Posts Tagged ‘Solar Photovoltaic’

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 ūüėÄ

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 12m¬≥¬†of wood
  • Greenhouse with Aquaponics system

Heating & Hot Water

Power & Light

Water

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!

iZip Electric Bikes

iZip Street Enlightened
iZip Street Enlightened

Saw one of these in our local bike shop¬†when we were in there picking up a new tube. It’s an iZip Street Enlightened – looks like a normal fast hybrid but the aero down tube is wrapped around a battery pack – a 24V / 10 AH Lithium-Ion pack for those of you feeling Techie.¬†This powers it to 30kph(19mph) with a range of 50km¬†(30 miles). It has a whole range of clever torque-sensing options so you can use it as anything from fully-electric to fully-pedal-powered depending on how stuffed you’re feeling. It is heavy (25kg) so don’t aim to be carrying it up any stairs or jumping too many kerbs.

Part of me loves this, but then the little nagging voice in my head (the anti-consumer, fed by Amber at Unstuffed) says “you already have four bikes – and only use one regularly. You don’t need another bike”. And then the little peak-oil, voice says . . . “and that battery pack looks very custom-made – I bet getting spares will be a challenge in the future” – and when you think that the only major spare I’ve bought for my Orange mountain¬† bike has been a new inner tube . . you realise that simple is probably best (and that I need to ride more ūüôā ).¬† And I don’t have that many problems riding my current bike that this would solve.

Plus it is ¬£1000+ – and that money would be better spent on Solar PV¬†I think. If you’re still interested¬†– possibly to get a non-cyclist out of a car, or for a longish commute¬†– you can buy them from Top Electric Bikes¬†or Tredz, and they’re made by Currie Tech in the USA, who do have a whole range – and some much cheaper models too (not as sexy though . . )

Inspiration: Alternative Technology at Home in Suffolk

Renewable Energy on house in Suffolk

Another real hero – an amazing amount of information on all of the work they’ve done to their house:

Solar PV
Wind Power
РA great Standy Power system with 12Volt Lighting
A wood-burning stove

The real standout part of the site is all the information on using storing and growing wood that they have.  

What an inspiration, and full of real, practical information on how changes were made and which equipment was used Рhave a look at Alternative Technology in Suffolk

Inspiration: Andy Hunt, Trafford Sustainability Officer

This is great to see  Рsomeone really walking the walk!

Andy’s house – “Green Cottage”¬†– is an inspiration to anyone committed to improving the house they’ve got. It’s a great mix of everyday solutions and more advanced technologies. They have a wood burning stove with back boiler supplementing their Solar hot water. For power they have Solar panels as backup, and supplying a separate circuit in the house – so they are immune from blackouts – a great example to us all.

There’s even a whole, very useful, thread on Andy’s Solar PV installation over at Powerswitch – well worth reading to get an idea of all the intricacies of panels, batteries etc. It’s particularly interesting watching how he gets his daytime power consumption down to make the most use of the PV. And, in case my motivation ever wanes it’s worth reading Andy’s story about his power-independence during the power cuts in 2006 – you can find it here.

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