The Post-Grid Society – What we REALLY need to start doing with solar power and electrical storage

large-off-grid

The idea of applying currently available solar power technology to provide humanity’s electrical power needs has advanced at a very fast pace since it’s invention. It has proven to very beneficial in numerous applications in a very short time since its inception and development as an energy source. An energy source that will be available for as long as the sun burns in the sky.

However, other energy sources that we currently depend on for our survival and existence here on earth are much more finite. Fossil fuels are extracted from a source that is available for a limited amount of time, and then permanently depleted – oil wells and hydraulic fracturing. This finite resource is what the majority of mankind relies on not only to provide modern comfort and convenience, but the also the essence of what is needed for humans to stay alive – the production and distribution of food and water. Now obviously not every human currently depends on it. There are those who have never had access to the convenience fossil fuels provide, and for centuries have lived without it, but here in the 21st century the greater portion of humanity, the urban dwellers that don’t sow and reap their own food and water resources from their natural state directly, who depend on others a far distance away produce and distribute what is essential for their survival are vulnerable to a global mass famine and starvation if said fossil fuel production ceases to exist, and this has been predicted to happen.

Anybody that does not get their food and water from their backyard or a nearby source where is is grown and/or produced within walking distance gets their food form a grocery store or restaurant and their water from a household water tap or a bottle. The food is produced using fossil fuel powered machines, delivered with fossil fuel powered machines, and stored, frozen, and refrigerated with electrical grid power, which is dependent on – you guessed it – fossil fuels or some other type of finite resource, such as coal. Maintenance, production, construction of an electrical distribution network is entirely dependent on fossil fuel availability. Coal, nuclear, hydro, fuel powered generators aso have this requirement to maintain functionality.

Even though solar, wind power, and energy storage (batteries, ultracapacitors) require a certain amount of fossil fuel power to be manufactured, once it is in place and producing electricity all it needs to function is access to the sun, which is predicted to be working for another two billion years.

If mankind’s continuing survival is currently centered on an energy resource whose supply could come to an end one day renewable energy needs to be taken much more seriously than it is now, and a shift from a finite energy resource to one that will continue to work as long as the sun shines need to be done sooner rather than later. Currently renewable energy is being seen by some people as a way to divert the global environmental catastrophe caused by climate change, (actually “atmospheric mutation” – changing the chemical content of the atmosphere – may be a better way to describe this than “climate change” ) but to much more of an extent it is seen as a way to make or save money for individuals or large companies. More of a way to increase profits and stretch paychecks than to solve any upcoming environmental, food or water problems.

If you won’t be able to get your water from a tap or bottle, where are you going to get it from? How long are you going to live without it? Same for food – if you won’t be able to get it from a grocery store or a restaurant, how are you going to eat?

Here are a few ways solar power can prevent, or at least minimize and/or postpone, what could happen to the masses if and when fossil fuel gets increasingly difficult, and eventually almost impossible to obtain,

  • Post-grid food distribution and preservation. We can start with the easy shots first, and this is one of the easy shots. Every grocery store and food distribution center needs to be wired with the option to fully operational WITHOUT any available grid power – grid-tied solar with battery backup, or better yet, full off-grid operational capability. Being able to keep the refrigerators, freezers, and lights running without fossil fuel dependence.

  • Being able to distribute food without fossil fuel dependency. Currently the best technology available is with electric vehicle transportation. Electric trucks and “food trains”- electric cargo trains that can be operated with electric power produced by purely renewable sources, large scale solar farms and wind power with large scale energy storage connected directly to the rails to provide power for the trains. Trains that will deliver food from the source – the farm – to where it is consumed.

  • Eliminating fossil fuel dependence for food production and water distribution. Similar to what needs to be done with grocery stores and food distribution centers, water treatment and distribution plants teed to be made fully operational without the need for fossil fuels, or at least have the need greatly reduced. Solar and other forms of renewably powered water pumping, purification, and distribution systems.

Implementing these ideas will be beneficial to humankind in diverting, or at least delaying, what could possibly happen if and when a permanent scarcity of fossil fuel resources becomes a reality.

Solar Powered Sound at the 2016 Children of Many Colors Powow

Sun Production provided a solar powered PA system at the Children of Many Colors Powwow in Moorpark, CA, August 2016.

Solar gear provided:
Four DM solar 160 watt solar panel modules.
One Exceltech XP 1100 watt 24 volt DC to 120 volt AC pure sine wave inverter.
One Midnite Solar "The Kid" MPPT solar charge controller.
Two 12 volt deep cycle batteries.
Sound system with four Turbosound Milan powered speakers, A&H Gl2400 Mixer. 
Lots of hi-fi microphones for picking up the MC and the drum circles.moorpark powwow.jpg

 

Wiring solar panel module strings without a return wire.

It is possible to connect a string of solar modules without a return wire. In the diagrams below, the typical method for wiring strings is shown in the top illustration, with a return wire. The lower two diagrams illustrate how to wire a string – leapfrog style – without using a long return wire.

On a single string with a small number of panels the return wire doesn’t add much expense, but on a commercial or utility-scale install with thousands of feet of return wire this could make a significant difference in cost. As far as installation, on a ground mount or a tilted flat roof mount with easy access to the back of the panels this could be an easy alternative connection method. However, on a fixed flat roof mount the actual wiring may be difficult to accomplish since more than one module needs to be held up to make the connection. Experiments, anyone?

alt. string wiring

My favorite gadget at Solar Power International 2015 in Anaheim

I saw this on the exhibit floor at the 2015 SPI convention at the Anaheim Convention Center last September – the PWR Station.A portable solar power system that folds up like an accordion. Come s pre-assembled. Ready to roll out and produce power!
http://feature.yinglisolar.com/us/pwrstationandyingli
PWRstation_Yingli_with_Operator_V3

SPI 2

 

One of my largest install crew projects – the Miller/Coors Multi-megawatt solar install in Irwindale

MillerCoors_SolarCity_medium-image
SolarCity and MillerCoors announced the completion of what may be the largest solar installation on a US brewery to date. The 3.2 megawatt array consists of more than 10,000 solar panels installed across ten acres of the brewery’s grounds in Irwindale, northeast of downtown Los Angeles, California (US). The solar system is expected to produce enough energy to brew more than 7 million cases of beer annually.

The new project allows MillerCoors to significantly increase the brewery’s energy independence and will offer impactful environmental benefits to the San Gabriel Valley region and the residents of Los Angeles County. The system will prevent more than 144 million pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere over its lifetime – the equivalent of taking over 12,000 cars off the road or planting more than 6.2 million trees.

– See more at: http://www.solarnovus.com/solarcity-and-millercoors-install-enough-solar-to-brew-7-million-cases-of-beer-a-year_N8511.html?utm_source=Solar+Flares+-+The+Newsletter+of+Solar+Novus+Today&utm_campaign=19aa238032-Solar_Flares_10_February_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_727e2679c6-19aa238032-420695089#sthash.9cqLIcN3.dpuf<a

Optimizing Array-to-Inverter Ratio article

Interesting article on optimizing the solar PV output-to-inverter ratio, now that the prices for solar panels have come down significantly in recent years. This article was printed in SolarPro magazine.
http://solarprofessional.com/articles/design-installation/optimizing-array-to-inverter-power-ratio

solar optimizing

Sun Production at the 2014 Historic Filipinotown Festival with the Solar Sound System

Sun Production solar PA

Sun Production solar PA

Sun Production provided a solar powered sound system for the 2014 Historic Filipinotown Festival, near Downtown LA. Even though it was mostly cloudy throughout the day, there was ample power for the sound system. A lot of people were asking questions about it, like could this be used as a disaster relief system, can it power a house, etc. All of which were promptly answered.

Sun Production

http://www.soundsystem.la