SELCE is the renewable energy coop based in Greenwich and this year TB joined their board of directors to extend support for their great work promoting energy awareness and action on fuel poverty.
We traveled to MIlton Keynes with the ‘Solar Roller’ and attended the first Offline Festival for two days of camping, a string of fascinating talks and great company. Collecting and storing energy from the sun is a precarious activity as another low pressure weather front clouded over the only source proved!
When the rain stopped from time to time we celebrated the rise in watts available for the powered sound and lighting for the tent and talked with attendees about how to hire the rig for future events.
The roller also boasts a 4g enabled wireless router for Internet access, so we used the Mazi toolkit to build a custom information point to present promotional documents, report on energy being generated, invite comments and present a photo gallery of it’s use on hire.
Our understanding of these by now mature technologies is limited so to upgrade my own knowledge, enlisted myself and friend Luciana to the Demand Energy Equality workshops held each month at their Ladywell workshops.
We spent a very enjoyable Saturday together in a small but very focused class learning more about the state of energy science and practices of solar panel design and construction.
The sad demise of UK’s only panel manufacturing plant (in Wales) provided materials needed for the construction. Silicon wafers are sliced from torpedo shaped crystals, sandwiched to form card thin biscuits and printed with conductive circuits.
Our task was to connect these cards in a series array so they would release 12v*1 amp=12w when exposed to sunlight. The silicon wafers are surprisingly brittle and hard to work with but with care and and support of tutor Ian Westmoreland, we all managed to assemble the array and generate power!
Here is the final construction in it’s laptop bag, fitted with a regulator that converts the 12v to 5v for charging of batteries and other USB devices, smartphones etc. It was well worth the £95 fee for the excellent instruction and of course a functional solar panel to boot!