now is a good time to reflect on how prepared you are for these type of events. If you can’t get your car out, then consider how much food you have stored. How long can you stay at home without getting hungry? There are a range of things that we can and should be preparing for. luckily the Government has taken a lot of the hard thinking out of it by preparing the National Risk Register which shows how likely and how severe events can be. They have a great section on the Considerations for Families in a range of emergency situations. Even more interestingly, there are  Community Risk Registers  developed for every area of the UK – use Google to find your closest one. Ours is GM Resilience for Greater Manchester, and I’m hoping that the website isn’t an indication of how prepared Manchester is – half the links don’t work and the latest Community Risk Register is 2006/7!  

Actually I’m wrong – the link says 2006-7 but when you download the register (here) it is from Sept 2008. It has quite a comprehensive list of events, all ranked with their likelihood and severity.  The one that particularly stood out for me looked at fuel shortages, and has a 5% chance of happening within 5 years :

Significant or perceived constraint on the supply of fuel. E.g. industrial action by contract drivers for fuel.

  • Filling stations, depending on their locations, would start to run dry between 24 – 48 hours.
  • Panic buying would exacerbate the situation.
  • Replenishment of sites would take between 3 – 10 days dependant on the location.

They have also rated the chances of  a loss of water for three days (0.5% chance) or for a week (0.5%); loss of power across the whole region for a day (0.5%), or for three days – causing civil unrest! (0.05%)

I think it’s interesting to look at these from a personal preparedness point-of-view, and also to view them with peak-oil-tinted-spectacles. What happens when these things start to become regular, or prolonged occurrences? What happens when they all start to converge and occur at once? If they are planning for Civil Unrest as a result of losing water for three days, what do they think will happen if we all have no fuel, power or water for a week?

Cheaper Solar Panels (update)

Having posted about predictions that cheaper Solar Panels were on the way in 2009 here we are, less than a month later, and cheaper panels are popping up. OK I’m prepared to admin that this might not be a great economic shift – it might just be that I missed this supplier last time. They are Japanese-made Sharp panels and they are £2.99/Watt. I’ve updated the table of prices below – no other prices have changed, but the 200w Kyocera seems to have dropped off the market. Still a little way to go before we get down to the forecast $2.50/Watt!

EDIT – I’ve also added Navitron to the list – not sure how I missed htem first time. Keen prices at £3.72/Watt.

Supplier Manufacturer Watts £ inc VAT £/Watt
Eco-nomical Sharp 180 538 2.99
Navitron Navitron 110 409 3.72
Wind and Sun BP – 3 Series 160 669.3 4.18
Wind and Sun BP – 3 series 170 727.95 4.28
Marlec BP – 3 Series 125 536 4.29
Marlec BP – 3 Series 135 579 4.29
Wind and Sun BP – 4 Series 175 772.8 4.42
Marlec BP – 3 Series 80 358 4.48
Unlimited Power SunPower 90 471.5 5.24
Unlimited Power Sanyo 215 1331 6.19

Cheaper Solar Panels

pv_bp7seriesIt seems that cheaper solar panels are on the way in 2009. I’d heard this earlier in the year with regard to new Chinese suppliers coming onstream, but now the forecast drop in prices is accelerating as a result of drop-off in demand from Spain and Germany.

By the end of 2009 average prices for panels for new installation contracts will collapse to the $2.50 to $2.75 per watt range, down from the current level of $4.20 per watt. The overall average price for the year will be $3.10 per watt, Wicht predicted.

 I’ve just done my quick survey of available Photovoltaic Panels, and the lowest price I’ve found is £4.18 /Watt – so it looks like we’ve got a little way to go before we get down to $2.50/Watt!

Supplier Manufacturer Watts £ inc VAT £/Watt
Wind and Sun BP – 3 Series 160 669.3 4.18
Wind and Sun BP – 3 series 170 727.95 4.28
Marlec BP – 3 Series 125 536 4.29
Marlec BP – 3 Series 135 579 4.29
Wind and Sun BP – 4 Series 175 772.8 4.42
Marlec BP – 3 Series 80 358 4.48
Unlimited Power KYOCERA 200 920 4.60
Unlimited Power SunPower 90 471.5 5.24
Unlimited Power Sanyo 215 1331 6.19

The downside? Less investment in the industry is likely to result. This, in combination with the lower investement we’re seeing in Oil Exploration & Production as a result of the drop in Oil Prices could have some serious implications for ongoing energy security.

So make sure you get your panels – and then go next door and make sure they’re putting some up too!

Preparation: Protecting your fridge from Blackouts and Brownouts

As energy becomes more expensive and we all start our descent, we will no longer be able to depend on constant, reliable, electricity through the electricity grid. Don’t believe me? Have a look at this story on the National Grid from the Times. So in a post-peak-oil world it looks like we need to get used to the level of electrical reliability that non-western countries have long experienced: random, prolonged, blackouts and brownouts (where the voltage drops).

Most electrical equipment will cope with blackouts with just a surge protector, but I hadn’t realised that it’s not the case with any refrigeration equipment – fridges, freezers, aircon units etc. In a brownout these need to be disconnected rapidly or their motors will burn out, and in a blackout they need to have a delayed re-start to prevent any problems with high-pressure gas.

Luckily other people know this stuff, and apparently what you need is a Fridge Brownout protector like the  Fridgeguard from Sollatek. The other alternative is a DC fridge, connected to your solar PV battery supply (subject of a future post!). Sunfrost make great full-size 12v and 24v fridges which might be a good future-proof purchase, as well as using around 20% of the energy of a standard fridge.

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