The solar panels went up on the back of the basecamp the day after the frame raise. So we are now generating electricity.
In the picture above you can see them at the top of the basecamp roof. The top section of scafolding will be taken away soon and then our solar hot water panels will be added on to the lower section of roof.
Part of the project here at Swan Barn Farm has always been to make the site much greener in terms of its energy consumption. There seemed little point putting up an eco building next door to a basecamp that was wasting carbon. In order to redress the balance we are putting a log fired biomas boiler in which will provide hot water and heating for the basecamp and the speckled wood building, this will be topped up with solar hot water in the summer. We are also working on better insulation and secondary glazing to keep in the heat. The first part of this side of the project was the solar panels, so its very exciting to see them up and working.
The system we have put in is capable of generating 2.2 kw on an ideal sunny day, but will do pretty well even in less than ideal conditions. This size of system is capable of producing enough green electricity to save almost a tonne of carbon dioxide being emited into the atmosphere per year. It should produce about half of the energy that would be required by an average UK household.
The solar panels produce DC electricity, this is changed by an inverter into the AC which we use. When electricity is being used on the site it will reduce our draw on the National Grid. When we are not using electricity the power they produce will be sold back to the grid, giving us a credit which will help pay back the cost of the panels.
The system came with a clever little read out gadget, it is also solar powered, you leave it in a window and it gives you all sorts of information on what the solar panels are doing. It will tell you what current is being generated as well as giving information about how much carbon dioxide and money the system is saving. You can see in the read out that even on a pretty cloudy day we were generating 1.52 kw.