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Electricity is amongst the universe’s most perishable objects. An electrical circuit only works when electrons flow from production to usage in real-time. Some of that usage can be diverted to some storage facility, but storing electricity is expensive and difficult and limited.

This is a problem for solar panels in the Isle of Man.

The Isle of Man is not Australia or the USA

Some people do not seem to know that the Isle of Man has a different climate to Australia or the Southern United States. In Australia and the Southern USA, the annual peak in electricity usage is in the heat of the middle of summer, when demand for air conditioning peaks for people at home and people in offices. It is usually sunny in those places on hot days. Solar panels usually make a lot of electricity at those times. Solar energy works in those communities, because electricity usage is correlated with solar electricity production.

In the Isle of Man, demand for energy peaks in cold winter nights, when people turn on their home heating. Electric demand for heating on cold winter nights will likely increase as the Government taking steps to prohibit the installation of gas and oil heating systems. As more people move to electric heating, the demand for electricity will obviously increase in the cold of winter.

It is a simple and obvious fact of physics that solar panels produce much less electricity at night than they do during the day. It is a simple and obvious fact of physics that solar panels produce much less electricity in December than in June. The Isle of Man’s largest current solar panel facility, the Mountain View Innovation Centre, produces more than 90% less (!!!) electricity in December than in June. These are simple and obvious facts of our Earth and the Isle of Man’s position on it. The result is that solar energy isn’t very helpful to the Isle of Man.

Electricity production needs to correlate with electricity consumption

Consequently, we need electricity production at the same time as we desire electricity consumption.

Thus, while some people have weird fetishes for installing solar panels in lots of places, the reality of physics means that they are not a good fit for our electricity needs. Perhaps the solar panel fetishists have never been to the Isle of Man, and perhaps they do not know that night-time winters in the Isle of Man do not generate much solar electricity. Perhaps the solar panel fetishists have never been to the Isle of Man, and perhaps they do not know that winter in the Isle of Man is very cold, and requires household heating. Either way, the solar fetishists are divorced from reality.

There are, however, better options: a whole category of small household devices which have the potential to capture wind energy, and convert that into electricity. Of course, wind energy is intermittent and unreliable too – but at least it is able to operate – if imperfectly – at the same time as our peak demand for electricity.

Home Wind Power: Aeromine Rooftop Wind Technology

This rooftop wind-powered microgrid withstood 105 mph gusts

As I published recently, it is possible that some people might oppose the construction of such things. They might be fearful of the noise that these devices may make. This risk could be mitigated the same way that I suggested recently for larger Infrastructure construction: conduct local polls and referenda, or if you want to avoid the cost of such mechanisms, require the consent of locally-elected representatives.

Michael Josem is a long-term consumer advocate, most prominently as a global leader in combating fraud in the online gambling industry. He was in part the inspiration for the 20th Century Fox Movie, Runner Runner, starring Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake.

Josem has over a decade of experience as a senior business leader working across various high-tech and online industries, and takes action to build a better community. His primary volunteer roles include service for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and Graih, the homelessness charity.