As part of our Energy Descent Plan we’re trying to progressively reduce our energy consumption – fuel for the car, electricity and gas in the house. This’ll save us significant money but also will reduce our carbon footprint and dependance on Fossil Fuels.

The first thing is to work out how much energy we’re using, and to that end we’ve started measuring it monthly. We’ve just finished the second month of monitoring our car usage, although they have been two crazy months (due to moving in to the eco-house) so the results may not be typical of our normal lifestyle. We’re converting all our energy use to kWh/day so that we can compare fuel/electricity/gas on an equal basis:

Month Miles MPG Litres Used kWh kWh/day
June 429 46 42.4 454 15.12
July 423 47.2 40.74 436 14.06

So we’ve already seen a significant drop in our daily energy consumption from the car ūüėÄ

I’d have to say that is a bit of a fluke – we haven’t tried particularly hard to reduce our consumption yet. It’ll be interesting to see how our consumption changes as we settle into our new routines here.

As it’s the first of the month I’ve just taken the first Gas and Electric readings in the eco-house so we can work out our standard consumption for those next month too – it’ll be interesting reading and will give us a base to measure our changes.

One of the first learning ¬†points from this is that if we had a plug-in electric car we’d have to have at least 15 kWp of solar panels installed – that is a LOT of solar panels. It makes you realise how big an impact the car has on our energy consumption.

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Having posted about predictions that cheaper Solar Panels were on the way in 2009 here we are, less than a month later, and cheaper panels are popping up. OK I’m prepared to admin that this might not be a great economic shift – it might just be that I missed this supplier last time. They are Japanese-made Sharp panels and they are¬†¬£2.99/Watt. I’ve updated the table of prices below – no other prices have changed, but the 200w Kyocera¬†seems to have dropped off the market. Still a¬†little way to go before we get down to the forecast $2.50/Watt!

EDIT – I’ve also added Navitron to the list – not sure how I missed them first time. Keen prices at¬†¬£3.72/Watt.

Supplier Manufacturer Watts £ inc VAT £/Watt
Eco-nomical Sharp 180 538 2.99
Navitron Navitron 110 409 3.72
Wind and Sun BP – 3 Series 160 669.3 4.18
Wind and Sun BP – 3 series 170 727.95 4.28
Marlec BP – 3 Series 125 536 4.29
Marlec BP – 3 Series 135 579 4.29
Wind and Sun BP – 4 Series 175 772.8 4.42
Marlec BP – 3 Series 80 358 4.48
Unlimited Power SunPower 90 471.5 5.24
Unlimited Power Sanyo 215 1331 6.19

pv_bp7seriesIt seems that cheaper solar panels are on the way in 2009. I’d heard this earlier in the year with regard to new Chinese suppliers coming onstream, but now the forecast drop in prices is accelerating as a result of drop-off in demand from Spain and Germany.

By the end of 2009 average prices for panels for new installation contracts will collapse to the $2.50 to $2.75 per watt range, down from the current level of $4.20 per watt. The overall average price for the year will be $3.10 per watt, Wicht predicted.

¬†I’ve just done my quick survey of available Photovoltaic Panels, and the lowest price I’ve found is ¬£4.18 /Watt – so it looks like we’ve got a little way to go before we get down to¬†$2.50/Watt!

Supplier Manufacturer Watts £ inc VAT £/Watt
Wind and Sun BP – 3 Series 160 669.3 4.18
Wind and Sun BP – 3 series 170 727.95 4.28
Marlec BP – 3 Series 125 536 4.29
Marlec BP – 3 Series 135 579 4.29
Wind and Sun BP – 4 Series 175 772.8 4.42
Marlec BP – 3 Series 80 358 4.48
Unlimited Power KYOCERA 200 920 4.60
Unlimited Power SunPower 90 471.5 5.24
Unlimited Power Sanyo 215 1331 6.19

The downside? Less investment in the industry is likely to result. This, in combination with the lower investement we’re seeing in Oil Exploration & Production¬†as a result of the drop in Oil Prices could have some serious implications for ongoing energy security.

So make sure you get your panels – and then go next door and make sure they’re putting some up too!