Sunday, 13 December 2009

Solar powered indications

As the festive season approaches, i thought I would invest in some new lights for outside in the garden ... just to decorate the monkey puzzle tree out front since I am not one of those who likes to make the house look like Vegas, Tokyo or Blackpool (depending on your locale)! Since there is no easy electric supply near that particular tree, I decided to try some solar powered lights ... a string of 50 blue LED lamps. They do in fact work very well. The front garden is not in the best position in terms of north facing and in the shadow of the house in the low angle winter months of whatever sun we are lucky enough to get. They charge a battery sufficiently during the daytime to provide about 6 hours of night time illumination.

In the future, we will rely much more on so-called renewables ... not just solar but other sources too ... for much more than Christmas lights of course. But the story of my blue LEDs on the monkey puzzle tree is indicative of the challenges that face us for such forms of energy. The efficiency of storage, be it battery technology or otherwise, has to be much improved. For domestic use and substitution of the power from the national grid, the inverters provided to turn the stored DC into the AC that you expect to feed your electric sockets need to provide cleaner alternating current. It's ironic that most of the devices you plug into these domestic sockets internally convert the AC back to direct current before it is used!

These improvements will be made, the costs of the technology will fall, and the future way we power our lives will change.

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