Building, Energy Systems — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor May 20, 2013
With deforestation still moving ahead apace, dealing with the global demand for fuel wood is critical. Life without heat and hot water would be very unpleasant. Life without trees is impossible…. And to satiate our hunger for heat, richly biodiverse forests are being replaced with ’sterile’ monoculture tree plantations which give rise to tree diseases and other ecological vulnerabilities. The pressure for fuel wood is on in most parts of the world. Removing tree cover from the upper watershed is particularly damaging, but persistent demand can cause too many to shift the goalposts on how much should be allowed to remain….
Along with passive solar building designs, a rocket stove hot water heater can dramatically reduce the amount of wood used to heat a given amount of space, or a given amount of water — down to as little as a fifth as much as a regular fire. In this video Geoff Lawton takes you through the design of the rocket stove mass hot water heater that very efficiently provides reliable daily showers for the many students we receive at PRI Zaytuna Farm. This particular stove is specifically for heating water, but other designs can produce thermal mass space heaters as well.Comments (9)
Energy Systems, Land, Trees — by Eric Toensmeier April 12, 2013
This article is an excerpt from my forthcoming book Carbon Farming: A Global Toolkit for Stabilizing the Climate with Tree Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices, and is part of a series promoting my kickstarter campaign to raise funds with which to complete the book.
Coppiced firewood species trial at ECHO
These firewood species grow rapidly, fix nitrogen, and re-sprout (coppice) quickly after cutting. All have high-quality firewood. They are thus a productive, self-fertilizing and perennial firewood source. Intensive blocks of these species can produce a tropical family’s cooking fuel needs on 0.15ha (0.37 acres; according to interviews with staff at both Las Cañadas and ECHO). Use of rocket stoves and other conservation technologies can reduce the area even further.Comments (12)
On the 18th of March we started our biogas project. This project involves making a bio-digester which will turn manure into methane gas for cooking and other energy needs.
Outline of the bio-digester
Tom had to re-do some fencing and clear the site for the bio-digester. He calculated that with the amount of manure we are getting (around 30kg per day), we need a 5 cubic metre bio-digester, which will give us around 1 1/2 cubic metres of gas per day.
Lead up time to get the gas going will be around 60 days once we start filling the bio-digester. But we are not there yet, and here I have documented the start of the project.Comments (1)
Energy Systems, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Nikos A. Salingaros March 25, 2013
Interview of Nikos Salingaros by Mumtaz Soogund on Defimedia, Mauritius, 8 March 2013.
Dr. Salingaros recently joined the CT (Centrale Thermique) Power debate in Mauritius, and in this light graciously agreed to share his views on the matter with the readers of News on Sunday.
MS: A coal-powered plant proves to be a massive investment in the long run, and people are talking more and more about renewable sources of energy. Are they viable and would they be equally efficient in Mauritius?Comments (0)
Iowa and South Dakota Approach 25 Percent Electricity from Wind in 2012: Unprecedented Contribution of Wind Power in U.S. Midwest
Energy Systems — by Earth Policy Institute March 15, 2013
by J. Matthew Roney, Earth Policy Institute
Defying conventional wisdom about the limits of wind power, in 2012 both Iowa and South Dakota generated close to one quarter of their electricity from wind farms. Wind power accounted for at least 10 percent of electricity generation in seven other states. Across the United States, wind power continues to strengthen its case as a serious energy source.
Courses/Workshops, Energy Systems — by Zaia Kendall March 1, 2013
For some years now we have been looking at minimising our energy consumption, and at alternative forms of energy creation in order to produce the energy we need. As we have animal systems in place here at PRI Sunshine Coast, we have a fair bit of manure on the property. As well as animal manure, we also have waterless (composting) toilets, so humanure is another resource on our property waiting to be used more efficiently than we currently are. After a lot of research over the past few years, Tom decided that a Biogas system would be the best way to go for us.Comments (8)
Consumerism, Energy Systems, Global Warming/Climate Change, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by I-SIS February 21, 2013
Shale gas could be a useful stop-gap substitute for more conventional fossil fuels on our way towards fully green renewable energies, but health and environmental risks including pollution to ground water remain to be addressed.
by Prof Peter Saunders
Shale gas is being hailed as the new source of energy that will keep the world’s economy going as oil supplies start to dwindle. It will, so we are told, make developed countries less dependent on the politically unstable Middle East and it will contribute to mitigating climate change because it produces less greenhouse gas than coal or oil.Comments (1)
by J. Matthew Roney, Earth Policy Institute
Wind has overtaken nuclear as an electricity source in China. In 2012, wind farms generated 2 percent more electricity than nuclear power plants did, a gap that will likely widen dramatically over the next few years as wind surges ahead. Since 2007, nuclear power generation has risen by 10 percent annually, compared with wind’s explosive growth of 80 percent per year.
Before the March 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan, China had 10,200 megawatts of installed nuclear capacity. With 28,000 megawatts then under construction at 29 nuclear reactors—19 of which had begun construction since 2009—officials were confident China would reach 40,000 megawatts of nuclear power by 2015 and perhaps 100,000 megawatts by 2020. The government’s response to the Fukushima disaster, however, was to suspend new reactor approvals and conduct a safety review of plants in operation and under construction.Comments (2)
Building, Energy Systems — by Paul Wheaton February 20, 2013
Four DVDs will be created: "Fire Science", "Sneaky Heat", "Boom Squish" and "Hot Rocket" – showing the most sustainable way to heat.
I pointed the video camera at all the cool stuff at the workshop, just like I said I said I would. Now it is time for you all to pony up for the DVDs. Once funded, the raw footage will be massaged into stuff that will fit into DVD-like thing-a-ma-jigs.Comments (9)
Building, Energy Systems — by Rob Avis February 15, 2013
by Rob Avis
Our new rocket mass heater is now functionally done. After installing a proper chimney, it really hums! Above is a video that we produced showcasing its construction.Comments (4)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Deforestation, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Energy Systems — by Alex McCausland February 14, 2013
In rural Africa it’s pretty hard to come by fuel sources which are a good alternative to wood. Gas is too expensive. Kerosene is also pretty expensive and quite a dirty fuel anyway. Wood also has the advantage that it burns quite slowly so that you can slow cook over a fire for several hours just feeding it occasionally. If you did this with gas it would cost a fortune. In a place like Ethiopia you can also have a local worker leave a valve open overnight and come down to find an empty canister in the morning. So like most people around here, we still cook with wood. One day we may get a biogas set up going and be able to produce our own methane gas on a continual basis (see ‘Biogas’ section at bottom of this article for an example). That would really be true sustainability but we have not yet reached a capacity to be able to develop that scale of infrastructure at this stage.
The problem we are faced with is that this area is getting badly deforested. Women trudge past our site on the road day in, day out, carrying piles of firewood back to their villages or to peddle at the market — literally carrying away the forest on their backs. It’s not healthy and it’s not sustainable. So as a permaculture demonstration site in this area, what have we got to showcase as an alternative? Well, there are two strategies we employ: 1) get as much utility as possible out of any unit of wood fuel – so reducing the overall consumption, 2) use the parts of the plant/tree which can re-grow quickly (coppice) and hence can be harvested at a sustainable rate.Comments (7)
Energy Systems — by Alex McCausland February 4, 2013
As an Eco-Lodge, showers are obviously an important facility which guests have certain expectations about. Our lodging facilities are comprised of local thatched circular huts which are wooden framed with mud rendered walls. We had originally planned to put showers inside the rooms. However, we changed our minds about this due to the potential problems of having a regular water source inside a grass, wood and mud house in our environment, relating to dampness, smells and decay, the latter being greatly accelerated by the presence of termites, where moisture is available in moderate amounts.Comments (5)
Building, Eco-Villages, Energy Systems, Land, Retrofitting, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Marcin Gerwin January 30, 2013
Marcin Gerwin: In many cities there are problems with traffic jams. The streets are clogged with cars and as a response mayors build new roads or widen the streets. Old buildings are demolished to make way for new lanes so that a highway running through the middle of the city could be built. Would you say that this is the right way forward?Comments (0)
DVDs/Books, Energy Systems — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor January 16, 2013
Watching the above video, and others I’ve seen like it, gives me rocket-stove envy. Rocket-stove envy can be a serious condition, if not dealt with in a reasonable time frame. Indeed, it can be a debilitating disease. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, sleeplessness, regret, empty wallets and general surliness. But, if enough people had this serious condition, and also had it properly dealt with, by getting their own well-built rocket-stove, I can only imagine how much more joy there would be in the world, and how many trees would be saved from a premature demise….Comments (3)
Energy Systems, Processing & Food Preservation — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor January 15, 2013
Most of you will be familiar with the pot-in-pot refrigerator by now. Well, today we’ll revisit this concept by taking a look at the ‘MittiCool’ refrigerator, a possible ‘upgrade’ that also uses evaporative cooling through the use of clay, but which looks a little more like the refrigerator you’re more familiar with. And, just like the pot-in-pot refrigerator, the MittiCool uses no electricity.
How does it work? The topmost section holds water, which very slowly drips down the sides. As permaculturists will know, one of many ‘constants’ we can count on and use to advantage is that evaporation cools. As the water evaporates from the porous clay surface, it cools the interior, enabling you to store fruit, vegetables, milk, etc.
There is even a tap on the front of the unit, so it doubles as a water cooler as well.
In the following videos you’ll meet the maker of MittiCool, and learn how it is made from a specific combination of four different types of clay he has found in his local area. The video states that the inside temperature of the MittiCool can be up to 8°C lower than the outside temperature.Comments (1)