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Feedback: New Generating Power plant – how will the ailing present last till mid 2015

Follow-up: “New Generating Power plant – how will the ailing present last till mid 2015?”
by Christopher Lynt
E-mail : chlpatent@aol.com

Comment:

I was glad to read that, “…the new power station [will be] designed so that future potential of green energy can be easily integrated into the generated plant…” but I wonder if this means that so-called “net metering” will be available.

Net metering is where a consumer’s on-site generated electric energy, e.g., from roof solar photovoltaic  panels or from one or more small wind turbines, is connected to the electrical power grid at the consumer’s meter and used to offset electric energy provided by the utility to the consumer.  If everyone on Montserrat had electricity generating solar panels and/or small wind turbines on their properties connected to the grid, besides reducing the cost of electricity to the consumer, it would help with meeting peak demand for electricity.

It is a rare day on Montserrat when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. I calculated that I could generate all the electricity I normally use when visiting Montserrat, on average about 10 kWh per day, to power my refrigerator mostly, by installing about twelve 200 watt solar panels covering a roof area of about 182 sq. ft. (16.9 sq. meters).  The problem is without net metering, I’d also have to install enough storage batteries to store the energy for after dark usage.

If anyone is interested in my calculations, here they are:  solar insolation of  5 kWhm-2 per day is a typical value for tropical regions, like Montserrat.  For each Wp (peak watt) of rated power a solar panel will provide 0.85 watt hours of energy per kWhm-2 per day of “insolation” (available/useable energy from the sun).  So a 200 Watts peak solar panel should produce 200 x 0.85 x 5 = 850 Watt hours per day.  Twelve panels will provide 12 x 850 = 10.2 kilowatt hours of energy per day.

A typical 185Wp solar panel measures about 1.3 sq. meters.  Using 185Wp panels I’d need 13 to have 10.2 kWhr, so 13 x 1.3 = 16.9 sq. meters (181.9 sq. ft.) or a roof area facing south of about 13.5 x 13.5 feet.  (“kWhm-2” in the insolation value in the calculations is kilowatt hour per square meter.)

Solar energy is a mostly untapped resource on Montserrat, as are wind and tidal energy. If solar panels and small wind turbines could be given duty-free status, the payback time for the capital investment would make solar/wind competitive with other means of energy generation.

In some cases, the economics might make more sense for MUL to own and maintain the panels while leasing the space on a resident’s roof through a reduced electric rate.  This leasing is being done currently in the US in some areas as the cost per watt of solar energy has plummeted in recent years.  [I am an electrical engineer (MSCEE) and work as a patent attorney in the US and my family has owned property on Montserrat since the 1960’s.]

I should also mention that solar panels are designed to withstand hurricane force winds and a certain level of impact from flying debris, for example.  How they would hold up against volcanic ash is an open question.  However, I assume some of the remote monitoring the MVO does is powered by small solar panels and storage batteries so perhaps the MVO’s experience would be informative!  One can assume that any ash fall would require cleaning of solar panels or else their output would fall dramatically.

Let me mention also, for the interested,  this recent Op-Ed in The Caribbean Journal of Feb. 9, 2013 which discusses many of the issues Montserrat is facing regarding energy generation:  http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/02/09/op-ed-solar-energy-and-the-caribbeans-economic-future/

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Follow-up: “New Generating Power plant – how will the ailing present last till mid 2015?”
by Christopher Lynt
E-mail : chlpatent@aol.com

Comment:

I was glad to read that, “…the new power station [will be] designed so that future potential of green energy can be easily integrated into the generated plant…” but I wonder if this means that so-called “net metering” will be available.

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Net metering is where a consumer’s on-site generated electric energy, e.g., from roof solar photovoltaic  panels or from one or more small wind turbines, is connected to the electrical power grid at the consumer’s meter and used to offset electric energy provided by the utility to the consumer.  If everyone on Montserrat had electricity generating solar panels and/or small wind turbines on their properties connected to the grid, besides reducing the cost of electricity to the consumer, it would help with meeting peak demand for electricity.

It is a rare day on Montserrat when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. I calculated that I could generate all the electricity I normally use when visiting Montserrat, on average about 10 kWh per day, to power my refrigerator mostly, by installing about twelve 200 watt solar panels covering a roof area of about 182 sq. ft. (16.9 sq. meters).  The problem is without net metering, I’d also have to install enough storage batteries to store the energy for after dark usage.

If anyone is interested in my calculations, here they are:  solar insolation of  5 kWhm-2 per day is a typical value for tropical regions, like Montserrat.  For each Wp (peak watt) of rated power a solar panel will provide 0.85 watt hours of energy per kWhm-2 per day of “insolation” (available/useable energy from the sun).  So a 200 Watts peak solar panel should produce 200 x 0.85 x 5 = 850 Watt hours per day.  Twelve panels will provide 12 x 850 = 10.2 kilowatt hours of energy per day.

A typical 185Wp solar panel measures about 1.3 sq. meters.  Using 185Wp panels I’d need 13 to have 10.2 kWhr, so 13 x 1.3 = 16.9 sq. meters (181.9 sq. ft.) or a roof area facing south of about 13.5 x 13.5 feet.  (“kWhm-2” in the insolation value in the calculations is kilowatt hour per square meter.)

Solar energy is a mostly untapped resource on Montserrat, as are wind and tidal energy. If solar panels and small wind turbines could be given duty-free status, the payback time for the capital investment would make solar/wind competitive with other means of energy generation.

In some cases, the economics might make more sense for MUL to own and maintain the panels while leasing the space on a resident’s roof through a reduced electric rate.  This leasing is being done currently in the US in some areas as the cost per watt of solar energy has plummeted in recent years.  [I am an electrical engineer (MSCEE) and work as a patent attorney in the US and my family has owned property on Montserrat since the 1960’s.]

I should also mention that solar panels are designed to withstand hurricane force winds and a certain level of impact from flying debris, for example.  How they would hold up against volcanic ash is an open question.  However, I assume some of the remote monitoring the MVO does is powered by small solar panels and storage batteries so perhaps the MVO’s experience would be informative!  One can assume that any ash fall would require cleaning of solar panels or else their output would fall dramatically.

Let me mention also, for the interested,  this recent Op-Ed in The Caribbean Journal of Feb. 9, 2013 which discusses many of the issues Montserrat is facing regarding energy generation:  http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/02/09/op-ed-solar-energy-and-the-caribbeans-economic-future/