Solar power problems and solutions …

So we’ve moved to a really sunny country … but it’s not sunny all of the time. Here we are in November, and three cloudy days in a row has left us with very little power in the batteries. We do have a generator, which I have had to use to be able to work today, but we need an alternative power source rather than relying on sunshine alone.

When we first started looking at off grid power, we wanted to combine solar panels with a wind turbine, but everything we read suggested we would effectively have to have a double system – one for solar and one for wind. Well hurrah! We have now found a wind turbine (that we can actually afford) that outputs power in the same way as the solar panels – 12 volt DC.

You can now buy combination systems, but buying a solar /wind system as a package works out really expensive, so it’s better to buy the individual parts and build a system yourself that meets your requirements.

In theory we should be able to add this in to our existing system alongside the solar panels and into the same controller and batteries. The cheapest ones we could find in Spain were about €300-600 but with a bit of shopping around we’ve found one in Germany for €110 – it’s on order and will hopefully be here in the next week – fingers crossed it all goes to plan!

This part of Spain (and where we are in particular) is VERY windy so hopefully this will mean that cloudy days won’t see us using candles and turning everything off like we are at the moment! I don’t mind living by candlelight, but that’s an expense in itself as we’re going through about 4 big candles and half a dozen tea lights a day!

It’s funny, I did a lesson with one of my teenage students the other day and the lesson was about ‘making a difference’ – whether it be helping homeless people, caring for the environment or coming up with a medical cure … to say he was impressed when I told him that his lesson was being brought to him by 100% solar power is an understatement! He wants to be an engineer … so I suggested that he come up with a more efficient way of harnessing renewable energy that has a smaller carbon footprint to make the equipment … now that’s what I call a homework assignment!

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