Future-Proofing

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Well, it is 3 days since my last post in which I shared our concern for the residents of north Queensland who were in the path of Cyclone Debbie.  What a 3 days it has been!

In 72 hours Cyclone Debbie has flattened the island resorts of the Whitsunday Islands and the adjacent mainland towns of Airlie Beach and Prosperine as a Category 4 cyclone before being downgraded as it moved inland.  Most of these areas are still without power or water and this situation is likely to continue for several more days, at least.

As predicted, the system then turned south east and headed towards the densely populated south-east corner of Queensland, including Brisbane.  For almost 24 hours we experienced substantial rainfall and some high winds – but of course, nothing like the conditions endured by those who were in the direct path of the cyclone.

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This is a view of part of our backyard this morning during a break in the rain.  The water in the background is not normally part of the landscape.  The ‘lake’ develops as the run-off from the mountain behind us pools in the low-lying part of our property.  It is not as extensive as some other occasions and will drain over the next few days.

The area where we live lost power about 2pm today and do not expect it to be restored until at least midday tomorrow.  There are currently thousands of consumers in Brisbane and the surrounding areas without power.  We are fortunate to be reaping the benefit of our decision to install a grid-connected battery system almost 18 months ago.  You can read about it here.

While it is great to be able to use our stored power each evening, the real benefit of the system is that it provides us with a power source in the event of a power failure from the grid.  Whether it is extreme weather or any other reason it is reassuring to know that we are not reliant on the grid for power.  This experience has confirmed the importance of a degree of self-reliance and we are extremely glad to be in this position.

 

Storage from the Sun

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When I wrote this post last month, I mentioned that we were getting a battery system for our solar panels.

Well, the installation was completed on Tuesday afternoon and since then all of our electricity consumption has been independent of the grid.

As well as the battery system we also have more panels.

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This is the cabinet which holds the batteries.

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Inside, it looks like this.

003The interesting thing about the system which we have is that it is a hybrid system.  In fact, we really have 2 banks of solar panels – the original ones which we have had for 5 years remain connected to the grid and any power generated is fed back to the grid with a monetary return to us.  The only things that we have connected to this system are the oven and a single outdoor power point.

Everything else is powered by the solar panels of other system during the day and at night by the excess which is stored in the batteries.

This also means that we can power our home from the batteries (except for the oven) during any periods of power outage.

Following the completion of the battery installation on Tuesday, we have had four brilliant, sunny days.  The screen shot below shows our generation and use and tells the story clearly and simply.

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This shows the last month and each bar is one day.  The yellow bar shows the solar generation, the green line is power exported to the grid, the red line is our consumption and the black bar is power drawn from the grid.  The last 4 days are since the battery system has been operational.  Our solar generation is higher (we now have more panels), 100% of what we generated from the grid-connected panels was exported to the grid and most importantly, we have not used any power from the grid.

I know that every day will not be clear and sunny nor will we have as many hours of daylight as we are getting at the moment as we head towards the summer solstice.  However, we are confident that we will continue to be able to supply our power needs independently of the grid.

There are numerous new technologies available for battery storage systems so it would pay to very carefully consider your circumstances before rushing into a decision like this.  However, if you live in Australia and are interested in more details about our system please email me and I can get some information for you.