REDUCING OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
STEP 1 – HOME POWERED BY THE SUN
by Nathalie Curtet, registered architect & GSAP Green Building Council of Australia www.compassarchitecture.com.au
SOLAR ENERGY IS FREE TO PRODUCE & ENSURE INDEPENDENCE FROM GRID SYSTEM = BE CLIMATE READY & INCREASE YOUR PROPERTY VALUE.
In Australia, we have abundance of sun light while we have limited water and arable land. We also have the largest houses in the world, which mean large roof area available.
Even during overcast day, solar panels will continue to harvest some energy to power our homes. The event of 2-3 overcast days in the middle of winter will be a difficult situation and in that case batteries and/or generator will help bridging the situation.
SOLAR POWER = REDUCING OUR HOUSEHOLD CARBON FOOTPRINT, AND OUR YEARLY ELECTRICITY BILLS.
WHAT IS GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT IS GOOD FOR OUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS.
I rejoiced to the news that in Australia more than 2 million households are powered by the Sun.
Private Citizens have taken a powerful decision and while few years ago, some benefited from no longer available rates for power back to the grid, but paid a premium price for the solar panels, solar panels and systems are becoming cheaper.
The batteries for storing harvested energy are still pricey ($10,000 for a Powerwall Tesla), but the technology is evolving and price will come down. Increased demand will drive costs down in the near future.
Make sure to use a Clean Energy Accredited Designer/Installer with the “battery storage endorsement”. An accredited designer/installer will help you calculate your energy power needs and loads, as well as advice you for the system size.
Visit the Clean Energy Council Website for more information.
SIZE OF OUR ROOF = SIZE OF OUR SOLAR PANELS OR ARRAY
ANGLE OF THE ROOF = OPTIMUM SUN ENERGY HARVESTING
The solar panels (array) will harvest maximum energy between mid-mornings to mid-afternoons installed on a 34 degree roof facing true North.
If you are building a new house or making alterations to your existing house, make sure your architect/designer understands your needs for solar power and design a roof (shape, angle & area) to maximise the installation of solar panels.
If you have an existing roof without an optimal orientation, it might compromise the size of the system and the amount of sun power harvested. Your Installers will need to assess the best orientation for the panels to harvest the maximum energy for your particular situation.
Solar panels are installed on the roof surface by brackets that can be angled for flat roof making the panels more visible and prominent from the ground view.
Solar panels will need to be cleaned as the glass will collect dust and grime (particularly in the city) and reduce their performance overtime.
SIZE OF ARRAY (SOLAR PANELS) = QUANTITY OF POWER HARVESTED / QUANTITY OF POWER AVAILABLE TO USE DAILY.
This is the biggest question. Will we have enough energy to power our essentials appliances and other electrical needs day and night?
Fear not, the technology has been created by Nicholas Tesla in the late 1800s and it works. Technology improvement is leading innovation in the field.
ALTERNATIVE ELECTRICITY SUPPLY FOR YOUR HOME
GRID CONNECTED SOLAR
Solar Panels installed on the roof. Inverter/smart meter allow the household to use the sun harvested energy directly during the day. The surplus energy is fed back to the grid. When the panels are not collecting sun energy, the house hold appliances are reverting to use the electricity from the grid
GRID CONNECTED SOLAR + BATTERY HYBRID SYSTEM
Solar Panels installed on the roof. An Hybrid Inverter/smart meter allow the house hold to use the sun harvested energy directly during the day and the excess harvested energy charge the battery, or in case of emergency the battery can charge from the grid.
No connection to the grid. The house electrical supply is delivered by an autonomous system: solar panels (and additional power generation system like wind).
The house electrical needs is powered directly by the energy harvested by the panels through an inverter during the day. The excess supply charge the batteries. At night and during low sunny days, the house is powered by the batteries and a generator offers back up power supply.
An off-grid power system require an energy efficient home, and users need to manage their power loads efficiently during the day.
At Compass Architecture, we have designed an OFF-GRID home in the Southern Tablelands. The house has been operating for more than 12 months now successfully. As a custom design home, the house is passive solar design and with a minimum footprint, the house is energy efficient & functional. The house requires to be operated like a living system: closing and opening of high lights windows for ventilation, management of water and power supply in the household to insure continuous supply.
Visit our website- case study