Who: Having reached an early retirement age, I wanted to involve myself in an activity that could help others and which would expand my own knowledge. Having lived in three countries and continuing to travel extensively in others, I am very much aware of the impact that population growth, economic development and globalisation is having on the planet and its inhabitants.
Where: My present place of abode is a third storey apartment in a four storey 100 year old converted house in north London. The property is leasehold so nothing can happen to the exterior of the building without consent of the freeholder, let alone the local council Facing south, the apartment is well sited for making use of solar energy - in fact, when the sun shines, passive solar energy heats the living area in the morning and early afternoon, and heats the bedrooms (although only in the summer) in the late afternoon and evening.
What: I have had no technical or engineering training, but do have a university education that reflects the needs of individuals and societies as they try to survive in the world. What I am able to bring to the topic of home solar power installations are my research skills, my extensive use of the internet for gleaning information and my contacts within the industry as a result of my research.
Why: Because there is little likelihood of being able to install my own solar power system, I felt I could contribute to the decision making process of others and thereby do my bit to tackle the combined problems of global warming and security of energy supply.
Do feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments, suggestions about this website or its narrowly focussed topic of Solar Power for Your Home.
All living things on the planet have been using solar energy since time immemorial. It's only in the past 50 years or so that science has been able to harness this power and adapt it to our modern lifestyle. Like many other scientific advancements during this period, various space programmes have contributed to its development. Solar panels have been powering most space vehicles and it is solar panels that are now being used today to provide electricity for homes and businesses.
Why has there been a sudden rush of interest in solar power for homes and businesses in the last decade? It would be fair to say that increased concern about global warming has prompted the call for using renewable energy sources rather than those producing CO2, such as coal, oil and gas, which have been used for much of the twentieth century. However, there are two important factors that are likely to be greater motivators in the uptake of solar and wind power - because it becomes a more personal issue when it hits our pocket - they are, firstly, security of supply, and secondly, the price.
All countries that are big consumers of oil and gas are becoming aware that there is no longer the security of supply of these traditional fuels, either because they are sourced from potentially unreliable suppliers or because the sources are running out. The price of solar and wind power for home or domestic use will become much more economic than it is right now as the two factors just mentioned begin to influence the energy market. Already, during the first decade of the 21st century we have seen that oil and gas prices have been rising. The production of almost all the major producers has peaked, so we know that the amount of oil and gas remaining in the ground is less than half of what it was a hundred years ago. These supplies will run out this century.
While steps need to be taken to reduce the consumption of coal, oil and gas in particular, there will inevitably be an increase in demand for these products in the medium term, as we witness the rise in living standards in such locations as India, China and Africa. Without even considering the growth in the numbers of motor vehicles that economic progress will bring, think of something much smaller - just think how much energy will be needed to charge another one billion mobile phones!
The cost of energy is likely to continue to rise and this is why in the end solar power and wind power for home use will become more economic than it is at the moment. However, to encourage home owners to take up these new technologies, governments in a number of countries are offering financial incentives for the installation of solar power and wind power systems.
Developments in the solar industry strongly suggest this will be the ultimate winner in the competition for domestic installations. Solar cells are being produced in a more efficient and more adaptable way. Bright sunlight is no longer necessary, ordinary daylight will generate power; cells no longer have to be mounted on to a roof, they are becoming the roofing material itself.
Perhaps the next technological challenge is what to do with the excess power produced by home solar power technologies. At the moment, the surplus can be stored in large and often unsightly batteries or sold to the local grid. In urban areas, the latter option is proving popular, but it is likely that some other form of storage for own use will be developed, allowing your solar powered home to be entirely self-sufficient in energy, even to the point of providing the power for your electric car.
Heating a swimming pool uses the same general principles as heating your domestic hot water supply. If your plot is big enough for a pool, it may be big enough for a separate free-standing system which need not be on the roof of your house.As a guide for calculation purposes, the area of solar panels should equate to between 30 - 50% of the pool surface area, more if the pool is in an especially exposed location. They should be installed in a sunny ...
Home Solar Power Electricity Generating Systems
There is currently more excitement about PV solar panels for generating electricity - probably because it seems sexier than the hot water system. However, the technology involved is more complicated, it is currently subject to fairly significant developments and improvements, and, for the present, it is expensive both in up-front costs and its long payback time. That doesn't mean you should not consider it. The universal rise in the price of ...