Solar Energy - the future ?

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Bill Bentley
Posts: 98
Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2019 6:40 pm
Location: Germany / Spain
Service details: 1970 - JLR RAC, 14/20KH, Para Sqn RAC, 14/20KH, Hereford, 14/20KH, 2 Para, DLOY - 1990.
Real name: Martin William Lester Bentley (Bill) (Basha !)
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Solar Energy - the future ?

Post by Bill Bentley »

Previously I have been skeptical about investing into solar electric power.

On our old farmhouse we had ‚solar hot water‘; enough to provide all of our heating and hot water needs for more than half of the year, backed up, as required, with a wood burning stove with a back boiler and large storage tanks for the winter.
Now that we are down in Spain, where there is much more sun, we want to try solar electricity, as all kinds of 'fire' is more than a bit dodgy in this dry land.

Of course sun power is only there when the sun actually shines, so you need batteries to provide a back up for overnight. This means that your solar panels need, in theory, to provide twice as much energy as you need during the day. In reality you need three times as much capacity, because of energy lost during transmission and storage and all of that on the worst day in winter ! But what if the sun does not shine for a couple of days :? ?

In reality, both your panels and batteries need to be many times more capable than would at first appear to be the case. This all boils down to you paying out a lot more than simple calculations would suggest. The bottom line is you pay for your electricity for about 10 years in advance. I always knew this, that's why I have so far avoided investing in photovoltaic power !

Your batteries can be 12, 24 or 48 Volts. In practice this means half of that number of 2 Volt cells. Having more 2 Volt cells, ie: 24 for 48 Volts allows you not only to draw more power more quickly but also to store more power more quickly, because of the charge / discharge rates (speed). This means that the inverter which changes DC into AC at 240 Volts can have a higher output. Very roughly: 12 Volts can provide about 1,2 kW, 24 Volts about 2,4 kW and 48 Volts about 4,8 kW. Exceeding these levels will damage your batteries and shorten their lifespan. This is important to understand as most electric motors pull a lot more power, in their start up phase, than their stated maximum rating. So, if for instance your fridge, washing machine and oven were all to kick in at the same time, the higher your inverter rating, the less chance there is of your fuzes blowing and or you damaging your batteries on a regular basis.
Bearing in mind a normal house will have a main fuze rating of more than 50 amps, many modern houses often have 100 amp main fuzes. With a battery bank of 48 Volts and a suitable inverter you only have about 4800 Watts -:- 240 Volts = 20 amps, so you will always still need to be aware of what you are demanding of your system.

There are various sorts of Batteries, the most tried and tested are unquestionably the OPZS lead acid batteries. They are cheaper than the more modern ion Lithium batteries who’s advantages of size and weight are uninteresting at a static object. Other supposed advantages like a longer lifespan are purely theoretical, as no battery is as old as their 30 year calculated - anticipated life.
OPZS batteries on the other hand are, if you do not overload them and stay within the DOD (depth of discharge) limits, proven to last 10 to 15 years. There are also a lot of misstated ‚facts‘ about ion Lithium. It often gets quoted that they have a DOD of 90% but their longevity is calculated on an 80% DOD rate being observed basis. Also, new combinations of the metals used in the + and - poles and the liquids used to activate them (create a current) are constantly changing; so you don’t really know what you will get or how long it ‚might last', it’s a gamble. In fact the whole issue of solar electricity is a gamble, because nobody really knows just how often the sun will shine for (hours a day and daily or not).
So my tip is to stick with the tried and tested OPSZ batteries and reduce the risk factor by half.

Paying your electricity bill 10 years up front, the cost of installing a good system, might seem nuts, but, the future is very uncertain and we would all find things very difficult without electricity !
Our leaders have now jumped on the environmental bandwagon, MY BANDWAGON, but they clearly can’t see past the end of their noses: As mentioned above, a normal house will perhaps have a 50 amp fuze rating, a modern house perhaps 100 amp rating; clearly the demand for electricity is going up, but the ‚grid‘ was installed decades ago when nobody could have foreseen this modern demand !

THEY now also want us all to buy electric cars, which we should charge up … at home. To do this at speed everyone will need a much higher fuze rating. If three houses on your street draw that much more electricity at that speed, the fuze for your street will blow and YOU CAN’T RESET IT YOURSELF ! If three streets draw that much more electricity at the same time (every evening when they get home from work) your zone’s fuzes will blow, if three zones fuzes blow at the same time your town’s fuzes could blow. If this happens the whole network will get a surge and power stations will fail. Were this to happen there could easily be long periods of (nation wide ?) blackouts. If you have your own ‚independent solar electricity supply‘ you will not suffer as badly as those relying entirely on the grid ! And you will be helping to avoid such a 'crash' :idea: .

So it’s not just a question of ‚what it costs‘, if you can afford it, it’s a question of personal security and comfort. In Spain I want to be able to switch on my air-conditioning or heating, without worrying about the cost at the end of the month or … am I contributing towards an impending blackout.

This also proves, without a doubt, that I am as mad as ever and still an active environmentalist as opposed to an environmental activist.

Just for the record, I completed the engineer grade ‚Energy Consultant‘, having satisfied the german examining board of my status as a ‚Master Craftsman‘ in the trades of Hydraulics, Pneumatics, Gas and Water, so my information is not just scaremongering.

Arnie
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Service details: Enlisted in 14th/20th King's Hussars on 2 Feb 1959.
Served Hohne and Rheindahlen 1959 - 1962
Libya 1962 Cyprus with C Sqn Dec 1963 - Feb 1964. Returned to Benghazi
then to Tripoli with B Sqn until Sep 1964. Left for Courses in NBC then to 7 Armoured Brigade till 1967.
Transferred to Intelligence Corps 67. First posting to Northern Ireland 67 - 70.
Singapore 70 - 71, Hong Kong 71 - 72. NI 72 - 74. NITAT (Northern Ireland Training and Advisory Team) 74 - 76. Berlin 76 - 79. Final Posting, Preston Int and Security Section. Stupidly Retired on 1 Feb 81, and emigrated to Australia.
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Re: Solar Energy - the future ?

Post by Arnie »

Bill, you must admit that we in Australia get far more sun, and hotter sun, than you in Spain. I do not know the science of electricity generation, storage or the like, I am puzzled why Solar Panel Companies have such a difficult job "selling" their products here in Australia! From what I can gather the concept was, excuse the pun, warmly received. Now after many years of experience and the extremely bad publicity generated in that time by the original purchasers of them, the public are reluctant to believe the fanciful promises of huge savings with these devices. Look at Google Earth and see the thousands of houses with solar panels on the roofs but in that look you take notice the hundreds of thousands of homes without them. ALL homes should have them but don't WHY????
The police station in Cannington, a suburb of Perth, has 156 panels on their roof, but still get an electricity bill. Don't figure. Just saying!!!
Arnie

Bill Bentley
Posts: 98
Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2019 6:40 pm
Location: Germany / Spain
Service details: 1970 - JLR RAC, 14/20KH, Para Sqn RAC, 14/20KH, Hereford, 14/20KH, 2 Para, DLOY - 1990.
Real name: Martin William Lester Bentley (Bill) (Basha !)
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Re: Solar Energy - the future ?

Post by Bill Bentley »

Hi Arnie,

like you I am always surprised that in sunny places ... like Africa there is not far more use of solar energy. I guess it's all down to how the states tax the equipment and what it produces. Of course in northern regions it's a lot less viable, but here in Spain we get a theoretical 1080 kWh per square meter of panels per year, awesome !

There are also the other electricity producers, coal, oil, water, wind and the grid suppliers all taking their cut and so they lobby against solar energy to maintain their own market share.

Here on our campsite electricity has just gone up to a staggering 48,4 cents per kW. I thought that Germany was expensive with then 33, now 39 cents. In Iceland a kW costs just 8 cents, so there's a lot of profit for somebody.

In about 2010 Spain offered investors a premium, they were to get 45 cents per kW for 25 years. Because they could only sell the electricity for, at the time, about 19 cents per kW, this led to a yearly deficit of some 134,000,000,000,- Euro's. To try and offset this the authorities invented a solar energy tax, effectively punishing anybody who had thus far done the right thing. This totally stopped the installation of new private sites. The government changed and the new socialist government abolished this solar tax and instead reneged on the previous governments insane commitment to pay the 45 cents. A years long battle between mostly German investors (not me) and the Spanish Government finally ended a few weeks ago. Spain won, it is the right of a nation to change the details of a contract if that contract is contributing to the ruination of the nation ! (Brexit :shock: :lol: :lol: :lol: ? )

Even so, I'm afraid that this one right step by the courts will not stop insane politicians and greedy investors from grabbing all they can get and so inadvertently preventing the effective use of modern technology.

That's why we as a race (human race) are unable to take effective measures to offset, try to reduce our human contribution towards, climate change, because those in power and those on the gravy train are just too damned greedy.

There is still a tax on any surplus to your own requirements produced energy if you sell it. So we are simply 'donating it' to our campsite owner, no sale no tax ;) ;) . The alternative would be to just waste it as heat ... in Summer ... not a good idea ! This excess to our requirement in Summer will actually turn our meter backwards, so if we need to top up our batteries during the Winter our meter will still be way below its starting point and so we shall have zero charges from the campsite ... so the theory.

Not to worry, we are pensioners making the most of what's left of civilization before the big crash. Our only golden rule is to try and not endanger others, unless they threaten us and ours ;) .

One other small technical point: heat is not an advantage as it damages the 'bits' it's light intensity that produces the power. Perhaps that's factor Down Under 8-) 8-).

Pinky
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Re: Solar Energy - the future ?

Post by Pinky »

Howdy,
I thought I'd put this comment here as it is kinda on track with my observation: this Greta Thunburg kid is quite annoying. She has some valid issues but seriously who the hell is pulling her strings? A couple of points: why hasn't she gone to Russia or China to give them shit about there pollution etc?
Why isn't she reported absent from school and punished? Why doesn't the media report the errors of some of the facts she spurts out?
To me she actually looks evil. "YOU STOLE MY CHILDHOOD, MY FUTURE" etc etc etc - my arse Greta.
JUST MY OPINION
Pinky

john kerwin
Posts: 41
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Re: Solar Energy - the future ?

Post by john kerwin »

Liverpool has plans for a tidal generator under the Mersey, that would power a million homes. And it would run 24 7. No sun needed,
Here in Morecambe, the bay could treble this. The only problem, some gyp would nick it for scrap. :D :D
But we are an island surrounded by some of the biggest tidal flows on earth, why not use them. But then the big energy, oil, nuklear and other suppliers would put a spanner in the works. And the animal rights groups would complain that this would harm lug worms and the like
Water power, in the 1800s powered industry. On the River lune a small scale turbine has been running for a few years. And works well. So why not use the power of water .
Then we could get rid of the EU, Chinese, Japanese Russian and all the others with there dirty little fingers in the british energy pie, and tell them to bog off. And perhaps reverse the trend and sell energy to them.
But then again. The government would only sell the construction and running back to them.

Bill Bentley
Posts: 98
Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2019 6:40 pm
Location: Germany / Spain
Service details: 1970 - JLR RAC, 14/20KH, Para Sqn RAC, 14/20KH, Hereford, 14/20KH, 2 Para, DLOY - 1990.
Real name: Martin William Lester Bentley (Bill) (Basha !)
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Re: Solar Energy - the future ?

Post by Bill Bentley »

Pinky,

Saint Greta seems to annoy many people and for sure her parents and sponsors are abusing that kid. But what was that about : don't kill the messenger ? Surely nobody can still not accept that climate change is happening at a much greater speed than at any time in all of history and that we humans and our overpopulation and our misuse of energy are the cause.

John,

the Morecambe Bay project has been getting pushed around for decades, but why ? Well there are a lot of issues and not just lug worms. I am no expert on this project but I am aware of how other H.E.P. projects are causing great harm. Almost every river in the world is now dammed at some point. In fact, world wide, Dams get built quicker than schools or hospitals (except in China ;). Rivers no longer carry their sediment to the Seas and Oceans and this in turn leads to coastal erosion further along the coast. That is if the river even gets to its estuary :shock: . We humans are preventing Mother Nature from doing that what She has done throughout all of time. Without this 'natural balance' things will of course not be as they were: Things will CHANGE ! And the climate is just the first phase.

On a more positive note, our new solar system is up and running and doing exactly as was expected of it. I don't pretend that producing the Panels and Batteries did not have its own little impact, but at least we shall have power when most others don't. Yes I know, greedy, selfish, bastard 8-) 8-).

But there is another point, de-centralized energy removes power from giants of industry.

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