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Started by peacalmer on Jul 12, 2020 12:31:39 AM
Batshit Renewable Energy Projects

Choose your own adventure like me...

peacalmer - 12 Jul 2020 00:35:44 (#1 of 30)

I'm starting with the following requirements:

  • Find supplier(s) who's got MCS, RECC or HIES membership and won't spam you endlessly with a hard sell

  • Who can install 600kwp of DECENT solar panels, probably SunPower, with decent inverters.

  • Who knows what the Renewable Heat Incentive is, and who can advise the best options to integrate thermal stores or heat batteries into the existing central heating setup.

  • Who knows what Social Energy is, and therefore includes decent batteries and smart controls in the setup

  • Who knows enough about Heat Pumps (air or ground source) to be able to tell me if they're worth having or not - my research so far suggests they're good but bloody expensive to install AND run.

  • Who can be creative with radiator phase-out - infrared heating panels, or under-floor heating

  • Who can explain the differences between fixed and flex Smart Export Guarantees

  • Who can chuck in an EV car charging point (£700 bung from t'gubmint)

  • Who can wrap it all together with a PV*SOL design

  • Who will be able to advise on the best use of gubmint money this Autumn, and

  • Who knows about the kerfuffle in the damp / insulation sector resulting from last year's analysis into totally inappropriate solutions being used on pre-WW2 properties

I'm still at the phase of trying to work out who can actually do all of the work I want without them or me going bust in 2 years. Got one quote from a company that ticks most of the boxes and isn't likely to go under, but their price was eye-watering.

popstar7 - 12 Jul 2020 00:47:40 (#2 of 30)

Yeah, I'm sure we all wish we didn't have complicated, demanding jobs.

upgoerfive - 12 Jul 2020 00:53:37 (#3 of 30)

First World problems.

GyratingTrampoline - 12 Jul 2020 01:02:58 (#4 of 30)

I once saw a youtube video in which a likeable but somewhat drifty young man with curly hair had been donated all the kit he needed to assemble a 24v off-grid solar panel and battery setup, but didn't know how to wire it together and was asking viewers "if you know how this kit is meant to work please explain it to me in the comments". In the next episode it was up and running

bossab2 - 12 Jul 2020 08:34:28 (#5 of 30)

I suspect you need a Chartered Engineer.

peacalmer - 12 Jul 2020 14:47:42 (#6 of 30)

I know enough engineers and architects, and can do my own research, but that's not really the point of the thread, which is to serve as a placeholder for clean energy discussions.

This isn't available where I live and if it was I'd be very tempted:

I did some cost projections, and if I stick to gas and electric through a mainstream utility company my energy bills are going to cost me north of £60k over 30 years. Especially if I factor in that at some point the entire gas central heating and hot water system is going to have to be replaced with something else (already, new builds are moving away from touching the gas network).

By contrast, if I invested £20k in solar and wind energy, heat pumps, infrared heating and the like I could get 25 years of clean energy generated on the premises with maybe £12k spent on imported energy.

COVID-19 response and the future of working means I'm already having to adapt to my kids not moving out (no stable paid work), me working from home full time (and needing a dedicated office space for that). So the house isn't going to be sat empty for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week; it'll be fully occupied most of the time. That's something I haven't even fed into the cost calculation.

breakfast - 12 Jul 2020 14:55:28 (#7 of 30)

I thought somebody had discovered how to use bat shit as an energy source.

AdonisBlue - 12 Jul 2020 14:59:13 (#8 of 30)

No, this is the thread to say 'I'm considerably richer than you.'

peacalmer - 12 Jul 2020 15:07:10 (#9 of 30)

No, this is the thread to point out that government is offering £15k subsides for switching to clean energy in some ways already, with another wodge of public cash set aside for new projects come September.

I had a small bit of cash set aside for a new garage roof (needed because high winds took the old roof off) but am sorely tempted to just bodge a fix and use the money on solar panels instead.

peacalmer - 12 Jul 2020 15:08:18 (#10 of 30)

peacalmer - 12 Jul 2020 15:15:52 (#11 of 30)

Also, if you want to add a solar charging point to your house the government will effectively go halves, and in a larger project you can almost get it thrown in as a freebie.

The OLEV Grant, also known as Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) can reduce the cost of your home charger by up to £350. The kit itself typically costs £450 to £700 depending on which option you pick.

So if your next car is going to be hybrid or electric you'd be nuts not to take advantage of that offer.

tasselhoff - 16 Jul 2020 14:25:33 (#12 of 30)

There's some companies in France selling 5kW hybrid systems with a couple of ex-leccie car batteries for storage. About 8000€ all in. Shame I don't have the money.

AdonisBlue - 09 Mar 2021 22:40:05 (#13 of 30)

Spoke to an angry roofer last week who wanted to complain to Trading Standards. He'd been called to a leaky roof. Poor elderly lady living alone had endured it for months and there was extensive interior damage. He was angry because she'd been conned into covering her roof in solar panels by a pushy salesperson. But she'd not read the small print of the contract which said none of the panels must be moved or touched by anyone but themselves or she'd be liable for thousands. She was also committed to a contract to provide a certain amount of electricity to the grid. She went ahead because she liked the apparent help she was getting from the government.

So the roofer was unable to carry out the repair work, which would have been straight forward minus the solar panels.

The company wanted to charge her 10 grand to effectively replace a single roofing tile. The roofer said this was common, he came across many leaky roofs he couldn't repair as they were covered in panels. Buyer beware.

CarlosFandango - 10 Mar 2021 00:34:39 (#14 of 30)


Of your 11 points in #1 I know a quite a bit about six or so of them.

The first thing to say is that it's very difficult to imagine that you genuinely require anything like 600kWp of solar panels. I'm guessing you meant 6kWp.

Secondly, SunPower are certainly a very good manufacturer, but they are just one of many. Dick Swanson is a lovely chap and he did many very good things for the industry, but these days good Si-based panels are easy to find and are to a great extent generic.

For well-made reputable units with a 25yr guaranteed service life, $/Wp is your key metric and absolute efficiency is secondary - unless perhaps you have only limited space for them.

Thirdly, radiator phase-out is interesting, although IR panels and underfloor are completely different animals. Different rooms and usage patterns are best suited to one or the other. Underfloor means you can get a good heat-pump CoP advantage, whereas IR can get you fast response and good comfort in 'difficult' spaces.

Phase-change thermal batteries only make much sense if you are short of space. I imagine they are fairly expensive...

A biggish batch-burner and thermal store is a great 'heart' to any CH/DHW system. And a good self-managed dump load for all your spare solar.

There are plenty of other things to say.

peacalmer - 10 Mar 2021 10:22:06 (#15 of 30)


In the end I went with 12 Canadian Solar 400w panels, SofarSolar hybrid inverter, Pylontech battery primarily for EPS, voltage optimiser (235v set), Tigo string monitoring and Raspberry Pi for home monitoring via Node-Red. For fun I replaced light switches and power sockets with smart ones that can do power monitoring.

Unexpected bills included a new boiler as the old one croaked, but that + Evohome ties into Node-Red as well so my home monitoring covers power, lighting, heating, and by summer I'll have it all interlinked so for example if I'm exporting over 2kW I'll get a ping suggesting it's a good time to put the heavier load appliances on.

We've had days in Jan and Feb where I've had the washing machine, dishwasher, kettle and toaster all on at the same time and still wasn't touching the National Grid for leccy.

The one thing I haven't done yet is change from standard tariff because my supplier is designing their next generation options for microgeneration; they have time of use options but they are clumsy instruments for balancing import/export and storage.

coshipi - 10 Mar 2021 10:33:36 (#16 of 30)

I thought somebody had discovered how to use bat shit as an energy source.

It's a possible energy source, albeit not a great one. But it's been an item of international trade as a major source of fertilizer for a long time. Or possibly was rather than is, I'm not sure. It might have been almost completely mined out by now.

JohnIlly - 10 Mar 2021 10:39:17 (#17 of 30)

Best just to leave the bat shit in the loft as extra insulation material. It's fairly inert and dry.

6to24characters - 10 Mar 2021 10:55:42 (#18 of 30)

Bulls are probably a better source for reliable quantity anyway

coshipi - 10 Mar 2021 10:59:51 (#19 of 30)

Not so good as loft insulation, and less concentrated as an item for the international fertilizer trade.

Verdigris - 10 Mar 2021 19:11:19 (#20 of 30)

Pylontech battery

They're getting quite affordable. Big discounts on the old version of the 2.4kWh model so you can have a 9.6kWh of storage for under £2800.

Still bloody expensive compared to prices for similar kit in the States, though.

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