Sep 21, 2020

Waiting on Re-opening to install ZGF Units

Belize during COVID-19
Belize during COVID-19

Dear Friends,

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the changes, stresses and realities of our world in pandemic have had a major impact on Holy Cross Anglican School and the community it serves in the San Mateo area on Ambergris Caye, Belize. While the number of COVID infections in Belize has remained relatively low, the Belizean government's strict lockdown measures have had a deep impact on daily life and work--and pockets of COVID continue to flare from time to time. Conservatively, 50% of the population has suffered a reduction and/or loss of work during this time, resulting in a large increase in both food, housing, and medical insecurities.

As of the middle of August, most known cases in Belize were among people under 40 and the majority of symptoms were mild to moderate. However, the Belize medical system has only little ability to cope with seriously ill patients: there are only 12 ventilators nationwide, three were in use, 1 patient died, and doctors were beginning to become infected.

As a result, the Holy Cross Education Foundation has been active in helping disburse funds for use in increasing the availability of food and water on the island where the school is located.

Furthermore, the most recent lockdowns --- extending through much of the month of September -- have further postponed the installation of the new Zero-Grid-Feed units mentioned in our last report.

These zero-grid feed units are well worth the investment --- including the following three crucial benefits: (1) Calculations based on data available from the monitoring systems (figures shown in previous reports) indicate savings of an additional 10% off of the base (no PV solar at all) bill of about $11,000 per year; (2) because the unfair overproduction penalty will be eliminated, the current efficiency limitation resulting from that penaly will also be alleviated. This will allow our PV systems to scale up; (3) most importantly, the overall savings will substantially contribute to the ability of the school to become fully self-reliant in what we hope will be a 3-5 year time frame.

That said, our faculty and staff at the school are doing an incredible job in attempting to resume the fall K-8 semester and curriculum and we are very proud of them and indeed all that share in our mission to support and enable a high-quality education for all our students, including our generous donors.

Thus, any and all amounts that you can provide at this time will continue to help the school and its many students to have a brighter future.

Thanks again for all you continue to do to help support the ability to provide an education for 500 students that --- otherwise --- would not have a place to attend school.

Warm regards, John

May 22, 2020

Phase IV Solar Moving despite COVID-19

Example of "overproduction penalty" on System 1
Example of "overproduction penalty" on System 1

Dear Friends,

First of all, we want to extend our care and concern for all of you and your loved ones during this time of global pandemic. Like myself and our Board members, many if not most of us have been impacted by COVID-19 in one way or another. If you or a loved one are ill, our thoughts and prayers are with you. If you are struggling with employment, or facing any financial hardship, our thoughts and prayers are with you. And if you are like many of still adjusting in the face of continuing uncertainty, we are with you.

All that said, it is not surprising that the new Phase IV solar array to be placed on the the on-campus housing is currently on hold. However, we are pleased to inform you that we are moving ahead with improving the two current systems, which combined produce a maximum of about 11KWH. As noted in previous reports, Belize Energy and Light has yet to implement net-metering, so when the arrays overproduce power, we send that extra electricity back to the grid AND get charged for moving the meter when we do. In other words, the meter runs forward no matter which direction the electricity is flowing.

To counter this problem, our partners at SESB are now providing low cost zero-grid feed units. We will be placing one of these units on each of the two systems, so when we do overproduce, the electricity will be directed to ground rather than back into the grid. One might ask why not send the extra to battery backup? The problem is that for the size system we own, combining battery backup with grid-tied solar is very expensive. At some point we will hope to do that, but for now it is beyond budget.

I have posted two diagrams below to illustrate how the zero-grid feed units will improve our efficiency, saving us an additional 5-25% depending on school demand. For example, given that Holy Cross is not in session due to COVID, we are overproducing significantly and thus losing a lot of benefit due to the BEL policy. Under these circumstances, the zero-grid feed units will mitigate this problem: we will not have to pay a "penalty" for overproducing electricity.

I did make the two site visits that I had mentioned were upcoming in my last report. While we are not in immediate need to raise all of the funds for the Phase IV array and its zero-grid-feed unit, the first two zero-grid-feed units that we are installing are expected to cost about $2500.00USD. Hence, any and all amounts that you can provide at this time will continue to help the school and its many students to have a brighter future.

Thanks again for all you continue to do to help support the ability to provide an education for 500 students that --- otherwise --- would not have a place to attend school.

Warm regards, John

Example of "overproduction penalty" on System 2
Example of "overproduction penalty" on System 2
Jan 21, 2020

Moving forward with Phase 4!!

"Egauge" data for last 30-days energy production
"Egauge" data for last 30-days energy production

Dear Supporters,

Thanks to one and all for your ongoing generosity as we continue to work toward energy independence at Holy Cross Anglican School in Belize. While efficiency in solar panel energy production varies with solar incidence angle as well as with amount of cloudiness and precipitation, in recent weeks our two existing systems have -- combined -- produced more than 50% of the energy demanded by school operations.

Furthermore, the schedule for installing our next array on the new housing (see pictures) for school professionals is coming into better focus. I will be making two site visits within the next 3 weeks, including a stop-over at Solar Energy Solutions Belize (SESB). SESB will be providing the array and installation services for the new housing. While we originally estimated that cost at about $15K, we now believe we can reduce that to about $12K as a result of better sizing of the array. Unfortunately, the BEL proposed grid-tied auction hasn't materialized, so, we are still in a position to balance what an array can produce versus the demand. By downsizing somewhat, we believe we will avoid sending much excess energy back to the grid, which is favorable for us. In terms of schedule, we are hoping to lock in an installation date somewhere in mid-April 2020, about the time we expect the new house to be ready for occupancy.

Closely related is improving our efficiency on the demand-side. We have completed a thorough survey of lighting requirements --- and there are many lights needed to keep a school with 500 students, staff, and faculty going on a day-to-day basis. Most of the current lighting was installed years ago by volunteers and is not efficient. Our survey suggests that we can save up to ~1KWH of demand by exchanging our lighting for LED's. With the cost of LED's coming down, we are now in a position to begin making a push to do this. I will provide a cost-estimate as soon as I have one.

Thanks again for all you continue to do to help support the ability to provide an education for 500 students that --- otherwise --- would not have a place to attend school.

Warm regards, John

Volunteers pose at the entrance to the school
Volunteers pose at the entrance to the school
Volunteers work on housing construction
Volunteers work on housing construction
Volunteers pose on the deck of the new housing
Volunteers pose on the deck of the new housing
 
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