Saturday, September 27, 2008

Alternate Energy Lessons....

The recent hurricanes hitting the Gulf Coast states have left much of the Houston, Texas, area without power. Without power, they can't pump gas or water. According to an alternate energy blog called The Energy Road Map much of this problem is because decent modes of energy storage have not been developed or implemented in this area.

I know the feeling.

When I lived on the Western Pacific island of Guam, we frequently experienced powerful hurricane-like typhoons. These storms would trash the island (namely, taking out the power poles and lines)--and depending on the severity of the storm, it would take anywhere from a few days to a few months to get the power back up around the island.

For this reason, many major businesses and government entities would have backup gas or diesel generators to provide for their lighting and other electrical needs. For cooking, many establishments had propane tanks to provide for this need.

Since the power goes out frequently on Guam for reasons other than storms (the brown-tree-snake is always a problem--they get into the transformers and cause blowouts when they cross two lines on a powerline), we learned to tolerate cold-showers, light-less nights, and other inconveniences. Some of us also got creative with solar heat (lots of sun available on Guam!) and collecting rainwater. A garden hose filled with rainwater (from a 55-gallon drum collecting water from the roof run-off) left on the lawn during the day would provide a nice hot shower for the evening bath.

A pot of rainwater suspended on a tripod over a parabolic, aluminum/mylar-lined dish would provide boiling water and heat for cooking.

The folks on Guam have become adept at barbequeing--because cooking with electricity isn't always an option. You may have to make some adjustments cooking with solar rather than burning "tangentangen" wood, but heat is heat... and you can get a nice hot meal from the sun if you have your parabolic dish set up correctly.

Just a thought.

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