Computing stuff tied to the physical world

Catching sun rays

In Hardware on Mar 6, 2010 at 00:01

A few days ago, this country went through a curious ritual…

In the Netherlands, there is a subsidy as encouragement for people to place solar panels on their roof tops.

Screen shot 2010-03-05 at 23.03.57.png

The system works as follows:

You’re considering setting up a couple of photovoltaic solar panels. You quickly find out that the government is handing out money for this. Yippie … and then you get into the rules and regulations bit:

  • You can’t apply for the subsidy before March 1st.
  • There is a limited amound of funding.
  • On the day when submissions exceed funding … it’s roulette day!
  • … the remaining subsidies are assigned at random.

The result?

On March 1st – everyone submits their proposal for solar energy.

On March 2nd – sorry folks, we’re all sold out, try again next year!

It turns out that some 17,000 people signed up for 2010. And about 5,000 of them will win that lottery ticket.

Tell me, please, what’s the meaning of the word “encouragement” again?

Anyway, so much for silly incentives. The reason I’m posting this is that we’ve been looking into solar energy and have decided to install 18..20 solar panels on our roof. It’s relatively well-positioned, and even the cabling in the house turns out to be very easily adapted for it. And yes, I’m one of the 17,000 who signed up for the Dutch Solar Casino. Except that we’re going to go ahead regardless of the outcome (3 months from now!).

The numbers are much better than I expected:

  • With 18..20 panels, we can fill the smallest half of our roof
  • Modern panels can produce about 3600 “Watt peak” total
  • Heading and tilt are such that we’re still at ≈ 90% of optimal
  • Estimated yearly output will be 2500 kWh, 20% more than we need
  • Unused power is fed to the grid and billed at the same rate, as credit
  • In other words, the electricity grid will become a – very – big capacitor for us :)

All in all, I think it’s a good deal. There will always be better deals in the future, but this is fine.

As for buying more stuff to save and join the green hype: panels also need to be produced and shipped. The energy needed to do so appears to be less than what those panels produce in their first 18 months. So the electricity in the next 20..30 years after that is free, green, and effortless.

I was very surprised to find out that solar energy is practical at 52° latitude, but it really is.

Sooo… apart from seasonal swings and energy storage, Jee Labs will be “slightly off the grid” later in 2010!

  1. We’re 36 degrees south where I live down here in Australia. Really should get some PV panels too.

    We could supply the world with more than enough solar power. But we also have loads of coal, a lot of which goes to China now (export $$$). So any time a government gets too interested in green power, the coal lobby has a chat with them and it’s back to status quo. They’re currently buying time with the geo-sequestration nonsense. What a load of bullshit. We’re screwed unless/until we get rid of those dinosaurs. /rant

  2. Good luck!

    And welcome to the world of SOLAR.

    While I have not gone offgrid solar, we still use some solar. As well as solar hot water.

  3. I don’t think it appropriate to classify yourself as “off grid” when you are still going to be connected to the grid. Also, unless you are planning to have a battery backup as well you’d be out of power when the utility power goes out as well just like everyone else whereas a true off-gridder would never know the grid when down.

  4. Sounds very familiar. I also entered in the solar lottery :)Do you already know which converter you’re gonna get? I currently have 2 Soldain 600’s hanging here, with the serial cables. Still need to hook those up to the Jeenodes.

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