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Renewable energy pro Chris Greacen: Then...and now.

old now. While I don't see any real signs of their coming death, my twelve Trojan L-16 batteries will have to be replaced in the foreseeable future, with the same or perhaps with fewer but larger cells. Also, I don't have a "backup" inverter to my Trace 4024, and supposedly the technology has been improving. At some time I would like to upgrade, while keeping my old inverter as a backup.

What I am saying is that there is a need for hard data on all the various pieces of equipment and, if anyone is in position to provide that data, it is Home Power. John Bertrand • Holualoa, Hawaii

Home Pcaver is ramping up our hardware reviews (see the

Solmetric SunEye review on page 88 of this issue), and we're increasing the frequency of our in-depth equipment buyer's guides as well. In addition, we have two additional equipment data collection and review projects in the works. Look for more on this in future issues of Home Power, and on in 2008.

Joe Schwartz • Home Power

Overseas RE

It was a pleasure to read the "Clean Energy Pioneers" piece (HP120), which hit my mailbox in Bangkok today. I remember helping with a bunch of those articles— seems like yesterday. I was especially tickled to see in your retrospective article a photo of myself as a long-haired 19-year-old in front of the solar oven I built. And now, here I am, twice as old! What a ride!

In a nutshell, here's what I've been up to. In 2004, I finally finished a doctoral degree at UC-Berkeley's Energy and Resources Group, with a dissertation on community microhydro power in

black and white

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Thailand. In the process, I got diverted by working on various renewable energy projects. Since 2000, I've been living in Bangkok.

In 2003, my wife and I started Palang Thai (, an NGO that works to improve conditions for clean, decentralized energy in Thailand and the Mekong region. One success we had was drafting Thailand's netmetering regulations, which are now in place. An upgraded version approved in December 2006 allows RE generators up to 10 megawatts (MW) to net meter and to sell excess electricity at a premium feed-in tariff. More than 280 MW of projects (mostly biomass from sugar cane and rice-husk residues) have been approved under the regulations. Despite some successes, the clean energy community in SE Asia is a tiny minority and for every MW of RE, another 20 or so MW of dirty conventional coal/gas is in the pipeline. In the past few months, nuclear energy is raising its ugly head all over the region, with plans in place in Thailand, Vietnam, and (gasp!) Burma...

Home power technologies and sensibilities are sorely needed over here... We're always looking for talented long-term volunteers! I'm real proud of all that y'all have done over the years. We're now a force to be reckoned with. The forces of light, creativity, logic, and compassion are chipping away at the old, dirty, greasy hegemony.

Chris Greacen • Bangkok, Thailand

Window Tips

I'm about to mention something small but effective. It took me until this year to realize it, after fifty years of solar energy awareness. On sunny autumn, winter, and spring days, when you can use more heat in your home, take off your window screens! Compared to leaving your screens on, it will significantly increase the solar energy input.

Somehow I missed this until I made a PV power meter and checked the output of a module through my new double-pane windows. Then I thought about what would happen to module output through a screen. (PV output is not the same as solar thermal gain, but it reminded me that I'm losing solar potential by leaving my screens on.) And the rest is history, which we need to share, even if everyone says in retrospect, "I know that—it's obvious!"

To send a letter to Home Power's Mailbox, write to:

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Mailbox, c/o Home Power PO Box 520, Ashland, OR 97520

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