I was given the opportunity by the good folks UC Riverside to create their first survey course in energy efficiency and renewable energies for their Extension Program. I was nervous. Found a great book; S. David Freeman's "Winning Our Energy Independence" to give a great overview without the pain of a having to get a technical degree...gave it my best shot...and this is what the seven (7) students that attended the course were witness to over the month beginning at 9 a.m. on March 14th, 2009.
Saturday March 14th:
We met for the first time the Second Annual Bright Idea Expo at Civic Center Park in the City of Palm Desert . Kudos to Patrick Conlon and the wonderful staff at the Office Of Energy Management for putting on a PERFECT event!
After perusing all of the awesome booths and initiating open conversation with the exhibitors and even getting the chance of hearing Patrick speak on policy and financing issues (AB 811, Feed in Tariffs, etc.) we moved on to a solar installation in our Valley. I chose a small scale, residential installation put in order by Renova a month earlier.
Lunch and travel to the Salton Sea region
Following the solar tour we moved on down Valley to the Colmac Biomass electricity facility to meet with Danny Stelton. Colmac facility tour.
One of the musings that came from the class after our tour:
"The Colmac facility for me, was the highlight of the day. I was so impressed with the technology to use what was once a waste product and with very little emissions, convert it into clean energy. "
Truly the folks at Colmac don't get enough credit for being a first to market concept that cash flows and makes a clean, sustainable difference in the way that we dispose of our green waste to create green energy. Thank you Danny and Great job folks!
The day ended with the drive back along the 86 S (NAFTA Highway) and to the Civic Center parking lot where everyone left the Valley to points beyond by 4.
We planned to meet at the UC Riverside Palm Desert campus in two weeks.
Saturday March 28th:
We met at UCR Palm Desert campus at Cook and Frank Sinatra streets.
And thanks to Ron Willison and the crew at our campus we had a successful morning watching prep videos on the tour that was about to take place.
Imperial Western Bio-Diesel where we met with Curtis Wright
He showed us the magic that goes on within their walls and explained in detail just how this fuel...which is called diesel because of the similar structural properties that it shares with diesel fuel...has the potential of being a clean replacement for diesel powered vehicles of all shapes, sizes and uses. Exciting stuff!
After leaving Curtis we moved further down Valley along the Salton Sea rim. To CalEnergy's geothermal facility.
Lunch and travel to the Salton Sea region
Now this was an exciting experience!
CalEnergy Geothermal facility .
We were met by Mark Gran this Saturday and knew that we were in for quite a day when he brought us to a class room and showed us a PowerPoint overview of the history of CalEnergy in our region. We then right into the belly of the whale where he showed the class all aspects of the facilities renewable energy generation. We wound up seeing one of the worlds largest geothermal cap/valves just at the end of the field! This thing is so huge and is holding back so much pressure from below that it needs steel, shock absorber type arms to hold it in place!
After this incredible tour from Mark we headed back to UCR...our heads swimming with so much information and so much excitement for the future of tapping renewable energy sources in our world! In two weeks the wind farms with Wintec!
Monday April 20th:
Wintec wind farm tour with Fritz Noble and Steve Avila *
Now this was truly an experience...after meeting up at the Denny's along the 10 Freeway we headed, with Fritz as our guide, into his world. These are his wind machines and he knows everything about them...their past and their future. Fascinating stuff!
After hearing that these power plants actually produce a tremendous amount of energy being used in our very own Valley it made the group question why this fact isn't promoted more throughout our region...Fritz assured us that the relationship with the utility..though most of the time a bit strained...is headed in the right direction so that even more renewable energy farming will occur in the near term.
What a great day and what a great operation the Nobles run.
I think that eveyone in the class could agree that nowhere else could they have had the exposure to five (5) various, truly operational, contributing renewable energy technoliogies in the span of a few hours and all within the same economy. The Coachella Valley is proven to be the Mecca of renweable energy and energy efficiency implementaiton!