Electrobatics, episode 1

Why the heck did I name my blog electrobatics?

Well first of all, as you might have guessed, I like electricity. Although I studied electrical engineering, I ended up doing software development for a living. I mostly work on the Java glue between big corporate web sites and the kaleidoscope of back-end computer systems and databases that large companies usually have. But my interest in electricity and energy never left me.

The ‘batics’ part came in when I installed a second solar PV system last March. Climbing up and down and keeping my balance on the roof of my house certainly made me feel like an acrobat. I ordered my Renault ZOE six weeks ago, and more electrobatics ensued. I will tell about them in another post.

Fans of electric energy all suffer the same compulsion: they want to make some of their own! And what better way to do that than with a solar PV system? Much better than digging stuff up and burning it. My first system I installed a little over three years ago. It is special in that it is a façade mounted system with a mounting system that I made myself from L and U profiles from the local aluminium shop. My house has a large south facing wall and east and west sloping roofs and it seemed only logical to harvest energy from the best location. Apart from that, the law contained a loophole at that time that allowed me to install that system without having to apply for a permit from the municipality.

That first system comprises six 185 W panels (state of the art back then) and cost me in total roughly 3000 euros (including vat/installation/materials). There was no subsidy of any kind that I could take advantage of at the time. I could have applied for a feed in tariff, but since there was a ridiculously low cap on the maximum amount of PV power that would be eligible, only a very small percentage of applications would be successful in getting the feed in tariff. That was the Dutch solution to promoting clean energy: organise what you could best call a lottery. It makes me jealous of our neighbours to the east: they have a more rigorous approach. ‘Deutsche Gründlichkeit’ at its best.

And all fans of electric energy suffer another condition: they want more. So last year, when the decision to replace my Prius with a Renault ZOE took shape, I started looking for a 2nd system. It is layed out on the west facing part of my roof and measures 2.5 kW in size. Not much improved in The Netherlands about the situation with clean energy, we now appear near the bottom of the list of European countries. But at least now there was a modest government subsidy of 15% on the total cost (material and labour). After subsidies I payed 2700 euros for this second system. 2.25 times as much power for 10% less money. What a difference three years make!

I have no specific goal in mind for this blog, other than serving mostly as a platform for me documenting my experiences with the Renault ZOE and venting some ideas about clean energy and electric vehicles.

Below is the result of all my electrobaticking. In case you wonder, yes, the east facing roof is virgin space, just begging to be filled with more blue bling.
zonnepanelen anne 2


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