Friday, January 22, 2021

Inconvenient trees


I took this photo of my workshop on January 15 to show the way that the trees on the windrow on the south side of my property have grown to shade my solar collectors and panels.  This windrow forms the border between my property and my neighbors.  When I first moved here in 2001, the trees were only 20 feet or so high, now they are nearly double that and in the dead of winter here in Maine when the sun angle is very low (latitude 43) these trees are becoming more and more obnoxious.  So I asked my neighbor how he would feel about my topping them and he was fine with it.  He had just signed up for getting his electricity from a solar farm and bought a Chevy Bolt electric vehicle, so he is fully on board with renewable energy.

So I put a bow saw over my shoulder and climbed up the trees and aggressively trimmed back the branches that were most actively shading the four large solar collectors that I used to heat the building in the winter.  I was able to gain back about an hour of sun in the afternoon which makes a big difference in offsetting propane needed to heat my workshop building.

This photo was taken after my first pass at topping the trees on the left.  It was taken at around 1:30 PM.  I have two other trees to cut, but I will need help from one of my other neighbors to accomplish those since there is some strategy involved.

Below are charts showing the output from my solar electric panels before and after trimming the trees as shown above.  you can see that the trees had been taking a bite out of my beautiful parabola on clear sunny days!  Definitely some improvement here!

I noticed on my community Facebook group that local people with goats were asking for Christmas trees because goats like to eat them, so I offered the cut branches and a couple of people came and picked them up! 

I had two other options; pile them in the backwoods and let them decompose, or burn them.  But both of these options would release carbon into the atmosphere.  I think it is more environmentally responsible to let goats have them don't you?