You don’t have to live in tribal housing to enjoy this site…

Working on a rewrite of the Help Yourself to a Tribal Healthy Home as a part of the Extension National Healthy Homes Partnership this year, I also put up some new social media venues in this vein.  Facebook obviously is a popular way to get information out that is not as technical as blogs and has a snappy photo to go with the idea.  The last several weeks I’ve been putting up posts of traditional examples of tribal housing from around the country (with  building and construction material observations).

One of the common threads on these housing examples (usually from a time period before building materials were exported in)  is that the housing was pretty much a part of the earthen soil, and was seen as a part of the landscape by the residents.  Some of it was seasonal housing and other examples being permanent location/place housing. In any case, the hosing used the local building materials that were directly available on site (or “roaming” nearby in the case of buffalo skin roofs on tepees).

Obviously you don’t have to be a member of a tribe or live in a village/reservation to enjoy and learn from the examples.  If you have an interest to peruse the site it so far has about a half dozen posts and will grow by at least a few a couple a week.  Remember though, it is a part of a national effort to get outreach and discussion going around tribal housing and thus will not be Alaskan: https://www.facebook.com/Tribal-Healthy-Homes-366768423731639/    ——-AN————

 

 

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Off grid farming

MY APOLOGIES as this post had gone up, so I thought, last week during the SARE conference in Anchorage- but returning to the site today I see that it did not take (yet the information may be useful):

At a workshop during the Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education conference there were folks who are off grid who wanted to know how they could expand their horticultural reach.  Some were not on grid due to the cost of bringing power lines to their place, which was described as almost running into six digit figures for power poles and lines.  Distance from power lines can be the reason many who have farm operations in Alaska are off grid.

Generator use for optimization of power, battery storage, ground heat storage and variable wind/sunlight were covered.  It seemed as though folks present were within the nano-grid classification (up to 35 KW).  While in the lower 48 off grid growing tends to look at electrical production often for for water movement and irrigation, here creating electricity for lighting was the keen interest.  Discussion covered gasification of wood for electrical, syngas, and heat production.  At the end of the class, 4H students joined in and we went over gasification with hands-on learning per combustion, emissions and efficient fuel use. It was a day of interest that didn’t just stop there as a couple of attendees went on to get more detail from an off grid grower who has helped Extension in the past! ——-AN——–

Solar for contractors

This morning there was a good, overall presentation to builders at a conference for Alaskan contractors by Lime Solar and Alaska Craftsman Building Program.  They covered concerns about costs that can be incurred and the disconnect with appraisal values.  For builders, the sale value including the actual cost benefit of solar panels- (in the present but also with future savings)- is an important incentive for them to include solar systems into home builds.

Costs were mentioned as continuing to drop.  A dollar a watt on panels was given as a rule of thumb and also racking installed is roughly running an additional $3 a watt in Alaska.  The suggestion was made to write off the winter season concerning solar gain, and thus orienting the panels so that they can maximize the summer season when there is much solar gain (when selling the solar to the grid).

Though this is a reasonable assumption, the result would be placing the solar panel at 45 degrees tilt.  Yet I would still stand by the recommendation of tilting the panel to the number of degrees of which the solar location is at latitude wise.  While there may not be much winter yield, by placing the panel at 90 degrees with a cleared southern approach it can make up for the little solar gain of winter. It also keeps the snow off the panel.  With new technology, one ought to get the latest choices in tech to harness the gain!  ——AN———————–

 

 

 

Solar takes off in Northwest corner of the state

Solar can fare fine  up in the cold country as the crispness allows PV panels to operate more effectively.  Of course being on the coast can effect the generation due to cloudy days which will block some of the sun’s radiation from making it to the panel.
Buckland (which is in the Northwest Arctic Borough) has recently put in a system that will have both wind and solar complimenting the fuel oil generators. Hopes are that the renewables will help to bring down the overall cost of electricity for the community of  ~426 people in a area just over a mile and a half square. While the racks of solar panels are going live yet in October there will be an issue of storage at first.  In the next several months batteries will be put together for the system. -An……….

New oil standard – Houston

A new status has landed at Houston as it is a standard bearer for oil valuation. Today the city became the new hub of U.S. pricing for oil as a commodities.  The trading firm Intercontinental Exchange Inc., (ICE) made it so that it’s guide will price oil based on volumes produced and  delivered to Houston’s refining and export hub.

This will be a monumental shakeup for the American distribution pricing market.

 

Renewable energy race

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) has noted in it’s latest report that the US is shrinking in its share of renewable energy investments while China charges ahead to lead the world ~2050.   In fact, with electric/batteries vehicles becoming more popular, China will lead these sectors globally.  US$44bn by China on acquisitions with an additional  $1bn of projects give then a third more growth .  It isn’t just solar, either.  In fact

Their One Belt One Road agenda is leading the country’s growth (with $8bn of solar equipment has been exported from China since it began), The country’s stance moves out the US.   as well as Germany,  to become the number one exporter of environmental goods and services.

 

Peaked out (in Alaska?)

Over a half century ago the prediction was made by Dr. Hubbert that oil production would reach its peak and then diminish after 1995; that was assuming that industrial demand would progress at its same rate.  New extraction technologies and better sensing equipment have driven most to believe that this supply problem won’t hit until the 2020’s.  In Alaska we’ve seen a diminished supply from current drilling areas, and the pressure for more exploration and drilling has had that state’s economy as a driver.

With the lack of economic diversity in the state, shown by very little manufacturing and traditional agriculture (other than timber harvests) providing competing oil supplies is a major concern with policy makers- let alone Alaskan workforce developers.  Revenues are influenced by both the available supply and the demand for oil( and it is arguable as to whether efforts to curtail fossil fuel usage due to climate change concerns has decreased demand worldwide).

Future production and supply available is influenced also by politics however.   Venezuela’s Citco oil production was popular in Alaska in the 2000’s as they were putting out oil not only to their nationals, but also in our state as the corporation was giving oil away to Alaskan tribes! Yet currently the country is falling apart and though it has geologic reserves of the most oil,  political tensions -evidenced by  a recent presidential  assassination attempt by drone(s)-  have led to an economic disaster and waylay of available oil supply from dormant stocks. Iran has the rank of holding 4th in terms of dormant oil holdings and it is being hamstrung by other country’s holding an embargo on their oil through sanctions.

So while output is at an all time high of about 100 million barrels a day, there may be pressure from the U.S. national level for more American supply being provided- through Alaskan exploration and increased extraction…. The point is,  politics has a large part to play with the geology of how much of the limited oil will be pulled out of the ground, as well as when. ——AN———-

Effects that linger on after flooding….

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Now that Hurricane Michael’s stormy precipitation has moved on, a path of devastation to homes through the Florida Panhandle and Georgia poses future risks to resident’s health. This having been the third strongest storm to hit the U.S. gave the region winds of 155 miles an hour (and was just a couple short of becoming a Cat 5 storm). With subsequent  flooding across the Florida’s “Panhandle”, there are physical hazards present such as trees uprooted, severed power, broken gas lines, and road-blocking debris.  These being hazards themselves (as well as hinderances to recovery due to half a million people lacking the electricity to dry out walls after pulling insulation) there is now the added danger of bacteria/viruses being transported to homes via the standing water.

People were asked to stay at home to protect them from the physical dangers, yet now they have to worry about illness as well.  Speaking of wells, the water has most likely been contaminated by the influx of salty ocean water as well as by any contaminants from waste, fuels or other items that have been inadvertently mixed in with the incoming flood. Diseases like cholera, gastrointestinal irritants, Hepatitis A and vibriosis can be imported into homes right now.

One of the keys obviously to staying healthy will be to not drink any water from wells or contaminated distribution but also to use pure delivered or bottled water to clean the home with.  Fuel will be precious and needed for cooking, possibly heating but certainly not wasted on bringing water up to step from 70 degrees or so up to 210 degrees.  Filters may work for some uses but the size of the micron allowance on particular brands and models of the filtering medium will make all the difference in the world as to how much- and even if- ambient water can be utilized for the above purposes.  –AN———-

Local geothermal

A couple Canadians are looking at low temperature geothermal energy applications here in the Interior.  One gentleman from Eastern Canada is looking at powering electrical trailers and then using the waste space heat for Controlled Environment trailers.  Another from the University of Alberta has been comparing Canada and Alaska per geothermal and visiting Chena Hot Springs, Manley Hot Springs and Pilgrim Hot Springs to look at potential.  Certainly Chena Hot Springs has the only geothermal electrical generator.

Manley Hot Springs, utilizes its geothermal generated hot water for growing plants directly, as well as for tourism (allowing folks to soak).  Pilgrim Hot Springs, near Nome, has been looked at closely from above (utilizing Forward Looking Infra Red imagery) to see where warm surface pools are in hopes of being indicative of good drilling locations.  The hope had been that with well drilling deep reservoirs can be found for spinning electrical generation.  But after test drilling it was found that there isn’t sufficient resource to make it work economically for the area.—-AN—-

 

Rural geothermal

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A couple Canadians are looking at low temperature geothermal energy applications here in the Interior.  One gentleman from Eastern Canada is looking at powering electrical trailers and then using the waste space heat for Controlled Environment trailers.  Another from the University of Alberta has been comparing Canada and Alaska per geothermal and visiting Chena Hot Springs, Manley Hot Springs and Pilgrim Hot Springs to look at potential.  Certainly Chena Hot Springs has the only geothermal electrical generator.

Manley Hot Springs, utilizes its geothermal generated hot water for growing plants directly, as well as for tourism (allowing folks to soak).  Pilgrim Hot Springs, near Nome, has been looked at closely from above (utilizing Forward Looking Infra Red imagery) to see where warm surface pools are in hopes of being indicative of good drilling locations.  The hope is that with well drilling deep reservoirs can be found for spinning electrical generation.  —-AN—-