Enforced eco-lodges in South Africa

Enforced eco-lodges in South Africa

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With electricity supply from the national grid becoming a problem, accommodation businesses in South Africa are discovering some eco-sensitive souls who have decided they do not need to be held hostage by power cuts and rising prices. We stayed in loads of different types of tourist accommodation, ranging from backpackers’ bughouses and tiny campsites to five star hotels and luxury game lodges, and the one thing all the good ones have in common is a sincere desire to offer guests a good experience. The basics of that good experience usually constitute a warm, comfortable place to sleep, hot showers, good food, tea and coffee on demand, and drinks that are cold.

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Remote Scottish eco-project

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Wildlife millionaire Paul Lister bought the Alladale Highland Wilderness Reserve after a 10 year search. He was looking for somewhere isolated, private and with vast, uninterrupted views to fulfill his dream of reintroducing indigenous predators to the Scottish Highlands. He is now offering students an ecology holiday, but at a price.

Set within 11,000 hectares of truly dramatic and stunning Highland landscape, the reserve covers 5 glens, 10 hill lochs and 2 river systems. Alladale is the site of one of Europe’s most prominent ecological restoration programmes, conserving native wildlife whilst reintroducing once native Highland flora and fauna in a controlled environment.

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Which Batteries? (2)

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A Reader wrote to us: Hi!

I intend to use a solar system, but don’t seem to get proper advice on storage batteries.

I was advised to use Trojan 105 (6 volt) golf cart batteries x 2 for my six 22 Watt solar panels. Apparently there’s also a 12 volt type golf cart battery available, instead of the two 6 v. batteries. We have daily good sunshine of app. 8 hours and PV output app.12 amp @ app.. 16.8 (Voc).

Now, I don’t know if above are **wet cell** types, giving of gasses or whether they are sealed types. And moreover, should their electrolyte be topped up etc. The main point is: I would like to keep my batteries inside the house, due to excessive heat in our area, but with vapours it would be very corrosive indoors. On the other hand I would prefer “deep cycle” batteries for longest lifespan, that would be the most cost effective.

I would greatly appreciate it if you could advise on these matters.

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Making your own Biodiesel

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It was a busy day Saturday, at the Green Trust facilities in Winthrop, NY. We had a class come together to learn how to construct a biodiesel processor. This unit will take lye and methanol, react it with vegetable oil, and produce a direct substitute for diesel fuel, to be used in any diesel engine, with no changes or modifications to the engine or fuel system. From tractors to trucks, cars to generators, even your boat, if you have a diesel engine, you can make your own fuel, no fumes, no fuss.
We start with a standard electric water heater from our local Sears store, and a conversion kit from Biodiesel Warehouse. After removing the cold water inlet tube, we remove the bottom drain, and attach the valve “T” assembly. The pump then bolts on to the “T”, attaching the fuel transfer manifold to the top of the pump.

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Water Motor

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We all know how an electric motor operates. You have a power switch, it turns electric current on and off to an electric motor, which then does work. That work can be pushing a cart, a fridge, a water pump, or any number of rotary devices. What do you do off the grid, in the mountains of South America, where there is no electricity? What do you use to power your motor? Enter my friends Ron & Diane, in Bolivia, and their “Water Motor“. A unique Micro-Hydro device that uses the power of a falling stream to power stationary devices like saws, mills and generators.

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Auto pollutants, What can I do?

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So here’s the dilemma. You compost, you recycle, get off the grid when you can, maybe even bought a fuel efficient car, getting 30+ mpg. But every day as you fill up on $2+ / gallon gas, you wonder if there is something else you can do to offset your emissions. Not everyone is into diesels and vegetable oil. Along comes Tom Arnold of TerraPass, a student owned and operated company.

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U.S. grants for renewable Energy

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There are various US federal and state and sometimes utility company incentives for installing renewable energy. The benefit is you reduce energy consumption through conservation and the subsidies pay for things like energy efficient lighting, appliances, and insulation. DSIRE USA, a database of State incentives has a list of the net metering rules (grid back feeding — i.e. selling energy back to the grid)) and all the main incentives for each US state. Other countries also have various subsidies as well, and these will be covered in a separate post.

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Geodesic Quonset: Inexpensive, Easy DIY Shelter

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Many folks are familiar with the concept of a Geodesic Dome, and the great advantages of strength and minimal materials,

Geodesic Dome
Geodesic Dome

but most have not heard of a Geodesic Quonset, that also brings along many of the same advantages. It’s great for connecting domes, standalone as an emergency shelter, garage, or greenhouse. We built one recently, with a length of 60′, a width of 15′, and a pre-sidewall height of 7.5′. Less than 100 man hours to build, and a materials cost of less than $500 (plastic sheathing) , it’s extremely strong and functional. We built this structure using new 1″x6″ green lumber (1″x4″ was originally specified), but since all the pieces are less than 4′ in length, waste/scrap or recycled lumber would be ideal. All the pieces were screwed together using a power screwdriver and 3″ wood screws, 5 to a connection.

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Battery Maintenance

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PV panels only provide power when the sun is shining and wind generators only produce when there is sufficient wind, which can be less than 25% of the day. Typically we store power during times of generation in battery packs for use when no generation is possible. In order to keep those batteries at peak performance, and provide long service life, a regimen of maintenance must be observed.

The main things to remember when keeping your batteries in trim is cleanliness of the terminals, proper water levels, and not discharging below the recommended minimums, which in our case is 50%. Proper charging is also important. The best “manual” I have found describing the technologies and methods of care is Bill Darden’s Battery FAQ. There is a section on sulfation, a common battery killer in improperly maintained batteries. A recently purported cure for sulfation can be found at http://www.batterylifesaver.com/. The inventor claims that by dissolving sulfate crystals, he can increase battery life and perfomance.

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LOW PRICE SOLAR PANEL

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Coleman’s Exponent Flex 5 solar energy pack – recharge your mobile phone and other small items on the move – at a better price than you will find anywhere else.

We have done a deal to get our readers the best possible price on a great little powerpack that will convert solar energy into trickle charge electricity….

The Exponent Flex 5 is a foldable solar charger, the size of a paperback book. It’ll charge your MP3 player, digital camera or GPS in a few hours, wherever you are. Ideal for outdoor lovers, campers and backpackers, it is practical, resistant and waterproof.

Normally retailing for £80, we are offering the Exponent Flex 5 for £65.75 INC post and packing within the UK. Please add £3.50 outside the UK.









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