Renewable Energy at Ecovillage
The neighborhoods of Ecovillage are constantly seeking ways to reduce our energy footprint. Here are some of the renewable energy projects currently in place:
Song Household Energy Systems
When the Song neighborhood was built, with completion in 2005, Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems were becoming widely available and incentives were available to help finance them. As a result 14 households in Song installed Solar PV systems of 2,000 to 2,500 watts each, for a total of about 32,000 watts of capacity. In addition, 4 homes have solar thermal systems installed to help with heating and domestic hot water. Two also have large built-in masonry or "Russian" stoves, which allow for long slow heating from infrequent additions of firewood.
Frog 6KW Common House System
When the Frog Common House was built in 1996, its South-facing roof was designed to accomodate a nice collection of solar panels. However, solar PV systems were prohibitively expensive in those days, and the roof sat empty for many years. All during that time, however, residents were slowly accumulating funds earmarked for this purpose. In 2010, they took the plunge and installed a grid-tied 6KW PV system.
The residents were also concerned with emergency preparedness, so the system they installed includes a bank of batteries which can provide power for critical functions like heat, refrigeration, lighting, and communications equipment during power outages.
Frog 50KW Resident PV Array
With the Common House project completed, residents kept up their momentum by tackling a much larger problem--how to provide Solar PV energy to the 30 residences in Frog. This was complicated by lots of factors, from insufficient roof space to complex utility connections to financial barriers. In 2011, residents Jeff Gilmore and Tony Henderson took on the challenge!
With an interesting self-financing scheme, a conversion of residences to master metering, and Henderson's solar industry experience, they were able to bring the system online in the waning days of 2011.