At id% We The energy systems provided the best counter to nuclear power. One such system involved the power lobby’s magical phrase “energy self-sufficiency.” In much of Canada, the western alder is a near-weed, growing rapidly and densely from treestumps and on land unsuited for growing food or lumber trees. But it has a large “biomass output. Planting eight acres in alder, and harvesting one acre a year, will yield enough wood alcohol per year to drive an auto 10,000 miles. In just the time it would take to convert existing gas, coal, and oil-fired power plants to wood-chip burning, Canada could attain its energy self-sufficiency. While not quite as fastgrowing as alder, aspen and poplar also are usable in this system, as are possibly cottonwood or willow. These trees can be grown in the river bottoms of major Texas rivers such as the Trinity, Sabine, and even parts of the Brazos and Colorado. While wood power won’t make Texas energy self-sufficient, it could certainly eliminate the need for nuclear plants. Solar and wind power systems possess already proven technologies and are easily adapted to Texas needs. Tidal power is rather unsuited for Texas because of the small tidal range. However, there are systems in the research and development stages which use wave action to generate electricity. These systems have the added advantage in that they provide a breakwater for harbors but, unlike jetties, do not obstruct fish movement. Construction costs are comparable to land-based power plants: the wave generators are built on land, then towed to place rather than requiring expensive filling from the ocean bed. Housing construction techniques applicable to Texas included a wide range of techniques and materials, including adobe and blocks of compressed caliche. One technique involved a method of disposing of the waste sulfur extracted from oil and coal to make them less polluting. Sulfur is melted in a concrete mixer and mixed, 30 percent sulfur to 70 percent hot sand. The yellowish-gray substance is poured into molds and, twenty minutes later, building blocks come out. After one day’s curing, the blocks are ready to use for construction. Waste is minimal because broken blocks can be melted down and recast. One Forum exhibit showed a wide range of building and energy techniques and included maps of Texas showing where the techniques were applicable. This came from the Center for Maximum Potential Building System of The University of Texas School of Architecture, known in A.T. circles as “Max’s Pot.” One of its energy systems utilizes aluminum beer cans, salvaged from roadsides and telescoped together, flat-top cans forced into recessed-top cans, to make solar heat collectors and storage containers. The heating value of the collectors made from one year’s discarded cans amounts to about $300,000,000 per year in the United States alone. Another item from Max’s Pot is the thermal chimney. This is a fiberglass tower which uses the sun’s heat to create a greenhouse effect. The heated air rises, drawing air out of the house. This hot air is replaced by air which is cooled by passing through a long tunnel covered by the close plantings of a biodynamic garden. This provides for a solar air conditioning system with no moving parts or machinery to maintain. While not as effective as a mechanical air conditioner, it works considerably better than the attic fan system. Also the thermal chimney can be used in areas of the state too humid for an evaporative cooler. As Habitat Secretary-General Enrique Penalosa said, the conference was “not primarily about housing or technology, .. . but about political and economic questions.” In particular, political and economic systems often act as barriers to a more wide-spread use of appropriate technology. In the United States, one group of observers lamented, governmental research grants go mainly to technologies which are Moreover, the grants which do go to A.T. projects are for mass distribution systemssuch as megawatt windmills or geo-thermal energywhich further concentrate the power of utility oligopolies. Another problem with government grants in the United States is that accepting one generally involves the government’s owning half-interest in any patents coming from the research, or, as some said, “the government will get control of the patents and give them to General Electric.” The biggest single cause of worry was the state-and-local political scene, which generally is the level most easily controlled by special interests. Building codes still specify construction techniques rather than performance to be achieved. Thus many A.T. construction systems are effectively outlawed, even though they are stronger, quicker, and cheaper than the prescribed methods. Power companies, having long controlled the bodies supposed to regulate them, have attacked A.T. power. Colorado has permitted a “more than double” electric rate for houses that use solar heating rather than buy electric heat from the priyateprofit power company. Canada’s Central Housing and Mortgage Corporation \(the equivalent of the U.S. Federal Housing mortgage of a house with a solar collector on the roof. The power companies also oppose the use of the synchronous inverter, a gadget August 20, 1976 13 MARTIN ELFANT SUN LIFE OF CANADA LIFE HEALTH DENTAL 600 JEFFERSON SUITE 430 HOUSTON, TEXAS La Fonda de \(a Noche Southwestern Cuisine Liberal Food Conservative Prices 2405 Nueces k+ 474-7562 watch subsequent issues for .. . BILLIE CARR REPORTS Paid Pol. Adv. by Billie Carr Expense Fund 2418 Travis, Houston, Texas. Bob and Sara Roebuck Anchor National Financial Services 1524 E. Anderson Lane, Austin bonds stocks insurance mutual funds optional retirement program we print with the union label Also: Multi-copy service Lecture notes , Collegiate Advertising 901 W. 24th St., Austin 477-3641 Call Today! 15
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