Grid Tie Solar: Environmental Gains Are Truly Shared

8kV Solar Production in Wisconsin verses grid tied consumption The lessons from managing our energy use continue. After 4 months, our total 8kV solar production is 3 MWH with 2 tons of CO2 emissions saved. Here’s the newest revelation: the power we use during the day, on average, amounts to 1/3 of what our 8 Kw array produces. This means about 2/3’s of the power we use still comes from the grid. Without battery storage for off-sun requirements, the next improvement is pretty much restricted to more conservation. Now we understand why people observe that “spinning power” from renewable energy (like Art Thelen’s 765kV Manure Digester running 24-7 up the hill) is such a huge local energy asset. His plant could easily generate enough power for all 1150 meters on our co-op grid based on what we use. That would be a very interesting fact to know.

So far, carbon footprint reduction from our efforts has come from reducing household use about 30% with conservation preparing for the array and another 33% percent after it was added. I would think that a 4 Kw array would achieve very similar environmental results for most households taking conservation measures.

With the 8kV array, we’ll probably never pay an electric bill again and the array will probably pay for itself with the critical Focus on Energy refund. We were among the last to receive a renewable energy investment credit in the Wisconsin. That policy has got to change.

Note, however, that had we slacked-off and said, “Well, we put in solar, so that’s done,..” we probably would have slowly returned to the same use habits negating the environmental gain and getting no clues about it, monetarily. That’s a short-coming of grid tie without conservation. Science is no substitute for conscience.

The 2 tons of C02 emissions prevented saved collective utilities about $100. Maybe a good place for the utilities to invest this savings is into another Digester plant or at least a community solar farm.

Our lesson so far is: Conservation. Conservation. Conservation. Our next step is to install LP hot water on demand. They are 93% heat efficient but still use some electricity. LP produces half the carbon emissions of grid purchased electricity. Its the step we can take until there agreement in the household about where a passive solar could be placed.

Energy management is all awareness and process, and like everything, a pleasure when you look at this way.