Showing posts with label Energy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Energy. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Solar cells into hydrogen?

Earth Techling - Solar Power Makes Fuel Cell Vehicles Truly Green

"In Hempstead, N.Y., the city not long ago began creating truly clean hydrogen fuel for their fuel cell vehicles by hooking a 100-kilowatt wind turbine into the system. But wind is just one renewable way to skin the hydrogen cat: The German research powerhouse Fraunhofer ISE this month fired up a station that uses photovoltaics to create hydrogen fuel with reduced impact on the grid.

The process at play here is pretty simple, actually: Power from solar panels on the charging station canopy and a nearby building is used indirectly to separate hydrogen and oxygen in water by the process called electrolysis. The hydrogen can then be stored and later used by fuel-cell vehicles.


One big advantage, for example: Fraunhofer said that a vehicle can fill up with hydrogen in just three minutes and then travel nearly 250 miles. Even the so-called “fast chargers” being developed for battery electrics can do a full charge in less than about a half hour.



Glad I'm not a total idiot (well I it depends on who you ask...)

I've been telling just about anyone who will listen that the above process, using solar to crack hydrogen for longer term energy storage and fuel cell usage, is what I want to see. Batteries are lame, They are not a long term, via solution for vehicles, homes, buildings.

Is a huge store of hydrogen a safety issue? Yes. But so is the gas in your car, the natural gas in your house (and/or car), all that crap under your kitchen sink, those old as heck cans of "stuff" on "that shelf",yada, yada. And as if batteries don't have their own issues?


I don't even think it has to be at the house level. Think substations is here the hydrogen is cracked and stored. And where the fuel cells are. Solar panels on the houses for that substation feed into it during the day, surplus is used to build stores of hydrogen, at night, fuel cells are used to generate power back to said houses.

Smart grid baby.

And heck that substation can also act as a hydrogen fueling station for cars?

Until then, I'm keeping my eyes open for at home options for this. I'd SO love to have a fuel cell car that I fueled with hydrogen cracked via my solar panels... :)

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Some marketing, you've just got to love...



I don't usually do posts like this, highlighting a storefront, but I saw this and loved it (could it be that my current reading of an awesome zombie book, Married with Zombies, is impacting my judgment a bit?... lol ;)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

No home for Hohm - Microsoft shutters Hohm

cnet News - Green TechMicrosoft kills Hohm energy app

"Microsoft is pulling the plug on its Hohm consumer energy management application because of poor uptake.

The move to discontinue Hohm, announced on the product's community blog today, comes less than a week after Google said it is axing PowerMeter, a similar energy monitoring product.

Microsoft said that Hohm received positive feedback but "due to the slow overall market adoption of the service," the company has decided to focus its environmental efforts elsewhere. In April, CNET reported that Microsoft was phasing out Hohm and would focus its development on electric vehicle charging through a partnership with Ford. The product will stop being available by the end of May next year and Microsoft said it does not intend to offer an alternative service.


Too bad... I was hoping that with Google leaving this space, Hohm could fill the void. But I guess not... We really need an end to end smart grid, from plug to power generation. While there wasn't really much hope either Microsoft or Google to execute this, it was nice to have someone on the "outside" and with fair broad reach giving it a go. Now we're going to have to rely on the Utilities? hum...


Related Past Post XRef:
Help managing your home energy usage - Microsoft Hohm

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Our year in the sun... with solar power...

This month marks our one year solar power anniversary and am I still a happy solar camper? You betcha! 


Based on my calc's for the last year, we generated -555 KWH. Yes, we generated an extra 1/2 megawatt. In the previous year we consumed 8,561 KWH. The year before that, 9,260 and before that, 9,779 (so year over year our consumption was decreasing as we became more energy conscious)

Enough KWH... How much money did I save?

Annual Cycle KWH Bill Savings
2010-2011 -555 $17.86 -$1,356.92
2009-2010 8561 $1,374.78 -$59.32
2008-2009 9260 $1,434.10 -$157.86
2007-2008 9779 $1,591.96  

Yep, we saved $1,357 dollars in the last year on electricity. Yes, we "paid" less than 20 bucks for electricity for the entire year. ("Paid" because our last bill ended up becoming a credit so we've been working off that credit. We're now down to -$117, ie at 2 bucks or less we might not be paying a bill for a long while... :)

And guess what? The California Assembly passed a bill which was signed in 2009 (AB920) where we're going to be paid BACK by the Electric company for that extra 555 KWH we generated. Yep, we're going to bill the electric company! (Once they figure out just how they are going to do it. Just got a letter this week saying they are trying to figure this out... so we're not running off to Vegas with our extra cash just

Problems? In the end it looks like we may have over previsioned (i.e. got too many panels). Our installer, SunPacific Solar Electric, offered a number of options (14, 16, 18 panels, etc) and great guidance, but in the end it was up  to me and I errored on the side of over vs under and picked 18.

The goal is not not generate more. Or even 100%. The goal is to generate 80-90%. To generate enough to keep you in Tier 1, or worse case, Tier 2. Look at my bills below. You can see that I actually was charged less during months when we didn't over generate (by a dollar... but still). And fewer panels means much faster ROI.

What else happened this past year, relating to our panels?

  • We got a recall notice from SunPower (the Solar Panel manufacture/provider) for an inverter. Which freaked me out and so I contacted our installer, SunPacific Solar Electric, These guys were Johnny-on the-spot and replied right back that it wasn't actually my invertor, that SunPower sent a blanket letter to everyone of their customers, no matter what inverter they had. And they gave me the tips to prove that to my own satisfaction.
  • We continued to have a great relationship with our installer (see above for just once example). These guys kept in touch, checking in every so often and responding very quickly to any questions I had. And their work has so far stood the test of time.
  • We filed for our energy tax credit, which went smooth as silk. A 30% credit on the cost of the panels and installation (after the rebate from SCE).
  • After a session of some heavy rain and serious winds, there's no leaks, drips or roof issues. (Yeah! :)
  • Keeping the panels clean is a little bit of a chore. Given our semi-arid environment, with constant winds, the panels get dusty during the summer/fall. All it takes is a quick spray every couple weeks to clean them, but still a little bit of pain. (Lucky they are uber-easy for us to get at)
  • Even with all the credits, savings, rebates, etc, payback is still 7-10 years. So they are not a short term investment. BUT if you plan on keep the property (and who's selling now if they don't absolutely have too) in the long term they will pay off nicely. Think about what how great they would be when on a fixed income/retirement?

Now some eye candy. This is from the solar panel company for the past year. Kind of neat that you can watch how much you generate over the day/week/year. If you're a new solar panel owner, you hit this site about every 10 minutes or so... lol. But once the blush wears off, we've been checking it out every couple weeks. And what's nice is that if "something happens" like a sudden drop off in generation, they will send an email to our installers (SunPacific Solar Electric, to let them know something is up. Like a tree grows and begins to shadow the panels, etc.


Here's our electric bill from the year before our panels (2009-2010);


And this past year (2010-2011);


(See where the months we didn't over generate we were actually charged less? I had to laugh at that...)


So in the end would I do it again? In a minute. We've been nothing but happy and the future is looking even brighter...


More of our Solar Posts

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Solar Panel Update: Solar power in the Southern California Winter - The $1 electric bill

A couple people have asked how our electric generating solar panels are doing now that it's winter (such as we have winters in Sothern California... ;)

I think this snapshot digest of our usage history says it all. In January 2011 we used about 10% of electricity we've used in 5 years. From 25+ KHW used daily to 3! From a bill of $130+ to $1, yes, one dollar.


If you remember from past posts, we paid a "just as we were transitioning to solar" electric bill of $130'ish in May 2010 that ended up being credited back to us. As of Jan 24 2011 we have $120 credit. At this rate, it's going to be a couple years before we even see a bill from SCE. How cool is that! :)

Am I still a happy solar guy? Oh yeah...


Related Past Post XRef:
Solar Panel Installation Update–The Two Dollar Electric Bill
Solar Panel Installation – We’re cooking with Solar!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Solar Panel Installation Update–The Two Dollar Electric Bill

Dreaming of not paying an electric bill? For my family, it’s no longer a dream…

At the end of April 2010 we had solar electric panels installed, Solar Panel Installation – We’re cooking with Solar!, and we’ve been waiting on pins and needles to see the impact to our electric bill. It’s taken SCE a bit for everything to work through the channels, but today it looks like everything finally took effect.


I mean, come on! How can you NOT love a $1.95 electric bill!  :)

The way it worked out was that we had an initial bill for 6/23 of $131, which kind of freaked us out. But we figured it was just taking a bit to work through and our solar installers held our hands, calmed us down, “It’s okay, don’t worry, it takes a bit…” And they were right. As of today we now have a $129 credit! Looks like we won’t be sending them a checked for a good long time… LOVE THAT!

What’s the ROI? 7-10 years. Assuming electric prices don’t increase…

Maintenance? Couldn’t be easier. Spray them off with the hose every month or so (the morning dew catches the afternoon dusty winds).

Piece of mind? Priceless… lol


Related Past Post XRef:
Solar Panel Installation – We’re cooking with Solar!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Solar Panel Installation – We’re cooking with Solar!


We’ve taken the plunge and have gone solar, having in the that past week or so solar panels installed. What with the rebate from Southern California Edison, the Federal Tax Credit and increase to the house’s value, it’s a med-long term investment that just made sense. For the price of a hybrid (which I’ve had since 2004 ;) we’re now going to be generating 80-90% of our own electricity!

Hat’s off to SunPacific Solar Electric ( From the no hard/pressure sales (Thank you Dan!) to the direct partner involvement (Thank you Jay and Tom) to the outstanding installers (Thank you Nic and Connor) all I have are good things to say about them… They are a small firm, and we were their first Simi Valley installation, but neither showed nor mattered. It was as if they were a “big boy” in their offerings, professionalism and approach, yet they still had the personal feel smaller firms seem to have.

Here’s a quick YouTube video of the before, during and after (my first YouTube video by the way… ;). Of course, with the required video of the electric meter spinning backward…

(Direct link if the above embedded isn’t working)

BTW, since we’ve been online today (in test mode, finally inspection should be tomorrow) we’ve already generated 10kw of electricity. How awesome is that! :)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Help managing your home energy usage - Microsoft Holm

Microsoft Holm


Microsoft Holm Community Blog - Introduction to Microsoft Hohm

What is Microsoft Hohm?

Microsoft Hohm is a free online beta application that helps you save energy and money. With Microsoft Hohm you can better understand your home energy usage, get recommendations to conserve energy and start saving. As with any recommendation engine, Hohm will provide increasingly more accurate and relevant suggestions for energy conservation as its users contribute home energy input and feedback. One of the objectives during our beta period is to refine our tool and further increase the value our product can offer to you.

Microsoft Hohm uses advanced analytics licensed from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Department of Energy to give you personalized energy saving recommendations. These recommendations are tailored based on your specific household circumstances including home attributes and use of appliances and systems…

How does Microsoft Hohm work?

After signing up for Microsoft Hohm with your Windows Live ID and postal code, you simply enter some information about your home (e.g., occupants, appliances and systems) and receive your energy report with personalized recommendations. The more information you provide, the more accurate and relevant the recommendations will be. As a default, Hohm will base its recommendations on local and national averages.

Alternatively, if you are a customer of a Hohm-partnered utility company you can choose to automatically upload your energy usage data into the application in the near future.


I don’t know about you, but every time I look at my energy bills I think that I have to start working on getting them lower. One way that should work well for us is solar panels (with a South facing house/roof with little tree coverage in Sothern California solar panels are almost a no brainer). But before solar I need to first seal the house better, replace appliances, etc (in order to “right provide” my solar panels).

Anyway, having just paid my electric bill last night when I saw this site I felt a call to action and a need to share…

Monday, February 28, 2005

Schwarzenegger To Unveil Compromise Solar Energy Plan

NBC 4 - House and Home - Schwarzenegger To Unveil Compromise Solar Energy Plan

"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger aims to make California a world leader in solar energy with a new proposal he's sending to lawmakers Monday.

The plan, which drops some controversial provisions that doomed his 'million solar homes' proposal last year, would create a 10-year incentive fund encouraging both residences and commercial buildings to install solar power. But it would drop a requirement that half of all new homes eventually be solar powered. Those changes are designed to mute opposition from businesses and the building industry.


"The sun shines in California -- it's homegrown. No other state or country can take it from us," Campbell said.

The goal is to have 3,000 megawatts worth of solar power by 2018, which amounts to about 5 percent of the state's entire electricity usage at peak periods -- generally hot summer afternoons when electricity is most in demand, most expensive, and when solar panels are most efficient.

That's the equivalent of 40 new, $30 million, 75-megawatt natural gas plants. One megawatt is enough to power about 750 homes.

"We will be building literally power plants' worth of solar on roofs across the state," said Del Chiaro.

Hochschild installed solar panels on his San Francisco home three years ago, with the state's current rebate program paying about a third of the cost.

His home now feeds electricity into the power grid during the day's peak demand, and draws power at night. Because his energy supply and demand balances out, Hochschild's electricity bill last year was zero -- the result advocates and the administration predict statewide.


I really like having a state leaders who... um... lead.

Now I want to run out and get solar panels for my house. Just think about all those wasted megawatt's. (And having a $0 electric bill would be nice too ;)

Having the Federal Government help me pay off my Honda Civic Hybrid this year was nice (via a $2K tax credit just for buying a car that gets 45-50 MPG real world highway ... what a deal). And now the State wants to pay me (via incentives) to try and zero out my electric bill?

Rock on