Jumping the Gorge Cape TownWe live in both worlds – the one that’s dependent on fossil fuels and the one that’s emerging to take it’s place. There’s a gap between these worlds that’s getting increasingly easy to bridge – or – if you care to get a bit ahead of the process – to jump. We’re preparing to take that jump. (This a younger more athletic and less wise self on Table Mtn near Cape Town.)

Yesterday (in the midst of selling plants) Rob Ketel (pictured below with Maggie) drove up. He works with EvolveGreen.ca as their regional solar technician. He wanted to see our house site and the spot we thought would be best for setting up a solar (photovoltaic) collector array. We want to generate enough electricity near the house to run everything we now run (stove, hot water heater, lights, power tools, etc.) plus warm the home with in-floor heat – requiring a serious hot water system.

The house site is surrounded by 6
bur oaks that provide beauty and protection for us but take away sun that would be needed to generate electricity. So we proposed a site beyond the trees to the north in what has been a hay meadow. Rob was pleased with this choice and so proceeded to explain how many panels we’d need to do everything we want to do – plus – sell extra electricity back to Hydro. He figures with modest personal use and adequate installation, we could pay for the system within 7 years. Darn, I thought we could leave the debt to our children.Rob Ketel and Maggie

With Manitoba Hydro offering to pay for about 25% of the cost of the panels, we feel it’s time to make our move. We may try to get it done this summer so we have this power available at the building site.
Most modest homes (including the one we’re building) should be able to function on 5 KWs of power generation. If e
ach solar panel can produce 250 watts of power, we would need 20 panels x 250 watts = 5,000 watts = 5 KWs. We should be able to put in a suitable system for under $10,000.

Of course clouds and sun angle change a lot, so in order to even out the available power we need to either store extra generation in batteries or tie into the Hydro grid so we can buy and sell power as needed. We’re thinking it’s wise to tie into Hydro for now and hope for battery technology to get more efficient and less expensive over the next few years. So, here we goRenewed Model SE.

We’ve also been working on the house model to help us figure out how to nestle the actual home safely amidst those sheltering oak. You’ll notice the south east corner is squared to allow more south facing window and an easier fit for the greenhouse.

Feel free to send questions or ideas. And enjoy this promising garden season!