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  Reply # 377608 7-Sep-2010 17:35
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  Reply # 377635 7-Sep-2010 19:22
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Solar panels and such are cool and all, but you know, petrol generators are surprisingly cheap.

Coupled with a bunch of car batteries, a charger, and an inverter you can switch off and still have lights etc.  You can pick up a 1200W generator for about $300 on special sometimes, that's plenty enough to run your fridge, computer, and charge your mobile devices.  

Even one of those dinky little 750watt ones or so would do most of what you need to get by.  

Of course, do as I say not as I do, I have often thought about going and buying a generator, but never got around to it.  Could have used one on Saturday.  Whats the bet when I do go buy one that I will never need it ever again.




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  Reply # 377651 7-Sep-2010 19:58
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technicaljoe: LinuxLuver: Very good point! I've been wondering for a while from both green tech perspective and emergency perspective why we don't have a (very) limited self generating capacity.

I'm not an expert at the green energy technology or related cost... And I'm not a green activist either. But just imagine if every roof has some solar panels, and they all ties into the grid... Wouldn't that cut down the infrastructure cost and potential pollution from power generation?


Absolutely...and you can begin generating extra power tomorrow and more every passing day as you install more day. There is no need for Project Aqua's that take a decade to build and cost a Billion dollars.

New Zealand has completely missed the opportunity to be a leader in alternative energy sources. Too many conservative governments - of either type - following the idiots in the US.....who even now are building new power plants using gas. 

For the same billion you could see massive power added to the grid from the roofs of people's homes....beginning tomorrow.

For $1 billion  - even simpler - just put a hot water solar heating on the roofs of 250,000 homes and businesses...and you SAVE more power than Project Aqua could generate

But then you can't tax it. SOE's (or private companies, if you're National) can't make a profit off it.

There is no good argument not to do it......butit is *different*...and a major change to the standard industry model...and the people who rely on the standard industry model - a.k.a. the "experts" - generally oppose it.  

But a good idea is a good idea. We can do this ourselves...and have light and heat when out neighbours are sitting in the dark. 
 
Jeanette Fitzsimons' house was always well lit and warm when the power was out to all her neighbours. Her house makes it own power.

It just makes sense....We bought a new home about a year ago and solar hot water is at the top of our agenda for power savings. Meanwhile, I use Powershop (They're excellent value) and have a UPS and an inverter so my car can power a few lights. 




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  Reply # 377708 7-Sep-2010 23:07
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Sleemanj: I do realize a fuel generator may be cheaper and slightly more powerful and reliable.  But I'm hoping to brainstorm a greener solution with you guys technical know-how ;)

LinuxLuver: I like your way of thinking, very constructive!

New Zealand could do better.  As the technologists in the country, we should keep pushing these ideas and teach the community about different possibilities :)

I read this article a while ago "Sweden leads the European Union on renewable energy"

Bill Gates' vision was to put a computer on every desktop.  Isn't it time to put a solar panel on every rooftop?

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  Reply # 377772 8-Sep-2010 09:34
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Linuxluver: For $1 billion  - even simpler - just put a hot water solar heating on the roofs of 250,000 homes and businesses...and you SAVE more power than Project Aqua could generate

First up, homeowners are still using the same amount of energy, the energy for it is just being harvested from a different source. I agree, there are positive benefits to using the alternative source, including environment degradation, decreased peak transmission loads (although in the case of solar water heating you won't save as much on peak transmission loads because this can be alleviated by demand management). Also, it's actually quite hard for some types of power station to turn on or off, so night cycle hot water heating boosts the base load and balances this out.

But then you can't tax it. SOE's (or private companies, if you're National) can't make a profit off it.
If 1 billion invested in solar water heating saved more power than project aqua creates, then why aren't power suppliers pushing customers to let them install solar water heaters on their roofs & then charge the homeowner a small monthly bill for the use of the hot water, based on the amount of hot water produced? If $1 invested in solar heating 'saved' more than $1 of power from the grid, then a) power companies could increase their profit by investing in this technology & business model, or alternatively, offer it at a lower price to the consumer and make the same amount of profit. Given they are profit maximisers, it would be plain dumb to not offer this. b) Every man and their dog would be installing them themselves, particularly on new homes, without any need for financial incentives. If the large capital investment is off-putting, then power companies could offer loans secured against the units.

Also, you actually can tax it. Given the fairly long 'return on investment' period for solar (as with a hydro dam), optimistically let's say 7 years for solar heating, you have offset the tax from that seven year period with the tax gained from the large initial outlay. Just as you would a large hydro-electric dam. In fact, this would result in an initial tax gain for the government in the same way that building a dam would. Given that Governments are voted 3 every years, it would actually be beneficial for them tax wise if everyone installed solar.

Getting back on topic. As to using structural solar harvesting for use during an earthquake, it is actually a lot more complicated. Given that the solar panels (or water heating units) weigh quite a lot, have very little give in them and are generally mounted on the roof, there is a really high probability that they will be damaged in the the earthquake, while in a large quake, damage to the houses' wiring can be very dangerous (Whereas a small, foldout/portable type solar array avoiding structural wiring would be less susceptible). For solar water heating, there is still the same issue of needing a water supply, as well as problems with plumbing/walking hot water cylinders (even ones that are strapped - they still move, just not as much).

As far as heating after an emergency, a modern wood burner with a modern flue is probably just as good an option if not better as opposed to relying on electricity from a solar array/battery bank back up system.

All that said, I am an advocate of distributed, alternative power. Particularly this program http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11149092 which is being discussed here in NZ.

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  Reply # 377834 8-Sep-2010 12:10
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The idea of feeding power back to the grid has been mentioned and found this interesting read.

http://thewattshop.co.nz/GRID_TIE.htm

It is also interesting that he mentions under system types that solar panels have reduced in price massively over the last year. Would be interesting to know by just how much and if they are expected to keep coming down.

I am also one of those with a UPS at home. I would also love to be able to supplement its power draw with solar or wind but I don't think it is possible :(







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  Reply # 377858 8-Sep-2010 13:23
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k1wi:
Linuxluver: For $1 billion  - even simpler - just put a hot water solar heating on the roofs of 250,000 homes and businesses...and you SAVE more power than Project Aqua could generate

First up, homeowners are still using the same amount of energy, the energy for it is just being harvested from a different source. I agree, there are positive benefits to using the alternative source, including environment degradation, decreased peak transmission loads (although in the case of solar water heating you won't save as much on peak transmission loads because this can be alleviated by demand management). Also, it's actually quite hard for some types of power station to turn on or off, so night cycle hot water heating boosts the base load and balances this out.

But then you can't tax it. SOE's (or private companies, if you're National) can't make a profit off it.
If 1 billion invested in solar water heating saved more power than project aqua creates, then why aren't power suppliers pushing customers to let them install solar water heaters on their roofs & then charge the homeowner a small monthly bill for the use of the hot water, based on the amount of hot water produced? If $1 invested in solar heating 'saved' more than $1 of power from the grid, then a) power companies could increase their profit by investing in this technology & business model, or alternatively, offer it at a lower price to the consumer and make the same amount of profit. Given they are profit maximisers, it would be plain dumb to not offer this. b) Every man and their dog would be installing them themselves, particularly on new homes, without any need for financial incentives. If the large capital investment is off-putting, then power companies could offer loans secured against the units.

Also, you actually can tax it. Given the fairly long 'return on investment' period for solar (as with a hydro dam), optimistically let's say 7 years for solar heating, you have offset the tax from that seven year period with the tax gained from the large initial outlay. Just as you would a large hydro-electric dam. In fact, this would result in an initial tax gain for the government in the same way that building a dam would. Given that Governments are voted 3 every years, it would actually be beneficial for them tax wise if everyone installed solar.

Getting back on topic. As to using structural solar harvesting for use during an earthquake, it is actually a lot more complicated. Given that the solar panels (or water heating units) weigh quite a lot, have very little give in them and are generally mounted on the roof, there is a really high probability that they will be damaged in the the earthquake, while in a large quake, damage to the houses' wiring can be very dangerous (Whereas a small, foldout/portable type solar array avoiding structural wiring would be less susceptible). For solar water heating, there is still the same issue of needing a water supply, as well as problems with plumbing/walking hot water cylinders (even ones that are strapped - they still move, just not as much).

As far as heating after an emergency, a modern wood burner with a modern flue is probably just as good an option if not better as opposed to relying on electricity from a solar array/battery bank back up system.

All that said, I am an advocate of distributed, alternative power. Particularly this program http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11149092 which is being discussed here in NZ.

k1wi


I did the math on project Aqua a while back. The power saved by 200,000 homes with solar hot water heaters was equivalent to the power Aqua would generate for the same money..and you'd save it in under 5 years, whereas Aqua produced nothing for a decade.

Why isn't every power pushing it? Follow the money. If homes in the North Island are saving an average 20% of their electricity use....revenues fall for the current power suppliers. That means profits fall...whether the owner is government or the private sector. On both accounts, there is no interest in falling revenues / profits.  

Who pays? If government invested the money in power savings, then the result - from their point of view - is a loss of revenue and dividends. Why would they spend a billion dollars to earn less money? Factor in also the infrastructural interests who obviouslly have a lot of pull with our governments. They are the reason National is spending billions on expensive roads we wouldn't need if we had decent public transport infrastructure. Railways have to pay to maintain their own rails...but the taxpayer funds MUCH more expensive (per kilometer) roads. It's a huge subsidy to transport operators. N wonder they hate rail. Big expensive projects create lots of jobs and the income goes to one place - government or private. Distributed miro-generation may be cheaper and make society and the economy more resilient in the event of disaster....but there is no obvious (to them) profit in that.  

In a way it a case study of the core failing of our economic system as a whole.  The funder may not benefit directly, even though society as a whole does.....and so it is not done. 

The calculation is simple: what is the average KWh saving per house, per day across an annual period of using solar water heating. Multiply that by 200,000 or 250,000 as scale may lend economies. Compare to Project Aqua's expected output. Compare the costs - though assume you used the same amount of money. Then factor in that you have that additional power in well under 5 years....whereas an "Aqua" produces nothing for a decade. 
 
The flaw is in our economic system....that's why good stuff doesn't get done. Because Funder A can't see HIS return on funding social benefit B.  No matter how much sense it makes from 10,000 feet.




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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 377868 8-Sep-2010 13:49
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Um, then why did they invest in the home insulation fund?

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Geek


  Reply # 377873 8-Sep-2010 13:55
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This sounds like a system I created for when I go camping, my setup includes:

 1 x 24 Amp/hour Deep Cycle Battery
 1 x 10amp Solar Controller
 1 x 250 watt inverter
 2 x 12v Cigarette adapters
 1 x 10 watt Solar Panel
 2 x 12v Led Lighting systems
 1 x 12v 'Music' chair
 1 x 5v USB socket

Most of these components are packaged inside a watertight acrylic case that I made after a few times using this all together. Seems to work really well, I usually use it for a couple of weeks over New Years, with music, movies and lighting for nights, never had the battery run out. Although one year I put too much juice through the wiring and fried some parts. 

I have used it once when the power went out, it was quite nice being able to see in the dark etc. 

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Master Geek
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  Reply # 377878 8-Sep-2010 14:09
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MikeyJ: This sounds like a system I created for when I go camping, my setup includes:

 1 x 24 Amp/hour Deep Cycle Battery
 1 x 10amp Solar Controller
 1 x 250 watt inverter
 2 x 12v Cigarette adapters
 1 x 10 watt Solar Panel
 2 x 12v Led Lighting systems
 1 x 12v 'Music' chair
 1 x 5v USB socket

Most of these components are packaged inside a watertight acrylic case that I made after a few times using this all together. Seems to work really well, I usually use it for a couple of weeks over New Years, with music, movies and lighting for nights, never had the battery run out. Although one year I put too much juice through the wiring and fried some parts. 

I have used it once when the power went out, it was quite nice being able to see in the dark etc. 


Any chance of some photos and wiring details?

Thanks Paul.

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  Reply # 377885 8-Sep-2010 14:21
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I'll get some together as soon as I get home from work.



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 377892 8-Sep-2010 14:33
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k1wi: Thanks for that BBC clip, it was exactly what I was wondering about. As a country claiming to be environmentally friendly, surely we are obligated to actively pursue these sort of practical green supplements to conventional approaches.

Nety: Thanks for the link to The Watt Shop, great resource for planning the next renovation! I wonder if there are any self-generation kit providers at Auckland Home Show this weekend......

LinuxLuver: It's interesting you bring up the topic of public transit. Personally, I think completing the Auckland ring route and tweaking/fixing highways are reasonable things to do. But you are right, public transit is very important. However, they need to fix the issue that it's cheaper and faster to drive into town and pay for the parking for the day.

MikeyJ: Yes, that's the geek camping/survival kit I am keen to get. I don't suppose you'd be interested in sharing the assembly instruction for someone like myself who don't really know electronic that well? :)



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 377894 8-Sep-2010 14:35
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MikeyJ: By the way, your setup sounds like a great article for Instructables ;-)

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 377899 8-Sep-2010 14:53
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technicaljoe, the technical name for the system that the BBC covered is Feed-in Tariffs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feed-in_Tariff). There is discussion here in NZ about it.

@Linuxluver In a temperate zone such as here in NZ, the best solar water heater will generate on average 5.2kW of energy a day, which equates to roughly $90c a day. If the water heater cost say $5000 to install, then you're looking at a pay back of over 15 years...

One problem is that it may generate more hot water than you need during summer and less during winter, a problem when often, people consume more hot water in winter than they do in summer...



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 377906 8-Sep-2010 15:12
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k1wi: Perhaps the hot water system could be quite good for high density housing with shared utility? It may be quite interesting to study each zone and see how to best augment the grid with feed-in and micro generation.

-----

Lazyweb question: Does solar generation works OK on a cloudy day?

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