A Solar Energy Fiesta

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I wandered through New Mexico's 9th annual Solar Fiesta this morning. It was crammed with workshops, exhibits, kids activities, and all sorts of solar and sustainable energy information.

At a lecture, I learned that electricity, gas, and gasoline are each about 1/3 of the average person's energy use. In terms of saving electricity, the biggest home user is the refrigerator. Just setting the temperatures to 38 degrees F for the frig and 4 degress F for the freezer can save a lot, even without buying a new refrigerator.

electric truck

It was all fascinating. Exhibits included solar ovens, solar powered water pumps, electric cars, energy efficient windows and insulation, light tubes for skylights and more.

solar panel

Of course, there were ways to use solar energy around the house for heat, hot water, electricity generation, pumping water, turning fans and creating light.

solar light tube

I was particularly interested in the light tubes because I have a dark kitchen and need to have lights on whenever I'm in the kitchen. I think one of these little light tubes is going to be in my future.

solar water pump

The pumps impressed me. They really moved a large volume of water, using a solar panel about 2 square feet in size. You couldn't irrigate a farm that way, but you could irrigate a nice sized garden using a very small and inexpensive set up. The pump in this photo is more of a water feature kind of thing, but they had some pumps that were really working.

solar cooker

Everywhere I looked, there were quiches, cookies, even pot roasts cooking away in solar cookers of various types. I was impressed by the efficiency and the quality of what they cooked, but I thought they were a little pricy to really help people who suffer from lack of cooking fuel and have no electricity.

solar driven boat

Toys and gadgets were all over the children's area. Boats, cars, hard hats with fans, all ran off very small little solar panels.

solar fabric

I saw one of those flexible, fabric solar panels that are showing up in clothing and elsewhere now. This solar fabric was about as thick as a file folder.

styrofoam building material

The styrofoam building materials were fabulous. Instead of building with cinderblocks and then covering them with insulation, you build with insulation. The insulation is layered with tubes, into which you pour concrete, and build a concrete lattice for the walls.

According to the lecture I mentioned at the beginning, an average Albuquerque family uses about 7000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, which requires the burning of about 2 1/2 tons of coal. Each of those 7000 kilowatt hours generates about 2 pounds of carbon dioxide in the production process. That's 14,000 pounds of carbon dioxide going in the air just from electrical use for every family of the city. I'm not even talking about gasoline and natural gas. Getting off the grid of coal produced electricity is the direction we need to be heading.

More of my photos from the event are available on Flickr.

Resources for information on solar energy
- NM Solar Energy Assn resources A large list of resources
- Green Tallahassee All sorts of green information, including about solar
- Affordable Solar Energy | Natural Family Living Blog Tiffany talks affordability and solar
- GoodCleanTech: More Solar Energy The solar energy category on Good Clean Tech, a guide to ecotechnology
- Researchers Beam 'Space' Solar Power in Hawaii | Wired Science Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides gives us all the info on this project, which was described on the Discovery channel
- The "F" word: The Future is Here Arina from Romania blogs about fashion, including the Noon Solar energy bag. The bag uses paper thin solar panels, which can be applied to much more than bags. Tents, jackets, maybe even the roof of your car.
- Helio · A Sustainable Energy Blog A blog about numerous aspects of sustainable energy. Lots of sustainable energy industry links.
- Get The Word Out » Alternative Energy - Winning Information Esther Hoover at Get the Word Out wrote a summary of all kinds of alternative energy
- Benefits of Solar Energy | Focus Organic.com Stefanie blogs about solar energy at Focus Organic

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Virginia DeBolt
BlogHer Technology Contributing Editor
Web Teacher
First 50 Words

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