Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

February was a very dry month this year, but that does not mean that we had a lot of sunshine. And while 96% of the average photovoltaic energy production is better than 81%, it’s still below average. Yesterday and today are cold but sunny days, but that says nothing about the rest of March – we’ll have to wait 4 weeks so see how this month turns out.


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January 2023 was a dark month in Belgium: we had only two really sunny days. As a result, our solar panels managed to produce just 81% of what we expected. On the other hand, temperatures are still higher than normal, and as a result we can see the trees and plants in our garden already getting ready for Spring. Let’s hope the sun follows their planning!

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2023 Was A Sunny Year

Last year was a very sunny year overall, and we have the photovoltaic production numbers to prove that. The Winter and Autumn of 2022 were more or less average, but Spring and Summer were quite sunny (and warm!). So in the end we can write down a production that is 3.10% higher than the average of the previous years 2010-2021, with only two years significantly higher production – and those two are the very first years of the installation (no surprises there). The contrast with 2021 could not have been larger!

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Meteorologists are calling this autumn (September, October and November) pretty average when it comes to the amount of sunshine, and distinctly warmer than average ;-)

Our findings are similar, given that the grass in our garden was still growing rapidly until mid-November – that’s exceptional, and can only be explained with those mild temperatures. An above-average solar energy production number for November (116% of our average) compensates the low performance of September, and does indeed make the 2022 autumn pretty average.

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Autumn? Who’s talking about autumn? It has been exceptionally warm in Belgium in October; I haven’t noticed our heating switching on at home, and that is not just because we have lowered the temperature setting in order to save a bit of energy.

The sun has also done its best: our solar panels reported a production of 113% of the October average.

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Autumn Arrived Early!

Our summer was (very) warm and sunny; September saw an early autumn replace the heat. In fact, September was rather dark and pretty wet. Our solar panels registered the lowest electricity production numbers for all September months since 2009 !

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As Promised…

As promised: the updated electricity production numbers are now available on this site.

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August 2022 is indeed the fourth month in a row to exceed the average electricity production numbers for our installation. 114% is pretty remarkable, as far as I can tell, given the age and state of our solar configuration.

I’ll update the numbers overview later.

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Despite the gray weather of last Sunday July 2022 was actually quite sunny. Good news for our solar panels, whose production came to 109% of the average of the past decade.

Temse and the river Schelde, Belgium – 2022-07-31

No good news for Ukraine, so far…

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Good news again: our photovoltaic panels caught enough sunshine to beat the average electricity production numbers of the installation for the past twelve months of June.

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In May, just as in March 2022, our solar panels managed to capture more sun than average – good news after almost a year of rather disappointing solar electricity production numbers for our installation.

Too bad there is only bad news coming from Eastern Europe…

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The numbers prove it: our solar panels delivered about 92% of the average amount of energy for the month of April. Not too bad, but hardly spectacular. Apart from the first week of April we did not get any rain at all; the garden could use a bit of water, especially now that everything is growing and blooming…

Lilies of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) or “meiklokjes” in our front yard

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March 2022 was quite sunny here in Belgium, and the electricity production numbers from our solar panels prove that: they made 120% of the average March production of the installation. Nice. But. There are too many things going very very bad in Eastern Europe to make me really happy about all that sunshine.

I do appreciate the reaction of the German embassy in South-Africa, succintly but forcefully reacting to a message saying that “R*ssia is fighting Nazism in Ukraine”:

The phrase “Sadly, we’re kinda experts on Nazism” makes it clear to me that this was not just a quick copy-paste message from an embassy textbook.

Even at the beginning of March it was clear that civilians were being slaughtered, in a manner that I would call (institutional) terrorism, and which is clearly in defiance of all kinds of international laws! The situation discovered in the suburbs of Kiev proves that things have only gotten worse since then… and that promises little good for what’s happening in the south and the east of Ukraine.

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We were lucky: the last few days of February were very sunny. February 27 was the first day since mid-November that the sky remained blue for the whole day. Time for the first ideal Sunday walk – we enjoyed it immensely. So did nature: the first new leaves are appearing, we saw a few very early blossoms, and some birds are starting to look into building nests. Spring is coming!

Spring is coming!

All that fine sun of the last days of the month makes that our solar panels achieved 96% of the average for February. Things looked a lot darker until just a few days ago…

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I have been thinking about the future of our “fleet” (which consists of two cars, a motorcycle, and a few bicycles). The two-wheelers stay, that’s certain, but do we really need two cars now that children have left the house? And what kind of car (cars) should that then be?

There is a lot of information to be found on the internet about BEVs (battery-electric vehicles). Not all of it is up to date of, course – things change rapidly in that domain. But I think it’s safe to say that the latest generation is ready for the main stage, even for those of us who need to travel great distances – at least here in Europe and in the US.

Except when you want to tow a caravan or a big trailer, because then the electricity consumption of your car will skyrocket and make your trips rather short. So I wondered: why not add a big battery to your trailer, and use that to “extend” the battery of your car? Or even better: why not add a big battery to your caravan, and use that to power the wheels of your trailer to assist your car?

It turns out I was not the only one to have that idea: US company Airstream, well known for its “travel trailers” as they call them in the US, has built a prototype that does just that:

Click on the image of the e-Stream to get more details from an article about the machine on Ars Technica.

Well done, Airstream: the solar panels on the roof of the trailer will probably not be sufficient to make this a truly “off-grid” proposition, but it still is a very smart combination for people on the move. I can fully understand the exclamation of Jonathan Gitlin, Ars Technica editor and author of “This is Airstream’s idea of a battery-powered EV travel trailer” when he writes: “shut up and take my money“!

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