Since installing my tanks to collect rain water for my Aquaponics project, I have become very aware of the terrible waste all around us. I sit looking at a roof of about 300sq/m below me on the hill, with neat and clean gutters and downpipes channeling all of that rain water straight down the drain. What a waste. We have a crisis in this country with a growing and demanding population, and shrinking resources. We are struggling as a country to provide water, electricity and sanitation, and yet what are we doing in our own cities, towns and suburbs to address this problem? Nothing.
If we take the 300 sq/m roof as an example. It is North-facing ie. the roof runs from East to West and the pitch slopes down on the North and South sides. The sun is in the North (dughh) and our prevailing wind comes from the West.
If we covered the North side with solar panels, mounted wind-turbines along the top, and collected all of the water running off of the roof, I am sure that we could certainly make a substantial dent in the monthly water and electricity bill.
The problem is the initial cost, and until we can get this cost down, nobody is going to bother. It’s easier to just leave it to the Government/Municipality. And in 10 years time when the cost of water and electricity, as supplied by the authorities increases 10-fold? Then we’ll all moan and wring our hands and wish we had done something sooner.
When trying to justify alternative energy investments, I think we all fall into the trap of saying, “well if I spend this money now, it’ll take x years to recoup my cost.” Hogwash. Don’t use the current cost of the resource. Multiply the cost of water and electricity by 10 and THEN look how fast it pays for itself.
The same applies to fuel. Yes, a diesel, electric or hybrid car does cost a lot more, but just look at the graph of fuel prices. Just a few more years at this rate and suddenly the alternative energy car doesn’t seem so expensive after all.
We must have more sunny days in South Africa than most other countries in the world. We urgently need to harness this energy that’s going to waste. A massive push is needed to design a cheap local solar panel. Our rainfall in this country isn’t bad, but I really don’t think we all do enough to collect every drop.
If we could just regard this first stage as an “awareness” stage and then turn this awareness into action.
Food for thought?