Hedging with Solar Energy.

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ytterbius's picture
ytterbius
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Hedging with Solar Energy.

http://americansolareconomy.blogspot.com/2009/03/for-survivalists-how-mu...

 

Just thought that this calculation might be of interest to some in this group.  I see alot about hedging with Gold, and that's great.  On the other hand, Energy being my obsession, I like to support the idea of hedging with Solar (or generally distributed Energy Production).  So, linked, is a comparison between the energy content of a gallon of gas, vs a typical solar panel. 

In any case, as far as a hedge, I'd put Solar right up there with Gold.  It might float around as far as immediate profitability is concerned for quite some time, but the time that it REALLY can pay off is when the bigger picture starts looking really ugly.  For instance, if the dollar collapses, then imported energy starts looking real expensive.

Remember, there is NO Economy without Energy.

Davos's picture
Davos
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Re: Hedging with Solar Energy.

The wealthiest people I know are doing this, I think you are right on!

EndGamePlayer's picture
EndGamePlayer
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Re: Hedging with . . . .

I agree to the extent that "powering down" is also a hedge against inflation, hyper-population growth, economic swings and end of cheap energy. Conserving erengy is still the best hedge against price flucuations. Insulate your house and power it down before buying alternative powers.

More hedges include:  gardening your little heart out, getting a good bike, plant no mowing grass, adding birds, rabibits and goats to your "family unit", wind, hydro-power and everything else solar (hot water, siphoning heat designs, greenhouses for growing food).  On the money side- foreign currancy, precious metals and a home business (or 2) to deduct.

These aren't just emergency items to have - they should be a part of your daily life.

EGP

ytterbius's picture
ytterbius
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Re: Hedging with Solar Energy.

I'm waiting for that money to start flowing.  :)

EndGamePlayer's picture
EndGamePlayer
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Re: Hedging with Solar Energy.

Yeah - sales of everything just dried up. . . Guess we're going with the back up plan C - grow our own $ and sell road-side or farmer's markets. . . .guess that's a hedge against inflation too.

I think the coolest farmer's market produce I have ever seen was a guy selling red claw crayfish:

Red Claw -- Fresh water Lobster Size Crayfish

These Lobster Size Fresh water Crayfish grow in tight kiddie size pool, eat grass and scraps and I saw one pool with a floating styrofoam with plant's roots. Maybe even solar heated - that would be cool.

I'll go post them on the permaculture thread  . . if I can find it . . .

EGP (Eating Great Produce) . .

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Re: Hedging with Solar Energy.
ytterbius wrote:

I like to support the idea of hedging with Solar (or generally distributed Energy Production).  So, linked, is a comparison between the energy content of a gallon of gas, vs a typical solar panel. 

In any case, as far as a hedge, I'd put Solar right up there with Gold.  It might float around as far as immediate profitability is concerned for quite some time, but the time that it REALLY can pay off is when the bigger picture starts looking really ugly.  For instance, if the dollar collapses, then imported energy starts looking real expensive.

Remember, there is NO Economy without Energy.

Yeah it is true.. but if we never have the resonsibility of saving energy then there is no point in generating energy.. as we can't take evry thing for granted!!

 

http://www.sterling-energy.com

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SPAM_angelina
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Re: Hedging with Solar Energy.

HI,

I also  agree to the extent that "powering down" is also a hedge against inflation, hyper-population growth, economic swings and end of cheap energy. Conserving erengy is still the best hedge against price flucuations. Insulate your house and power it down before buying alternative powers.

Technical Consulting Services

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Re: Hedging with Solar Energy.
ytterbius wrote:

Energy being my obsession, I like to support the idea of hedging with Solar (or generally distributed Energy Production).  So, linked, is a comparison between the energy content of a gallon of gas, vs a typical solar panel. 

 

You'd be preaching to the choir at my house.

( 3.1kw solar, twin Outback inverters, 1200amp/hr battery backup )

 

And comparing solar to gallons of gasoline is ok, I guess....but it's a WHOLE lot better just to have actual gasoline ( and diesel, and kerosene, and lube oils, etc ) since most vehicles don't run electrically.

and wood:

(3 cord sheds under construction)

 

Hey, propane is handy too !

(Pair of 500 gal tanks to go with the 500 gal underground just to the right of them )

 

And, of course, as mentioned, conservation is the start.  Built our house with lots of internal mass, and 2x10 walls.  It's 92 degrees outside today, and 74 inside with no AC running.  Winter time, a small woodstove heats 2200sqft.

 

 

 

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Re: Hedging with Solar Energy.

TN

I really like your woodsheds.  The "woodchuck" types here in upsate NY thrive on that kind of stuff.  I assume you're in Tennessee.

Brian

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Re: Hedging with Solar Energy.

Thanks Brian.  Yes, Tennessee....former State of Franklin Smile

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Re: Hedging with Solar Energy.

I was thinking the other day that PV modules might make a nice diversification to a holding of PM's.  Especially if one has the knowledge to deploy those modules. 

We use PV's on our motorhome for extended periods of time, generating electricity for watching TV, powering our laptops and lighting.  A couple PV's , a 2000 watt inverter and a couple deep cycle batteries are all we need.   On a trip through Baja Mexico a few years ago we saw houses being powered with similar or lesser setups, and no connections to the grid.

Advantages: During a bout of SHTF, solar modules might actually be more valuable than an equivalent invstment of PM's.   If one has the modules on hand to provide to neighbors, and the knowledge (plus maybe a stash of wire) to set them up, where could this lead?  Or, maybe just deploying the solar panels on one's own property and then renting them out to folks so they can recharge their computers, cell phones, rechargable lighting,  etc? 

What would the investment entail?  A dozen PV's might set you back $6k, a few decent inverters and some wires and connectors.  Sitting around waiting for SHTF?  Or use them in the meantime if you have the time to assemble them into an array? 

Batteries are another matter.  They degrade whereas PV's don't.  But you might be able to gather up lots of batteries for a song, if the grid goes down.

Just a thought.

 

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Re: Hedging with Solar Energy.

TN Dancer-

Do you know what your normal total household electrical consumtion is in Watts and Amps per day?

And....are you grid connected?

THanks!

 

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Re: Hedging with Solar Energy.

We use about 900 to 1,000 kw/hrs/month.....so 30-35kw/hrs/day..... and that has been the average for many years.  That includes my wood working shop, which is on the house meter.  We are grid tied. Our PV system is designed to replace about 1/3 of that, and over the course of about 2 years now, that is what it has done. On good sunny days, it will produced 17-18kw/hrs.....last several days it has done that, for example....but a day like today where it overcast/rains all day, you get pretty much nothing.

 

Our use may drop some in the future, as I'm finishing up a kitchen remodel in which all the lighting is LED, ( Cree Brand....WONDERFUL LED's !! ) new fridge is rated for 1/2 the annual kw/hr use the old one was, ( should save about 50kw/hrs/mo ) and we've replaced the electric stove with a gas cooktop (propane) and a wall oven.   Also installed a clothes line recently, and my wife has take to using it quite a bit over the electric dryer.  So, I'm hoping to bump the average down in the lower 800 range.   Water heating is already propane, and we heat primarily with wood, so not much way to save there.  Probably our biggest single user of electricity are the 3 freezers we have, 2 older uprights and a small chest.  We raise pork and beef here, and when we slaughter, you have to have a way to store a lot of meat at one time.  Could can more of it and IF push came to shove, that is what we would do......getting down to probably just the small chest freezer.

My aim for designing the system was to give us enough to have some refrigeration, some lighting, and enough to run a few tools from time to time, as sunshine permits.....things like a washing machine are quite handy.  But TV, internet, microwave, clothes dryer, A/C, etc, would all be pitched on the scrap heap of history, I think.

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Re: Hedging with Solar Energy.

TN Dancer what was your cost to set up your solar if you are willing to share?

 

 

Thanks, Buzz

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TNdancer
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Re: Hedging with Solar Energy.

Buzz,

 

Ran around 20,000.  I didn't keep real exact costs, but that would be fairly close.  I did all the work.

That is 18-175w Solarworld panels, two arrays on home built single axis trackers, two FX-60 Outback charge controllers, two 2500w Outback grid tie with battery backup inverters, 1 set of Absolyte AGM 1200amp/[email protected] battery pack ( which I got a STEAL on....basically free ), wiring/disconnects/tracker controllers/etc.

Stuff has come down quite a bit.....the panels I paid over 800ea for in 2008, and now you can get the same one for under 600.

 

ytterbius's picture
ytterbius
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Re: Hedging with Solar Energy.

Nice setup there, TNDancer!

As for the comparison to gas, for one, it was just for fun, two, imagine 10 years from now (or even 5 or less) when tools and equipment (and vehicles) are not so dependently tied to gas. When the paradigm changes, we'll find that gas isn't all that we once thought it was.  Given that products are available (and in general comparable) that run on electricity rather than gas, then the point being that you can produce your own electricity locally from panels that will last 30+ years, as opposed to continually needing gas which almost certainly is not produced locally.  In a pinch, I'd rather have a car that I could drive even just once per week on locally generated electricy than a vehicle that goes nowhere because I ran out of gas a month ago.

 

 

TNdancer's picture
TNdancer
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Re: Hedging with Solar Energy.

A project I plan to work on after a couple other projects around here get completed is wood gas.  A lot of vehicles ran on it during WW2, and since we own 100ac of woods.

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Dutch John
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Re: Hedging with Solar Energy.

TNdancer,

That's about the same I am currently building. 4 kWp solar, grid tied. Huge battery pack, charge control and inverters are on the wish list; I do not want to rely on the grid.

An other project, mostly to gain experience, is building an 800 Watt wind turbine feeding a battery pack together with a few solar panels. And like you a woodgas powered generator as a backup to charge the pack. The later one is ready. It is however not easy to build a small woodgasifier, because these are very sensible. Do not build smaller than 4 kVA, otherwise it is difficult to have the gas tar free. Start with woodgas when you got nothing more to prepare, because it is very time consuming. The needed materials can easily be found on the junkyard and building is fairly easy. Designing and tuning is an other beast.

And yes, solar power is a way of hedging. But gaining knowledge of forgotten crafts and techniques are an even better way.

Regards, DJ

TNdancer's picture
TNdancer
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Re: Hedging with Solar Energy.

DJ,

 

Unfortunately, wind isn't an option for us....we're tucked under the protected side of the mountain for prevailing winds, and basically just get a breeze when we can hear the winds howling on the mountain top ( which is too far up to transmit power back + tough place to erect a tower ).

 

 

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Wendy S. Delmater
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DSIRE

I found a great site about getting rebates and tax credits on solar and energy effiiency.

http://www.dsireusa.org/

DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Established in 1995 and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, DSIRE is an ongoing project of the N.C. Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.

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