Keeping it energized!

Mount Komekura Photovoltaic power plant in Japan - house ready?  (c) Sakaori, as found on Wikipedia

What is necessary for survival, comes in many forms…and on the minds of nearly every global citizen? If you guessed energy, good work. The controversy around energy sourcing, governance and use is frequently in the news, however how much do we really know? This week we explore just what oil pricing really is, dive into alternative energy possibilities for our homes, and learn about what could be possible from advancements across pond. Check out this energized edition of Terra Informa.

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Ecobabble: The Price of a Barrel of Oil

Alberta is knee deep in budget anxiety again. Moreso than any other province in Canada, our budget is highly linked to the price of a barrel of oil. So when the price drops every few years, oil royalties going into Alberta’s bank account can drop by hundreds of millions of dollars. This fall, the West Texas Intermediate price for crude oil is hovering around $80 – about 20% lower than what the Alberta government planned on.
There are lots of contributing factors behind that, but there’s also a whole hidden layer of assumptions behind the way we talk about oil. What is West Texas Intermediate? Is there such a thing as “the” price of a barrel of oil? What are the long term factors that push prices up and down? If you want to understand our budget, and why our politicians are so obsessed with pipelines, you’ve got to listen to this week’s Ecobabble.

Solar power in the neighbourhood?

When you were a kid in school and you first learned about solar power, did you think, why don’t they put those on our roof? Terra Informa’s Danielle Dolgoy thought a lot about solar power growing up under Edmonton’s big, sunny skies. It seemed simple enough. Slap a few panels up on the house and school, and stop polluting the water, air, and soil.

As solar technology has improved over the last decade it is rapidly becoming a viable alternative to burning fossil fuels. And as energy industry heads scramble to maintain their dominance over the delivery of the essential thing: energy, certain myths have begun to creep into the conversation.

Some people say that solar power is too costly to produce and thusly, not a real alternative for the everyday consumer. Others say that the process of manufacturing solar panels, or modules as the professionals call them, is just as hazardous to the environment as conventional electricity generation. So why mess with what we already know? They say we should stick with the reliable energy that we’ve always trusted and continue using the infrastructure in place in the same way we always have.

Danielle caught up with business owner, electrical engineer, and solar power enthusiast Warren Sarauer recently, to bust these myths. After she and Terra Informa’s Riyah Lakhani attended Sarauer’s talk on solar energy hosted by the Solar Energy Society of Alberta, called “Solar Energy: How to Generate Your Own Power and Sell It Back to the Grid”, they both wanted to know more about the viability of solar power for themselves and the people they know.

Link: Solar Energy Society of Alberta

Cleaning up our power sources – lessons from Denmark

Solar power seems great and all, but what do we do when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing? When the sun is hiding, and the wind doesn’t feel like whooshing, what do we energy-dependent creatures do? The simple answer is storage. On a windy, sunny day, charge up a battery in your basement. Then drain the battery on a still, black night. But that’s easier said than done. How can we scale up this solution across a whole city? Across a whole country? It would be very expensive and it would take a very long time.

Chris Turner thinks he’s found a better solution. He spoke about it in Edmonton at the Zero 2014 Conference last spring. Here’s an excerpt from his talk – where he describes finding the future of clean power being developed in Denmark.

Links: Chris Turner on Twitter, Chris at Zero 2014

What’s Happening

ACORN 15th annual organic conference and trade show: November 12-14 in Halifax, NS

ACORN is hosting their 15th annual organic conference and trade show. It involves  bringing together organic and sustainable farmers, processors and businesses from across the region. Sounds like fun times! If this seems like your jam, it’lll be at the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel, and will cost $15 to attend.

Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival: November 15-16 in Mission, BC

Are you a bird nerd? Or more specifically, a fan of the majestic eagle? Then the Fraser Valley Bald Eage Festival in Mission, BC is totally up your alley. Come watch as hundreds of eagles come to feast on newly spawned salmon, while partaking in some cool activities.


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