A year ago I was researching solar panels on the internet. It was so, so hard to find accurate, simple information. There’s a lot to work out, not least how much power we’d require on a daily basis. And then I needed to work out what size solar panels we would need and where to find them. None of this was as simple as it was described in the many, many blogs and articles and I had to dig way, way deeper to find the information that I needed.
Once I’d decided what type of system to operate from, and even after I’d bought a set of panels, I was still in the dark when it came to inverting the power from DC to AC, and it was actually very difficult to determine that solar panels collect in DC and has to be converted to AC. How you you actually wire panel, controller, inverter and battery together was practically impossible to learn about.
I know what you’re thinking; I simply wasn’t looking properly, or just not looking in the right places, or that perhaps I am simply exaggerating. I can assure you, neither of those possibilities is the case. In many ways, I wish it was a simple case of idiocy or naivety because the truth is actually rather sinister.
I live in the UK where, like many other Western countries, the government of the day is having to deal with our changing climate and a population becoming increasing vociferous on the subject. In response to this, the UK government do what most governments do in this situation, they announce an ill-conceived, half-baked scheme to silence a few voices and put Joe Public back in his box. The UK decided they would give a grant to anyone who wanted to put solar panels on their house. In fact, they also went one further and provided a subsidy to people who fed their surplus energy back into the national grid. It was an immensely successful initiative, which of course meant it was an immensely expensive one. It was decided, roughly eighteen months ago, to end the subsidy on a specific date. Clearly the bean counters were chafing at the fingertips at having to hand out so much in grants and subsidies to home owners and home builders capitalising on the scheme. This is why any and all meaningful information relating to starting up a solar powered grid was suppressed.
Honestly, I would have ripped off my right arm at the elbow to be handed a kit of everything I needed; inverter, cable, battery, controller, panel and all the connectors. I’d have ripped off the other arm at the elbow for a set of concise instructions. All of this is readily available now, and the work I put into getting something out there of my own to counter-act all the nonsense and non-information isn’t needed because now everything I wanted is easily available. It’s probably been easier for internet users in the UK to learn about this stuff for a few months now; ever since the government stopped the solar panel grant scheme, and capped the subsidy for feeding surplus energy into the grid at such a low figure, it makes the enterprise less attractive to those looking to earn a little from the rich energy companies. Let’s face it, in Tory Britain it would never do to let the oiks get an upper hand now and then.
Easy to dismiss this as paranoid rantings or write me off as a crank, or some wallflower whose made a fundamental mistake. Way easy. Too easy, because writing this off as something harmless and innocuous as mere coincidence, ignores a rather sinister underlying fact. Google, Bing, Duck, Duck – you name them – they all suppressed this information and prevented it from turning up in search results, and this can only be from an order from on high.
Often tech giants like Apple, Google and Facebook riff off the public perception of them as driven corporate bad boys, but no amount of half-assed congressional cross-questioning and timid investigations can hide the real truth; these companies carry out government bidding. Look no further than the controversies caused when workers at Google complained about censorship in search results, demanded by the Chinese government. They’ve written apps to help intrusive regimes in China and Hong Kong to keep tabs on their citizens. To most people this is the kind of thing that happens frequently in other places. It happened here, in the UK. Sinister. Unsettling. Real. It’s happening all the time, and it’s why we and people like us go off-grid.
Read more in The Off-Grid Life – the entertaining guide to going off-grid.