Wind Rush

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A series of reports from Reuters news agency tonight highlighted rapid growth in Renewable Energy worldwide.

Timed to coincide with the launch of the 2005 Renewable Energy conference in Beijing (, the reports covered global investment in renewable energy as well as highlighting China’s leading role in wind power and solar panel manufacturing.

Global investment in renewable energy hit a record $30 billion last year, accounting for 20-25 percent of all investment in the power industry, and with solar power the fastest-growing energy technology, a Worldwatch Institute report released on Sunday said.

Biodiesel just keeps on growing

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We’ve carried many stories about biodiesel, from our Daryll Hannah interview to our Josh Tickell interview, but now something big is happening and biodiesel is moving from an obscure fringe product to a massive international movement. Consumers are demanding to run their cars on biodiesel — and their generators and their home heating units.

Over the coming weeks well have full information on how to make, store and use biodiesel in your home and your vehicle. Here’s an article by Andy Smith in Kentucky which sums up the situation in the US right now – and every where else for that matter. Towards the end of the story we have a detailed survey of international biofuel developments as far as they affect the main user of gas – the auto.

Water Storage for Off-grid Living

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By Parker Abercrombie and Art Ludwig, author of “Water Storage: Tanks, Cisterns, Aquifers, And Ponds for Domestic Supply, Fire And Emergency Use.” Buy the book at the end of this story. Includes How to Make Ferrocement Water Tanks.

Water can be stored many ways…

An ideal off-grid water system would draw water from an abundant, clean, year round spring or creek. There would always be enough water supply to meet demand, and there would be no concerns about extra water for fire protection or emergencies. But since few of us are blessed in this way, nearly all water systems include some form of storage, most commonly a tank. Even if you get your water from a municipal water system, you may want to store water at your home for fire protection or emergency preparedness. Water storage can be used to:

• cover peaks in demand
• smooth out variations in supply
• provide water security in case of supply interruptions or disaster
• save your home from fire
• meet legal requirements
• improve water quality
• provide thermal storage and freeze protection
• enable a smaller pipe to serve for a distant source

Free real estate ad for reader

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House for sale

“I just want to thank you for building such a great site, and let you know I’ve lived off grid in Supreme Style since 1998,” says one of our readers.
It took 2 years to build my dream home near Springfield, Ill (well we’re Simpsons fans, so how could we resist?). I bought the land 18.4 acres with rolling hills and a creek going through the property, my private driveway is 1/2 mile long and my home is secluded. In 1996 and started building in the late fall. I had my home completely framed up and a tornado force wind came along and leveled it. I’ll never forget that morning I came out to work on it. I came up the hill to the home and found a pile of toothpicks.

What a corker

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Scientists say they can use corks as an alternative energy source, the BBC reported. They noticed that a cork bobbing about in water generates power, so they set about designing a machine which could convert wave power into electricity. The bobber uses floats instead of corks which are attached to a rig in the sea. the partially-submerged floats bob about in waves and generate energy which is converted into electricity.

Tests suggest it is capable of producing more that double the amount generated by off-shore wind farms.

Inventor Peter Stansby said: “The Bobber’s output of five megawatts is the mean power output, with the potential of more depending on the conditions.” This he said, compared favorably with a wind turbines ‘maximum output’ of two megawatts. The team, based at Manchester University, is now trying to secure funding for a full scale trial, the Engineer trade journal reported.


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Microgrids promise reliable, efficient, environmentally-friendly electricity in a ‘peer-to-peer’ network:
In 1996, a sagging power line in Oregon brushed against a tree, and within minutes 12 million customers in eight states lost power. Such is the vulnerability of today’s power grid. To address this, Berkeley Lab scientists developed a cluster of small, on-site generators serving offices, industry, homes.
The system designed to shoulder the US’s growing thirst for electricity without building the 1,000 new power plants required to meet demand, will lead to a revolution in the way we can live.

Wood stove sales heat up

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Rising costs of fossil fuels are ushering wood stoves back into homes, and making people already surviving on wood fires feel like they made the right choice. Its also creating a windfall for dealers who are hustling to keep pace with demand.

In Alaska, always a good indicator when it comes to measures to protect against cold, wood stove dealers are reporting sales for September up 300 percent over September 2004, and it’s not yet even the peak of the sales season.

Land boom in the boondocks

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Second-growth forests in east and north Washington State are sprouting a new crop: residential real estate.

The metal rooftops of several luxury recreational homes punctuate the forest canopy on the bluff above Swift Reservoir’s turquoise waters. View lots at Swift Cove, Marble Creek Estates and Swift View are going for up to $169,000. Swift Cove’s 14 lots sold in three years, and buyers quickly snapped up the four lots at Marble Creek.

Signs for Pine Creek East, along Forest Service Road 25, advertise “a new recreational community” with lots from $59,900 to $129,000. The subdivision, carved into second-growth forest stands 22 miles east of Cougar, is the first stage of a planned 200-house community that will include property within the Muddy River and Pine Creek watersheds.

$600 gets your house on solar power

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Reading an interesting/informative article by Rex Ewing titled “Piecing together a spanking-new $600 solar-electric system,” we were appalled that this pioneer of alternatives to standard grid living could be the same Rex Ewing who played guitar in the naughtily brilliant SHAGNASTY band.

Fortunately its a different Mr. Ewing — a knowledgeable practitioner on the maturing frontier of solar applications…..and this is what he had to say:

Got 600 bucks hiding in an old book somewhere? Maybe it’s time to bring electricity into that little homestead you’ve got tucked away in the woods. But wait a minute, you say, with justifiable hesitancy. Solar-electric systems all cost thousands, don’t they? No, just the expensive ones.

Keep it cool

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Cool! Solar cooled in Southern China

Some of us use the sun’s energy to help heat our home. But many months of the year (or all year round, in some places), heating the house is the last thing we want. There are ways to keep the sun’s heat away from our home and keep down those expensive air conditioning bills.

What do you do on a hot summer day when you want a moment’s respite? Find some shade, stoopid.

This is a smart idea for your house as well. Effective landscaping not only prevents sunlight from entering your home unimpeded, but the leafy foliage itself can lower temperatures in the surrounding area by giving off moisture.