Posts Tagged ‘solar panels’

Canberra Environment and Sustainability Resource Centre Sustainability Challenge

November 11, 2010

Headline!

Recently, the Canberra Chronicle featured the Millers for their part in the Environment Centre’s Sustainability Challenge. The text of the article follows;

THE Millers are just one of the many
Canberra families choosing to reduce
their impact on the environment by
taking part in a month long challenge.
More than 100 Canberra households
have signed up to take part in the
Canberra Sustainability Challenge in
an effort to reduce their carbon
emissions by changing their habits.
The Canberra Environment and
Sustainability Resource Centre
(CESRC), in association with the ACT
Government, has provided these families
with an easy kit to help them
throughout this challenge.
The challenge encourages families
to calculate their carbon footprint, pick
from a list of ideas to reduce it, and
record how easy or difficult it is to
keep up the challenge over 30 days.
Brian Miller said his family had
always been interested in environmental
issues, but was encouraged to
take up the challenge by CESRC
representatives.
‘‘We went to a fete at Evatt Primary
School and I saw the little stand they
had there and went and spoke to
them,’’ Mr Miller said.
‘‘I guess we’re sort of involved in
that sort of stuff a lot anyway.
‘‘Basically there’s a list of things
they thought we might do to reduce our
impact on the environment.’’
The list is divided into categories,
including food, mileage, energy, waste
and transport, and the families are
encouraged to choose five things and
chart their progress.
‘‘You could look through and see
we doing these things already, or
maybe we can’t do them for some
reason, and are they the sort of things
we might do for this 30 day challenge,’’
Mr Miller said.
‘‘So we picked a number of things,
then put them on a chart.
‘‘The idea was to do something
more. Not to say ‘oh we’re doing that
already’, but to do something more.
‘‘We decided to try to do one meat
meal a day, to put a minimum amount
of water in the kettle … to not use the
second TV, to try and not bring plastic
bags home, and to walk to school.’’
Mr Miller said because his family
was already quite environmentally
conscious, some of the challenges
weren’t too hard to incorporate into
their lives.
‘‘We’re quite interested in all this
stuff,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve got chickens and veggie
gardens and compost piles.
‘‘Unfortunately my wife tripped
down the stairs and hurt her ankle.’’
This made it hard for her to walk the
children Grace, 11, and Ethan, 7, to
school.
‘‘Some of them we couldn’t do
every day,’’ Mr Miller said.
‘‘Things like the meat meal weren’t
as easy as we thought.
However, he said he would happily
continue to use minimal water in the
kettle.
‘‘It’s just another one of those
awareness things,’’ he said.
CESRC are encouraging more Canberra
families to get on board with the
30 day challenge. CESRC will also be
holding a number of events over the
coming weeks, including sustainability
workshops and tours of award winning
sustainable Canberra homes.
If you would like to participate in
the Canberra Sustainability Challenge,
visit http://www.ecoaction.com.au.

The Millers

Our list of possible activities for the challenge follows;

Food Miles
Grow our own vegetables
Buy organic food products
Be vegetarian (Sheryl fully, others part-time by default)
Reduce meat intake by going to one meat meal per day
Plan menus to reduce food waste
Keep chooks
Buy less processed food and more local

Energy
Use dish and clothes washers only for full loads
Use energy saving cycles on these machines
Cook with the lid on
Cook in single pot where possible
Fill Kettle only with as much water as you need
Dry clothes on clothes line
Use sun for heating and lighting during day
Turn the heater off at night
Don’t use the second TV
Replace incandescent lights with compact fluros
Wash clothes in cold water
Use hot water bottle instead of electric blanket

Waste
Do not use insinkerator – use worm farm and compost
Recycle egg shells on to garden as snail deterant
Freeze unused fruit for later use
Collect scraps from supermarkets and playgroup for chickens
Empty half full water bottles onto garden
Resue washing up water on plants with scale or aphids
cut grass longer – compost clippings
Use re-usable shopping bags – try 30 days plastic bag free
Recycle and reuse as much as possible (very little rubbish to landfill)
Re-use plastic packaging rather than garbage bags
Buy second hand goods

Transport
Walk to work or school twice a week
Take fewer car trips
Use ethanol fuel

And below, some of the systems which we are working on to build a sustainable lifestyle;

Run business from home office to reduce travel and premises energy use
Grid connect solar power
Solar hot water service
Composting bays for garden and kitchen waste, and paper
Composting of dog waste (use on non edible plants and safe areas of garden)
Worm tubes in gardens for soil conditioning
Chooks and chook run for eggs, compost, weeding, fertilizer and fun!
Wicked garden bed (water saving)
Grey water recycling (from laundry onto grass and non edible gardens)
Re-use collections for later use in garden and household projects
Garden plan for edible plantings (vegetable beds and fruit trees)
In house energy monitor to raise awareness and provide benchmark

A long post this time. more shorter ones soon…

Brian.

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Solar PV installation ON!

April 20, 2010

Approved and ready to go, our solar grid connect system is now turned on and generating power back to the grid!

Once the local authority had done their inspection it was just a matter of flicking a couple of switches and things have started happening.

The control panel on the inverter shows the daily and total power produced as well as the instantaneous output at any given moment.

control panel for inverter

instantaneous power output – showing 1540 watts

The feed-in tariff has yet to be officially confirmed as being approved but it is in process.

Next on the list is the solar hot water service. Just in time too, as the electric water heater just sprung a leak! But that’s another story.

Brian.

Solar Grid Connect system nearing completion

April 3, 2010

More progress this week.

How cool! Two power supplies to the house.

The panels are up on the roof and the local electricity authority have changed over the meter.

Looks like most of this half of the roof is full from this angle

A different angle. The novelty will wear off soon enough!

The application for feed-in tariff is being processed and we are now just waiting for the planning and land authority to approve the installation.

Not sure on what their involvement is to be honest. They seem to have their fingers in every pie around. I assume they are the owners of the grid infrastructure, so their approval is required. We’re just doing what has to be done to get it up and running now. It’s rather expensive bling for the house at the moment!

I recon that the lower vent chimney will shade a part of the lower panel in winter sun so the plan is to cut it down to minimal size soon. The installers didn’t say anything but I think it is worth doing to be sure.

I’m also trying to work out the information the new meter is giving me. It cycles through a number of screens with digital readout of various types in each screen. Presumably, one is for power used and one is for power returned to the grid, but there is no manual or other explanation available, so it’s trial and guess.

It's getting messy in the meterbox now!

Here’s hoping it is all functional and earning it’s keep by next week.

Brian.

Grid connect solar installation

March 30, 2010

Yes, it has started!

The panels are here, the inverter is on the wall and the local electricity authority is due in two days.

12 solar panels waiting in the rain

"Sunnyboy" inverter. Stupid name but it looks the part.

The rain is holding up the process a little. Seems the installer doesn’t like slipping off wet tiles!

We’ve also ordered an energy monitor to track our power usage. This should be useful in raising our awareness of what we are using and how much it is costing. The meter connects to the mains switch board and has a remote display panel which shows current usage and cost, as well as use over selected periods for comparison purposes. The weather is holding that one up too however. The warehouse in Perth was hit with the recent storms and delivery has been delayed.

We’ll have a month or so until we get the solar hot water service installed, so we can get an idea of the difference that makes in our energy consumption. Should be an eye opener, I think.

All being well, the Grid connect system panels will be up and connected in the next day, ready for the authority inspection.

The contract for the premium feed-in tariff has been sent off too, so we should soon be making almost as much as we are using, at least in monetary terms, if not in actual kilowatt hours. This is why I’ve posted this entry in the investment category too. It should have paid for itself in about 6 years and be making the premium tariff for the next 14 years after that. It is approximately a 15% return on initial investment, and although the system will be slowly depreciating, the extended income period should make up for this.

I’m also expecting some technology advancements which in 10 years or so could allow for an expansion of the system out to 4KWhrs at a reasonable cost which would begin to make the household self sufficient in actual usage terms. We’ll see how that pans out.

More pics to come once it’s all up, as well as some feedback on our usage via the energy meter, once that arrives.

Brian.