Wood pellets (& Solar part II).

Its not easy undertaking major works here at this time of year and if our winter of renewable energy starts to sound like a comedy of errors can we please attribute that to our limited budget, time constraints and environmental difficulties rather than slapdash project management, festive distractions and a penchant for 1950s machinery.

Phase 1 of phase 2 was the fuel store for the new wood pellet boiler. We had to lay a 3×3 metre concrete slab for a hopper that will contain 8 tons of wood pellets, then dig a trench to the house for the vacuum transfer. Sounds simple, except that pouring concrete below 4 degrees isn’t recommended and it was nigh on minus 5, the concrete truck is too wide for the gates and mixing 5 tons of concrete by hand would have been ridiculous. Oh, and the Land Rover was out of MOT and we don’t own a sensible trailer. Cue major head scratching and more delays.

Enter big Jack, ace dry stone waller, armed with with a pick up and a borrowed trailer and enough humour, experience and resourcefulness to pick the concrete up from the plant (in 4 runs), slide it down a tin chute into the shuttering, tamp it down nice and flat (in the dark) and improvise a shelter we could heat so it would go off. Bingo. Phase 1 complete. Phase 2 happens in January when the old oil boiler gets ripped out, no doubt in the middle of some biblical weather situation.

There is a second chapter to the solar saga which may constitute something of a record. We were always cutting it fine by taking on our installation on the Sunday of the deadline but we confidently came down from the roof with just the paperwork left to scan and submit. Then at 9pm the scanner we were using gave up and by the time we had driven to and fro along a very icy B970 to get another one, then sorted and rescanned everything page by page, we finally hit send with 24 minutes to spare.

Phew again.

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