Did you ever Google ‘crazy alternative energy sources’? There are a lot of creative, forward-thinking, backward-thinking, out-of-the-box thinking, crazy, rational, inventive, boring, crude and fearless people out there! I spent an afternoon reading their ideas, exploring their websites and perusing their photos. Here are 4 standout ideas.
1. Piezoelectric flooring
This isn’t so crazy. I think it’s quite practical, actually! Floor tiles generate electricity when people walk on them. They were experimentally installed in a busy subway station in Tokyo for a few years. Power was calculated as ‘generating capacity per passenger’. The goal was to run the ticket gates and electronic display systems.
I was thinking this system could generate the power to run the turnstiles, which could generate more power with each turn.
Piezoelectric flooring is a great application for any place that has a lot of foot traffic or movement – dance floors, gas stations, schools, supermarkets and Big Box stores. It’s not cost effective or practical for powering large items (the wires are platinum, and power must be run through a voltage regulator to be stored), but it’s good for immediate lighting.
So this is in the Not So Crazy Category.
2. Adult diapers as converted biomass?
The aging population in Japan is consuming more diapers than the infant population. A company called Super Faiths created a system to sterilize and pulverize the diapers, and produce pellets used for biomass boilers. The examples on their website are to heat greenhouses, roads, hot tubs and water.
This solves a waste problem in Japan, but if we can transform adult diapers, why not baby diapers, too? I am not an advocate of disposable diapers, so this would offset some of the environmental negativity of their manufacture, transport and waste.
This is also in the Not So Crazy Category, but my main concern is the burning of the plastic material in diapers to make the pellets, then burning it again to heat a structure.
3. Luna ring on the moon to beam solar energy to earth?
Japan is very inventive, but Fukushima put this idea on the front burner. One outfit wants to install a ring of solar panels around the moon to reflect solar energy back to earth all the time (except maybe during a new moon?). This monstrosity would be 250 miles wide and 6800 miles long. Materials would be mined from the moon for concrete and solar panels. Oh, mined by robots.
First of all, this is not cost effective by any means. Work is projected to start in 2035, but who knows what our energy needs will be like by then? What will the planet be like? Will we have come up with better, more practical and more affordable solutions before 20 years pass by? I hope so!
Second of all, have we not learned anything about messing with nature? Have we not learned to work with it instead of forcing our ideas on it? I can’t think of anything more invasive than a massive ring of solar panels around the sacred moon, after we have raped the ground for raw materials.
What about putting solar panels on every house or a generating station in every neighborhood? Germany has out-solared every other country, and they don’t even have much sun! I have solar hot water, and it generates heat on cloudy days. It’s a myth if you think you need bright sunny days to operate a solar system.
Being the practical and frugal nature lover that I am, I have put the Luna Ring in the Absolutely Insane Category.
4. Smuggled and confiscated booze equals fuel for public transit?
In 2006, 185,000 gallons of beer, wine and hard liquor were confiscated by Swedish customs. All that joy was subsequently turned into biogas to power public transportation. Sweden is known for their huge efforts to use renewable energy, so it seemed a natural track to recycle the increasing amount of alcohol seized at the borders.
This is in the Totally Practical Category, but I will take it one step farther. Why not use everything confiscated at border checks everywhere? That would amount to a good bit of biofuel. Why limit it to booze when there is so much other stuff? I think what people try to smuggle is crazier than their energy ideas!
So what are your thoughts on alternative alternative energy sources? Have you dreamt up anything that could cut energy use in the world? Leave a comment!