We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. ~ Indigenous proverb ~

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Jan01

Power to the People – Bringing clean energy & water to rural Navajo elders

By John Connell

Navajo people living in the Four Corners Region of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah have some of the most abundant sunlight read more

By John Connell Navajo people living in the Four Corners Region of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah have some of the most abundant sunlight in North America. In fact, they are the major electric supplier for the entire southwest through coal mining and coal-ired plants. Perhaps surprisingly, however, over 20,000 Navajo still live in homes without electricity, running water, or sanitation. Among the hardest hit are elders with disabilities and health problems. Most have to A solar system torture test traverse makeshift dirt roads twice a week to fetch water and wood (a 50- to 70-mile drive). If there’s one thing the desert can be, it’s unforgiving. Temperatures in Navajo country hings many of us take for granted are foreign to this community. hey light their homes range from a blistering 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43° C), down to -30 degrees Fahrenheit with a single kerosene lamp that emits toxic gasses, and live everyday without indoor (-34° C). Aside from hitting those in the community hard, such extreme conditions plumbing, running water, or electricity. A lack of power also means the Navajos can’t wreak havoc on batteries and other equipment that are the backbone of any solar energy refrigerate healthier, fresher foods, store medicine, access the Internet, or even use vital installation. medical devices, such as oxygen respirators. Previous eforts by diferent companies to set up a successful renewable energy site But, there is hope for change. didn’t account for these conditions, and millions of dollars of failed systems litter the landscape. Everything from failed batteries and inverters, which are crammed inside The Plateau Solar project un-insulated metal boxes, to old refrigerators that once baked in the scorching sunlight, Elsa Johnson grew up on the reservation, and knows irsthand the hardships that of-grid remain broken and used up from unsuccessful past project attempts. Navajos’ face. Johnson left, but returned to the reservation some 30 years later only to ind “For this project to work, we had to work with nature and remove the variables that the living conditions hadn’t changed. hat led her to establish a Navajo non-proit, called caused previous installations to fail,” shared Snyder, who helped design and work on the IINA Solutions, to ight poverty on her native land (IINA means “life” in Navajo). Plateau Solar Project (PSP). “And because these homes are so remote, we had to make sure Johnson started the Plateau Solar Project with solar expert Mark Snyder, owner of they were built to last. We couldn’t let these people down.” Mark Snyder Electric and CEO of Global Solar Water Powers Systems Inc. (GSWPS). He is a Initially, the system was designed to protect the batteries, but upon further master electrician, an inventor, and a solar homebuilder. consideration, it was thought: “Why not make the building modular and multi-purpose?” “We created the Plateau Solar Project to bring essential electrical, water, and sanitation Johnson, in turn, immediately thought to manufacture these structures to serve services to Navajo elders 62 years and older, who desperately need them,” explained thousands of of-grid homes, thereby creating jobs for the Navajo people. And jobs that not Snyder. “Each installation is designed for a 25-year lifespan. It delivers sustainable solar only contribute to the community, but also the environment. thermal power for hot water, space heating, and electricity—and creates jobs for the his led to the creation of the patent-pending Enertopia Multi-Purpose Utility Structure Navajo people.” (EMPUS). his irst-of-its-kind building is designed from the ground up to protect solar Once IINA Solutions was awarded grants from the USDA Rural Development Program equipment from harsh weather for 25 years. he 8x20 foot (2.43x6 meter) building and the Renewable Energy Investment Fund, the team faced a daunting challenge. features R-42 super-insulation from P2000 and climate control, electricity, hot water, and a full bathroom. EMPUS Bump-outs feature numerous solar-powered devices, and even store solar heat Each EMPUS unit stores electricity in eight lead-acid batteries In 2012, forty 4x8 EMPUS Bump-outs were installed—compact, low-cost, modular To keep their EMPUS module running continuously, each family pays a $35 monthly fee versions of the full units (without complete bathrooms). that covers maintenance, servicing, and replacement of key components. In addition, each elder and another family member will receive training to help with non-technical tasks. A solar device building “We want to create our own trained workforce for a sustainable future,” explained EMPUS Bump-outs feature numerous solar-powered devices, but what’s most unique is Johnson. “Ultimately, this project creates jobs for 25 years, while bringing vital electricity, that the buildings themselves store solar heat. water, and sanitation to the Navajo people using clean energy.” Solar thermal hot-air panels use advanced solar absorbers in the hot-air panels to heat Today, the program is expanding to include energy eiciency, retroitting, and home the super-insulated structure. he unit itself absorbs heat in the daytime, and then releases weatherization. Even wind turbines from Native American-owned Cherokee Wind are that heat as it cools down at night. Two insulated ducts send excess warm air from the being included. EMPUS into the home during the day, reducing the need for non-sustainable wood and “By collaborating with nature,” Johnson said, “we have designed and engineered an coal-burning stoves, which degrade interior air quality. he EMPUS also features solar- innovative, durable, and economical approach that’s evolved from a single project into powered cooling and ventilation. a much more long-term venture. Now, we’ve even renamed the project ‘Plateau Solar Solar power comes from high-eiciency solar modules, with a two-kilowatt (kW) and Wind,’ and we’re looking for new partners to expand our work to all indigenous equivalent solar panel system. he array includes passive solar tracking to increase communities here and worldwide.” eiciency and reduce costs. A charge controller was also designed with a Navajo language Mark Snyder is excited about the future. “I’m so grateful to IINA Solutions, the ive voiceover for monitoring activity and alerting maintenance people of any abnormal Navajo chapters, and all our other partners,” he says. “After over 37 years in the renewable conditions. energy industry, there’s still nothing more rewarding than improving living conditions, Inside the unit, a regulated, climate-controlled temperature maximizes battery life. creating green jobs, training skilled workers, and bringing power to the people.” Batteries are especially vulnerable because if they’re left out in the rain, dust, or snow, they can die early. Dozens of batteries were ield-tested for lifespan, durability, and performance John Connell is the VP of SLI products at Crown Battery Manufacturing Company. before choosing advanced technology batteries. Each EMPUS unit currently houses eight to 16, 400aH, six-volt renewable power batteries. Funding agencies for Plateau Solar Project are USDA Rural Development, Renewable Energy Finally, a 500-gallon water tank and solar-powered pump provides clean, running water Investment Fund (REIF), administered by the Grand Canyon Trust. Contributions of time and to a sink and/or bathroom in the elder’s house. Water is hauled only from certiied clean donations by Engineers Without Borders also made the project possible. To learn more, visit water sources. his is important in the area, as uranium tailings from earlier decades of www.iinasolutions.com or www.marksnyderelectric.com. mining have contaminated many wells, making the local water unsafe to drink. Crown Battery Manufacturing Company Building the future www.crownbattery.com “Navajo on the reservation face 50% unemployment—one of the highest rates in the nation,” said Johnson. “his project creates green jobs by cross-training local workers to plumb, wire, and rewire homes, and install solar systems to meet or exceed industry codes and standards.” North American Clean Energy JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014 http://www.nacleanenergy.com/magazine/janfeb2014/files/basic-html/page8.html
Jan01

Portable Solar Powered Structures

Working closely with Elsa Johnson of IINA Solutions, Mark Snyder invented, patented and manufactured the EMPUS, or Enertopia Multi-Purpose Utility Structure. This standalone solar powered structure can be easily trailered to a location. The structures provide basic necessities : electricity, water and sanitation, in a temperature-controlled system powered by the sun alone. These structures can be used on a temporary or long-term basis, and can be designed to support commercial, NGO or military operations in the field, or for permanent settlements.

It provides a super-insulated (R-42), temperature controlled shelter, a 2kW solar PV tracking system, 16 350-amp hour batteries, a 500 gallon water tank, hot and cold running water, a sink, shower, a composting toilet, solar powered cooling and ventilation, even a communications link. The unit itself absorbs heat in the daytime, and releases it at night as it cools down. read more

Working closely with Elsa Johnson of IINA Solutions, Mark Snyder invented, patented and manufactured the EMPUS, or Enertopia Multi-Purpose Utility Structure. This standalone solar powered structure can be easily trailered to a location. The structures provide basic necessities : electricity, water and sanitation, in a temperature-controlled system powered by the sun alone. These structures can be used on a temporary or long-term basis, and can be designed to support commercial, NGO or military operations in the field, or for permanent settlements. It provides a super-insulated (R-42), temperature controlled shelter, a 2kW solar PV tracking system, 16 350-amp hour batteries, a 500 gallon water tank, hot and cold running water, a sink, shower, a composting toilet, solar powered cooling and ventilation, even a communications link. The unit itself absorbs heat in the daytime, and releases it at night as it cools down. Heating (or cooling) is sent into the home through two insulated ducts from the EMPUS. One unique aspect of the design is the 500-gallon water tank that absorbs the warmth during the day, and then releases the heat at night when it cools off. The EMPUS also includes a rain water catchment.
Jan01

Energy Efficiency, Energy Self-Sufficiency

In addition to leading an energy efficiency retrofit for 28,000 convenience stores and markets across the U.S. that saved up to 40 % in energy costs, Mark Snyder piloted another energy efficiency project for one of Canada’s largest restaurant chains.

Mark also recently designed and built a solar power and generator system for an Amish community center, with a multi-cluster
control system for managing power and battery charging according to the amount of sunlight available. read more

In addition to leading an energy efficiency retrofit for 28,000 convenience stores and markets across the U.S. that saved up to 40 % in energy costs, Mark Snyder piloted another energy efficiency project for one of Canada’s largest restaurant chains. Mark also recently designed and built a solar power and generator system for an Amish community center, with a multi-cluster control system for managing power and battery charging according to the amount of sunlight available. “This project could not have been accomplished without cutting the HVAC loads in less than half from 125 tons to 55 tons with super-efficient insulation,” Mr. Snyder said. “Utilizing a new alternative fuel HVAC System, a natural gas fired 30 SEER heat recovery Variable Refrigerant Flow HVAC system capable of running on methane, biogas, thermolgas or syngas , we reduced the HVAC to 15kw of electric load from 500kw of generator load to handle startup loads and 175kw to handle general loads to one back up 175kw genset. All the lighting is LED and appliances are energy star. This project stands as a shining example of how the combination of cutting-edge energy efficiency and renewable energy can be combined in Northern latitudes of the U.S.to drastically cut utility costs and create very practical and sustainable off grid Microgrid Alternatives. Mark has been using his expertise in energy efficiency to make energy self-sufficiency possible in extremely challenging environments. He presently has 14 patents and partner patents in the area of solar power, water purification, green housing, heating, cooling, and electric and hybrid motor vehicles-to-grid interconnection for energy storage. Working in partnership with Elsa Johnson of IINA Solutions, Mr. Snyder undertook the task of creating a super-efficient, renewable energy powered home for a Navajo family living in a remote area 10 miles from the electrical grid. Because Mark wanted hybrid power – wind energy at night and solar energy during the day – he installed a ruggedized 1kW Navajo Niyol Wind Generator, the first Navajo wind product licensed by Native American-owned Cherokee WindPower. In addition, high-efficiency solar modules and a sun tracker deliver 2 kilowatts of power – enough for lighting, refrigeration, and small electronics. At the heart of this renewable energy-powered home is Snyder’s creation, the world’s first climate-controlled structure that attaches to the home and shields batteries and other components from harsh weather and extreme temperatures. Called the EMPUS Bump-out, this patent-pending 4×8 foot building ( 1.2 x 2.4 meters) features super-insulation, a 500-gallon water tank and a solar water pump. Mr. Snyder has collaborated with the inventor and manufacturer of a breakthrough insulation material that allows the structure to be heated or cooled with very little energy. This insulation material has truly remarkable properties, producing amazing results. cover of north american clean energy magazine North American Clean Energy magazine featured featured the super-energy efficient, renewable energy powered home designed by Mr. Snyder. Energy is stored in eight batteries from a major U.S. manufacturer who is working with Mark to optimize battery performance. ”The harsh environment, poor equipment selection, and improper maintenance doomed other groups’ attempts at off-grid electrification to fail decades earlier than they should have,” said Chip Johnson, western sales manager at Fremont, Ohio-based Crown Battery. “When Mark Snyder came to us, we were excited about the project and about how he tested and chose components to make sure the Plateau Solar and Wind systems would last for decades.” Each solar system is designed to last 25 years with proper maintenance and to withstand severe weather. Elsa Johnson’s wants to empower rural Navajo people to help address the high unemployment rate among the Navajo Nation. That vision is shared by Mark Snyder. Training is a key part of his company’s projects. Training creates skilled workers who can install, maintain and service renewable energy equipment and installations. Plateau Solar and Wind trains local workers to plumb, wire, rewire and retrofit houses, as well as install and maintain solar systems built to national codes and standards. The George family home is an example of what skilled “green” workers can do. They can produce a super-energy efficient home very economically. The energy efficiency of the George home was monitored remotely, by broadband. Sensors throughout the house, as well as outside, collected data about conditions and the home’s energy “performance”. The energy efficiency of the home was so impressive that it attracted visitors from several U.S. agencies, including the Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Energy, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. After visiting a home that Mark Snyder had retrofitted to be energy-efficient and energy-self-sufficient, USDA Rural Development Housing Administrator Tony Hernandez wrote ““This is such a heartwarming project. This family now has what so many of us take for granted—a way to keep food fresh, to stay cool, to protect health and to bring light to their evenings”. He made the comments on a U.S. Department of Agriculture blog. USDA Rural Housing Adminsitrator sruveys Mark's solar power installation From left, Mark Snyder, Tony Hernandez, and Nona and George Schuler survey the tracking solar panel that Snyder installed, along with a wind turbine at the Schuler home. Hernandez is the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Housing Administrator. The super energy efficient, renewable energy home was not the first collaboration between Mark Snyder and Elsa Johnson. Delivering Electricity, Water and Sanitation Elsa Johnson is a Navajo woman who founded IINA Solutions. According to its mission statement, “IINA Solutions is a non-profit humanitarian organization working to improve the quality of life (iina) for marginalized rural Navajo tribal members challenged by the lack of clean water, electricity, and lack of employment. IINA Solutions provides an alternative energy solution that meets the basic human needs including green job training and internships through solar, wind and energy efficiency solutions.” There are more people living without electricity on America’s tribal lands than anywhere else. Ms. Johnson asked Mark Snyder to help her realize her vision of bringing electricity and clean water to Navajo far from the grid. Together they created the Plateau Project. Mark’s initial goal was to find a way to protect solar power equipment from the brutal temperatures found on the reservation , which range from 43°C (100°F) to -34°C (-30°F) . Previous solar installations by other companies quickly failed because they did not take this into account. To protect solar system components from harsh elements of the region, Mark invented the Enertopia Multi-Purpose Utility Structure (EMPUS). To date, 37 EMPUS units have been installed, with many more planned. Some units are smaller, without bathrooms. Watch a video about the portable, super insulated and solar powered structures by clicking here Funding for the Plateau Solar Project comes from USDA Rural Development and Renewable Energy Investment Funds administered by Grand Canyon Trust. These structures can be used to support commercial, NGO and military operations in the field, as well as communities living off the grid.
Website: First Seven Design Labs.
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