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These are not the times to fool around on a day like April 1st. The only fools of the day are those people that do not take the current epidemic seriously.

When it comes to sunshine, having to report a very average month of March in terms of solar electricity production is not funny either. If it weren’t for those last 10 days of mostly clear blue skies and lots of sun, March would have been just as dark as the previous months. Here’s the graph to illustrate that:

Our solar electricty production numbers for March 2020

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The corona-virus hits public life hard in Belgium, so we used the last opportunity in a few (?) weeks to visit a restaurant…

Did we like the food? Oh yes!

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The Weatherman of the Belgian Royal Meteorological Institute announced today on TV that this winter (defined as the past months December, January and February) is one of the warmest and darkest ever measured. The electricity production numbers from our solar panels can testify to the gloominess of February: we never had a February delivering so few electrons! 78% of the mean doesn’t seem that bad, but knowing that the number was never lower is not good.

The snow we saw a few days ago was, at least here in the Antwerp region, not meant to stay long: temperatures barely descended below zero Celcius, and that only during the day. I did not (yet?) have to don my winter jacket in the past few months – again, that is something that hasn’t happened often in the past!

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Today is a special day for calendar geeks: it’s a rare “global palindrome day”. In the words of the Solihull School Maths Department:

But I’m here to report that January 2020 was quite dark: sunshine was sparse, as reflected in our solar electricity numbers. Looking at the numbers, it’s clear that the months of January in the last three years gave us a lot less sunshine than before. Let’s hope that this is “just” statistical variability, no?

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December 2019 delivered slightly more solar energy to our photovoltaic panels than the December average of the previous years. In the end, that means that the production rose above 2MWh for the whole year, delivering less than in 2018 but more than in 2016 and 2017.

Photovoltaic panels lose a bit of efficiency every year, although it seems that the degradation is less than I thought a few years ago. That is what the article “What Is the Lifespan of a Solar Panel?” (from 2014) tells me, and similar numbers can be found in more recent postings on several forums about the subject.

That means that all in all, we’re happy with a yield of over 2MWh for a single year. Our installation is now running for a full decade, so I was expecting worse numbers.

Could it be that climate change has an impact on the weather here in Belgium? I don’t think our solar energy numbers can be used to measure such an impact, if only because they are way too local to indicate more than local fluctuations.

Looking at the situation in Australia, however, makes it clear that the effects of global climate change are becoming visible: extreme draught combined with extreme temperatures over a longer period result in horrifying fires. That, in my eyes, is a chilling illustration of the prevision¬† of scientists that “extremes” (such as high – or low – temperatures, heavy rainfall, etc.) will become more “extreme” and last longer as the planet warms up…

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Who would have thought that this blog would last for at least 20 years? Not me – at least that was not my plan when I started exactly 20 years ago, on December 23, 1999. I started this blog not on WordPress, I admit, but on EditThisPage.com – thanks to Dave Winer. Dave gave away a great gift at the time: a way for anyone who wanted to learn about how to edit a website in a simple way. I am still grateful for that opportunity!

The start of this blog was also the start of my interest in what later would be called “content management systems” for internet sites. Like this blog, that “interest” is still going strong.

Happy birthday, blog!

PS. A present that allows you to learn stuff: isn’t that the beste present you can receive?

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