Watts for Christmas?

It’s mid-December, and for many of us (depending on age bracket) Christmas is either (a) still so many sleeps away it’s hard to bear the wait!, or (b) coming up waaay too fast for any human to possibly be able to get the last of their Christmas shopping done.

Here on the blog, though, I thought it might be a good time to take a moment and check out the solar conditions we’re expecting here in Newcastle over Christmas.

For those of you in the northern hemisphere, a quick reminder: December in Australia is nothing like this:

and instead is much more like this:

In fact, the usual conditions for Christmas in Newcastle are long, pleasant days with temperatures of around 25°C, which is pretty good both for solar panels and post-lunch games of cricket. Last Christmas our Newcastle site recorded a very respectable 30 megajoules of total horizontal irradiation over the course of the day, as shown below.

This year, though, something different is brewing: it’s La Nina, and it’s bringing us a much colder and wetter Christmas season than normal. In fact, as I write this it’s pouring with rain.

Nonetheless, the Bureau of Meteorology is predicting the sun will be out again later in the week, with a mostly sunny morning forecast for Christmas Day. Here’s hoping that your holidays will have fine weather and your solar panels will get a lot of sunlight for Christmas. In the meantime – at least our heliostats are getting a good wash.


‘Surfing Santas’ photo by Darren Pateman for Newcastle Herald, 17 December 2011.

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