Is the sun enough?
As you can read on the Energy page of my soapbox, one of the challenges we have set ourselves, is to make our home energy self sufficient. We want to find a way to live on this planet, using only the amount of energy that is available without costing our environment anything at all.
We are using all the insulation (of walls, windows, doors, and roof) that is currently feasible. We are installing the most energy efficient appliances we can find. We plan on covering almost the whole of our south west facing wall with solar thermal panels, that will provide almost all our hot water needs, we plan on covering about 60 square meters (600sqft) of our roof with panels that are both solar thermal (i.e. generate hot water) and photo voltaic (i.e. generate electricity), but still we will consume more power than we can generate.
We already know that we cannot use geothermal power, so I am desperately trying out ideas for capturing a much higher proportion of solar energy than can be done using off the shelf solar panels (which are 22% efficient). My first ideas have already been shot down by our mechanical engineer, who clearly knows far more than I do about the subject, but its not time to give up yet. According to reliable sources, there is up to 1kW per sqM of power landing on us from the midday sun. BTW -Did you know that plants are only 1% efficient at grabbing that power?
Meanwhile Lorna is repeating her mantra - 'budget and timeline'. The budget has been set and agreed, and no delays are allowed, we will be living there by the end of 2014. My window of opportunity is closing inexorably.
Any ideas from you mad scientists? Einstein we need you now!