Archive for Renewable Energy

The Energy Fair

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Sara here, sustainability intern number two. I’ve gotta give major props to my amazing partner Kalee for starting up this blog. We are truly loving working in the garden, making our campus more sustainable, selling at the farmer’s market, and networking with local farmers. I am very passionate about sustainability and love that our campus & Bon Appetit place an emphasis on sustainable food, using ingredients from the garden and from local farmers. Food is our most fundamental connection to the Earth, so it’s important to know where our food comes from and how it is produced.

Another huge aspect of sustainability lies within energy: where it comes from and how we use it. The main reason our Earth is in the midst of an ecological crisis is because we don’t use energy efficiently. For thousands of years humans survived on the energy of the sun, a constant renewable source. However, people began using fossil fuels during the industrial revolution to maximize economic efficiency. The fossil fuel supplies then seemed limitless, and who would have predicted then that burning it could affect our planet’s climate? Today we power our society primarily with oil, coal, and natural gas. The combustion of these fossil fuels (ancient fossilized organisms, that absorbed energy from the sun millions of years ago) releases greenhouse gases which become trapped in our atmosphere, creating extremely high concentrations of carbon, thus creating climate change. At this point in time we’ve used half of the Earth’s supplies of oil. Do we really want to use up all the rest, when we can already see the effect it is having on the planet? Scientists say to avert catastrophic effects of global warming, we must reduce the level of carbon in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million. We are currently at 385 ppm and growing at a rate of 2 ppm per year. Yuck! And scary!

Thankfully there is always hope: hence my interest in renewable energy. Clean energy from the sun, wind, and from the Earth’s hot core will absolutely power the future, hopefully sooner than later.

Earlier this summer I called my uncle Scott Cramer in Minneapolis and he invited me to join him and his business at the 20th anniversary Energy Fair in Custer, Wisconsin. My uncle owns a business based in Minneapolis, MN that sells socially and environmentally progressive themed merchandise (T-shirts, bumper stickers, buttons, etc.) This is his website: Northern Sun

They travel around the country to many events, the energy fair being one of the biggest. I was so lucky to attend this event, because I was able to help my uncle set up and sell in the booth, but mostly I got to walk around the fair all weekend and visit hundreds of renewable energy & sustainable living exhibitors and workshops.

The event is put on by the MREA, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association. This year it was held June 19-21 and it featured 200 workshops, 270 exhibitors, 3 keynote speakers, inspiring music, and great sustainable food.
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Since I came with my uncle’s business I had free entrance to the fair all weekend, and had additional exhibitor perks, like delicious breakfasts provided by Organic Valley. Friday morning I went on a tour of the Energy Fair which is located at the MREA headquarters, called the Renew the Earth Institute. The whole fair is powered with renewable energy, including two large solar-photovoltaic panels, and a huuuuuge wind turbine.
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I learned that as wind speed increases, the energy produced by a wind generator increases exponentially. Pretty good incentive to get one if you live anywhere windy!

Stay tuned for more info about the Energy Fair!

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