Today marks the one month anniversary of the conversion of my house into a micro-renewable power station. I became a Good Energy customer a few months ago, so all of my electricity is from a renewable source. I don’t believe that extracting fossil fuels for energy is a positive way to live your life. I’d like to think my time on Earth has had a positive legacy for future generations. Stripping great forests in Canada for tar sands, fracking the English countryside and spilling huge amounts of oil in the Gulf of Mexico are not things I’d like to be remembered for.
I took up an opportunity presented to me to put my money where my mouth is and shelled out £3,500 of savings and obtained an interest free loan of £4,000 from Ipswich Credit Union. This allowed me to purchase 12 solar photovoltaic panels, a 3 kw installation, on the west facing roof. You should really install panels on a south, south-east or south-west roof, but I don’t have one of those!
Now for some numbers. Last year’s energy consumption was around 2,000 kwh. The projected output for a west facing roof in Ipswich from a 3kw installation is also around 2,000 kwh. They are equivalent. Unfortunately I won’t be self sufficient in electricity as I use more energy in the evening and in the winter. After one month at a particularly average time of year (March 21st, 12 hours of daylight), 168 kwh of electricity has been generated and 105 kwh has been purchased from the grid. Therefore I am pretty much electrically neutral.
Due to the government’s Feed in Tariff, the costs will be paid back over 7 years and I get a warm fuzzy feeling that my neighbours are consuming my excess independently generated renewable electricity.
The panels I chose are a Spanish brand called Siliken. They were about £650 more expensive that the cheapest Chinese made panels, but I could guarantee labour standards due to European laws, they are distributed over land than by air and currently, with such high unemployment, the Spanish could do with the work! (Take that Raspberry Pi Foundation!)
Finally, the most surprising thing is that on a cold overcast February day, enough electricity is generated all day to run my radio, broadband router, fridge freezer, pond pump and charge my mobile phone. Solar panels don’t need sunlight, they just need daylight.
Get on it and join the revolution.