Peter Lehman, SERC Director
Three months ago in this column, I took the Obama administration to task for announcing that vast tracts of seabed were being opened to oil and gas exploration and exploitation. It turns out that the administration’s timing could not have been worse. The oil spill in the Gulf has highlighted in a stark and graphic fashion one of the many ways that our dependence on fossil fuels is dangerous.
The image that keeps going through my mind is kids playing with matches. We’ve unleashed forces that we don’t completely understand and can’t control. The marine life, the coasts, the wetlands, and the people who live in that biologically rich area will pay the price for our carelessness for decades to come.
Ocean Wave (Image credit Wikimedia Commons)
Humboldt County is awash with renewable energy resource potential and wave power is the largest by far. Pacific Gas and Electric recognizes this potential and is developing a pilot scale wave power facility called WaveConnectTM off the coast of the Samoa Peninsula, directly west of HSU. Their objective is to install a “power strip under the sea” providing wave power manufacturers an opportunity to deploy and evaluate their wave energy conversion (WEC) devices.
The Phase I project team displays the Phase II funding award. l to r Kyle Palmer, James Apple, Meg Harper, Chhimi Dorji, Jenny Tracy, Joey Hiller, faculty advisor Dr. Arne Jacobson, James Robinson, and Nathan Chase.
Students from SERC and the Renewable Energy Student Union (RESU) won a $75,000 EPA grant to implement a Smart Grid device to reduce brownouts on village-scale electrical grids in developing countries. We developed the device, known as GridShare, with support from the EPA’s People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) program. In April, we demonstrated GridShare technology at the National Sustainable Design Expo in Washington, D.C. and we were among fourteen teams to receive P3 Phase Two funding. During the next year, we will travel to Bhutan to implement GridShare technology in the remote village of Rukubji.
Ilse Ruiz, Dr. Omar Masera, Schatz Fellow Tirian Mink, and Dr. Victor Burrueta in the early stages of cookstove construction.
SERC recently had the pleasure of hosting and collaborating with members of the Interdisciplinary Group for Appropriate Rural Technology (GIRA – www.gira.org.mx), on the construction of a Patsari cookstove. GIRA is a non-profit organization based in Patzcuaro, Mexico and is dedicated to the design, development, and promotion of environmentally and socially sustainable technologies and natural resource use. GIRA is internationally recognized for the design and dissemination of their Patsari cookstove, for which they received an Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy in Health and Welfare in 2006.