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February 2021 started with grey and dark days, but in the end our solar panels were quite happy: production numbers for the past 28 days are 121% of the February average for our installation. That makes up for what happened in January ;-)

Not only was February rather sunny, we have also had unusually warm days. That was a surprising experience: one week it was cold enough to freeze pools, and a few days later it was more than 20 degrees Celsius warmer. Mother Earth always has a few new tricks up her sleeve…

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Just like the past three years, the solar electricity production for our panels in January was well below the average. No, January is not ready to become the darkest month of the year, but certainly now in Corona times it seemed like the grey, wet days were never going to end. We had only a single day with nothing but a (more or less) blue sky, and lots of rain – we stepped through a lot of mud on our weekend walk yesterday!

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2020 is over, so here’s a quick and short report on the electricity production from our photovoltaic installation. December 2020 was a rather dark month: we did not have a single day where the sun shone from sunrise to sunset. That resulted in a measly production number, just 80% of the average.

Over the whole year 2020 the sun did quite well: an annual production of 2.086 MWh is almost average and perfectly median for our panels! We can only hope for similar (or better) results in the new year ;-)

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All The Best For 2021 !

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There’s not much else to say about the Sun in November 2020, at least when it comes to Belgium: our solar panels produced slightly above average. Temperatures were much above average, making for a strange combination that did not really feel like Autumn until the last two days of the month. This morning it was raining, but now the sun is back – hurrah!

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I am using WordPress for ten years now, and I have always appreciated the fact that WP is a solid piece of software. I know I’m not using all of its possibilities and functions, but until a a few weeks ago I have never encountered anything that could be considered a “bug”.

However… since the change to the Block editor for editing Posts and Pages all my editing sessions regularly show me this message:

Conflicting messages: did WP save the post or not?

What does WordPress mean, by the way, when it says I’m not allowed to edit my own Post? And if I’m not allowed to edit it, where did it save the Post? Why do I find parts of what I wrote in my site, even when it tells me that the update failed?

This is, of course, a nice example of how not to inform your user. Because just to be sure I keep clicking the “Save” or “Update” buttons, only to see the same message popping up most of the time!

Worse: sometimes the editor says “Saved”, but does not save the Post, thus forcing me to retype it. Having experienced that on a few occasions, I even started to write my Posts in a separate text editor program on my Mac or PC before copy-pasting them into the block editor – and that can and should not be the right way to use a tool like WordPress that can handle a minimal but complete editorial flow from writing over revising and approving to publishing.

Back to the message shown above: it occurs when I create a new Post, but also when I edit older Pages and Posts that were created with the Classic editor. Until very recently, I always preferred the Classic editor: it gives me a certain measure of control over the HTML code, something I (like many web developers) appreciate a lot. By the way: the Classic block in the Block editor may look like the Classic editor, but it isn’t the same and does not allow the same measure of control over your content. So  it’s not a good equivalent.

I know I still have to learn to get to grips with the Block editor, which is by definition better than the Classic editor when it comes to structuring content in a web page. That’s a big plus when changing the look and feel of a site, or when you move content from one site to another. So from a Content Management point of view the Block editor is way better than the Classic editor.

But the Block editor should be able to handle existing “classic” posts and pages without strange hick-ups (I seen a few of those as well) and without trying to apply the Block editor rules on those old Posts. It would be better if WordPress could simply revert to the Classic editor if it notices that there is no “Block” stuff in them.

And certainly the Block editor should save my edits correctly and without fail – and without dubious messages! Because that’s a bug, in my view!

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I admit that I had to use a thesaurus to come up with all the adjectives to describe the past month.  But October 2020 was cloudy, dark, dim, gloomy, ill-lighted, murky, overcast, sunless, somber, tenebrous, … and more!

The numbers prove it: our solar panels produced only 69% of the average of the previous ten years. Even worse: in October 2018 the solar energy production of our installation was almost twice that of the past month!

There is a bit of good news, however. Contrary to 2016 and 2017, we’re certain to pass the 2 MWh mark for the whole year. Unless a major disaster blocks all sunlight in the coming days and months… I hope Nature agrees with me that the current pandemic is enough of a disaster for a single year.

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The September Sun Did OK

September was a nice summer month in Belgium, except for the last days: storm Odette was not a hurricane, but still inflicted serious damage at the coast. In terms of sunshine, specifically: in terms of solar energy production on our roof, September was above average. The numbers for the meteorological summer in total (at least for our panels) aren’t the worst we’ve seen, but just about average.

The rain we’re having now is most welcome anyway, since those hot summer days left our garden hungry for water.

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Just Wondering…

California wildfires? Must be a consequence of “bad forest management”.

Storms and hurricanes in the Mexican Gulf? That must be a consequence of “bad ocean management”, no?

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Yes, August 2020 was hot, very hot even, certainly for Belgium. But hot does not equal sunny, and high temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius have a negative impact on the efficiency of solar panels. Still, for our installation a production equal to 98% of the estimate is not that bad.

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92% would be a good exam result for any student, but when it comes to solar electricity production I like to see numbers above 100% – especially in what are supposed to be the sunniest months of the year. But the Royal Meteorological Institute (in Dutch) tells us that July 2020 was a bit less warm than normal, had a bit less sunshine than normal, and had less rain than normal (normal being defined as the average since 1981). In fact, July 2020 only had a single day with non-stop clear blue skies. Since we’re going to have a real heat wave the coming days, I hope we’ll see some more “perfectly sunny days” in August.

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I have finally found some time to play with the Raspberry Pi. Nothing spectacular; I have great things in mind for it, but for the moment I would just like it to take over the “solar” duties of the Asus EeePc that is running permanently (and hence providing a small heat source in the winter, right on my desk).

One of the first things I tried is prepping the Pi to run all that old Python USB stuff the SMA Sunny Boy requires me to use. My habit of trying to document my experiences as much as possible paid off: I just had to follow the instructions I wrote down myself in 2017 how to install an old pyusb package on Ubuntu – much to my surprise, they work flawlessly on the Raspbian 10 running on the Pi. Onwards to further testing!

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It does not rain that often on July 1st here in Belgium, but it did in 2020 ;-)

Our solar electricity production numbers for June are not influenced by the latest rainy days, luckily: the panels generated just a bit more than the average of the past 10 months of June. In total, we have now surpassed the 22 MWh mark in ten and a half years.

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Yes, “warm” and “sunny” are again the words needed to describe the local weather during May 2020. The COViD-19 measures keep us close to our house, but when we go for a long walk the atmosphere is that of a summer holiday walk. There is much less traffic on the roads, and you encounter more people walking or riding a bicycle. All that enhances the holiday feeling, and takes away a big part of the pre-Corona pressure to rush and hurry. It may seem contradictory, but yes indeed, during those walks we feel like we’re on holiday – even in the midst of a serious crisis.

May 2020 was sunny, indeed: it failed to set the highest electricity production number for the month of May in our installation by a hair. Only May 2011 did slightly better (332KWh vs. 330Kh), and that was in a time when our panels were still very new!

All that sunshine is fine – except for our garden (and for the farmers). The spring of 2020 is sunny and warm, but also very dry. This is not the post where you might expect this phrase, but here it is nonetheless: we need rain too!

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April Was Warm And Sunny

Meteorologically speaking April was a warm and sunny month in Belgium, and that was clear from what we saw in our garden: the grass grew very fast, and our trees bloomed two to three weeks earlier than normal. Local tradition demands that we wear Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) on the International Worker’s Day events. It has been quite a while since the lily of the valley plants in our garden bore flowers on May 1st; this year, they were almost all gone before that day!

The first open flowers on our lily-of-the-valley already appeared on April 10th.

Those warm and sunny conditions are of course reflected in our solar energy production numbers. April numbers ended at almost 115% of the average for the month, and only two Aprils did better – almost a decade ago, when the reflective coating on the roof was still really reflective ;-)

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