Speed dating may not be the first activity that comes to mind at a sustainable living expo, but organisers of an event on Saturday believe the format has some merits.
Renew (previously Alternative Technology Association) experimented with the idea at the Tamar Sustainable Living Expo to allow a more personalised way of engaging with the wide range of information on offer over the course of the event.
Gill Basnett, Tamar NRM project coordinator, thought it allowed people to have more one on one conversations they might not get at a stall or in a presentation.
“For example I want to talk to someone about plants, or I want to talk to somebody about solar, or I’ve got a really high electricity bill – what might it be?” she said.
The Examiner’s Matt Dennien spoke to one expert over each of the 12 minute sessions.
The first, Martin Dingemanse, is Mode Electrical's off-grid system designer.
MATT DENNIEN: What are the first steps somebody can take to get themselves off the grid?
MARTIN DINGEMANSE: I guess there’s two scenarios: if you’re on grid and you want to go off-grid; or if you’re building a house that is going to be off-grid.
If you’re planning to build a house and it’s going to cost you $20,000 or more to get power put in, then you would definitely want to consider going off grid, and then things you need to think about are what am I going to do for my heating?
How am I going to get hot water? Because that should be one of your bigger power users.
You’ve got to think about cooking too.
MD: And after you’ve asked those questions, what happens next?
DINGEMANSE: Once we’ve identified what we’re going to do with that then we’ll look at the rest of the loads and do up a load calculation.
We’ll go through everything you plan to run and then we’ll come up with an estimate of how much energy you need per day.
Then from that we can size the battery, and what type of battery depending on the application, and from that we can size the solar array you need, and then we can design you up a system.
MD: What’s the main consideration at the building stage?
DINGEMANSE: When you’re thinking about going off-grid, panel orientation and panel angle is actually really important.
To the east to pick up the morning sun, towards the west to pick up the afternoon sun; having a combination will enable you to have power for the longest period during the day, but also charge your panels effectively.
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