Energy Systems, peak oil — by Geoff Lawton February 12, 2011
Zaytuna Farm, home of the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia, sets up an advanced solar electric system to demonstrate the best example of stand-alone solar electric power we can find.
Here at Zaytuna Farm we have endeavored to demonstrate the efficiency and advantage of a stand alone power system. This is especially relevant now in times when large areas of Australia, and elsewhere, for that matter, have been flooded. Everyone that has solar/electric feedback to the grid still loses their power if the main grid goes down. We provide our own power and we store our own energy, and, although we could, we don’t feed back to the main grid because that just props up an inefficient system that runs on a very large amount of over-supplied fossil fuel power, or some other type of unsustainable energy system.
After much research our system has been upgraded to what is arguably the most advanced-stand alone solar power system available today. This system has new solar panels made from Copper Indium Selenium which have very superior performance because they work on a broader spectrum of light — they are temperature stable and, as such, are less susceptible to temperature change like the old fashioned ones. They are a one-piece integrated circuit system and don’t diminish in performance with partial shade. The output has been tested and found to be extremely powerful.
We initially tested this system in the workshop with just four new CSI solar panels and four batteries and it was immediately obvious that we had a new and superior system because with just those four panels and batteries we were able to use an electric arc welder and a power saw simultaneously. The system easily handled that kind of power usage.
We now have 20 solar panels and 12 batteries running on a 48 volt system. The system is inverted to a 240 volt main electricity current which powers the whole site. The power is transferred through the site via a large copper cable traveling up to 400 meters underground with a power take off wherever we want to fit in a junction box, with minimal voltage drop through the cable. We put the whole system together for AU$33,000, including the underground cable. This means that a small system costing half or less will easily power a small industrial workshop. For those who are itching to get into a more sustainable situation, but can’t afford mains-connected land, this is just one way to reduce initial start-up costs. Permaculture-competent people don’t need highly productive soils — we can make our own — and such a solar system can give us the energy we need to build infrastructure on properties that are thus less expensive to buy.
We have also researched inverters so that we have a 3000 watt stacked system with a second 3000 watt boosting of 6000 watts and we can stack these new inverter systems 3000 watts at a time — up to 15,000 watts. We have the new battery systems using the hybrid nano gel batteries. These need no maintenance and as long as we keep the batteries charged to above 48 volts (preferably at 50 volts), the battery life span is greatly extended and this technology is always improving.
We have developed a grid switching system which allows you to switch the grid on if you need it for access to a larger power load for whatever period and then switch back to stand alone for the majority of the time.
All this technology is available through our research and we make all these facts and figures available to you, our permaculture community. We will continue to develop and keep up to date with this rapidly-changing technology. Most people are not aware of this technology because they are still being encouraged, even subsidised to buy older systems that are at least 30 years out of date.
This is the new future of solar power stand alone systems. It has a very low energy use in relation to life span and an extremely efficient power output. We will continue to report in on the performance of the system. It is our pleasure to introduce this technology to the world, it is time that we all stand alone and take responsibility for our own power on our own properties and stop propping up a system which is obviously failing as a main grid — a main mistake!Comments (27)