The smart meter is needed because the network is under pressure. We use WiFi everywhere and at all times, drive electrically, want as much renewable energy as possible, generate energy ourselves and want to deliver this back to the network. These technical innovations make a lot possible, but also set high demands. The smart meter gives us insight into where the network is under pressure and the network needs to be weighted. A smart meter is an electronic device that records consumption of electric energy and communicates the information to the electricity supplier for monitoring and billing. Smart meters typically record energy hourly or more frequently, and report at least daily.
Combination with a solar panel system:
Usually solar panels produce electricity at a time when you do not use any electricity yourself. That power is then supplied to the electricity network. The energy company then settles the supply with the electricity that you purchase from the network (this is called netting) and pays the same price for this for your electricity (on average of € 0.23 / £ 0.20 / CA$ 0.35 per kWh, price level 2019). This set-off scheme applies till 2020. Starting 2021, a feed-back subsidy will probably take its place. With this you earn back your solar panels in an average of 7 years. The subsidy will also apply if you already have solar panels.
You take 2,000 kWh of electricity a year from the network and you supply 2,500 kWh to the electricity grid through your solar panels.
The energy company must pay the current electricity tariff for 2,000 kWh of supplied electricity (21 cents per kWh, contract price level 2019).
It may pay a lower rate for the remaining 500 kWh (this is often referred to as the feed-in charge).
The energy company may determine the lower rate itself.
The reimbursement is € 0.07 per kWh.
If you produce a lot of electricity, it is therefore worth comparing different companies. There are overviews on the internet, for example, search for ‘returning power and offsetting’.
In our personal situation the consumption level is about 3,800kW. Our solar panel system can produce 2,700kW max per year. So -also considering that an electric boiler will be installed to reduce the gas consumption- we will always pay for electricity, although the -now very expensive- gas consumption will decline. Electricity: 3,800 kW @ € 0,21 per kW = € 798 consumed last year (not including all fixed costs per year), and we did not deliver back to the grid. Gas: 3,304 m3 @ € 0.81 per m3 = € 2,676 consumed last year (not including all fixed costs per year). Our monthly instalment was € 323. So the year bill (not including all fixed costs) will say:
€ 0,798 electricity consumption
€ 2,676 gas consumption
– € 3,876 monthly instalments
– € 0,402 balance in our advantage, as it will cover the not included fixed costs.
Next year there will be an other situation:
Electricity consumption will incline, because of the new electric boiler.
Gas consumption however will decline.
We will deliver back to the grid the overproduction of electricity.
With the result:
€ 1,000 electricity consumption
€ 2,000 gas consumption
– € 0,150 back delivery from solar panels
€ 2,850 total due (not included all fixed costs per year)
€ 0,250 fixed costs
€ 3,100 total due (all revenues and costs included)
01 April 2019 (no joke!) was our most productive day so far: first input at 07:15am 12W last input at 07:30pm 8W, day revenue 16.766kW. Considering that the panels were out of order for 33 days between 31 January and 22 March, we could have surpassed the 1,000kW.
Where sunrise at the moment is at 06:55am and sunset is at 08:20pm, there is 13h 15m daylight. In June the longest day will start with a sunsrise at 05:17am and end with a sunset at 09:59pm, there will be 16h 02m daylight. (All times are in GMT+1 and for Nimwegen only, as the data varies by longitude and latitude).
At 08:00AM I went down to open the house to the world, setting the table for breakfast and knocking on Mary’s door. We had breakfast “en négigé”. I left Mary behind, looking at the piles of emails and… bills. After shaving and showering, and dressed for a weekday in jeans, I came down at 10:00 to check on the solar panels.
At local time Nijmegen 11:30 the day revenue was (only) 813 Wh and a present input level of 428.09W. But we had records in the days before:
22 March: 12.80Kwh (sunny weather),
21 March: 12.51Kwh (sunny weather),
20 March: 3.99Kwh (cloudy),
19 March: 3.99Kwh (system started up at 02:00PM)..
From 1 March till mid 19 March the panels were out of order, the same situation as 1February till 14 February, and 31 January. The company, who installed the solar installation, will come 29 March . When I call SolarNRG, they can see a lot more than I. There is -according them- a failure in panel 9, but I can see on a separate screen on the computer and mobile phone, that panel 9 is working: e.g. at the moment panel 9 has produced for today 70.75Wh. Then there is a communication failure. I hope it is over by the end this month. however according to the installation calculator we got already > € 100 back from the investment of € 4,000 (2.5%).
And a farewell dinner in Taunton, in the Castle Hotel & Restaurant.
Since 08 October 10.00AM we are connected to the servers of SolarNRG. From there all solar panel installations are available to see your “green” profit by day/month/year. There is also a screen where your whole installation is displayed with the profit per panel, accumulating over the day:
This picture was taken 09 October 2018, 08:35AM. Just after sunrise. That is the reason that the day total (green, right upper corner) is still so low: 15W.
Today, 2 October 2018, from 10.30AM till 07.15PM the solar panels were installed on our roof:
However, as the installation of the panels, the inside electric cable work and all the paperwork had finished after sunset (about 6.30PM), there were no results for this day. Then it took time to install our installation on the servers of SolarNRG in Germany. As from 8 October 2018 we can check the solar power installation on the computer, on the screen of the converter (pictures below) AND on a smartphone:
On the picture: the middle section Vdc represents the voltage that the panels give in a single current power; the left section Vac represents the voltage in alternating current, as we use in Western Europe. The right section represents the number of Watts produced that day (in this case: at 2.30PM 1,109kW). The P_OK indicates the number of panels that are functioning; in our case that should always be 10/10.
This picture is taken just before bedtime: only the alternate current number is used now. There is no input from the panels, so the production in Watt is zero.
This is the most efficient power position versus time: in wintertime at 10:50am GMT+1 (UTC+1). You can check that at the shadow of the chimney on Pierre’s sundeck. Next Saturday we change to summer savings time. Then this situation will be at 09:50am GMT+1 (UTC+2).
After discussions with the supplier/installer of the panels and also with the Dutch community for house owners (VEH), which has set up the activity, we have made a master plan for placing the panels. The installer can have an other opinion, as he does not work with the measurements, but with satellite images of the house.
However we plan the following:
On the flat part of the roof, over the nett width of the house (5.60m – 19ft) five vertical panels of each 1.0m width and 1.65m highth (3.3ft x 5.5ft).
Solar surface flat roof: 5.0m x 1.65m = 8.25 sqm (88.8 sqft)
The top roof construction on the right side is not very effective. On the left side of the window we have a usable top roof surface of 1.20m (4ft) width and 3.90m (13ft) highth. That implies two vertical panels, in total 1m width and 3.3m highth (3.3 ft x 11ft). Above the window there might be space for a horizontal panel, or the alternative one vertical panel on the right side of the window.
Solar surface top roof: 3.0m x 1.65m = 4.95 sqm (53.3 sqft)
We asked for an offer for 6 panels. That would cost € 320 per panel, including installation, all cables etc., and a monitoring system:  to see yourself how many energy in Kwh you are “collecting”,  what quantity you use yourself,  how much you sell to your energy company. However, the choice for 6 panels was just an estimate. I asked Peter, our neighbor, if I could have a look at our own roof from his garden, as his backyard goes much more deeper than ours. Then it was clear, that there was place enough for more panels. PLUS: Peter was enthousiastic about our plans and decided to participate in the project. I ordered and made a downpayment to have the roof inspected. If at the time of the inspection it may be clear, that solar panels will not pay back the costs, negotiations are stopped and you get the downpayment back.