When we embarked on this project, to replace a house that is off grid and remain off grid, people close to us said, “Why would you want to do that?” They’ve been asking whether we will be living in a Victorian past. But we think that living “off grid”, or at least with some system of electricity generation and storage, is the future.
A grid connection is possible for us, but extremely expensive. It is cheaper for us to do this ourselves*. On the other hand, in the 1970’s living off grid was described by a Government Minister as ‘Grinding Poverty’. Did we really want to see whether that still holds true?
We now think that electricity generation could be on the cusp of change. Moving away from monolithic industrial power stations. Moving to a model more like the Internet, where lots of small ‘nodes’ (in this case, houses) can receive electricity, but also can send it.
Because the more we looked into modern, off grid electricity generation, the more we saw evidence of a successful, small, local sharing model. Community islands of electricity. Already the excess electricity from one house’s PV array uses the grid to supply their neighbours.
So to answer the question, “Why would you want to do that?” we say:
By doing this we hope to provide evidence that it is possible. That everyone in the future could be part of a new model of ‘grid’; shared, islanded micro-generation electricity.
We are not engineers ourselves, we are no more than competent amateurs. We just are trying to stay calm and not be afraid to do this. Of course, being afraid, VERY afraid isn’t always a choice. Make no mistake, this is a very scary project.
*A month ago we were struggling to get a quote for our off grid system. After an extremely frustrating 3 months of trying to find the right people to help us, I was much closer, but had concluded that one should NEVER tell any potential installer what it would cost to connect to the grid.
Then I plucked up the courage to post on the amazing Navitron Forum.
These are the inspiring people who are living off grid, some since the mid 1980’s. They said, come on in, the water’s fine. Especially with PV costing 50p per watt!