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Ancient Teachings

Genesis 1, 28 says that we should "go forth and multiply, and replenish the earth." Not all Bibles have this "replenish the e...

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dramatic Slow Down in Solar Electric (Renewable Energy) Training in South Africa

How to dramatically slow down renewable energy in South Africa. Take a qualification which takes a month in the USA and make it 2.5 years in South Africa!!

These are my official comments:

"2.5 years to do something that can be done in one month in the USA.

"I agree that we need inspectors and perhaps this qualification is more suited to inspectors. However, there are many people who are already installing very competent systems in South Africa and some like mine, which meet the USA NEC Article 690 requirements as far as possible."


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Harmful Electricity?

This photo is from a sign in a 100 year old house, explaining to the occupants that electricity isn't harmful to your health and that candles, lamps and gas lamps aren't required anymore:

Read the small print at the bottom:

Re-scripted by me:

"The use of Renewable Energy for electricity is in no way harmful to health, nor does it affect the soundness of sleep."

As we know, "Edison Electricity" is extremely harmful to health. Just look at Coal mines, Acid Mine Drainage, Coal Ash accidents, Smog, Smog in Beijing, Nuclear radiation, gas explosions, etc.

I think that 100 years after this sign was fitted, we can finally take the small print at its real meaning. Electricity does not need to be harmful to one's health.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Peter Carruthers on Entrepreneurship

This is exactly how I feel on a daily basis, and how I know so many of my entrepreneur friends also feel and act.

"Every couple of days I sit down at the local version of Starbucks. I pull out my black notepad and fountain pen and try to interpret this small-business world you and I inhabit. I am struck, as I always am, by the infinitely rich range of stories behind each of the men and women like you who invest their lives forging their own way through the world. Each of us appears, from the outside, just like any other person, facing the same challenges with weight and health and parenthood. Each of us is so much more; An effervescence of insatiable dreams and pent-up fears that relentlessly drive our hours.

"Not one of us is simple. Most of us are trying to make sense of a world that has defined us in one way but yet seems constantly changing, just beyond our reach.

"Every night we go to bed and those fears loom large until morning when the sun seems to melt them away. And each morning we chase those dreams until evening, mostly without despair.

"If we are lucky we catch glimpses of success, cresting a wave before being dumped, but we hop right back on the board and we start paddling out again, hoping for another sighting, knowing that maybe, just maybe, today is that day.

"Every one of us is so much deeper, so much more complex than the seemingly calm person we are talking to right now. That's not a prospect sitting there. That is a miracle sitting there.

"Treat her with the respect she deserves for making it this far, and then - only if you can add value to her life - show her how to make that next step easier. Otherwise enjoy the coffee and the time together. Life is too short to do otherwise."

More about Peter Carruthers and Business Warriors here.

Gecko Rock Solar Electric PV Installation in September 2010

Gecko Rock 8 minute installation and learning video
(as at 19th February 2014, over 2,000 people have watched this video)
(I removed the video in June 2016, and put it back in December 2016)

Gecko Rock (Jonathan Deal) Interview 1 year later
(I removed the video in June 2016, and put it back in December 2016)

Videos filmed and edited by Antony Stone at Big Bang Stunts and Effects
The Team:

Designers: David Lipschitz and Peter Burden
Main Installer: Peter Burden
Metalwork: Designed and installed by Steven Mulder
Videos: Antony Stone

The Client:

Jonathan Deal at Gecko Rock

  • 1.6 kilowatt photovoltaic array with 24 Volt 675 Amp Hour battery bank and 1,200 watt inverter charger with generator backup
  • 8 kwh of battery backup
  • 8 kwh of average daily solar production from the photovoltaic array
  • Location: Gecko Rock, 25 km South South East of Touwsriver, Western Cape, South Africa
  • Solar Resource: approximately 5 average peak sun-hours
  • Photovoltaic Array Size: 1.62 kW (1,620 watts)
  • Nominal Voltage Batteries: 24 Volts
  • Nominal Voltage Array: 72 Volts
  • Array Voltage at Max Power: 108.6 Volts
  • Array DC Current at Max Power: 15 Amps
  • Battery Amp Hours: 675 Ah (amp hours) at 20-hour discharge rate. Multiplied by 24 Volts and allowing for a 50% maximum depth of discharge = 8.1 kWh in the batteries for overnight and overcast periods
  • Record Low Temperature: unknown; we have allowed for Minus 15 degrees Celsius (during day light (operating) hours)
  • Average Low Temperature: 2.2 degrees Celsius in July
  • Average High Temperature: 28.6 degrees Celsius in February
  • Average Daily Production: 8.1 kWh
  • Average Electricity Available after taking account of efficiencies (or inefficiencies): Allow 7% for inverter loss; 20% loss for battery charge/discharge from photovoltaic array; and 2% voltage drop on the cabling: 8.1 kwh * 0.93 & 0.8 * 0.98 = 5.9 kwh per day of usable electricity (daily average over the entire year)
PV System Components:
  • 9 Tenesol TE1700 at 24 Volt nominal: 180 Wp STC, 36.2 Vmp, 5 Imp, 44.4 Voc, 5.4 Isc (133.2 Volts open circuit for the array (at zero amps, i.e. first thing in the morning) and 16.2 Amps Short Circuit current for the array)
  • Array: 1 “string” of 3 “panels” with 3 “modules” in each panel. Total 9 Modules, 1,620 Watts total
  • Array installation: Dual-axis (manual) trackers designed by SolarSells, and enhanced, built and installed by Intricate Steel
  • Inverters: 1 x 24 Volt Victron 1200 Watt multi-plus Inverter/Charger allowing 24 Volt DC to 220 Volt AC conversion of electricity and allowing automatic synchronisation of a generator input into the system to supplement the batteries in the case of long cloudy periods
  • Solar Charge Controllers: 1 x 80 Amp Outback FM80 MPPT (maximum power point tracking) controller. The FM80 allows array sizes up to 2,000 Watts when charging at 24 Volts. The FM80 allows one to use a higher output voltage PV array with a lower voltage battery, such as charging a 24 VDC battery with a 72 VDC array. This reduces wire size (and cost) and power loss from the PV array to the battery/inverter location and maximises the performance of the PV system
  • Batteries: Deep Cycle: 12 x 6 Volt Trojan T105′s in 24 Volt nominal configuration, i.e. 3 banks (in parallel) of 4 batteries (in series) making 24 Volts nominal and 675 Amp Hours capacity. Each 6 volt battery weighs 28 kg making a total battery bank weight of 336 kg. We expect the batteries to last about 8 years with an average discharge of 20% and a maximum discharge of 50%. The batteries have a 2 year free replacement guarantee assuming they are looked after and “watered”, i.e. the battery de-ionised water is checked and filled as required. We can tell how the batteries have been used by looking at the information on the Victron Battery Status Monitor. The Trojan batteries are designed in the USA and assembled in Cape Town
  • Generator: 5 kw Honda
  • System performance metering: Victron Battery Status Monitor BM 600 for DC performance and battery monitoring; Efergy e2 Electricity Monitor for AC performance and historical AC kwh tracking
  • 2 Earth spikes and open earthing cabling allowing all metal work to be earthed. System and Equipment negative grounding. We have used USA NEC Article 690 rules as far as possible as there aren’t standards for PV systems in South Africa yet.
Subsequent to this original installation, Jonathan upgraded to 3 x 1.6 KW Victron Inverters giving 4.8 KW. He also upgraded his battery bank to 1125 AH at 24 Volts. Interestingly he discovered that he doesn't need to cook with gas anymore and that he can power his cooking with his microwave / convection oven. This provided an unexpected saving with the system.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Saving for a rainy day

Dear friends

We put money away for a rainy day.

We have insurance to cover us if something gets stolen or if our house burns down or if our property is damaged.

We have pension plans.

So from these things that we do, we can see that we think about the future and we prepare for it.

However, we are really only between 2 and 4 days away from catastrophe at any time! So why are we planning for events in perhaps 30 years time, but not being prepared for events tomorrow?

So what can possibly go wrong in the next few days which should concern us?

Our electricity supply is becoming more and more precarious. Eskom should be able to supply 42 GW of electricity but on a regular basis it can only supply only around 30 GW. The grid infrastructure is overloaded which puts a large burden on transformers which are reaching end of life in half of their usual life, ie 12 years life instead of 25 years life.

Our grid itself is behind with maintenance and many of our power stations are already beyond end of life and are being kept running, but who knows when they might break.

Our best coal is exported and we use poor grade coal in our own power stations, and everyone knows what happens to their car engines when they use poor grade oil in them!

And then Eskom have shown since Koeberg was built in the 1970's that they cannot manage the build of new power stations which usually take years longer to build and are usually 50 to 100% over budget, yet we continue to allow this.

With all this damage being done to our system, willingly or unwillingly, we are placed in a dilemma.

If our electricity supply is suddenly switched off the following will happen very quickly:

  1. Most people are meat eaters. They won't be able to cook their food, unless they have reserves of braai (BBQ) wood. They will get hungry.
  2. Backup generators will kick in. Many of these only have 16 hours of reserves which is seen as more than sufficient under normal circumstances, e.g. expected power failures of 1 to 4 hours a day.
  3. After 16 hours the Backup generators will stop working.
  4. Petrol pumps won't be able to operate because they rely on electricity.
  5. All transport will stop within days. There is only 4 days of food in our supply chain, and without transport, our just-in-time systems will not be able to be replenished. And there won't be transport to get diesel to our backup generators.
  6. Water pumps won't be able to operate because they rely on electricity. So we will be without water very quickly. We won't have drinking water and we won't be able to flush our toilets. And we can survive for 2 weeks without food, but we cannot survive for 2 days without water. How many people have got water backup at their houses and businesses?
  7. Within days, fridges and freezes will get hot and food stored in them will be useless.
  8. Within one to four days there will be a complete breakdown in all forms of civil obedience. Hungry, desperate people, who normally aren't violent, will suddenly become violent as they search for food and water.

So should we care? And what solutions are at hand?

If you are interested in finding the solutions for yourselves, then please go to the Renewable Energy Festival at the Green Point Park in Cape Town on Saturday 8th February 2014. Renewable Energy isn't only about electricity. It is also about water, about food, and about self sufficiency. So renew your energy and keep yourselves secure. See you there.

I am also available for consulting. In as little as an hour you can get a handle on what you can do for yourself, your family, your company and if you have staff, your staff. If you need more details, my colleagues and I can also provide whatever depth of knowledge you need.