“At best, the age of cheap energy is over…”
Former energy Minister of Denmark
“You need to think of energy in a fifty-year timeframe, and our elected officials are thinking of energy in two year election cycles. That’s ridiculous!”
John Hofmeister, former Head U.S. Shell
One of our old friends sent us a link to the PBS video Earth: The Operators Manual / Powering the Planet – and what an interesting and well-done documentary it is. You can disagree with some of the program or with some of the technologies that are presented as solutions (as I disagree about large scale wind farms) – but you cannot disagree with the theme that we cannot continue on the way we have been. We cannot continue what we are doing. We must find better ways.
Where I disagree with some of the experts is in the area of self generation vs large scale energy generation. The current societal model is to have large central generating facilities – whatever the technology – and accept that over 50% of power generated will be lost during transmission. I say that smaller individual and local community power generation is not only viable, but cheaper and less prone to interruption.
This 1 hour program is well worth your time.
Barbados should give MFC’s a look!
by Robert D. Lucas, Ph.D.
Recently there has been much talk about the diverse means available of obtaining energy from renewable sources (solar, wave, wind as-well-as bio-diesel/gas). However, no mention has been made locally of the use of microbial fuel/factory cells (MFC’s). MFC’s are devices that convert chemical energy into electrical energy as do batteries, via the use of micro-organisms.
Unlike batteries, MFC’s can sustain their output of electricity as long as the chemical input is maintained. Most bacteria are electrochemically inactive and cannot be used in MFC’s. Those bacteria which are capable of producing an electric current are called exoelectrogens. Exoelectrogens, when placed into a suitable medium, transfer electrons (negatively charged particles) to an electrode which has been inserted into the medium. This flow of electrons is facilitated by an active electron transport system, which carries electrons directly from the microbe’s respiratory system to the anode ((negatively charged electrode).
“MFC’s do not depend on sunlight to be able to function. There is no need to have storage facilities for storing electricity as is the case with solar energy.”
In Malawi a 14 year old boy named William Kamkwamba built a windmill from scrap pulled out of rubbish bin and for the first time brought electricity to his home.
William was forced to drop out of school when his family couldn’t afford the US$80 a year fees, but that didn’t stop his learning or his ambition. That first windmill was the start of a great adventure that eventually took him to the USA and back to school on a scholarship. He authored a book and is the subject of a documentary film.
You must see the trailer for the film (above) and read his story on the BBC News: Malawi windmill boy with big fans.
All it takes are dreams and hard work. After watching the video, I won’t even include luck. Dreams and hard work are what did it for William.
Thanks to our old friend Hants for bringing this to our attention