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How do I best use the surplus electricity from my solar power plant?

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Dragan Otasevic
Dragan Otasevic Dec 17, 2021
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How do I make the best use of an excess 10-19 kW of electricity during sunny days? In practice, this means between 10.000 - 19.000 Watts of "free" household electricity from 9 am to 4 pm.
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I have an unfortunate problem. I built a 37 kW solar power plant. It's grid-connected, but the grid can only accept 14.4 kW. In the winter months when the sun is low, this is fine. The entire array rarely peaks over 14 kW. But in the summer months when the sun is high, the plant will always make excess electricity. The grid cannot take it and I currently don't have a way to spend it locally.
The power grid wants me to pay for the local grid upgrade if I want to send them higher throughput. They communicate with me only in written form and reply once every 6 months. At this pace, it will take a year before I even get a cost estimate and then more time before any progress is made. The kicker is, the grid will resell my energy to other people but won't pay me for it. I get credit for it, but I have to use it for electricity consumption by the end of the year, or they consider it a gift and reset the counter at the end of each year. Their rationale being "private solar power plants are meant for self-consumption, not profit".
So for the excess power, it's a "use it or lose it" type of situation. How can I use it to recover the cost of equipment, or god forbid, make some money?
Any good solution should take into consideration that the excess is:
  • only half of the year (from mid April to mid October)
  • only during sunny days
  • only during peak hours (9am - 4 pm)
  • is unpredictable during partly-cloudy weather
  • can only be used within the household
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Creative contributions

Collaborate with Neighbors and Channel it into EV Charging

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Oguntola Tobi
Oguntola Tobi Dec 17, 2021
If you have people who use electric vehicles in your neighbourhood, collaborate with them, build an EV charging station and have them charge their vehicles for a fee, if the money is worth it.
Alternatively, you can purchase an EV yourself and use the excess power for charging it.
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JN
J. Nikolaa month ago
This was my idea too. Since rural areas and villages often do not have EV charging stations, you could create a private pop-up charging station for people passing by. You could also make it profitable by placing a stand with local food or putting it next to a local restaurant.
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Oguntola Tobi
Oguntola Tobia month ago
Lol. You've ideated a business conglomerate for Dragan Otasevic.
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JN
J. Nikolaa month ago
Oguntola Tobi It's not about finding opportunities but creating them. :)
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Cryptocurrency mining

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Dragan Otasevic
Dragan Otasevic Dec 17, 2021
I was going to do bitcoin mining, but I see that the cost of modern mining rigs has grown to above 15K EUR apiece.
So a GPU mining rig would be the way to go. The rig could be used to mine whatever crypto is worth mining at the moment and continuously sell/convert it to bitcoin.
I would run the rig on only during excess solar power and turn it off when the production drops below 14 kW.
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Pump water uphill during excess, run turbines with it at night

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic Dec 18, 2021
I'm not sure how feasible this is in your case. It would require quite a few large cisterns or a large pond to be built on top and below a nearby hill.
When you have excess power, use it to pump the water from under the hill to the top. Then at night, drop the water through turbines. The water returns to the bottom holding area and in the process generates electricity. You can control the throughput to not go over your limit (14 kW).
It might be cheaper to just pay for the grid upgrade though.
With the right kind of pump, the same equipment could be used to move the water uphill and generate electricity downhill (pump running in reverse).
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Irrigation

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JN
J. Nikola Dec 20, 2021
Since the surplus happens mostly during the summer, when the temperatures are high, you could use it for irrigation. You could use the electricity surplus to pump the water into the reservoir located uphill or on the platform that is higher than the field. Then, during the night, you could open the valve and use gravity to water your plants. Since you have a lot of electricity at that time, you could create a huge container or an artificial lake, pump the water all summer and use it for large crop fields or orchards!
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Neighbours?

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Povilas S
Povilas S Dec 17, 2021
Do you have any close enough neighbours to sell the electricity to, give it for free or exchange for some goods they can offer you? An eco-community can be built this way
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Dragan Otasevic
Dragan Otasevica month ago
I do have neighbors but there's no simple solution to set things up. I would need to complement their grid-connected system only during excess production, but not during the night, morning, and evening. Neither during the winter nor cloudy days.
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Povilas S
Povilas Sa month ago
Dragan Otasevic Can this be solved by using batteries to store the energy?
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Darko Savic
Darko Savica month ago
Povilas S I'm guessing the batteries would remain full during summer days and then the same problem would persist.
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Freeze dry seasonal fruit and sell it offseason

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic Dec 21, 2021
Freeze dryers use a lot of electricity. They completely dehydrate food and make it last for years without the need for refrigeration.

When you add water, freeze dried food returns to almost as it was before. You can also eat it dried. It's crispy and has the original flavor.
You could freeze dry seasonal fruit and sell it off-season or find a ceral manufacturer that would buy it from you.
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Charge a battery bank only with excess electricity

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic Dec 28, 2021
Configure the equipment so that a battery bank gets charged with any power that is in excess of the maximum (14 kW) that the municipal grid can accept.
If you properly size the battery bank you will have used the stored power at night (air conditioning, household refrigerators, etc).
If you don't use that much power at night, you could figure out a way to empty the battery bank by pushing electricity into the municipal grid during the night. That way you start empty every morning.
But since the municipal power grid doesn't pay you for the credit that you build up, you will need to use it up during the wintertime.
Come wintertime, in addition to heating your home with electricity, you could also heat a swimming pool or a greenhouse.
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General comments

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Spook Louw
Spook Louw22 days ago
This is not my area of expertise at all, but I wonder, would you be able to turn the excess energy into elastic energy by using it to wind up a coil or recoil a spring? I'm sure a lot of the energy would be lost (and the spring would have to be quite large, perhaps unpractically so). But winding up a coil would allow you to store it as elastic potential energy to be released when you choose.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic22 days ago
Spook Louw that would require a lot of purposefully built equipment. Safety would be tricky as well. Along these lines, kinetic energy could be stored in huge flywheels:

The flywheels would be slowed down in the evening and throughout the night by running dynamos.
Check out the flywheel bus:
And flywheel battery:

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Spook Louw
Spook Louw22 days ago
Darko Savic Sounds like a business opportunity. Surely there are other people with similar problems.
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