That is fantastic. Lessons learned here are, reduce your energy demands in how you live, and use renewables. However, in a modern urban society, is that even possible? Since it takes years to pay off the price of alternative energy products, could a USA based city follow suit? I would image that the surface area needed in solar panels to power Chicago, let's say, would replace a lot of the surrounding suburbs.
Even if you look at becoming a island unto yourself, the surface area for 100% solar power replacement of the grid would cover more land than the average person has available to them. Also, the cost, at current prices, would hover around $50,000 USD on up.
Hopfully, the work done on Tokelau will help promote similar styles of living globally.
I think your points are well taken, and they show up the fact that modern mega-cities are not the best way to inhabit the land. In cities, it does take a long time to pay off the price of alternatives, but that's because the infrastructure in this dense, crowded area is simply not set up to a) generate and b) distribute alternative fuels and energy sources. That's not the case in rural areas and especially in places like Tokelau where people live more simply, consume less, still have enough resources available to make their own fuels, and sources are closer to end-points, so distribution doesn't require long distances traveled. Regarding solar energy, panels are not the simplest, cheapest or most effective way to go. Passive solar construction, which does require correct siting, has been done by humans for thousands of years, and is still being done today.
My comments about passive solar should also be accompanied by one about active solar, AKA solar cells and panels as currently designed and built. And that's the fact that there's more than one way to build a solar cell. Some are flexible, such as this one:http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=248975 as well as another that we'll be publishing a post on soon. So the application of such cells to windows and/or building surfaces of various kinds could take care of the urban density problem.
Chuck, the system will actually supply 150% of each island's electricity needs, although the original spec called for 90%. The Pacific is an area with a lot of sunshine, and some of them also have high potential for wind, hydro and geothermal energy.
Thanks for clarifying your question. I'm not sure the sun stops shining much in those islands. When it does, backup is provided by the generators, run on coconut oil. They also handle battery recharging.
I am all for renewable. My question is: was solar the best option?
I have not checked the lattitude of the islands but I question the cost of solar verses wind generation. Battery quanity may be the same but the land use may have been significantly less. On any island land is valuable. Be it Manhattan or an atoll in the pacific.
Here in Oklahoma you would think that wind generation would work well. The south west portion of Oklahoma is on the edge of the plains in the Texas panhandle and receives considerably less moisture than central Oklahoma. A company studied the area north of Lawton/Fort Sill and finally decided it would be a great location for wind generation and "ranchers" would receive lease payments. After a few years it has been decided it is not near as profitable as thought. Wind generators generate at a fairly low wind speed and the wind usually dies down to nothing at night. BTW, wind generators are not near as nice to look at as the pink granite mountains they sit around.
It will intresting to see how solar power works out for island nations.
John, Yes, we know that wind farms are not great to look at -- and that they kill birds and bats. Here's an idea for the industry. Imagine placing many fan blades on a chain that runs on a vertical oval or circular track. The track could have a wire grid around it to prevent bird strikes. If oval, it could lie at a low profile near the ground.
S Baker, wind was addressed in the feasibility report, and is continuing to be explored. The report says the amount available is not as high as would be required for mainland use, but is worth looking into since fuel costs on the islands have been so high.
Get a Grip S Baker. You sound like a DC bureaucrat. Someone on the planet has ACTUALLY DONE SOMETHING instead of held endless congressional and senate hearings, seminars, luncheons, studies and conferences about it. Look it up on Wiki. The place looks like paradise. I think I've finally found somewhere to move to.
This is a terrific development. Hats off to a small island nation for being willing to take on this grand experiment. It would be nice to keep tabs on this operation over the next few years. Especially to see how it holds up to salt exposure and tropical storms.
I think this is admirable. The three islands should be commended. They saw a problem. They made their plans for solution. They actually did something about the problem and the results are tangible. Now, for better or worse, they will have to live with the solution but having a system in which 150% of their electrical needs are met seems to be proof their solution was workable. (Ann-would you mind sending your post to Congress--and maybe the Executive branch. They might see examples of government working together to do SOMETHING POSITIVE.)
Also Ann, do you know the name of the firm that designed the system? Possibility the University Fiji???? Great post.
bobjengr, I didn 't see the name of the design firm in the source material. However, you might check the links we gave in the article to the website of PowerSmart, and to the feasibility report. It may be identified in one of those sources. (And I agree about those letters to Congress.)
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