Harnessing the Sun at the College of Metaphysics
by Brian Kraichley
“Harnessing the power of the sun directly is one of the best things to do for the planet and everyone on it.” said Dr. Daniel Condron, the Director of the College of Metaphysics. This is why he invited Craig and Deanna Wiles from Preferred Energy to give a power point presentation on renewable energy at the College last week.
The Wiles have lived off the grid for thirteen years now and have helped other people to do the same. Craig is knowledgeable in energy solutions as well as world history and is also the Pastor of The Seventh Day Adventist Church in West Plains, Missouri.
Craig said the definition of sustainable living is meeting our needs today without compromising tomorrow. In the United States today, it takes ten calories of fossil fuel to produce one calorie of food. Most of our food travels over 1,000 miles before it gets to us. One million pounds of food is shipped into Springfield every day. The way we produce our food today is not sustainable.
Wiles believes people need to shift to renewable sources of energy. Natural gas and oil currently provide 62% of our energy and 88% of our energy comes from fossil fuels. “If we increased our efficiency and supplemented solar energy where it is feasible, we could extend our supplies of fossil fuels indefinitely and reduce our pollution significantly.”
Craig says that as a country we are not serious about changing our consumption patterns until we implement a system where the more you use, the more you are charged. Germany is a great example of how quickly positive change can occur. In 2001, they instituted a program that paid back to the consumer 120% of the cost of a renewable energy system the first year, 100% the second year, 80% the third year and so on for six years. After six years, Germany is now importing no oil from the Middle East.
Of the different types of renewable energy available, Craig is sold on solar. “The sun hits the earth with enough energy to power the planet six times over everyday, we just don’t capture it.” He quotes Thomas Edison, “I’d put money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”
There are two types of solar energy-active and passive. Active solar energy is capturing the sun’s rays with photovoltaic or PV cells that convert it into electricity. Passive solar energy is using the sun’s rays directly to store heat. The newest PV cells on the market are only 15% efficient. By contrast storing solar generated heat is 80% efficient. Passive solar is also the cheapest and easiest to use.
In 1932, before the proliferation of cheap energy, there were over a million solar water heaters in use in California and Florida alone. Solar water heaters are a good place to start because they are inexpensive, easy to install and can result in significant savings. In Hawaii, it is now state law that every house must have a solar water heater.
Wiles says that there is not one big magic bullet that will solve all of our energy needs. “There are, however, lots of small bullets that work together to make a significant difference in our energy consumption and can even take us off the grid if that is our desire.”•