Getting started with our Tahiti Project
Paea, Saturday 27th of June 2009
On Saturday, after two days of getting settled we finally started to tackle our big challenge. Raphael introduced me to the structure of his dissertation and explained his… our aims – for those interested in the technicalities: read the following paragraph (we won’t be offended if some readers decide to skip this bit).
1.1 Conceptual Formulation
2. Basic Principles/Fundamentals
2.1 What is an Energy Concept?
2.2 Types of Energy Concepts
2.3 Procedural Method for the Compilation of an Energy Concept
3. General Characteristics of this Energy Concept
3.1 Dual Arrangement
3.1.1 Conservative Scenario (based on our current economic system)
3.1.2 Progressive Scenario (based on a different economic system – as described in the book „Das Tahiti Projekt“ by Dirk C. Fleck)
3.2 Inclusion of the Local Population (Survey)
3.2 Focus on Renewable Energy Sources
4. Renewable Energy Sources and Possibilities of Energy Storage Capacities
4.4 Ocean Currents
4.7 Energy Storage
5. Analysis of the Situation and Location
5.1 Prevailing Geographic and Climatic Conditions
5.2 Current Energy Supply Structure
5.2.1 Fossil Fuels
5.2.2 Renewable Energy Sources
5.2.3 Grid and Energy Storage
5.3 Current Consumption Pattern (Day, Year)
5.4 Public Opinion Poll (Survey/Questionnaire)
5.5 Political Incentives (Possibilities of Government Funding)
6. Analysis of the (theoretical) Potential of Renewable Energy Sources and Possible Storage Capacities
6.4 Ocean Energy
6.5.2 Vegetable Oil
6.6 Energy Storage Capacities
7. Energy Concepts
7.1 Summary: Conservative Scenario
7.2 Summary: Progressive Scenario
7.3 Comparison/Weighing different factors
8. Summary and Future Prospects
I must say I was quite impressed – I didn’t know that Raphael had already put so much thought into the project (on the phone – we’d only met once before we took off to French Polynesia together – he always seemed so relaxed (a bit too chilled out for my taste) about the details of the plan – In fact I didn’t even know if he had one).
After this enlightenment (on my side) we tackled bullet point 5.4.1 (the formulation of a questionnaire/survey). We will use this as a basis to find out how familiar the Polynesians are with their current energy supply structure (types and amount of imports) and what kind of previous knowledge they have concerning renewable energy in general and also what attitude they have towards renewable energy applications, energy autonomy (especially looking at the general independence-from-France-movement), their transport habits (cars versus public transport) and possibly also their state of environmental awareness in general. I’ll start running around Pape’ete and the other towns in Tahiti (and maybe other islands, when we decide to move on from Tahiti) asking people to fill in these questionnaires as soon as we’ve evaluated everyone’s comments, finished the French translation and found a guinea pig (probably our host Fréderic or his wife Christelle). We’ll also use an online-tool such as Survey Monkey to distribute our questions across French Polynesia via internet (by the way: its islands and atolls are spread over an area roughly the size of Europe).
In the afternoon I sorted through some pictures (I seem to be obsessed with trying to capture the beauty of our natural surroundings – but there’s nothing like actually being here, listening to the huge variety of birds and taking in the scent of all the colourful blossoms*…) while Raphael repaired Fréderic’s old bike. After shopping and cooking dinner I did a bit of translating and we went to bed relatively early – the heat here is quite exhausting.
*Note: it is not my intention to make the reader jealous!
Final thoughts of the day: I was a bit disappointed at my bad French – giving up without having finished the translation and going to bed – but apart from that I felt like we made a huge step in the right direction and really achieved something 🙂
Paea/Punaauia, Sunday 28th of June 2009
After getting up early (at 5:03 to be exact) I finished the translation (I’m writing this so the reader doesn’t get the impression that we’re being a bit too lazy) and we went swimming together – there seem to be more fish close to the shore before the sun rises above the hills and shines onto the coral reefs… We had breakfast, grabbed our highly scientific equipment** and hitchhiked to Punaauia (a few kilometers from here) to test whether the ocean currents here are suitable (strong enough) for energy exploitation. Lauren, an American who is also staying at Te Miti offered to help with our guesstimations and joined us. In the afternoon we were quite exhausted from taking measurements and only managed to upload some pictures (modern technology can really chew up so much of our precious time… on the other hand, I must admit it would be nearly impossible to work here without it). In the evening we had dinner with Natalie (a girl who came here because she has had enough of living in France: unemployment rate, politics,…) and talked about the world, people and “le gaspillage” (wastefulness). Afterwards we did a bit of writing and I listened to the night and gazed at the stars (there’s not as much light pollution here so they seem a lot brighter than in Dundee and Hamburg) – the Polynesian way of life really is contagious, I feel so relaxed here and the bad conscience I often have is not as dominant as usual…
Final thoughts of the day: Raphael’s shoulders are a bit sore and I have a hint of red on mine so the ocean currents and incoming solar radiation here are definitely worth exploiting 🙂
**we actually borrowed it from Fréderic: surfboards
Monday 30th of June 2009
On Monday I wrote tons of e-mails to infect all my friends with the Tahiti-Virus and encourage them to give Equilibrism (a new socio-ecological economic concept – unfortunately there’s not very much information in English yet but I’d like to encourage our French and German speaking readers to click on the links on the right hand side of the blog) a thought. We really need this to become mass movement!
After breakfast we went to Pape’ete with Christine (a German who emigrated to Australia – she’s also staying at Te Miti) to learn more about the Polynesian culture – yesterday was a public holiday something about “l’autonomie interne” (unfortunately my very limited brain capacity won’t allow me to recall the actual name of the holiday) and we wanted to see some Polynesian dancing… hip-energy, I mean (we estimate that all the hip-energy generated by dancers in the capital Pape’ete alone would be sufficient to power half of all loud speakers in all of French Polynesia – see Raphael’s sketch below: Pape’eteual motion machine 😉
Unfortunately we arrived at the wrong time. The city centre was deserted; we only bumped into a few scattered people attending some sort of political event (involving singing – seems like not even that point on the agenda managed to get many of the rather “musicophil” Polynesians interested in politics) on the street in front of the City Hall. Then we strolled across the also rather poorly attended market in the “Hotel de Ville” gardens where the locals were selling handcrafted jewelry, straw hats and bags, colourful clothes (such as Pareos) and even tattoos (or ta-taus as they are actually called – though not employing the traditional (painful) methods but using (boring 😉 modern equipment to inject the ink).
Unfortunately there were no buses going back to Paea (they really need a new public transport system here – I can already picture the Reva Tae à Link!) on the other hand we got the opportunity to meet two interesting people as we hitchhiked (faire le stop) home: The first man (Jaques) who picked us up was a pastor who knows Temaru (the president) – he only took us as far as the airport so we didn’t have time to get his contact details – but he said we should definitely say Hi to Temaru from his friend Jaques – contacts seem to be everything here, even if you just mention a name (Tai’na à Antonina), we also learned that from the next person who picked us up. Rat Laetita is a school teacher and seemed really motivated to support us when she heard of our plan. She advised us not to stay in Tahiti for too long and hop on a boat to explore the other islands/atolls as well. One of her uncles is the major of Maupiti and she knows the major of another town here (she always goes in his back yard to steal mangoes). She gave us her phone number and said we should definitely contact her again. Speaking…writing of contacts: we also met a local who claims Temaru stole his “genealogy” – not too sure if he’s a good contact but he was definitely fond of the energy-autonomy idea…
When we got back I had to lie down for a bit (had a headache and already got paranoid because Fréderic told me about Dengue fever*** which is transferred by mosquitoes and apparently completely knocks you out for an entire week (22 hours of sleeping a day – and two hours of weak and painful drinking (water!)) and makes you drowsy for about a month and a half – maybe I should be as wise as Raphael and start using insect repellant – it’s just such a sticky hassle…). After my nap I did our laundry by hand (just to learn afterwards that we’re allowed to use the washing machine once a week without paying extra – grrrr at least I saved some electricity) and Raphael made dinner (I’m glad he knows how to cook properly :). In the evening I sat outside and had an interesting conversation with Lauren. Hostels are great for meeting new people who have very diverse backgrounds.
Final thoughts of the day: We didn’t really achieve anything technical today (except for imagining the potential of hip energy) but we made some interesting contacts!
Paea, Tuesday 31st of June 2009
Today we spent doing research online, talking to Christelle and one of her friends (she’s really keen on spreading the word and helped Raphael with his French a bit) about our questionnaire and meeting the Ministre pour l’Environnement and I played with a cute little kid for a bit (what a relevant piece of information… well actually it is: It got me thinking again about habits and the education system: kids won’t long for an unsustainable consumerist lifestyle if they’re not taught to/born into one, will they?! I am sitting outside and listening to children playing at the school across the road. I might go there tomorrow and gather some information about the education system and if they’re doing any sort of environmental education – there seems to be some sort of summer…well actually winter programme going on. Maybe they’ll allow me to play some educationally sound renewable energy game with the kids…)
Raphael made some phone calls (I’m so glad he always takes care of those – I get the impression that his French is only marginally better than mine but he is a lot more brave than me when it comes to using it) and sent an e-mail (in French) to explain our project to one of the people he called – we found a very interesting blog/website of an organisation working for more renewables in French Polynesia. We’ll probably meet up with them sometime this week…
Final thoughts of the day: It took me a lot longer writing this than I initially thought it would – I kept getting distracted by all the people in the hostel. Raphael and I laughed a lot (about hip energy and stray dogs and roosters (they always wake us up at 4 in the morning) in biogas plants and my to-do-lists… among other things) and our French seems to be getting better infinitely slowly (which reminds me of thermodynamics and reversible processes).
Sorry for writing so much – I hope someone made it to the end! Feel free to post some comments/questions/suggestions!