Solar Power Villages
SUMMARY: The Earth needs models of settlement where humanity meets its needs without damaging the environment. Solar Power Villages integrate solar collection into greenhouses, store it in hot-oil, and use the heat collected to meet needs for electricity; cooking; water pumping and power (e.g. for grinding corn).
PROBLEM SPACE: Remote villages in developing countries, and eco-villages face two overlapping challenges.
1. supplying the energy needs of the community including collecting energy, storing it and then converting it to the desired form.
2. creating a sustainable food supply especially on sites innappropriate for year-round open-air organic growing.
SOLUTION: Developed over many years by Jürgen Kleinwächter & his team at Sunvention, the Solar Power Village solution is designed as part of meeting both these challenges.
It is inspired by realising that integrating solar collection with greenhouses allows direct sun-light to be concentrated and extracted as heat while the plants utilise the diffuse light,
In addition one structure can protect both the plants and the energy systems saving resources & money.
Each solution will be unique, it depends on the climate, diet, the size of the community being served etc, and picks from components that include:
1. Envelope Power Greenhouses – that incorporate solar thermal collection of heat into the framework of the greenhouse.
2. Heat storage solutions such as tanks of vegetable oil at 200°C.
3. Low temperature, low speed Stirling Generators that turn this stored heat into mechanical power, or electricity.
4. The waste heat from the generators can warm the greenhouse at night.
5. Round the clock community cooking solutions based on this hot-oil and Scheffler mirrors.
6. Stand alone solar thermal water pumping.
A fully working version of this system has been installed at the Tamara eco-village in Portugal, incorporating all these elements in a 130 m2 greenhouse, with a 1500 W electric generator, and hot oil storage sufficient for 28 kWh of electricity.
Developments in the pipeline that are designed to integrate into this framework. include:
1. A system that allows for burning of low-quality biomass, and production of high-heat for ceramics or industrial processes; solar cooling and water purification.
2. Integrating aquaculture with organic horticulture through our partner Urban Ecological Systems including scaling to larger systems (500+ people) at very high efficiency.
3. Achieving a high degree of water efficiency through collecting condensation.