33% More Solar Power in Early 2012
Brown lawns and hot weather seem to have come early in 2012. I noticed a few weeks ago we had a bonanza of sunny days, and as a homeowner with solar panels on my roof, I was curious to see how much electricity was generated. I looked online at my solar monitoring data, and saw that my energy production was doing well in the previous two weeks. When I looked at it in more detail, I was surprised to find that from January to May, my solar panels generated 23% more electricity in 2012 than the same time period in 2011. I thought that solar energy hitting the earth was consistent, so I wanted to find out if maybe this was just related to local weather patterns in my community.
Curiosity drove me to look further, which uncovered an even larger surprise. I looked at solar power examples in other cities in Ontario to see how much power was generated from solar panels. I discovered some even higher numbers. A solar installation in Toronto for example produced 43% more electricity. A site in London, Ontario, produced 39% more. Even solar panels in Ottawa, which is further north, and receives more snow, saw a 20% increase in energy production.
There seems to be a link between the very warm spring we're having in 2012 and historical solar electricity generation. My analysis raised another question that I haven't found the answer to yet; can solar panel monitoring data be used to predict long term weather? Maybe time will tell.
For further information see Solar Monitoring.
Increased Solar Power image via Solar Diet.