Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Solar Summer

This morning, a fellow from our power company, Peoples Electric Cooperative, requested a few photos of our solar installation for a presentation he was doing on renewable energy in their service region. That reminded me, I should do a little solar update for the blog! The beauty of these PV panels is that we never have to think about them, yet they keep plugging away, providing energy.

I really appreciate how they are so  unobtrusive on our barn roof.
Last month, our farm purchased 711 KWH electricity (for electricity when our solar panels were not active) and sold back 608 KWH (for electricity we produced but did not need), reducing our electric bill to $11.64, not including the monthly facility charge. The electricity we use directly from our solar panels doesn't show up on our bill at all. With daylight hours still growing longer, our next bill should show a credit.
We still have a gigantic tree trunk from the old silver maple that we removed so it wouldn't shade the solar panels. The tree was growing inside an old silo foundation and will be tricky to grind out.

My next crazy idea is to line that silo foundation with a pond liner after the trunk is gone and raise fish in there. We are researching the feasibility of  straddling the silo foundation with a high tunnel greenhouse and having a very small aquaponics operation with fish and plants.  Stay tuned...

4 comments:

Allison at Novice Life said...

Very Cool!

The Luddite said...

just curious - do you store the power from your panels in batteries?

basebell6 said...

did any other post say how much the solar panels cost you ? j/wondering how long to recoup the cost. that sounds like a WONDERFUL idea (way better than wind turbins in these parts at least). i am very interested in learning more!

Susan said...

We don't store power in batteries; instead we are tied to the grid. Power produced first serves or needs, then any excess is sold to the power company, any shortage we purchase. IN summer we will have abundance, in winter when days are short and the sun is low we will ned to purchase more. It is an 8.3 KW system, which on average should cover all our farm'syearly electricity needs.

We have 36 panels and I believe the cost was approx $1000 per panel installed. There is a 30% federal tax credit for business of 30% and a farm/business qualifies for an accelerated depreciation. I can't quite recall what we calculated the payback period to be, but with those incentives we found the investment wouldn't be out of line with a 401K plan.