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To Catch the Sun: DIY Solar Handbook

by gmoke Tue Aug 3rd, 2021 at 02:20:53 AM EST

To Catch the Sun (https:/www.kickstarter.com/projects/lonnyg/to-catch-the-sun) is a book of inspiring stories of communities coming together to harness their own solar energy, with the nitty-gritty details so you can do it too!

Learn how to design and build a photovoltaic system for engagements like:
A small home in a financially rich country
A few homes in a financially poor country
School rooms and community spaces
Zombie-apocalypse equipment
Laptop and cellphone chargers
A tiny home or #vanlife
Glamping and backpacking equipment
Emergency supply, e.g., powering an oxygen machine during power outages
Isolated loads like electric gates, pumps, greenhouse fans, backup generators, and telecommunications equipment

You had me at "Zombie-apocalypse equipment" (and I wonder why none of the zombie shows I've seen take renewables seriously - it's all motor vehicles and dirty clothes).  

Then again, I believe that Solar IS Civil Defense (https:www.dailykos.com/stories/2007/3/30/317777-)


Poll
More DIY renewables?
. yes 100%
. no 0%
. not yes 0%
. not no 0%
. neither yes nor no 0%
. both yes and no 0%
. don't understand the question? 0%
. none of the above 0%

Votes: 1
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At a time years ago I binged the first seasons of The Walking Dead, and as I recall the group eventually reached a decent community that had functioning walls and solars panels. Of course things went to hell anyway, otherwise there wouldn't be much story. Haven't seen the rest of the series.

In general in zombie stories there is an abundance of left over stuff - not least guns and gas - which is hand-waved by so much of humans turning to zombies at the same time that their stuff got left behind. I think part of the appeal is the "take stuff and shoot zombies" and for that you need stuff.

by fjallstrom on Tue Aug 10th, 2021 at 02:58:47 PM EST
Both Woodbury (the Governor's domain) and Alexandria have solar power and, I believe, Alexandria is still a base for some of the Walking Dead characters.

However, the show has focused on gasoline (with an excursion into a malfunctioning nuclear power plant, if I recall correctly, in Fear the Walking Dead) and done very, very little with renewables beyond showing a few solar panels or a working wind turbine.

I've believed that Solar IS Civil Defense and practiced it for about 20 years now with small-scale solar devices like the light and charger on my backpack which I use as my bike light when riding at night.  Survival electricity (which is entry level electricity for the billion or so who don't now have access) is technically trivial, practical, and affordable using off the shelf products.  A small solar light and charger costs between $15 and $40 and, with the addition of a bicycle charger, can supply the power for light, cell phone, radio, and TV or computer.

If enough people used such things perhaps some group like Extinction Rebellion could organize a monthly or annual grid electricity boycott, a solar swadeshi, that might have a demonstrable (if slight) economic impact on the fossil fools.

I've approached both JJ Abrams, a prominent writer/director/producer, and Laurie David, producer of An Inconvenient Truth, about how dystopian entertainment could educate people on what is now possible to make the energy transition we need but neither seems to have been interested in such ideas.

Solar IS Civil Defense

by gmoke on Tue Aug 10th, 2021 at 05:20:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it was Alexandria I was thinking about.

Thinking about genres here.

In the zombie genre, the mighty and society itself is brought down, often through misplaced confidence in hierarchy (companies, military) and technology. Therefore some things must break, so even if you have a character with solar power skills, odds are that they break in the worst way possible: A cloud shadows the panels just as a zombie reaches the electrified fence! Oh no, now it can just tear it down, just as the bad guys also attack from another direction!

On the other hand, the Robinson Cruseo genre should be perfect for solar power. Don't know if much is produced there these days.

by fjallstrom on Wed Aug 11th, 2021 at 10:06:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's my suspicion that the Zombie genre is related, historically, to the Xhosa cattle killing of 1856 in South Africa, the Ghost Dances of the Plains Indians in the 1890s, and the Boxer Rebellion of China in 1899-1801.  All of these movements were supposedly a way to bring the dead back and get rid of the colonialists.  In fact, the dead pretty much demanded it.

Solar IS Civil Defense
by gmoke on Wed Aug 11th, 2021 at 06:32:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A question is whether a group of people can work together to manage their needs, or should everybody go into survivalist mode. Maybe it will come to that.

But in the meantime, I'm still convinced that a city-wide utility system is the best approach to providing electricity, water, sewer, etc. Some things simply work better if they are constructed at scale and operated on a centralized basis.

Here in Colorado Springs, the city-owned utility department has installed several large "farms" of utility-grade solar panels. The rate structure allows homeowners to sign up for a program where you get your electricity from those panels.

Of course, you don't really get all your power from them, because at night the city runs its coal and gas plants and imports power from wind turbines. But you pay for solar power as if the system consisted of solar panels and batteries, using the grid as a battery. That is the best you can do beyond a 100% local solar panel plus battery installation of your own.

And the advantage of the centralized system is that the rate structure allows the utility to maintain its distribution lines and run the solar farm as a whole, and invest in battery backup and generally do the large infrastructure things that utilities do.

If you have your own solar panels and your own battery, and something goes wrong, you are out of luck. Maybe you can still get the parts, maybe you know how to fix the inverter, etc. It is all on you and whatever contractors or support people you can find. Go off-grid (if the building code will allow it) and you are on your own.

To me, the utility approach exemplifies how societies can work together to solve problems.

by asdf on Thu Aug 12th, 2021 at 04:23:15 PM EST
Even with a 100% renewable local grid, it is still good to have on hand emergency power if and when the grid goes out.  To leverage that necessity into an economic and political tool to speed the necessary transition does not diminish said 100% renewable grid nor obviate the need for it.

Solar IS Civil Defense
by gmoke on Thu Aug 12th, 2021 at 07:01:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think one good thing about electric cars (ignoring the huge, obvious bad thing: that they perpetuate the whole automobile-based individualized approach to transportation) is that they will provide emergency backup batteries for households. The ability to run your heat pump or furnace fan or refrigerator for a few hours using your car battery is a huge improvement over the current situation.
by asdf on Thu Aug 12th, 2021 at 09:36:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I remember an article Amory Lovins wrote for, I think, the Atlantic Monthly maybe 30 or more years ago explaining electric vehicles as rolling energy storage.  I also remember the few homeowners with net zero energy solar homes who violated the warranties on their early Prius cars to use them as energy storage over 15 years ago.

Now the Ford F-150 pick-up truck is designed specifically for this and uses it as a selling point.

My how time flies when you're trying (not trying) to outrun climate collapse.

Solar IS Civil Defense

by gmoke on Fri Aug 13th, 2021 at 04:52:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have a "reservation" for the F-150 EV. Almost certainly won't exercise it because of a.) ridiculous gigantor size of modern pickups and b.) hardly ever drive anywhere anyway. But want to support Ford's effort by showing potential demand.
by asdf on Fri Aug 13th, 2021 at 05:01:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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