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3-Island Pacific Nation Goes 100 Percent Renewable
11/14/2012

Residents of Tokelau will get all their electricity from solar power and coconut-derived biofuel. Shown here is the solar energy installation on the atoll of Nukunonu. (Source: PowerSmart)
Residents of Tokelau will get all their electricity from solar power and coconut-derived biofuel.
Shown here is the solar energy installation on the atoll of Nukunonu.
(Source: PowerSmart)

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Cabe Atwell
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Island unto yourself
Cabe Atwell   11/14/2012 1:11:26 PM
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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.

C

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Island unto yourself
Ann R. Thryft   11/14/2012 2:04:38 PM
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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.

Charles Murray
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90% solar
Charles Murray   11/14/2012 6:22:48 PM
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If the solar panels will supply 90% of the islands' power, I wonder two things: (1) How many hours a day of sunlight they get; and (2) how much storage they need to have for the non-sunlight hours.

Charles Murray
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Re: Island unto yourself
Charles Murray   11/14/2012 6:26:36 PM
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I agree that this is a real test of renewable energy, Cabe. We've been hearing that island communities will be among the biggest users of grid storage. Here's an opportunity to see how well it works.

S Baker
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Renewable Yes - Solar?
S Baker   11/15/2012 10:00:42 AM
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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.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: 90% solar
Ann R. Thryft   11/15/2012 11:52:50 AM
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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.

John
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Re: Renewable Yes - Solar?
John   11/15/2012 12:05:51 PM
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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.

NadineJ
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Re: Island unto yourself
NadineJ   11/15/2012 12:05:59 PM
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There are lots of great projects all around Asia like this.  Most have no Western partners and are generated locally.  I recently stumbled on Sky Greens in Singapore. 

Hopefully, this solar/biofuel system and the urban vertical farm (Sky Greens) can offer solutions that will benefit everyone in the world.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Renewable Yes - Solar?
Ann R. Thryft   11/15/2012 4:01:42 PM
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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.

robatnorcross
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Re: Renewable Yes - Solar?
robatnorcross   11/15/2012 4:06:10 PM
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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.

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