solar Thermal

Dick Strawbridge on how it’s easy to be green

Top eco-warrior Dick Sytrawbridge addresses some of the common misconceptions about making your home low energy and eco-friendly.

4) Most eco-renovation take decades to pay back the cost

Every time we decide to make an investment in an eco-project, the subject of payback comes up. It is possible to do the sums, and before we spend any hard earned cash I like to make sure that it’s a good investment. For example, loft insulation can pay for itself in two winters, and with the 2010 feed-in tariff I would expect solar PV to pay for itself in about seven or eight years, and a DIY solar thermal system to heat your hot water should have paid for itself in four or five years. But surely this is missing the point: when it comes to environmentally friendly projects we seem unable to accept the fact that it can be an investment and will add to the value of the house. What is the payback time for a new bathroom or kitchen? If you install solar photovoltaic panels you can reasonably expect them to easily last 25 to 30 years. Everyone knows a new kitchen makes a house more saleable, but in the current economic climate, how much more saleable is a house that will cost the new owners very little to run or may even generate an income?

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Wanna become a solar powered good ole boy?

How to build a solar still to distill alcohol. This is a chapter from a book all about home production of ethanol to run your car, but I’m sure the Dukes would find a way to make moonshine with it. Obviously it works better the more sunshine you get, but I think it would work almost as well with winter sun as with summer, albeit for shorter periods. The active solar still described could have its pump powered by solar cells and theoretically run faster when there’s more sunlight, solving the regulation problems.

I’m against the production of ethanol as it’s currently envisioned by governments and corporations, because it’s taking away chunks of food producing land. The mash for the first brew should come from sugar loaded waste, not from perfectly good food products. On a domestic level would it be possible to make, say, an apple peel (and other compostables) brew that would taste vile but be a good basis for distillation?

Update Onfurther investigation I’ve found that the book has chapters on fermenting various base materials including starchy sources such as potatoes and cellulose materials including cor stalks and paper.

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Solar Thermal Water Heater For Less Than Five Dollars

Solar thermal is far more efficient at converting the energy in sunlight and, if you follow these instructions, you can build a Solar Thermal heater for next to nothing. It’s intended as a fun project, but with a little tweaking to make it more robust and control the flow properly it can be made into something practical.

via TreeHugger

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Everything's bright in the solar world

A few pieces of promising news from the world of solar power and heating.

The Worldwatch Institute estimates that the cost of photovoltaic cells may drop by as much as 40% in the next few years. One factor contributing to this is the increase of manufacturing of photovoltaics in China, such as the new facility announced by Suntech, a key supplier of building integrated solar products.

Bosch Solar Thermal Systems say they have seen a 60% increase in year to date sales over the same period last year and expect to sell 150,000 units this year.

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Build your own solar thermal panel

Solar heating is a more efficient way to utilise the sun’s power than photovoltaics, but somewhat more limited in applications. It is also much cheaper. In fact the team at The Seitch built a solar thermal panel for $5. They used the heat dispersal tubing from the back of a fridge (which had been purged of CFCs at the local dump) mounted behind a sheet of glass.

If you watyched It’s Not Easy Being Green (we finally caught it on DVD-RWs from my parents) you might have seen the clever heat trap built into the Strawbridge’s greenhouse. Perhaps a solar thermal panel such as this could make a near tropical greenhouse for exotic gardening.

via Treehugger

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Sea Solar Power- tapping the oceans' temperature gradients

Sea Solar Power Inc. (SSP) is developing a solar power technology that uses a reverse refrigeration cycle to harness the solar energy stored in the sea by tapping the thermal gradient that exists naturally between the surface and deep waters. This temperature difference between surface water and that at 3000 feet in tropical oceans is sufficient to operate vapor turbines, which drive generators to produce electricity, with fresh water as a byproduct. SSP, run by three generations of the Anderson family, has been working on the technology since 1962.

via Slashdot

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