As a potter I use quite a bit of electricity to fire my kilns, and that bothers me. I’ve always wished I could fire my kilns from the power of the sun using photovoltaics… but thought it was impossible since a kiln fires for about 15 hours using a great deal of electricity during that time period.
The idea of photovoltaics for the studio (and home) has stuck with me for years. So about 6 years ago we decided to get a site visit from a solar company, and see if there was any hope for a solar array. The site tech told us with the size of our south facing roof we would only be able to get 30% of our electricity from the array. It was discouraging, and felt like it was not worth it.
I continued to believe that there would be no way to lower my carbon footprint as a potter, except for the Biodegradable Urns that I was making from paper and clay. (These urns are the one item I make as a potter that are not fired in a kiln.)
Fast forward a few years later and my eldest son Luke graduates from college with a degree in Building Design and Technology and lands a job with a local solar company, Northeast Solar. He tells me, “Mom things have changed, the technology is better than five years ago, and the incentives for solar are really good right now!” A couple of weeks later he is up on our roof with a hand held device called a Sun Eye measuring the amount of potential solar energy of our house site.
Two months later the south facing roof is filled with solar panels. In that 6 years since the first site visit, technology has changed, and the latest solar panels are capable of producing more electricity per square inch. So as of this past October 2017, I am happy to say that we get nearly 50% of our electricity from solar power here at the home and studio! Yes, I know it’s not 100%, which many years ago I naively thought could happen. If I had the perfect roof and location in the Sunshine State of Florida maybe I could… but here in Massachusetts, on an old New England farm house, 50% is quite helpful!