Monday, November 02, 2009

Get Your Power On

Doing just a little math, you can figure that eight riders like the ones above are generating a combined power of around 3 kW, give or take, during a one hour TTT. Cool. That would easily power your house for an hour.

So here's a thought... build up eight stationary trainers, hook them all to a DC generator with an DC-AC inverter, then plug it into your electrical service panel. Now invite that team over to your house for a TTT session on the trainers and, shazzam, free electricity!!

Well, almost free... they do need a salary I suppose. Also, they'll only ride for an hour before cracking and falling off their bikes. I guess you'll need to hire a few more teams, like maybe the entire field of the Tour de France, if you want to cover all your energy usage.

Or here's another thought... slap a few of these babies onto your roof:

They'll make power all day long and you won't even need to feed them. Sure, there will be some upfront cost, but thanks to generous state rebates (here in CA) and the forward-thinking policies of our country's CEO, you can expect to recoup your costs within 10-15 years, depending on the specifics of your situation. And if it wasn't compelling enough before, just a few weeks ago our Governator signed a bill requiring California's utilities to pay homeowners for any surplus power they generate. This is the wave of the future, for sure.

So let's bring this back around to cycling. I estimate that our photovoltaic system will generate about 20 kWh of energy a day, averaged over the year. How much is that? Well, it's roughly equivalent to the (mechanical) power I'd make doing 267 maximum-effort rides up Old San Marcos Rd., assuming I could capture it. [20 kWh / (.3 kW X .25 h)]

Full disclosure: My generous and forward-thinking parents offered to pay for our solar installation. Their offer is to each of my three siblings as well. Gina and I plan to gladly accept that gift, although we like to think we would have taken this step anyway.


Anonymous said...

Getting off the grid is a must and photovoltaic systems, home gardening, and local purchases of meat are the way to go.
The key thing to remember is to do it for the RIGHT reasons. The wrong reason which more and more people are waking up, to is going green to save the globe from overheating. It is a total sham and is a non-existent issue(Gore would never admit this of course). 1998 had the hottest global mean temperature recorded and recently(in Geneva this year) one of the lead scientists for the IPCC admitted we are entering a two decade cooling period. So this whole carbon footprint business is a complete scam designed to funnel money to carbon offset companies. It is unfortunate that beginning with Greenpeace which used to be an admirable organization, a communist style takeover of environmentalism has grown into basically just a push to control us from cradle to grave and use it as an excuse to generate more tax revenues for broke local, state, and federal governments. If Obama signs the Copenhagen Treaty this December, say goodbye to US sovereignty and your financial future.
-A concerned libertarian

On a lighter note: enjoy the ride!!!:)

Marco Fanelli said...

I appreciate comments from diverse viewpoints, but I must say yours differs from mine substantially. Why reference a single member of the IPCC, and not the published consensus report(s) of the entire organization? Would it be because their publicly stated position disagrees with your view? That's how it looks to me when I read the reports at

I'm sorry I don't have the energy to debate this more, and for that matter, to spend more time educating myself.

But I will say to you also: enjoy the ride!

Seth said...

Crazy week... I saw you on a ride, and you started blogging again.

I'm glad to see the roof on your house, and the solar panels are a nice touch too. I will never forget coming over to borrow a race wheel, and seeing that you more or less had half a house left. I'm sure it was a bigger shock for you the first day you woke up and went to start a pot of coffee and realized you were outside.

Not too long ago I worked at a 3500 MW coal power plant. That plant supplied powered about 15% of the power to greater Detroit area. 3500 MW = 25,000 tons of coal per day. That and about a year of research into bulk power storage for renewable energy, that I did at my last job, lead me to conclude that we're all doomed. Just try not to think about it, and ride your bike.

bjorn said...

Hey Marco - I am glad you are back blogging!
Your opening paragraph somewhat reminded me on the West Coast Green conf in SF a few weeks ago: One of the booths was powered by a stationary bicycle...

Otherwise sort of ironic that you don't have the energy to discuss :)

Happy blogging and riding,

Anonymous said...


Check out this link...;)

Drea said...

Just don't let them fart while they ride their bikes or else your carbon footprint is right back where you started!

Good to have you back!

Jules said...

Re: global warming and carbon emissions. I wonder if anybody has considered the whole global shading issue, where the sun is basically being blocked by the particulates in the atmosphere. I also don't have the time or the memory to remember to research this, as I'm training for 2010 myself. Either way, glad to see you back on the interwebs Marco

Marco Fanelli said...

Thanks for the comments y'all.

Maybe I should just make reference to "Global Weirding"... is that deniable?

I wish I better understood the Libertarian points-of-view. I do resonate with a few philosophies, but on the biggie--the role of Government--I have a huge problem. Who protects me, and the other six billion earthlings, from the irresponsible behavior of huge corporations? Who thinks about the long term, and is not driven by maximizing profits? I just don't get it. Anyway, it seems to me that Libertarians should direct their angst not at the Government, but instead at the people who elect the Government. Again, I wish I had time and energy to dig so much deeper, but alas, we're hosting Thanksgiving in three weeks and we still don't have a finished house...

Anonymous said...

As a libertarian, I say to the electorate, "protect the constitution at all costs by voting for individuals who truly believe in protecting it". Without this document, enjoying a weekend ride wouldn't be possible! As for "Global Weirding", you are right on there!! Weird is almost too timid a word for what is occuring out there. As for environmentalism, it is sad that it has been overtaken by outspoken, admitted Communists who want to control us from cradle to grave, but that is what the 2nd amendment was written for!