Renewable energy started as a niche concern, voiced exclusively by the eco-conscious. Things have changed both economically and politically since, and the global geopolitical landscape speaks to an inherently unstable future in the energy sector. The incentive to move to a self-sustaining ethos now inescapable, even climate change deniers must acknowledge the strategic wisdom of renewable energy in its path to energy independence in the face of global instability.
Outside of legislated considerations in your region, such as grid feed legalities and the necessary solar permit services characterising the move to self-sufficiency, there are an additional set of pragmatic decisions you must make. What will make an actual impact on your grid dependence?
It is this question that leaves many of us confused and put off by the whole idea. It stands to reason that a technology that serves people with access to hydroelectric or wind-turbine energy will do little for those without these natural resources etc. With the availability of an essential power resource, how does one ensure that you are making a measurable impact on the environment or your self-sufficiency? Hence our guide to choosing the right solutions to see a measurable and justifiable return on investment.
What Is The Weather Like?
A simple question that may seem to answer itself, serious considerations for regional and year-round weather conditions play one of the most fundamental roles in this decision-making process. It is never as simple as it may seem at face value, the immediate factors often having less impact than the more nuanced facets of the process.
Let’s say you live in an area that is cloudy and rainy eight to ten months of the year. That excludes the viability of PV cells, right? Well no, because the metric we are measuring is the return on investment and self-sufficiency. Should the two to four months of sunshine offer conditions that justify using solar power for that period, you will need to understand to what degree.
Remember, you don’t need to invest adequately in any one technology. Instead, you may implement complementing technologies offering returns that outweigh expense over a given period. The same line of consideration can be taken for seasonal wind conditions. This is not to mention that an acute understanding of seasonal rain patterns comes into play should your property offer an opportunity to utilise micro-hydroelectric power solutions.
Where Are You?
An equally deceptive question, your geographic location will play a significant role in the decisions you make regarding renewable energy solutions. Not unrelated to weather, it is a broadening of the same line of thinking. What are the natural renewable energy resources that are now, and will in future, remain tangible?
Your hemispheric position informs this question. By understanding the many factors that are impacted by this question alone, you will be able to structure a clearer idea of where to start and what will make sense for your home.
Summer and winter are experienced very differently per the hemispheric position, local and regional geography. This extends to ecological characteristics and features of an area. With a more in-depth insight into the seasonal effects on local renewable energy sources, you can calculate the value of investing in any given technology across any given period.
What Is Going To Waste?
A final, subversively simple question, the reality behind wasting energy can only be appreciated from a vantage of understanding even the most nuanced inefficiencies in personal power use. At the most basic end of this spectrum sit energy-efficient light bulbs and water heater insulation.
The more advanced, as well as more effective measures lie in the smaller details of power conversion drop-offs. Consider the following. You need to cool your living space in the summer because conditions demand it. You use power to remove what is essentially just more power in the form of thermal energy from your home.
We pay this bizarre state of affairs, little mind because in the development of these technologies was at a time that there was no alternative solution. Today you can store thermal energy from the heat that you extract from your home in thermal batteries, to be used in heating water, for example. There is power by way of thermal energy in the warm summer air. Where this would once have been ludicrous if the poetic place to try and source power, the technology has come so far as to make this a viable reality.
What Is Superfluous?
That is to say what serves not only a practical purpose but what is efficient and nets a worthwhile contribution to energy saving. Everything scales with a law of returns, from economic opportunity to the development of computing technology.
This applies to your renewable energy measures equally. There is a point at which any single solution no longer contributes to the system as a whole enough to justify its financial cost and the production cost to the environment.
Take a balanced and informed approach, not over-investing in any single technology. The key to maximum efficiency lies in finding the right balance of energy solutions that make the most of the energy sources you have available, both in the current generation and in passive preservation.
Aim For Modularity
The critical nature of the move to sustainability doesn’t necessarily endeavour a financially restrictive one. Putting together your system of energy solutions it is advisable to keep things modular, and this allows one to build on the systems over as long a period as you require.
This is both a long and short term measure to counter unnecessary expenses in repairs and upgrades. As with any system these systems will require some maintenance, having semi-isolated solutions where possible will make it much more manageable.
The second consideration, as mentioned, is long term upgrades. It is not difficult to imagine any of the current technologies being supplanted by updated technology which may make economic and ecological sense to utilise. In this case, the more modular any system is, the less expensive and more flexible your options to replace a single part will be.