Monday, November 18, 2013

To break the oil habit, it takes a village.

Burning oil to generate electricity is common on small  islands and remote villages from Alaska to central you-name-it.  In the lower 48 very little electricity is made from oil, but world wide the pollution is significant, some global warming experts identify it as one of the fixes that could quickly make a difference in global warming.
Not only are villagers living near a smoke belching screaming generator barn, the cost is crippling.  The oil shipped or trucked adds additional pollutants to the environment.

The solution is emerging, it's solar panels for most locations.  One Pacific Island recently installed more than enough to run the area during daylight.  The generators are backup and don't run often.  LED lights and batteries get people through the evenings.  The cost is much less than diesel, in about 5 years they break even.  Villagers don't miss the roar or smoke of the old system.

In other areas a few lucky villages are buying wind turbines, especially near the poles.  A few years ago I gave few dollars to an Eskimo village crowd funding for mid size wind mills.  They raised enough to buy two I think.

Solar panels here are usually met with the "hey they only work in daylight" gotcha.  So, I say build big solar farms, and set a two tiered rate schedule, much lower in the daytime.  People will make a bigger effort at running washers, dryers and other appliances during the day.  The night load will be reduced somewhat leaving wind (which runs more at night than day) to pick up much of the evening demand.


  1. Doing things that work AND make sense is not one of this country's strong points.


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