Well after weeks of waiting, finally the day had come to install my solar panels. Perfect timing, I thought, a day after the Summer Solstice and long summer days and evenings. It’s been weeks, if not months planning this exercise. Solar panels are trending here at the moment and literally everyone wants them. With the exorbitant rises in the prices of electricity and gas, thanks to totally stupid wars (in this day and age?) and supplies from Russia which have been affected by sanctions. The strange thing is that here in The Netherlands we have enough gas for our national demand, but we sell the largest part to Germany. What? How ridiculous is this? Yet another example of typical useless EEC ruling.
Anyway enough, back to my panels. When I first noticed the opportunity here, I filled in the form. A long telephone conversation following, and it surprised me that they seemed to know about my house. Angle of the roof perfect. 4 older solar panels (which would be removed and later placed on my shed) and yes, they could install 8 panels. Several administrative things later, someone came to inspect my roof, and everything was fine and ready to go. Installation date: 22nd June 2022.
The day before I tidied up everywhere as the cables will have to pass through the room to get to the meter cupboard and a new group of fuses (a group box) will be installed, as it is a definite requirement that the entire electrical system can be switched off instantly the so-called main fuse.
They arrived on time, and it was a perfect summer’s day with no weather implications, no snow, no ice, no winds and not too hot. They were nice and got going straightaway. First job, remove the older solar panels, all four of them before the new ones could be put up. Three were removed and then I suddenly heard a yell and the installer coming down his ladder very fast. He was agitated and looked shocked. ‘Sorry’. He said, ‘have to stop all work as there are three wasp nests under the final panel’, which was now lying loose on the roof.
I got him to sit down as he did look a bit shaken and let’s be honest who wouldn’t be if you have disturbed a wasp’s nest and they are buzzing everywhere. Many phone calls later the company who were installing, said, the first priority is to arrange for an imker to come and secondly the loose panel must be off the roof as soon as possible as rain was forecast and winds the next day.
Easier said than done, as this is ‘full-on wasp season’ now and the imkers are very busy and the earliest one could come was on the following Thursday (i.e., a week away). Crickey what now?
The men cleared up their things quickly and left. I was in total agreement with them about stopping for the blasted wasps because if you get multiple stings and don’t know if you might react allergically, then the only thing you can do is dial for the emergency services as you need an epi-pen really fast. This could even involve the arrival of the trauma helicopter as this is a remote area and no one wants to be subjected to that, if possible.
My phone went non-stop for the next couple of hours as everyone was trying to locate an imker who could come immediately. ‘Oh’ I said, does this mean they can come back and finish off the work?’ Er no, the new appointment for installation is now 15th July, three weeks away and to be honest I am pretty pissed off about the whole thing now. Not that it was anyone’s fault but just the frustration of yet another wait.
There would be a slight chance that if they could come earlier than the 15th (which I very much doubt myself) then they would ring me, and it would be short notice. I agreed saying I would cancel any other appointments if necessary.
A full day later and late that evening a good friend had arranged for the imker to come and the panel to be removed as there was heavy rain forecast during the night.
Well, you would never believe what happened next. The imker who is perfectly used to dealing with these wasps, took a look before taking all his equipment up onto the roof. Two of the three nests empty and the third had only a few wasps in it, so with a waft of his gloved hand, all three nests in the gutter and the panel is now off the roof too. It took less than 5 minutes total.
The imker left and I chatted on with my friend. It was one of those glorious balmy summer evenings and we sat out in the garden until around midnight. What a bit of serious bad luck it all was, but I do realize that always and each and every time safely comes first.
So, roll on to the 15th of July, which by the way is St. Swithin’s Day and notorious for rain. I will be having a ‘heated conversation’ with them upstairs if it damned well goes and rains on that day. So, finger’s crossed and hope all goes well and then I can join the huge number of people converting to solar energy.
My older panels were installed in 2001, that is the birth really of the first solar panels in this country and even though they are ancient compared to today’s standards, they still collected on average 10 KwH on solar energy (a month, not daily). The new ones will collect on average something around 3500 KwH a year, which is more than half of my consumption, which of course has changed now too due to personal circumstances.
Solar panels are trendy and in great demand and who begins to wonder why we don’t make them here, but the majority of them come from China and I won’t even begin to talk about transport complications etc., due to the dreaded ‘C’ word.