Solar Wind & Water

We had a small group up for Peter's energy course. The first day he provided theory interspersed with examples from his experience inspecting and installing systems around the country. There were some good questions and the group had a diverse range of knowledge but it all came together very well. He spoke about solar water panels first, and the different ways they can be plumbed, what the problems normally experienced are etc. Then to PV, which is more of a "black box" although Peter did give a brief explanation involving electrons! Finally Wind, including what affects output the most, what the situation is with hooking up to the grid, siting a turbine, impossible claims by some sales people, etc.

During one of the breaks we had 2 kites (the hawk-like bird with a fan tail) flying overhead for some time.
This was a double treat, because kites were only reintroduced into
Ireland last year, and because we had Richard with us, who had been
involved in the Kite reintroduction!

We ended the day with a visit to Philip's house, where he has 2 turbines - a noisy Chinese one and another he got locally, both of which he installed himself. Both on poles less than 10m high, so no planning needed. Phillip doesn't use batteries, he just uses the power directly or feeds excess back to the grid. He also has a bank of PV panels. All the wiring in his shed was impressive! Inside the house, he has a great set of digital readouts so you can instantly see how much power he is generating and how much is coming from the grid. As the sun came out we saw a surge of electricity show up!

We then went on to John's house, where we had a look at his commercially installed solar hot water panels. Peter, who inspects these around the country, only had a minor quibble with the installation (nothing to catch overflowing liquid if the pressure valve opens). Having seen the system before, I now was able to understand all the components much better.

Peter, Fintan & myself camped, although we didn't see FIntan until the next morning. I had made a nice fire outside, but had to get a shovel and bring some embers into the yurt stove when the rain didn't let up. Had a quiet evening in front of the warm stove with our 2 dogs hanging out too.

Day 2 had a lovely sunny start, and we had 4 people back again. Peter started them with some tough work sanding a small radiator (from his bathroom) so it could be painted black. The next step was to build a frame for it out of wood, allowing for sheep's wool insulation at the back, glass at the front and pipe entry and exit at top and bottom of opposite sides. We also built a stand for the cylinder so it would be higher than the top of the radiator (gravity feed), and allow for a second panel on top of the first. Suzie arrived with the kids and we had other visitors too, and the rain also arrived after lunch. Things slowed down after that, and we spent some time trying to work out which holes in the cylinder were for what, and how we would plumb the whole thing. We didn't get much farther in actual work done, but I now feel confident enough to continue the project.