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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

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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Contrary to what happened in the previous months, our solar panels delivered 112% of the average photovoltaic electricity in November months for our system. November 2019 will thus help us reach yet another year with over 2MWh – even a dark December should deliver enough to make that possible (at least, that’s what I hope).

 

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Exactly 10 years ago it took just a few hours to install 16 photo-voltaic panels on our (flat) roof. We chose Solyndra panels, because of the ease of installation (that part was certainly true). We knew those solar tubes would be a bit less efficient than traditional flat panels, but less weight on the roof counted for something too, in our eyes. Given the available surface on the roof, we hoped to cover somewhere between 40% and 50% of our annual electricity consumption.

Unfortunately the end of 2019 was also the period when Solyndra started having problems delivering on their promises. I suspect that the panels we finally received are not as productive as promised. In numbers: we’re only now (calendar year 2018) seeing the (almost) 40% coverage of our yearly electricity consumption that we aimed for, and that’s because one of children isn’t living here anymore, not because the panels are so powerful ;-) Oh, and we also tried to reduce our consumption, if only by a fraction of the total.

solarpanels.jpg

The reflective foil below thee panels isn’t white anymore…

Even so: according to the pvoutput.org website where I keep track of the numbers, we have already saved more than 22 tons of CO₂. That’s not earth-shattering, but it’s a start. In theory, we’re only halfway through the lifetime of the installation. We’ll see how that turns out a decade from now ;-)

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The Sun Is Still Hiding

It seems I was complaining too early about the gloomy weather in Belgium, when I wrote about the solar electricity production of the panels on our roof at the beginning of October. Because October was even darker than ever before in the last decade – in fact, there wasn’t a single day of blue sky in the whole month. And that makes for a disappointing state of things: the darkest October in 10 years, producing only 79% of the average KWh’s of the previous years.

That number of 79% is confirmed by the national meteorological institute KMI (in Dutch): it has registered only 88 hours of sunshine in October, compared to a ‘normal’ (I suppose that means ‘average’) 112 hours. 88 / 112 * 100 = 79%. It may have been warmer and wetter than normally in October, but that’s just a small consolation.

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Our solar panels reflect what we and many people in Belgium see: Autumn has set in early, with mostly grey skies and sometimes lots of rain in a short period. The clouds in the picture accompanying my previous post are fairly typical of the Belgian sky during the last two weeks.

No wonder then that the solar energy production of September is just 96% of the average September production, and less than 89% of last year’s September!

At least at this very moment there are a few solar rays penetrating the clouds.

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I have updated the numbers of the electricity production of our solar panels. There’s nothing special to report, except that August hasn’t been so sunny since 2013. With a little luck, that will help make 2019 into another 2MWh year ;-)

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By now, everyone knows that the past month has broken a few temperature records here in Belgium (and elsewhere in Europe). Rising temperatures make solar voltaic panels less efficient, and that shows in our solar energy production numbers for July 2019. Even on those very hot and sunny days our panels never produced the top numbers we might have expected. So all in all, July was just an almost-average month: 96% isn’t too bad. The same goes for the meteorological Spring of 2019: average…

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