Even God Almighty can’t bring Peter Bourne to his ageing knees but this gentle giant worships his solar system, so the words “Do you mind posing next…” had him down caressing his much loved silicon. Things looked like getting downright steamy when he said “The thing I love about solar power …..” and I knew I was in for a long afternoon.
Not quite solar pioneers, Bourney and the loveliest Helen were early solar adopters when they installed their 2kW system 10 years ago. “We wanted to make an environmental impact and the dollars were a secondary consideration”. Back then, the installed cost was a considerable $14,727. Now, despite running two reverse cycle heaters, numerous ceramic panel heaters etc., they receive only the occasional winter bill and that is covered by the credits earned in summer months anyway. (Not that $ matter….)
A man of big principles and bigger muscles, Bourney is a sleeping giant you don’t want to anger. When I asked ”Has it paid itself off, Pete?” he thundered “I’ve no idea and it was never an interest!” And in a reflective moment added “I spent all my savings on beer anyway.”
Chastised for dirtying the conversation with talk of money, I steered him to matters technical. “We generate 8kW/day or nearly 3000kW/year” he said. “Installing solar is creating your own infrastructure - so you’re less reliant on others. We are conscious of how we use power but that’s what we do in rural locations anyway.”
Today, with a payback periods of 4 year for the average household, the same opportunity is available for a fraction of the cost. Of course, I wasn’t going to tell that to the man casting his generous shadow over this grubby journalist.