Solar PV panels

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Thursday 18 May 2006 2.22pm
again, a weird question from me...

has anybody of you had any experience with solar PV panels? i know you can get a grant and am looking into it. but has anybody had it installed?

Friday 19 May 2006 1.36am

Did the research and couldn't make a case for solar photo-voltaics. They sound great as an idea but the pay-back isn't realistic. Also, and most significantly, no-one will publish figures for the 'enviro-friendlyness' or not of the production process. This leads me to believe that you wouldn't want to live near the factory.

Why do you want them? If its to produce power then there is a large question over the value of PVs in local generation. Ditto wind turbines which are great as long as government forces the energy companies to 'buy-back' the excess. When that subsidy disappears, the real cost of purchase/installation vs energy saving again calls them into question.

If you want to save energy the answer is insulation and there are materials around which don't have nasty byproducts in the manufacturing stage. Also, insulation, properly installed, is maintenance free, something that can't be said about geothermal heat recovery units, thermal stores, wind turbines or photovoltaics.

On the techie front, have a look at heat-exchangers which expel condensation laden stale air and transfer the heat into 'fresh' cold incoming air. You can also get heat-exchanging loo vents which don't just dump all that pongy stale loo air and the heat along with it. Similarly you can now get heat exchanging cooker canopies which do the same thing.

Insulation - Ventilation -Condensation. Deal with those and you'll be hot in the winter (aren't you always?) and cool in the summer. Oh, and don't forget to keep it low-tech.



PS Google for "the yellow house" and see how someone transformed an ex-council terrace.
Friday 19 May 2006 6.07am
From here in Tel Aviv I can say that we heat the water by solar energy for practically the whole year, as does everyone here, but it's a sunny country and it's obligatory to heat by solar energy. I have long considered putting solar panels on my roof top in London (those that know it know that if there's any sun in London AT ALL I get it) and by the way you dont necessarily need blazing sun, just a bit is enough. I suspect the turnover in England is not enough to make it a cheap option, but I think you should do a bit more research.
Wednesday 24 May 2006 10.21am
naively i would have thought that using the resource of the (if scarce)sunlight would make sense.
of course it is a drop on a hot stone, but doesn't every little bit help?
still trying to find out more about them and the new grants available, which make me believe, that even "normal" people start thinking about these kind of alternatives.
niall, you have a point about the factories and the production of these panels and i will try and look into it in more detail.
Anonymous User
Wednesday 24 May 2006 10.47am
I was listening to an article about this on the radio recently. Apparently you can get a government grant towards the cost.

In England this is around 400 which, I understand is a small percentage of the overall cost. If you move to Scotland however they grant a much larger proportion.
Wednesday 24 May 2006 6.38pm
You might get more milage out of solar hot water heating (but I'm far from knowledgeable on these things). And perhaps if you contact the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth (they've got a website) you might get some up to date info on what sort of costs/efficiency you might expect. Just a thought.

(It's a lovely place to visit, if you're ever near Mid-Wales)

...if you press it, they will come.
Wednesday 24 May 2006 6.42pm
"Energy minister Malcolm Wicks" wrote:
Grants will also continue to be provided under the new 80 million Low Carbon Buildings programme. The scheme is administered for the DTI by the Energy Saving Trust and I urge anyone interested in installing micro technologies to contact their helpline for more information.

Editor of the London SE1 website.
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Sunday 28 May 2006 12.40pm
Try this, Solar for London.

Sorry, I don't know how to make the link work.
Sunday 18 June 2006 12.42pm
Hi, i'm also looking into a cheap PV set up.

For Electricity, i'm looking at PV panels, connected to the grid.
I've just bought a cheap grid inverter (not legal yet in u.k) [[]] which you just connect the panel/s to, & plug into a socket. As long as it's daylight, you get 'some' power ?! I'm now after a couple of reasonably priced 60w panels !!
This has to be the cheapest,,,,, but is generally accepted that it isn't perfect.
If you can afford it, & have the room, you can buy a BIG system,& sell the residue electricty to the power company.

For water - it seems that evacuation tubes are best.

Good Luck
Monday 19 June 2006 12.00am

This week's issue of 'The Week', Briefing - News - page 11, has an article on 'Eco-friendly energy' (an oxymoron if ever there was one).

The article lists methods of 'micro-generation': Solar water heating; Photovoltaic systems; Domestic wind turbines; Ground source heat pumps; Micro-combined heat and power units and, finally, Biomass heating.

The surprising ommission in this article is the rather complex concept of reducing energy consumption at source. In this regard there is no mention of insulation. Neither is there any mention of heat recycling (ie using heat generated by offices and currently heating the environment through air conditioning systems).

Reducing heat waste is the cheapest, least damaging method of reducing energy consumption. Sadly it isn't as sexy as boys-toys like photovoltaics.

Regards from my well insulated gaff in Somerset.


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