Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The final piece goes into the puzzle

As jigsaw puzzles go, our roof was probably not the most complicated, with it's 48 identical pieces. As I said before it didn't identically match the picture on the box, but it was pretty close. It still took them a couple of days. I saw them put the last piece in around 10am on the second day, and they then put the cosmetic panels around the edges, and were away around tea time. This was the biggest array they had assembled. They had put up another 48-panel array, but with these panels rated at 190 watts each, rather than 180, it's the most powerful. Apparently it's the most efficient format, under 10 kiloWatts, as panels need to be 6 in a series to get the voltage high enough. If you go over 10 kW they consider it a power station and you loose a lot of the benefits. While the steep angle had been a real headache for the carpenters, 31 degrees is pretty much ideal for solar panels, so they were very happy.

So now we have our very own 9.12 kW generator. Unfortunately it doesn't look like it's going to be plugged in until October, when the house is ready, so those electrons will just be sitting in the panels, all revved up but no circuit to go around. It will be dormant over a summer with peak air-conditioning demands and nuclear power stations that have been put off line now that they realise they were being kept to the same safety specifications as the ones in Fukushima.

I was trying to convince the site manager that they should at least try to use it for the onsite electrics, rather than paying for the power through the temporary sockets they've installed. He seemed to think it was impossible, as they can't use it until the contract with the electric company. I have a lot of trouble understanding this. As far as I know, the electric company does not own the sun, and I own the panels and the power conditioner, which converts the direct current of the panels to alternating current. So anything that comes out of them is mine, and should be possible to use on site, providing the sockets are connected by a competent electrician. And I sincerely hope that our electrician is competent. 

There may be some subtlety of a power conditioner that I don't understand, or it may be that it needs to be connected to someone on the main grid to tell it when to switch on and off, although that leads me to wonder what would happen in the future if there is a power cut. I'm hoping that having our own power generation will mean that in a power cut we'd still have power, at least in the day time unless it's very overcast or there's a few inches of snow on the roof.

I mean, it's not like it's going to explode from a build up of electrons, or the electrons are going to start pouring out and getting into the sea or anything. Electrons don't do that.