Photo: New Energy Foundation
Small towns and communities all over the world are looking for solutions to their energy needs. Going off-grid is not just a choice for individuals, the way it sometimes seems here at Treehugger. No, you will never be able to live totally away from anyone else. Off-grid doesn't mean you are on your own, out there in the wilderness. Hey, not even Thoreau was able to achieve that kind of level of gridless living. You need to have good neighbours, or else.
Tsuru, a small town in Yamanashi prefecture in Japan, has implemented strategies to harness some of the resources at their disposal. They are promoting micro-hydro, small scale water power, and moreover, they are focusing on education as a way forward.In April 1999, Tsuru decided to implement an environmental plan of action, and in 2001 they began a project to reduce CO2 emissions to combat global warming. Green purchasing was introduced to reduce the town's energy consumption: Tsuru spared no effort to educate locals that energy issues were important.
In front of city hall, Tsuru built a small wooden hydro electric power plant. It is a reminder of how energy was sourced from streams and rivers in the ancient past, and also forward-looking. You can't get energy out of nothing, and you can't use more than nature provides. In Tsuru, they have made that message a very powerful part of the town's effort to survive in the 21st century.
Japan's NEDO is very interested in projects such as Tsuru. They are engaged in work that emphasizes energy conservation:
As energy-saving technology is ineffective until it goes into practical use in society, strategic R&D; is being promoted in the following four research phases, in a development system ultimately oriented to market introduction.
Image from NEDO: Energy Conservation Technology
Thoreau only spent two years or so at Walden Pond, and visited the small town of Concord every day or two to hear the news.
Conclusion: Thoreau's final chapter is very passionate and urgent. I like how he criticizes conformity: "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."
Now we have twitter, facebook and websites like treehugger, while we live in towns and cities that are more or less able to deal with change in a sustainable way. Frankly, living on this small planet, perhaps "off-grid" is an oxymoron: we are all connected.
More Off-Grid Micro-Hydro Energy:
Generating Off-Grid Power: The Four Best Ways
Is Living Off the Grid Right For You?
XelaTeco: Green Power for a Guatemalan Village
The Success Of "Small is Beautiful" In Nepal
Hydro Power Without the Dams: Ontario Invests in Free Flow Underwater Turbines
Micro-Hydro Power Picking Up Spead As More Rural Towns Want To Go Off-Grid
Brought to you by Martin Frid at greenz.jp