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Old 02-27-2010, 10:32 PM   #1
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Solar power for your home

I know some of NSMB probably remembers that I'm the guy who went off to work in Afghanistan in 2006. Well I'm still in the Afghanistan region (northern Pakistan right now), and working on IT and energy projects. Recently my firm has been building off grid solar power systems to serve our projects' needs - these are replacing 20kW size diesel generators.

I thought I would share a metafilter post I just made with some recent news from the world of solar power:

http://www.metafilter.com/89603/Rece...in-Solar-Power

Please take a look if you have time. Vancouver is a rather poor location for solar power, and I doubt that I would buy a system for my own home in YVR unless the costs of a gridtie system get significantly cheaper (such as high-efficiency 135W/m^2 modules at $0.85 USD/watt, rather than $1.75/watt). However, I thought the NSMB people from Ontario might be interested in the links contained in my metafilter post.
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Old 02-27-2010, 11:00 PM   #2
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I had the opportunity to play with solar and battery arrays in remote locations a couple of years back, it was really freaking cool. IP controlled generators, mini wind turbines, inverters and all that stuff. Been thinking about one day having a solar panel array on the house, supplemented by some small wind turbines. May not be enough to live totally off the grid but it would cut energy consumption a lot. I'd imagine things such as the dryer and stove would have to be on the grid, just to save the batteries. I'd also like to look into small water turbines that would generate power whenever you flush, turn on the tap or whatever.
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Old 02-28-2010, 12:56 AM   #3
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I had the opportunity to play with solar and battery arrays in remote locations a couple of years back, it was really freaking cool. IP controlled generators, mini wind turbines, inverters and all that stuff. Been thinking about one day having a solar panel array on the house, supplemented by some small wind turbines. May not be enough to live totally off the grid but it would cut energy consumption a lot. I'd imagine things such as the dryer and stove would have to be on the grid, just to save the batteries. I'd also like to look into small water turbines that would generate power whenever you flush, turn on the tap or whatever.
At work we have a wind generator, and Solar cells. In Vancouver area you would never be even close to living off the grid. Initial costs and poor light and wind amounts make it really tough to even get back the start up costs.
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Old 02-28-2010, 03:11 AM   #4
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It depends... In Vancouver you could do OK with solar power if you had panels at sub-$1/watt purchase price, greater than 135W/square meter rating (about any decent crystalline silicon panel is >135 these days) and the mounting system was not too expensive. It needs to be a cheap aluminum mounting rail setup from China (about $30/panel USD max). Expensive labor to install the panels is also a cost factor.

It does not take a lot of panels even in Vancouver's shitty weather to produce 800kWh a month. Problem is that as far as I know BC Hydro doesn't buy power back from your project, so if you produce more than you need in a month there is no easy/streamlined way to arrange the installation of a two way meter.

In BC there's no way I'd do it personally unless I lived way out in the middle of nowhere, off-grid. Last I checked BC Hydro's residential electric rates were something like 8 US cents per kWh which is the 2nd lowest in North America.
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Old 02-28-2010, 08:23 AM   #5
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It depends... In Vancouver you could do OK with solar power if you had panels at sub-$1/watt purchase price, greater than 135W/square meter rating (about any decent crystalline silicon panel is >135 these days) and the mounting system was not too expensive. It needs to be a cheap aluminum mounting rail setup from China (about $30/panel USD max). Expensive labor to install the panels is also a cost factor.

It does not take a lot of panels even in Vancouver's shitty weather to produce 800kWh a month. Problem is that as far as I know BC Hydro doesn't buy power back from your project, so if you produce more than you need in a month there is no easy/streamlined way to arrange the installation of a two way meter.

In BC there's no way I'd do it personally unless I lived way out in the middle of nowhere, off-grid. Last I checked BC Hydro's residential electric rates were something like 8 US cents per kWh which is the 2nd lowest in North America.
We don't have it feeding back into the grid, it powers LED lighting for the parking lot. The setup was crap, and the battery storage was minimal. But it's about to get a revamp, and hopefully this time I'll get my hands on it, I didn't get to play with it last time, and let didn't put a under voltage drop out for the batteries so they killed the batteries. They were junk to begin with.

I would like to put it back into the grid, but my boss is really hesitant, and we've over grown our 7.5 MW feeders so I don't think Hydro would ever be cutting us a cheque!
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Old 02-28-2010, 06:25 PM   #6
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At work we have a wind generator, and Solar cells. In Vancouver area you would never be even close to living off the grid. Initial costs and poor light and wind amounts make it really tough to even get back the start up costs.
I think you could get close though. do that geo-thermal heating action too. I really like the idea of having the water that you do things with churning a few small turbines though.
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Old 02-28-2010, 10:27 PM   #7
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if you google ironcaly "the walrus"

http://www.walrusmagazine.com/articl...-chris-turner/

there is an artical on how they have successfully done it in germany

basicly the power company agrees to buy power from green producers be they a farmer with a cowshit digester ,a homeowner with solar ,wind power famrs at much higher rates than dirty power for an agreed upon period of time which pays for the green power porducing infrastructure

it also has created alot of green power jobs making the solar panels ,digesters ect
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Old 03-01-2010, 07:17 AM   #8
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Problem is that as far as I know BC Hydro doesn't buy power back from your project, so if you produce more than you need in a month there is no easy/streamlined way to arrange the installation of a two way meter.
They do:http://www.bchydro.com/planning_regu..._metering.html

Last I heard no one has actually produced more than they use though.

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Last I checked BC Hydro's residential electric rates were something like 8 US cents per kWh which is the 2nd lowest in North America.
I've heard this too, apparently Manitoba is cheaper.
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Old 03-01-2010, 07:21 AM   #9
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if you google ironcaly "the walrus"

http://www.walrusmagazine.com/articl...-chris-turner/

there is an artical on how they have successfully done it in germany

basicly the power company agrees to buy power from green producers be they a farmer with a cowshit digester ,a homeowner with solar ,wind power famrs at much higher rates than dirty power for an agreed upon period of time which pays for the green power porducing infrastructure

it also has created alot of green power jobs making the solar panels ,digesters ect
It is called a "Feed In Tariff" and BC doesn't have one as the government hasn't told the BCUC to create one. Maybe the next revision of the BC Energy Policy will have one.
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Old 03-01-2010, 07:24 AM   #10
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I really like the idea of having the water that you do things with churning a few small turbines though.
Wastewater heat recovery systems are available now.



They are now doing some large installations in multi-family towers where the wastewater has enough heat density to make it worth while.
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Old 03-01-2010, 02:08 PM   #11
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Wastewater heat recovery systems are available now.



They are now doing some large installations in multi-family towers where the wastewater has enough heat density to make it worth while.
He does not want waste water heat recovery systems he want little turbines in his sink and toilet pipes.
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Old 03-01-2010, 06:11 PM   #12
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I was thinking more along the lines of a small turbine hooked up to the main water line coming in. All that water pressure could be doing double duty.
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Old 03-01-2010, 06:44 PM   #13
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and if everyone did that, the municipality would need to expend energy to further pressurize the system with pumps, resulting in a net energy loss. water distribution systems rely on each house not creating an arbitrary pressure bottleneck at their doorstep... so unless you want to spend the federal tax dollars to build water towers three times as high in flat places like chilliwack and langley, bleh!
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Old 03-01-2010, 07:17 PM   #14
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Not to mention that it's not worth it at all. Even if you had an excess 15 psi at your worst fixture, you could recover maybe 30 W at 5 GPM, assuming you had a perfect turbine & generator. Even if you used that fixture for an hour a day every day, you could only save about a dollar a year on your electric bill.
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Old 03-01-2010, 07:45 PM   #15
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