RELACCX Conference Interview Notes

The goal that Jeff and I had was to record as many interviews as possible over the three days of the conference. In the end we were able to record more than 10 hours of conversation. All these interviews are archived here on RTE’s website so that you can listen to them when you wish. The following comments are notes I took during each interview and I hope these will be helpful. My opinion is that all the interviews are great listening! So, have fun!

Our first interview was with David Blume. He is chief executive officer of Blume Distillation, A California based technology that helps communities build their own small scale ethanol fuel station. In our interview, David speaks passionately about his favorite fuel, ethanol. He eloquently dismisses the negative propaganda, “you need to hear not just the truth but the whole truth.” And it is the whole truth that is being left out and creates misunderstandings about ethanol as a liquid fuel substitute for gasoline. David Blume has written a book, “Alcohol Can Be A Gas”, where he goes into great detail about the making of and characteristics of ethanol fuel. He also includes the history of the economic ‘war’ between alcohol and fossil fuel. He tells us just how it finally came out that we are now using almost exclusively, fossil fuels (and it isn’t pretty). Max Shock and Grazia Zanin joined in toward the end of the interview to talk about ethanol powered airplanes they have been developing and flying since the 70’s.

Our second interview is with Antonio Antonopoulos, Brandon Noakes (Millennium Energy Finance) and Jose Biaou (MEF). Their goal is to help small scale renewables get a sufficient amount of financing from private sources and in that way give banks confidence to provide the balance of funding necessary to make their project viable. We talked about the difficulties involved and possible strategies.

Interview #3 is with Joanna Campe, Remineralize the Earth, and Miranda Chase, What is remineralization? Where can it be most effective? Joanna tells us how finely ground rock dust (a byproduct of gravel mining) can be recycled into depleted soils and significantly improve the fertility of these soils. This is the idea behind remineralization. Miranda speaks about her goal of poverty alleviation through agroforestry, sustainable land use, intercropping (planting different vegetable and tree crops together in the same garden so that they can enrich the soil differently and help each other).

Our fourth interview is with two young people who have excellent ideas. Beatriz de Castro is from Brazil and is a chemistry student who has been designing a system that filters dyes from waste water from a dye plant with bagass (a by product of the sugar industry). Claudia Perez has devised an ingenious way to scale solar energy into the Puerto Rican electric grid. 90% of PR electric is from oil. The electric is expensive to the customer and so the company subsidizes many Puerto Ricans. Claudia’s idea is to have the power company subsidize the construction of solar panels on their roofs which then feed the grid and eliminate some of the oil to electric.

Our fifth interview is with two individuals from Chem bioPower, Antonio Anselmo, a Cornel trained physicist and Jerry Sullivan, the CEO of Chem bioPower. Liquid transportation fuel is the biggest problem… most consumed of fossil fuels and biggest polluter. Their company makes dy methyl either, DME, from biomass. When this is burned as a fuel the exhaust is water and carbon dioxide and no particulate matter. It can be used to replace diesel fuel in trucks. Tony explained to us, for every gallon of oil refined 2 to 8 gallons of fresh water are used ( coal and oil refineries are water ‘pigs’). DME produces ‘net’ water when it is refined, water is a by product of its refinement. He feels that the ‘time is right’ for a new fuel for compression engines.

Elizabeth Galante was our 6th interview. She is a sales person for Posigen, affordable solar for low income home owners. 6kw systems that are leased to the customer. She is passionate about expanding the use of solar for electric generation and wants more people to be able to afford it. “you are going to personally ‘loose’ anyway – so why don’t you get up and fight every day?”

Interview #7 is with David Blume, CEO Blume Distillation and Joanna Campo, Executive Director Remineralize the Earth have an extended and fascinating conversation about soil and it’s complex micro and macro creatures. “Soil supports all human life and we treat it like dirt!”, Joanna said. David had personal experience with farming depleted clay soil. He enriched it with horse manure and returned the minerals to it with rock dust. The results were noticeable when the minerals were delivered to the plants; they were structurally stronger, wind resistant, insect resistant and retained water longer. The conversation then opens up to include Darwin “the fittest survive by cooperation”, is a more accurate interpretation of his thoughts than the often attributed statement “survival of the fittest”, which is Herbert Spence (economist), asserting his theory of ‘Social Darwinism’, which is not a necessary consequence of the principals of biological evolution. Then, ducks! they eat slugs and lay eggs and can be better than chickens, because they won’t eat your garden veggies… or so David says.

Interview #8, Cassandra Dunn, JDM Associates. She provides energy efficiency management for large portfolios. JDM is a consulting firm that helps to ‘green’ the portfolios of companies / utilities they represent. Jeff had an idea that he ran past her and she was very interested. What he suggested was that St Croix and St Thomas (where she works) could charge tourists that come to the islands a sustainability fee. The money collected from this would be applied to building solar power plants on these islands and other sustainable technologies. Another possibility would be for the islands to print their own currency that would only be used within the island for renewable energy projects.

Interview #9 was with Sophie Brock the Executive Director of Solar Household Energy, Inc. Her website is Jeff interviewed her and said that it was amazing how much energy a village size solar concentrating devise can produce. Sophie told him that 100 solar cookers and even air-conditioning can be powered.

Interview #10, Heather Rosmarin with the Inter American Clean Energy Institute wants to get renewable energy technologies into Latin America. The Institute is a California based clean energy ‘think tank’. they provide data to groups that want to build renewable energy projects. They have a portal on their website that provides resources and data.

These short overviews are just a way to get you to the door you may want to walk through… please listen, enjoy, maybe learn something new or even get inspired… then tell your friends so they can get involved and start to think sustainably. It is a road, not a destination… a way of thinking, not the final truth.


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