Solar Power

Since a couple of weeks we have solar cells for electricity production on the garage. Many of our friends (Bram&Eke, Jonas&Nina etc.) have inspired us by being forerunners in the eco-energy evolution.
We now also take this step towards a more sustainable living.

In October, we installed our first grid-connected solar cells.
It is 8 panels of maximum 250W, so total max power is 2kW.
It is quite a large installation completely covering the roof of our garage.

Solar cells on our garage. 8 panels of 160x100 cm.

Solar cells on our garage. 8 panels of 160×100 cm.

How much energy does this give?

2kW (2000W) is equivalent to running the oven or the vacuum cleaner, but only when the sun is shining at a maximum, and no power during the night. On an average, we should get a few kWh energy per day.

A modern household, we consume lots of electric energy for the washing machine, fridge, computers, lamps etc. Therefore, we will probably not cover the total electric energy need for our family with this installation. (Last year in the house, we used approx 10kWh/day on average.)
Even more energy is used for heating our house and cooking, which is currently done with fossil gas, and will continue until we get a better wood stove in place. Typically we use 1/3 of the energy for transportation, 1/3 for heating our houses and offices and 1/3 is embodied in all the stuff we buy. [1]

In Netherlands 95.5% of the energy production comes from non-renewable resources (coal, oil and gas), which we know will be depleted within a few generations. Furthermore, to reach the UN IPCC goals of 2 degrees heating, we need to leave the black energy in the ground. Therefore it is only a question of when we need to switch back to energy from the Sun.
In the pre-industrial era, all energy sources were based on sunshine, in the form of wind, water, wood and food. One day in the future, that will be all we have.

Energy use in the Netherlands. Far from sustainable...

Energy use in the Netherlands. Far from sustainable…

We are now monitoring the energy production and trying to understand the effect of partial shading in the morning hours and other effects. The last few weeks have been rainy, but even in the gray skies give more than 1kWh per day! I look forward to next summer to see the production peaks!
We can strongly recommend to get a set of solar cells for your roof – the price is dropping every year and the systems are getting more and more interesting. Our friends Matthias and Isa even can see how much they produce in their smartphones!

[1] Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air, David JC MacKay, 2009 – an excellent book


Here some more photos from the installation. We got great help from Grandpa Gunnar.

IMG_0347 IMG_0343 IMG_0289

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