|Solar radiation falls as silently as snow, causing sub-atomic particles to take a quantum leap in my rooftop doped silicon devices. These are solar cells “made of a thin mono-crystalline silicon wafer surrounded by ultra-thin amorphous silicon layers”, and they are much more efficient than equipment of the past.
After barely a fizz or a rasp from the linking wires and gadgets, through the magic of physics and electronics combined, electric juice quietly flows out from my generation meter to the world at large.
|Without making any great noise, I am personally lightening the load, with the help of light. National electricity generation is beset by problems of inefficiency and carbon-intensive fossil fuel combustion. Me, I hope to offset some of that, displace a certain amount of carbon dioxide emissions.
In the first week I have had solar electric panels, running my home has consumed roughly 18 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electric power, and I have generated roughly 9 kWh. Not bad for the time of year and the general weather conditions. If this were scaled up, if more and more people installed solar power, that could mean the country as a whole could spend a whole lot less on energy imports.
Yes, only a few people are getting the Feed in Tariff for electricity generation at home, but raising the contribution of power from solar means energy bills could be slashed, for everyone. I’m doing it for us.
I still have work to do to scale back my use of fossil fuels overall though. In the same first week of being one of the nation’s brand new electricity generators, my home has used roughly 14 units of Natural Gas, mostly for space heating, equivalent to roughly 160 kWh. I was ill, so I was heating the house to 17 degrees C for three hours each morning and evening; but to excuse myself, it was the first time I had used the gas central heating since last winter.
Electricity is difficult, but heat is clearly the big energy reduction target. I’ve got the regulation roof insulation, but the outside walls are solid, so no opportunity to cavity fill. My energy projects for the next few years include working with a local carpenter to properly draught-proof my windows, doors, floors and walls, and maybe installing some seasonal secondary glazing. At the same time, I hope to network with a local tree surgeon to set up a supply of London wood to my local area, to support the installation of appropriate smoke-free biomass burners.