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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Solar system turns 2000! (kWh)

I've been meaning to provide updates on the output of our backyard solar system, but have fallen behind due to the press of other activities (relating to wind power and climate change).

In any event, while the winter months were, predictably, very slow, electricity production has picked up in the past six weeks, and our system currently stands at 2.42 MWh (megawatt-hours), or 2,420 kilowatt-hours).

So, let's run the numbers again.

In terms of energy, it's the equivalent of 72 gallons of gasoline, or enough to drive one of our hybrid autos about 3,200 miles.

In terms of generating electricity, the numbers are bigger, because the combustion process for fossil fuels wastes energy.  2,420 kWh is equivalent to burning about 2,400 pounds (more than a ton) of coal, or 142 gallons of diesel oil (New England, where we are located, still burns plenty of diesel oil to generate electricity).

In terms of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the New England utility system gives off about 0.9 pounds of CO2 per kilowatt-hour of electricity, so our 2,420 kWh means about 2,200 pounds of carbon dioxide has been kept out of the atmosphere.

From February 15 to March 15, our system generated 208 kWh, just over two-thirds as much electricity as we used (308 kWh).  Looking forward to seeing our utility bills dip below zero this month.

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