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The weather of the past week was not very sunny in Belgium: lots of clouds and grey skies, a bit of rain, and even a few rather cold nights and days. All in all, however, the month of October gave us lots of sunshine. So much sunshine, in fact, that it turns out to be the sunniest October in 8 years! At least that what our solar panels tell us, and if we may correlate “hours of sunshine” with “solar energy production” ;-)

That also means that our panels have already produced more than 2 MWh this year, and there are still two (dark) months to go. All in all, 2018 will be a good year in terms of solar energy. The current situation of the nuclear electricity production facilities in Belgium isn’t too reassuring: only one of the seven reactors is currently online – you can see the vapour from its cooling tower in the picture below. Too bad we still do not have a good large-scale way to store solar electricity for use in the winter…

Looking into the direction of the
nuclear electricity production facilities of Doel (B)…

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Last week, our Audi A3 was summoned to its first mandatory technical inspection. Since it is a CNG-powered car, I had to bring a supplementary document, attesting that the CNG installation is as it should be – and that required an extra inspection by the manufacturer (one of its dealers, actually). Four years is still young, for a modern car at least, so all I had to do was take the day off and wait a couple of hours in order to get the document. Not really a fun afternoon, but so be it.

The interesting part was that I was offered a look a the CNG tanks, which are normally hidden from sight since they’re under the trunk. Here’s what they look like from below:

Next inspection of the CNG parts will be in 2022.

The mandatory inspection of the rest of the car went well, too. Do you notice the location of the exhaust, which is not where most cars have it? Well, the inspectors trying to measure the exhaust gases had a lot of trouble finding it!

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After a hot summer came a relatively sunny September – at least, the sun did better than average as far as our solar panels are concerned. We ended up with with 104% of the average of the previous eight year. As far as I’m concerned, that may be the case for the coming months as well – but that’s not something we decide, right?

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The numbers are in, now that September is started. All in all, the summer of 2018 was above average in terms of solar electricity production, even though August did not entirely live up to what I had hoped for. I don’t know whether the lower temperatures of the last few weeks have helped: I should install a thermometer on the roof in order to have serious temperature records – but that’s not a priority now ;-)

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August 17th is #Deactiday on Twitter:

Also interesting (not just for today, by the way) is the information in this Twitter thread by Shannon Coulter. I do hope someone collected all that info and turned into a document or page on a platform other than Twitter and Facebook – a blog, for example, would be nice ;-)

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Our solar panels don’t measure the temperature, but they tell me that July certainly was a sunny month. They produced a bit more than 344 KWh of electricity, and that is the second best number in the history of our installation. Only in 2010 did we produce more than that, but 2010 was a very sunny year overall at this location.

Concerning the temperatures here in Belgium: the Royal Meteorological Institute calls the temperatures (and the number of hours of sunshine) for July “very exceptional” (sorry, the page with those data is not available in English). We’re beginning to get used to those 30+ degrees (Celcius) – that’s going to be a problem when things return to normal!

If you care about the impact of the ambient temperature on the efficiency of photovoltaic systems, have a look at this short article: “How Does Heat Affect Solar Panel Efficiencies?” It’s probably not a coincidence that that our panels did indeed better today (August 5) than two days ago: there was more wind today (good for ventilating and cooling our panels) and it was a few degrees less warm. I do not know the exact specs of our panels (the official documentation at Solyndra’s website is of course no longer available), but theĀ SolarDesignTool website suggests a temperature coefficient of about 0.38%. That means that three degrees less increase the efficiency of the panels by about 1%, and that seems to correspond with our numbers for August 3 and 5 – at least if you take into account that I did not measure the exact temperature on our roof, but used guesstimation as my tool ;-)

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In 2015 my wife and I happened to be in Sydney (Australia) at the start of the Vivid light festival, early in the evening. The weather was bad then – it rained heavily by moments – and since we were on a ferry coming from Parramatta we only got a glimpse of what the festival has to offer. But even so it was a great event, something we’ll remember for the rest of our lives – we have a few photos of that evening to keep the memory alive.

And now there is an extensive video on the 2018 version of Vivid on Youtube – it’s enough to make us want to go back there again! The projections onto the Sydney Opera House seem to have gotten even better…

(Click on the picture to see the whole video on YouTube)

Thanks Cory, for pointing us to this video.

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