Monday, January 21, 2008

Alternative Technology Wishlist 2008

The year 2007 witnessed finally consensus and near panic at climate change complicated by all-time high fuel prices and the specter of a 2008 recession. It looks gloomy, but there is always the flipside of positive change and community action. We believe that the economy should be subservient to society’s needs and aspirations. Our Christmas wishlist, our second, for appropriate technology, hopes to generate creativity and action.

All Things Solar- The US Department of Energy projects renewable energy to grow 23% faster at the present until 2030 than previously estimated. Solar power is expected to grow four-fold. See: The costs for current solar technology are expected to decline from a present $3 to $4 per watt to about $0.80/watt within five years, and $.50/watt within ten years. See In terms of transportation, solar cars are fast approaching reality. In the recent Panasonic World Solar Challenge held last 21-28 2007, solar cars from Netherlands , Austria, Belgium, the US, Canada, and the Philippines ranked in the top 12 that traveled more than 2,500 kms. See: and Many practical applications of solar technology from portable electronic charging kits to solar garden lamps are now available for purchase. See

All Things Vegan- Agriculture not only feeds, it fuels. The speculative rush to biofuels had some predicting of a bubble in alternative fuels. That may be true, but at the moment, there seems to be a demand for fuels. Biofuels made a big splash in 2007 and we expect the trend to continue. See In the U.S., the state of California has gone all out on alternative fuels. See for the resources you can tap. Used vegetable oil is feasible in the Philippines. Chips Guevara, who’s in my extended family, is an engineer with an MBA. He and is dad, Tito Cards, have converted two old diesel Mercedez Benz vehicles to run on both diesel and straight vegetable oil (SVO). They are in talks with jeepney groups and private enthusiasts on a few commercial prototypes. The technology for processing and using SVO in a hostile Philippine climate is a combination of new, imported, and Filipino-ingenuity. See,,, and among the many sites available on the WEB. Wartsila is proclaiming that it can build a biofuel power plant. See LIQUID BIOFUEL POWER PLANTS

The Spanish biodiesel firm Bionor Transformacion S.A. announced its intention to invest US$200 million to develop at least 100,000 hectares (247,105 acres) of jatropha plantations. See and The large footprint is worrisome, but the technology, financial, skills transfer and employment opportunities are tempting. Coconut-biodiesel is also expanding in the Philippines. See for breakthroughs in biofuel technology in the country, including a plan to build a P1.5-billion Green Power Complex (GPC) in Pangasinan using sweet sorghum and sweet potato.

All Things Recycled- The recycled juice bags that the wifey used as an exchange gift in her school’s Christmas party was a big hit. Those we’ve given have always appreciated this statement of turning consumerism on its own head. See these products at,, and Using the bicycle is healthy, limits your carbon footprints, and allows you the freedom to explore your urban area. What people need is a cycling network that promotes this mode of transportation, helps you maintain your bike, recycles bike parts, and promotes safe cycling. Check out BICAS of Tucson ( and the Firefly Brigade’s annual Tour of the Fireflies at

All Gadgets Green- Lastly, for greener gadgets, check out for such green gadgets as cellphones powered by hydrogen (no more hot air?) and movement, greener cellphones, the soon-to-be solar powered $100 laptop, solar powered energy adaptors, laptop bags, portable radios and so on, and the US EPA’s proposed cellphone recycling system, among others.

The key to long-term planning for alternative energy is some knowledge as to the long-term base price of fossil fuels. Hopefully, government can help in this informational gap.

Happy new year.


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