renewable energy

PV Modules

PV_Modules

 This just in from resident Net Zero House expert and Edmonton green leader Bob Heath:

The latest issue of Home Power magazine has an article entitled "Blast From The Past" written by Martin Holladay. He tested a 33 watt PV module that he had bought in 1980 for $275.00 US. He found that the module was still performing at better than factory spec. A quote from the article - "A PV cell is a rock that makes electricity."
Another quote from the same issue of HP - "A PV module is the closest thing we have to perpetual motion [and] is the most reliable electric generator in the known universe." —Joel Davidson, SOLutions in Solar Electricity

Germany will install 6,000,000 kilowatts of PV modules this year. Shouldn’t we Albertans also be investing in these en masse in order to make our electricity supply more resilient (not to mention greener) in a future of declining fossil fuel availability?

Personal Finance - Part 3, Investments

This is the final installment in a three-part series about personal finance for the conscious green Edmontonian. It covers:

  1. day to day finances
  2. retirement
  3. investments

image

The above picture is the world oil consumption curve. It is often displayed as just data, allowing what will happen on the down slope to our imaginations.

Peak oil is just one of many ways in which we are reaching the limits of our growth as a species. I find it highly absurd, then, that adults (you know, the ones who are all grow’ds up)  cannot rationally discuss the end of growth in polite company. And it’s virtually never discussed by anyone with any power. The fact of the matter is, infinite growth is impossible in a finite world. Let me repeat that:

Infinite growth is impossible in a finite world

Yes, it sucks. Yes, it’s inconvenient. But it’s true.

Maybe it’s a facet of denial, but it is easy to “understand” on one level about growth ending, and then turn around and invest our money in mutual funds and stock markets.

In my humble opinion, investing your money in stocks/mutual funds means one of two things:

  1. image The Unicorn Option - You believe that infinite growth is possible in our finite ecosystem. If this describes you, stop reading – the unicorns will deliver your fortune when the time is right.

    OR

  2. image The Playa Option - You recognize that growth will end, but you think that you’re smart and ruthless enough to get out of the stock market before all the suckers do (you know, your children and all those those other weaklings).

Option one speaks for itself, and I personally wouldn’t be counting on option two if my retirement was more than a couple of years away.  read more... »

Links

So many times the so-called experts that the media trots out don’t have a clue about the little situation that humanity finds itself in. Shafraaz Kaba is not one of those. He is an architect at Manasc Isaac Architects who is acting as the general contractor for his net zero home right here in Edmonton. And he totally gets it.

  • He is building an amazing house, and his blog is highly detailed. Check it out: Chasing Net Zero.

 

Solar Retrofit Part 7: Installation

It's been a long road but my system is now up and running! I expect that a lot of people will ask how much energy my installation actually collects so I ended up taking the $600 Government of Canada Eco-Energy rebate for my high-efficiency boiler and bought a BTU meter (http://www.wsetech.com/btu.php) from the guys at WSE Technologies (http://www.wsetech.com/). So far the BTU meter is up to 84kwh which means I've collected (84 kwh * 3400 BTU/kwh =) 285,600 BTUs of heat. The temperature sensor at the _bottom_ of my storage tank didn't drop below 58 degrees C all week so I'm pretty sure that my boiler hasn't run since I completed the installation.

There are a few outstanding things I have to take care of: Insulation and cladding on a portion of the exterior runs and insulation on the piping in the house. Also, I've talked to IBC boilers and they don't yet have a controller module that integrates the boiler and the solar so I'll try and rig something up so that I can use the collectors to help heat my home. At 9:40 this morning (August 28, 2010) the outside temperature was 12 degrees C and I was suprised to hear the collector pump start. Despite the fact there was light cloud cover, the temperature sensor in the collectors was reading 68 degrees C.

Here are some pictures:

 read more... »