Tag: PV

This is a somewhat longer blog, but anybody who has spend more than a second thinking about installing roof top solar should read this story. It provides real life details about how to fit and finance residential roof top solar in NJ. I am a card carrying solar energy nut, but never thought that acquiring roof top solar could be this easy and be such a good deal. 


This winter our neighbors to the south took out two huge pin oaks and we went from a completely shady backyard to a sunny backyard. Our cape style house has the roof ridge aligned North/South, which is not great for solar, but the back of the cape roof has a large shed roof that actually is a little too flat for perfect.  That roof got a leak and I started efforts to get the roof fixed.


While talking to a roofing contractor I realized that the roof is now quite sunny. So I called my friend Nancy Makofka who has had a solar roof for years. She told me to call Sea Bright Solar. Sea Bright Solar is a local roof top solar supplier and their salesman happened to be only a few miles from our house when I called. read more »

In 1522 a sailing vessel, named the Victoria, arrived in Spain and thereby completed the first circumnavigation of Earth using only sustainable power (wind). This voyage is generally called Magellan’s voyage, but the person who completed the voyage in command was Juan Sebastian Elcano.


Since that time, humans have circumnavigated Earth in any number of novel fashions including rockets, aircraft, and submarines, but with the exception of a balloon circumnavigation (Picard and Jones, 19 days, 1999), which is more akin to drifting with the wind rather than navigating, all those novel methods used fossil or external fuels in some fashion.


By water we have copied the Magellan feat any number of times using solar cells or much faster sailboats, and greatly improved on the circumnavigation time. The record for a sailing circumnavigation is 45 days and the record for a solar waterborne circumnavigation is 584 days. Not bad, noting that the original voyage took 4 years but these feats are really improvements on a method rather than a novel approach.


Only this year, almost 500 years later, are humans attempting to take a new approach.

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Rik van Hemmen's picture
Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Solar Conestogas

Powering cars with solar cells installed on the car is an intriguing proposition, but unless we drive for very high efficiencies with resulting uncomfortable and impractical cars such as solar racers, it will probably not be possible to power cars with solar cells to the extent that we power cars with chemical fuels such as gasoline, diesel, LNG or hydrogen. We will probably stick with chemical fuels since hydrogen is an almost perfect fuel and can be generated with electricity generated by solar and then loaded aboard a car as a fuel with zero emissions and long vehicle range. As long as we develop a hydrogen infrastructure, from a technological point of view, we do not have to worry too much about outfitting cars with massive solar panels.


On the other hand, to be on the move completely under own power (slow but unlimited range) is a unique proposition. At sea to be under own power is easy by using sail. To be under own power on land is a little bit more difficult. Historically we sort of did it before, by using oxen to pull Conestoga wagons. The fuel for the oxen was the food that could be found along the way. In effect, a pioneer trip across the United States was driven by careful route management of forage and water opportunities.


This leads one to think if it would be possible to fit out a Maxi Taxi with solar panels and to be able to travel across the United States in relative comfort completely under own power. Hannah and I ran some numbers and, surprisingly, it is not at all that difficult.


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The march of technology is not a straight line. It can take leaps (internet), occasionally stop completely (dark ages), depend on big project steps and raw power (Apollo), or occasionally it seems to do a jitterbug and move all over the place at the same time.


When it jitterbugs it seems the world belongs to the independent designers and experimenters with innovations driven by individuals who have new visions coming from all directions. This happened in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and is today celebrated as Steampunk.


Today we might be in the middle of another one of these waves. Unless I am deluding myself, it sure feels there is a lot of jitterbugging going on lately.


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M&O covers quite a range of waterfronts. Some we only visit occasionally (for example, Bahia Blanca, Argentina we visit no more than about once a decade) but others we visit on an almost daily basis.


The Delaware River ports are home turf for us, but every now and then we need to check the internet to make sure we show up at the right gate. Chris Law made such a website visit recently and came across this link:   http://www.holtlogistics.com/riverside-renewable-energy


This was such an interesting link that we copy the picture on it right here:

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