Tag Archives: photovoltaic

Over 600 kWh of Solar Power in June, yet Left Wanting More

June 2018 ended with my home’s solar photovoltaic system have produced approximately 619 kWh for the month:

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This is about on par with May’s production, but several things are off.

See that really low production day on June 26th?  The weather was partly sunny or partly cloudy depending upon your weather vernacular.  That was also about the time that the monitoring data from the app that I use went all haywire.  One day it would show no production, but then update with crazy fluctuating production for that same day later.  I am liable to think that the numbers for the month are off as a result.  Since that period of hiccups everything looks fine, but I am suspicious.

Also, watch your meter readings like a hawk.  I received my electric bill from my local electric coop and it was way off.  How off?  Like someone switched the meter readings for production and consumption.  Instead of showing me positive approximately 500 kWh it was showing almost the same number as a deficit.  Granted, it was easy to figure out because I know how to read my meter but it was discouraging to have to go through the process with customer service.

Without telling me the electric coop replaced my bi-directional meter with a newer model.  It is no skin off my back, but I have lost my tracking of how well my system has done since being installed.  That being said I know that I am net positive more than 600 kWh since the system was installed and I am looking forward to a big month of production in July.

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Over 600 kWh of Solar in May

May was a good month.  My solar system produced over 600 kWh of electricity:

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Coupled with the mild weather I ended the month up approximately 284 kWh for the month and a total of approximately 348 kWh since my system was turned on in August 2017.  I am hopeful that the next couple of months will be big producers.  I am also hopeful that I can keep the air conditioning to a minimum, but it has already been extra hot in May with the Memorial Day weekend being just short of a blast furnace.  Damn you climate change!

I believe that the past several months show that we can move toward a 100% renewable energy future without sacrificing modernity, which is what naysayers would have you believe.  We can cut our energy usage a lot with smart use and efficiency so that the leap to renewable energy only is not so large.  It is a lot easier to produce enough electricity via solar panels for a house that uses 300 to 400 kWh per month versus a house that uses the U.S. average of more than 900 kWh a month.

Now, if I could just cut down on my commuting miles a little bit more…

 

April had a Solar Turnaround

Black Friday used to be a big deal in retail because it signified the moment during the year when the establishment turned “into the black” or profitable for the year.  The rest of the holiday shopping season was the profit for the enterprise for the year.  It seems a little doubtful that this story is entirely true, but in this age of Amazon let us give legacy retail its moment.

April was my Black Friday for solar.  Check out picture one:

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And compare that with picture two:

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What’s the big deal?  My bi-drectional electric meter is showing that I consumed (picture 1) less than I have produced (picture 2) since the meter was installed in August last year.  April was a really good month for solar and, just as importantly, a low month for consumption:

April 2018 Solar

April 2018 was the system’s best full month thus far and I am looking forward to the next four months of big production.  Based on my back of the napkin calculations, which are the best kind, I clawed back into net positive energy production by producing a little more than 270 kWh more than I consumed.  Assuming May is not extreme in any way weather wise I should be able to best my consumption from April given how brutal that month was with late season snow and cold.  You can see where the snowstorms rolled in last month when the solar production dropped off.

Friday Linkage 4/27/2018

The weather has finally turned here in eastern Iowa and it feels like spring.  What is really important is that several days in a row of solid sunshine means my solar panels are producing mad wicked power.

On to the links…

The Global Crisis of Plastic Pollution—This is the environmental crisis that I believe we can unite disparate groups behind to create an eco-consensus.  Who can argue, in any legitimate and coherent way, that we should not strive to have oceans free from plastic pollution?

Plastic Pollution Now Being Found In Arctic Ice Sheet—Nothing is pristine anymore because we are the worst species on the planet.  We just trash everything without regard for the consequences or the future of anyone but our immediate selves.

The GOP House’s Farm Bill Would Gut a Key Conservation Program—Get ready for some of the right wing’s worst ideas to come out in the form of the gestating farm bill.  SNAP benefits?  Probably cut a lot.  Conservation?  That is communist, pinko, hippie shit according to the GOP.  Subsidies for big agriculture?  ‘Merica!

EPA Proposal would let States Relax Coal Plant Pollution Rules—This is the kind of crap you get with Scott Pruitt in charge of the EPA. It also shows the importance of removing coal fired power from our grid.  Without the need to burn coal there would be no coal ash and thus no need to dispose of coal ash.

Wind, Solar Provide 98 Percent of New US Generating Capacity in January and February—Basically, no one added any new fossil fuel generation to the mix.

US Wind Energy Now Supplies More Than 30% In Four States—Four red states—Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota—get a lot of electricity from wind power.  These are fairly “red” states in the political parlance.  I also think it is interesting that 14 states are generation 10% or more of their electricity from the wind.  Weren’t renewables supposed to be incapable of providing a substantial amount of energy?

The Gloves Are Off: $105 Million Greenbacks For US Solar Energy Industry—Trump, Scott Pruitt, and Rick Perry may hate renewable energy but even the retro-grouch luddites in control of Congress see the value in renewable energy for producing clean power, jobs, and a general boost to the economy.

Linn County Receives Gold Designation from SolSmart for Solar Energy—The part that made me laugh is that this program is run by the Department of Energy headed by Rick Perry.  Do you even think he knows that there is a program that recognizes municipalities for creating environments helpful to deploying solar energy?  My guess is not.

Cost, Schmost! Energy Dept. Touts Coal-Killing Atlantic Offshore Wind—Yes, Rick Perry’s Department of Energy has published a report promoting offshore wind as a cost effective renewable energy solution.  Are we living in bizarre world right now?

The UK Just Went 55 Hours Without Using Coal for the First Time—The United Kingdom is probably the one country most associated with coal due to the Industrial Revolution and what not.  For that country to have gone more than two days without burning coal to make electricity is a major step.

Crunch Time For Renewable Energy In Southern California—A municipality is asking for industry to present solutions to a problem that is going to be vexing a lot of other municipalities in the coming decades.  Can renewable energy be deployed in such a way to take the place of ageing and expensive fossil fuel assets?  Can renewable energy plus storage provide baseload like power for cities?

The Latest State to get Serious about Climate Change is … New Jersey?—If we retire all of our nuclear plants than renewable energy will just be deployed to replace energy that was not producing carbon emissions already.  This type of plan, in of all places New Jersey, might serve as a template as we bridge to a future energy paradigm.

Electric Buses Are Hurting the Oil Industry—I say forget incentives to deploy EVs for personal automobiles.  Drop every one of those dollars into incentives for cities to deploy electric buses, garbage trucks, and other high mileage heavy duty vehicles.

Bitcoin mining is using as much power as 5,699,560 American households.—Can we just stop the cryptocurrency madness?  The model is ripe with potential for scammers as witnessed by every initial coin offering that seems to pop up daily.  The underlying value of the cryptocurrency is even more nebulous than our regular paper currency.  And the energy used to “mine” cryptocurrencies is outrageous.

Mass Timber is in for Massive Change—Wood is good.  Mass timber might be better.  Given the climate change implications of concrete—huge source of greenhouse gasses if you did not already know—mass timber construction could be the better choice for building increasingly dense communities.

Study: The Greenest States in the U.S.—How does your state rank?

Back in Black…Electricity Wise

A good month or so of solar photovoltaic production and a nine day vacation put me back in the black in terms of energy production and consumption:

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Eighty two kilowatt hours of clean, green solar electricity production above my household consumption to be specific.

As you notice from the image above my bill is not zero or even net positive.  Why?  The dreaded facility charge or connection fee.  What is this?  It is the fee charged by your electricity provider for the use of the grid regardless of your electricity consumption or, in my case, production.

Now, the grid essentially acts as my battery since I have a purely grid-tied solar system.  It does not seem like a heavy burden to bear per month for the security of having electricity on demand.  However, in some states—here’s looking at you Arizona—legislators, hand in hand with their energy company lobbyists, are pursuing fees for connecting solar systems and higher facility charges in general to supposedly offset the costs incurred by these systems being active.  Some states have proposed that solar system owners pay an extra per kilowatt hour fee for each kilowatt hour that they draw from the grid.

This all seems fine and dandy to the people running electric utilities, but it may end up creating the conditions for a death spiral.  As costs for battery storage decrease and solar systems proliferate households may choose to sever their connection to the grid entirely.  In high cost or low reliability locations this is already happening.  As increasing numbers of households leave the grid the existing infrastructure is supported by fewer rate payers increasing the individual household’s share of the costs.  Costs go up and the incentive to sever ties to the grid increases thus more households make the leap.

None of this will occur overnight, so to speak, but the conditions are becoming increasingly favorable for such a transition to take place.

 

March Brought Over 400 kWh of Solar Electricity

For the month of March my solar photovoltaic system produced just a hair over 424 kWh of electricity, which stands as my second best full month since my system went active in the last week of August 2017.  A few things stand out from the month:

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Notice the two major dips in production?  That is the impact of some spring snowfall that covered my panels under at least six inches of heavy, wet snow.  It just goes to show the potential value of a snow rake in upping my production next winter.

The other thing that is interesting, but is not something readily apparent in the production chart, is that the month was just generally more productive each day.  Granted, the days are longer in March.  However, I think that there is something to be said for the intensity of the solar radiation being higher as we head into spring.  The winter months in Iowa are known for being heavily cloud covered and this reduces the overall productivity of the solar system.

The last week, as the sun stays bright until after 7:00 PM, I have noticed that the system is producing well in excess of 3 kWh into the late afternoon/early evening.  This bodes well for the coming summer months when the array will be getting hit with the sun fairly heavily from noon until sunset.

February’s Solar Production Shows Me that I Need a Snow Broom

Check out the week between February 6th and the 13th:

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Notice the difference on either end?  That is what half a foot of Midwestern powder will do to your solar panels.  I lost several days of sunshine that would have easily pushed me past 225 kWh of production for the month.

Now I need to contemplate a snow broom or rake.  This is literally an item I never thought that I would have to consider purchasing.  Is this peak adulting?

As it stands now my system is producing approximately two-thirds of my household needs.  I anticipate that with the increased production going into spring and summer that I should easily produce 100% of my household needs in March.