solar schmolar

I am investigating setting up some photovoltaic solar panels at home. Its apparently quite expensive to do in the UK as the granting system is now poor [http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/generate_your_own_energy/grants_for_renewables]. In Germany they seem to have it sorted [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_Germany].

Why photovoltaic and not the direct heating of water type? The water heating type are apparently slightly more ‘efficient’. However, they work best with a hot water tank – we don’t have one as we use a condensing boiler, so it would mean reconfiguring our heating setup; not cheap to do.

I did contact a couple of companies, but was immediately faced with the Hard Sell techniques they seem to have nicked from the Double Glazing companies. I hate this approach.

Also, these systems have moving parts (a pump) and are sometimes not as long lasting as you may expect [].

Photvoltaics (the blue ones) generate electricity directly and feed into batteries or back into the mains. Thus, you can use them e.g. to power all your ‘rechargeables’ off the grid, or feed back into the grid to offset againt your fuel bill. Here’s a basic setup checklist

  1. The solar power array – a collection of solar power producing cells. This converts the suns energy into DC electricity.
  2. The roof mounting structure, consisting of aluminium or stainless steel components. There are two types; (1) roof integrated where the solar power panels replace the tile and become flush with the rest of the roof (2) on-top mounting where the solar power panels sit above existing roof tiles.
  3. A solar power inverter is required to convert the DC into AC, which can be used by most home appliances or sold back to the grid.
  4. The system is linked to your fuse box and an electric meter so you can tell how much energy you have produced and how much unused energy you have sold back to the grid.

Where will it go?
We have a garage roof facing SW and will have a new extension roof in the same alignment next year.

This will be a DIY project – I am going to source all the components and built it myself with help from a builder to fix to the roof. If it works out I’ll publish a How To as well as using this blog to diary the build.

So far:

I have found a local maker of photovoltaics so will try to blag a used one to test with. http://www.rayotec.com/solar_power/

Here’s their cute little diagram:

There also seems to be a lot of useful info here: http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/

If you have any used components or experience of doing this, please let me know!

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#diy, #electricity, #environmant, #green, #photovoltaic, #solar

belief

http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=library&page=hitchens_28_1

The World We’re In (Will Hutton)

Amazing book. Some key bits:

Religion and the US:

His contention is that the US overall political outlook is driven largely by the philosophical work of Leo Strauss (Natural Rights and History, Chicago University Press, 1953), a refugee from the Nazis promoting the ‘virtuous, morally cenreted citizen’ who must ‘face the consequenses of thier individual actions’ (i.e. law but without the State regulating too much). A key point is his view that religion and nationalism are two of the best ways to ‘entrench virtue’ . ‘Even if religion were bunk and its moral codes impossible to maintian, the task of the educated elite was to keep quiet and maintain the fiction in the name of order‘. And thus of course he’s only stating what many a leader / government has done over the centuries. But remember – Bush et al are living by these maxims. To me this is more dangerous than secularism and will lead to further polarisation of view and the movement of the US away from rationality. It is as Hatton says, a ‘lethal legacy’.

The mirage of the American Dream:

Bottom 20% of US population are locked in to poverty due to lack of available education and lack of social ‘safetly nets’ – analyses have found that poor folk in the US are LESS likely to escape the poverty trap than in the UK, Europe, Canada and even if they do, are more likely to return. 54% of people in the bottom 20% in the 60s were still there in the 90s, but only 1% had migrated to the top 20% (all of this is publically available research). So much for ‘social mobility’. For the middle 60% – economics is on a long term down term with stagnating wages, and a crazy mortgage system that is worse than the UK already and getting worse all the time (and part of the cause of the current ‘credit markets flutter’). The top 20% are doing fine of course, as the system remains geared to them.

There’s more on why the UK should look more to Europe. One for later.

Unintelligent Design

Evolution a ‘theory’?

A scientific theory is not a guess or an approximation but an extensive explanation developed from well-documented and reproducible sets of data based on repeated observations of natural processes (Stephen J. Gould, 1994).

Another one; as Theodosius Dobzhansky said “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”

#darwin, #dobzhansky, #evolution, #intelligent-design, #religion, #sawkins, #science, #stephen-j-gould