A prime wheel-based architecture option entails separating the complementary-sloped roof sections of the cube-based Abode style and setting them atop 3D rectilinear annexes appended to the WPA’s south and north walls. Although the equatorial-facing roof section has limited area, it nevertheless is optimally oriented for a smaller scale solar system.
The reason I think a smaller system can very often be worthwhile is that I believe the common “all-or-nothing” mindset in replacing nuke, coal, or fracked gas power generation with renewables is a false choice.
As a semiconductor-based operation, photo-voltaic electricity generation should have grown hand in hand with the escalation of electronic goods. However it did not. PV’s initial role was off the planet powering spacecraft, but now, despite an uptick in recent years, PV pitifully represents less than 1% of the electricity generating pie.
This sad state can and should be righted by first scaling a PV system to the electricity required for powering a home’s consumer electronics – computers, radios, stereos, TVs, etc. – and lighting with the advent of light emitting diodes (LEDs), also semiconducting devices. Such a PV system might be separate from grid electricity to avoid rate arguments and what not. Grid power would be utilized for motorized appliances like refrigerators, fans, washing machines, microwaves, etc.
Here’s an example of how a WBA porch roof would play out. For simplicity, the roof over a 7′ X 12′ porch at 30° latitude is sheathed by three 4′ X 8′ plywood sheets. Of this area, one 4′ X 8′ PV panel is placed lengthwise such that 2 feet surround it on all sides.
The area surrounding the panel might feature substantial trim to soften the roof-as-appliance appearance, and/or be used for albedo compensation. To be mature and real about it, PV should ad it its own heat contribution to both local warming (under the roof and inside the house) and global entropy – and be used accordingly. Happily the PV negative of waste heat production is easily neutralized by including a sufficient area of white roofing around the panel.
The 32 square foot panel equates to about 600 watts. Next, a modest average of 3 hours of nearly direct sun per day is assumed for a total of 1800 daily watt-hours.
That’s a pretty healthy chunk of a home’s power needs met by the panel. If the waste heat generated by the panel (7200 watt-hours) could be tapped for heating water – all the better. An added virtue of the WBA solar approach is that more space is allowed for trees.
This would represent a good step toward giving the institution of utility monopolies some healthy competition. For an analogy, when I biked across North America to Alaska years ago, I found attacking the halfway points of hills where their maximum slopes lie was more effective both physically and psychologically than worrying about the top of the hill. I believe the same approach would work well with homegrown electricity generation.