And then what?
If you have been reading these ramblings for a while, you may have read here: The Burning Question of Our Times. (oldandireland.blogspot.com, that my conscience is giving me grief for my many years of burning petrol for fun. You may even have seen this, posted way back in September 2019: Old Ireland, new technology. The search for reliable solar water heating. (oldandireland.blogspot.com), where I was looking for a good alternative for a solar thermal system that we had fitted on our roof. The tubes for it were made by a local company called Thermomax, and supposedly had a twenty year guarantee when we bought them. They broke repeatedly and eventually catastrophically which meant that they were never likely to pay for themselves, and the guarantee turned out to be worth nothing because Thermomax went bankrupt. Great.
Because of my experience with those thermal tubes, there was no way that I was going to fit anything similar any time soon. Still, I needed something to assuage the green part of my conscience and to help reduce my reliance on fossil fuels. So in April we fitted a 4kW solar PV array.
It too has not been without problems. These mostly relate to the inverter, which seems to have had the wrong firmware loaded at the factory. From shortly after fitting, it kept sending fail safe alerts, at which point it then cut off our exports to the grid, and shut down the panels other than those feeding the relatively small amount we were using in the house.
Of course the most important prerequisite for any home these days is good insulation. With that in mind, five or six years ago we had decent windows fitted, got the entire house pointed, built a porch to provide a sort of decompression chamber at the front door to help keep the weather out, and got six inches of hard foam insulation fitted into the rafters of our roof space. As a result, the house seems now to be reasonably thermally efficient since it is both relatively easy to heat on winter days like this, and keeps a decent amount of the heat out in the summer.
I would love to be able to move away from a boiler powered by fossil fuels too, but the alternatives are prohibitively expensive. Air source is both expensive and reasonably useless when you need it most. It is only efficient down to 2 or 3 degrees Celsius. Below that, it is pointless. Ground source is also hugely costly, and both it and air source work best on low heat, long timeframe heating systems like underfloor heating. That kind of rules them out for older houses like ours where you would virtually have to rebuild the house to fit such a system..
Other systems would in my opinion be more suited for older houses like this one. Hydrogen for example. I'm told that all Bosch and Worcester Bosch gas boilers for example are already made to run on hydrogen with little more than a change of jets. Companies like Enaptor (Produce Green Hydrogen with The AEM Electrolyser | Enapter) make small scale hydrogen electrolysers for local and household level use, and even our local water company (NI Water), is building a large scale hydrogen generation site in Belfast using its waste water as a source. Of course changing the source of our gas supplies completely would require both time and a truly massive investment in the infrastructure, but if we as a nation are to lose our dependence on fossil fuels, we must do this at some point. So why not now?
As individuals, we also need to change our habits and lifestyles. I'm trying as is mentioned in some of my more recent posts, but it doesn't feel to me like our government is really even on message yet, let alone actually being helpful.