Low tech magazine
One of my favourite websites is Low-tech Magazine, where Kris De Decker looks at simpler technologies that have been around forever, worked really well, and asks why they shouldn't be used again. Kris always goes into extraordinary detail, producing essays rather than posts. A good example is the recent article on the traditional windmill, where energy from the wind is converted directly into mechanical energy, without the messy intermediate conversion into electricity that we do with wind turbines today. He suggests that for certain uses, it might even be more efficient.
He notes that it won't work for everything:
Of course it is impossible to operate a flat screen television or a laptop with mechanical energy, but many other processes could in principle still be driven in that old-fashioned way. Grain still has to be ground, wood still has to be sawn, seeds still have to be pressed, but now we use electricity to drive machines that perform the same processes. This electricity can be generated by means of modern wind turbines, or other renewable energy sources, and that is the future that everybody has in mind.
As always, fascinating reading at Low Tech Magazine
Other posts based on Low-tech Magazine:
Wind-Powered Tank Uses No Fuel, Confuses Infidels
Slow Freight: Sail Power is Actually Faster Than Containerships Today
Slow Freight: Sail Power Doesn't Need a Cast of Thousands
Poo-Poo Train Runs on the Weight of Sewage