Posts Tagged ‘Preparations’

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
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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!

Resilience: More about Compost Toilets

envirolet-compost-toiletI still haven’t managed to find a manufacturer of micro-flush composting toilets in the UK, but at least I have now found a supplier: The Envirolet Low Water Remote System (pictured) is shipped from a UK warehouse. It’s paired with the Sealand 510 Pedestal which seems to be standard for micro-flush systems, and the price includes the pedestal, which makes the package price a little more reasonable. The design looks like it has a lot less moving parts that the SunMar, which might make it a more resilient choice. They even have a video taking you through all their systems – here.

 Just in case you hadn’t heard enough about compost toilets already, here are some more links:

Preparations: Composting Toilets

In our post-peak-oil world, as energy gets more expensive and fossil-fuel-based fertilisers become rarer, the sewage system is one area we can look at making a big difference. Sounds distasteful I know, and not some thing usually discussed around the world’s dinner tables!

Everybody has a memory of using a non-plumbed toilet somewhere – a cabin in the woods, national park or dodgy campsite, and so we flee back to our ceramic thrones, happily filling them with water treated to drinking-water standards and transported many miles for a single flush . . . and then transported many miles for treatment and disposal. Surely there must be better ways as we look to reduce the waste that our waste creates?

There are many half-measures to make sure you’re using: get a dual-flush loo, or put a brick in the cistern of your old Victorian model to reduce the water it uses, connect your toilets up to use greywater or rainwater, so you don’t waste mains water at all.

If you’re taking it seriously though, you need to look at the new ranges of compost toilets that are available. These use no, or little, water. They do not need to be connected to the sewer system. They can be made of a classic ceramic rather than camping-style fibreglass. And – surprise surprise – do not smell.

The other reasons for considering these are those put forward by the panic-merchants over at Life After The Oil Crash and in many post-disaster scenarios: the mains water may stop flowing and the sewage system may stop working. Just imagine what life in your house would be like after a week of no sewage facilities – not a pretty sight!

In case you think these are overly farfetched, consider our situation here in Brisbane. Until huge storms hit earlier this year our dam levels were down to the low teens – around 14% of their capacity. We were facing the prospect of tankers drving water in from other areas, and a huge number of water-conservation measures were in place. One of these was aimed at reducing water use in toilets – “if it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s not, flush the lot!” This was remarkably successful, but with unintended consequences. I overheard a conversation at the height of the drought where someone from Brisbane Water was saying that they were starting to have real problems with the sewage system, as the “ratio of liquids to solids” had changed so much that things were no longer moving smoothly through the pipes! An interesting situation for a city of 1.5 million!

Anyway, whatever your reasons, if you do want to retrofit a compost toilet, what are the best options?

The “classic” style seems to still seem rather rustic, and I’ve been looking for something that I can persuade my other half is as similar to our current WC as possible. What I’ve found is a “one-pint” system, which uses a tiny amount of water to flush, and then goes into a composting system which can be situated outside the house, and emptied just once a year. What I’m looking at is the Sealand 510 Plus, which is ceramic and can take a standard size toilet seat, and I’ll connect this to a Centrex 3000 AC/DC or NE (pictured). Could be an ideal solution – not too intimidating for the user, easy to position or retrofit, and not too expensive. Now all I have to do is find a local supplier!

Preparation: Peak-oil kitchen gadgets (2)

Of course it won’t all be soup-soup-soup in my peak oil future – when I’m having a baking day it’d be great to throw a Vegetable Gratin into the wood-fired oven – but how to make the breadcrumbs? It might be that the mouli is up to this, but if not then one of these might the best option – a hand-powered Vortex blender. Plus I could use it to make smoothies!

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