Friday, November 13, 2015

Pole-barns in Space!

(Click image to enlarge)

This week's installation was at Green Heron Gardens (near Salem, WV).  The pole barn below has housed horses, boats, and VW campers over the years.  It's roof  is now home to a 6.84-kW PV array - twenty-four SolarWorld solar PV panels.

Green Heron Gardens offers herbal products for both body and palate.  They've been in business almost 25-years.  I've included a sample from their mail order catalog below.
(Click image to enlarge)

Past customers Dan and Autumn helped me attach the racking and get the panels on the roof.. During much of the year they stay busy with their landscaping company Goldenseal Garden Care.  You couldn't ask for better help either on the roof or in the yard.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Home Power Magazine Features West Virginia Off-grid Home

"Off-Grid Microhydro and A Little PV 
In the Woods of West Virginia"
Home Power Magazine's July/August 2015 issue features an article about Mickey and Jenny Janowski's off-grid home in Webster County, WV.  The article, written by Mickey and Home Power editor Ian Woofenden, offers a great perspective on an off-grid system that has evolved over several decades to include both solar PV and hydo power.

Author (and PIMBY customer) Mickey Janowski alongside his weir and hydro intake

Mickey has spoken at the West Virginia Small Farms Conference about his microhydro system.  The Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition has published a web article that is also a nice read.

Mickey's "Hydroelectric In WV" is a great blog that is a real help for anyone interested in building a microhydro system.  The blog has photos of the construction process and final system. You can also see a video of the Janowski's hydro system at Mickey's blog.

Mickey and Jenny have had solar for decades at their off-grid home, but the winter months always necessitated some use of a gasoline generator to make up for the shorter daylight hours.  The hydro electric system that went online in Fall of 2012 now provides more power than they  use during these winter months.
Mickey and Dave on a beautiful February day in 2012 pondering the potential that this little stream might have for producing electric power.  Click on the photo to see some photos from the survey.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

"West Virginia Couple Models Renewable Energy" - Appalachian Chronicle

Michael Barrick of the Appalachian Chronicle covered a wonderful Solar Open House hosted by Autumn Long and Dan Harrington last Sunday.  You can read the Chronicle feature here.

Autumn and Dan own and operate Goldenseal Garden Care which serves the Clarksburg/Fairmont/Morgantown area.  They landscape for a living and have a beautiful garden around their home which is situated outside of Wallace, WV.

Here's a photo from Michael Barrick's article that shows the layout of their garden and potting shed upon which their 2.7-kW PV system is mounted.  The photo was snapped from the house porch. 

Autumn and Dan's home is tucked up against the flank of a hill which necessitated placement of the solar somewhere other than directly on the house - there would have been too much shade.  The solution was to construct a potting shed where they could work and store equipment for their gardens.  The shed became the landing point too for Harrison Rural Electric Association's lines which were extended to serve the home.  Autumn and Dan became the first Net Metering customers in the HREA service area.  Their 2.7-kW power plant not only offsets their homes electricity demands, but excess power is now being credited to another home on the property via a "Virtual Net Metering" arrangement with the utility.

The potting shed that Autumn and Dan constructed is really a great solution to a common problem.  The shed provides unshaded roof space for ten SolarWorld 270W PV modules.  The SMA Sunny Boy inverter is tucked inside and the shed provides great sheltered space for working and storing equipment.

Potting shed interior - how about that garlic!

 SMA Sunny Boy TL killing fascists, one kW at a time

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Solar TT (Tractor Tracker)

Sure, I can make an extension cord for those.................
 Seriously, Dave has been wanting a solar tracker, but this was the next best thing.

Here's a shot of Dave and Ron bolting together the rack.  Dave has a quartet of Carrizo modules and four Arco's to add to this new set of Sharp 240-watt modules.  The older Carrizo and Arco modules will be mounted on a similar frame, but wired in parallel for his12V off-grid system.  The Sharps on the tractor are wired in series for ~90V which allows them to be placed a bit farther afield and periodically moved if need arises. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Bill Howley

Bill Howley was killed last week in an automobile accident. He was a customer, a friend and had recently assumed a leadership role with WV SUN organizing groups of homeowners in Morgantown and Wheeling who have an interest in solar into coops. The Hur Hearld, in Bill's home county of Calhoun, published a short notice that is worth reading. You can find it here.
Bill was super-smart and incredibly passionate about energy. His grasp of energy policy in West Virginia and across the nation always astounded me and I greatly appreciated the time that he would take to explain just what was going on either at the PSC, the legislature or throughout PJM and the rest of the country. He was patient and could distill complex issues, but he also had an enthusiasm for the topic that was palpable. His enthusiasm extended well beyond energy. I always enjoyed hearing about his family and his efforts at gardening, bee keeping and blacksmithing. He is much missed.

Friday, April 17, 2015

D&E GreenWorks! Gets Front Page for Solar Install

The GreenWorks! club at Davis & Elkins College netted front page coverage in last Saturday's Inter-Mountain for their new solar PV array.  The 3.24-kW PV array is on the Eshelman Science Center at D&E's campus in Elkins, WV.  The Inter-Mountain covered the ribbon cutting ceremony and printed a press release that you can read here.
The GreenWorks! group has worked for a couple of years to build support for solar on campus.  The twelve panel solar PV array was constructed by club members and is the largest solar PV array at any residential college in West Virginia.  The club has completed a number of projects in the past including solar lighting of a gazebo on campus, re-lamping, LED exterior lighting retrofit, and electronics recycling.  GreenWorks! is a great club and a fantastic group of people to work with.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

I Love the International Space Station - It's Off-grid with a 110-kW Solar Array!

I can't give a presentation about solar without mentioning the International Space Station.  It epitomizes off-grid living at its most extreme.  The New York Times recently featured a beautiful video that shows views of our planet from the ISS, "Earth, the Marvelous Blue Orb." 

"One of the little-known benefits of the space station is that it is at just the right altitude to photograph things on Earth. Every week, the astronauts aboard the space station record images of things that would spew headlines if we saw them on any one of the thousands of planets that we now know circle other stars." 
-NY Times 4/2/15

 The video has footage of our planet; thunderstorms, city lights, volcanic eruptions.  It is also fun to watch the solar arrays on the ISS as they move from shadow to sun.  You can learn more about the ISS electrical system on Wikipedia.  NASA also offers a site to help you spot the ISS in the nights sky. 

It's up there, and it's off the grid!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Solar Powered Chickens! The 11th Annual West Virginia Small Farms Conference Feb 26 - 28

The 11th Annual West Virginia Small Farms Conference is again featuring an Energy Track on Thursday February 26.  This day features a series of sessions focused on making and saving power.

Topics include:

MicroHydro: Producing Electric Power with Water Power
            Mickey Janowski - Off-the-grid Homeowner
            Webster Springs, WV
            Mike King – Morris Creek Watershed Association, Inc.
            Montgomery, WV
“We use creek water to power our house….”.   This letter to the editor appeared in the Charleston Gazette in January 2013.  Hear the author; Mickey Janowski, as well as Mike King from the Morris Creek Watershed Association discuss their respective small-scale hydro-electric projects.

Ground Source Heat Pumps
            Dan Halloran - Long-time HVAC/Geothermal Contractor
            Charleston, WV
Dan will talk about installing and using a ground source heat pump to heat and cool a residence.  The overview includes a discussion about how the technology can be adapted  to a range of sites to provide a more efficient means of heating and cooling in some parts of the state.

Solar Around the Farm: Pump water, re-charge batteries, and have power where you didn’t use to
            Matt Sherald – PIMBY Energy, LLC
            Thomas, WV
Use electricity from the sun to supply power to places far from utility lines.  Go beyond fence charges to uses such as pumping water, shop lighting, and running power tools. This talk includes an introduction to basic off-the-grid power system components required for producing, storing and using electricity.


Energy Efficiency: Reducing Costs for Small Farmers in the Home and in the Field
            Emmett Pepper – WV Citizens Action Group/Energy Efficient West Virginia
            Charleston, WV
Energy efficiency projects can be an inexpensive way to reduce your monthly bills and enjoy a more comfortable home.  Energy Efficient West Virginia is an advocacy group that promotes the adoption of energy efficient policies in the state.  Emmett Pepper will discuss the group’s work including their 2013 block-by-block energy efficiency competition in Charleston’s East End neighborhood.

Grid-tie Solar PV: Becoming a Solar Power Plant
            Matt Sherald – PIMBY Energy, LLC
            Thomas, WV
Did you know that you could own your own electrical power plant?  The price of solar PV modules is at a historic low and federal incentives are excellent – this makes solar more affordable than it has ever been.  Hear how home and business owners in the state have invested in solar to off-set their future electricity costs through the generation of clean energy from the sun.

Federal Grants, Loans & Tax Benefits for Efficiency and Renewable Energy Projects
            Jesse Gandee – USDA Rural Development
            Morgantown, WV
            Mark Ribas – Pennsylvania Tax Institutes, Inc.
            State College, PA
Are you interested in how you might fund a renewable energy or energy efficiency project?  Find out if you have a project that might qualify for federal grant dollars or guaranteed loan and get a full understanding of how you can take advantage of tax credits and depreciation to make the most of your investment. 

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