You can’t always get what you want!
What an amazing era of technology we live in! Super efficient technologies pop up daily. But when the average earth-user reaches out to adopt them, there’s no-one there to guide them. It’s tough and expensive to yearn for new technologies. The pioneers have to be prepared to take an active role in implementing new technologies and providing constructive feedback.
A key permaculture principles is: Information and observation replaces energy use. The more we learn and observe, the less effort we will need to spend getting it to work.
Are your thinking about adopting a new technology? Maybe it is solar air-conditioning. This is a great recent science invention based on adsorption (not absorption). Or perhaps you want to convert your conventional toilets to a compost system. Well, how do you go about it? who can advise you independent of the sales people of a particular brand or particular technology or method?
There are lots of teething problems and pitfalls in the commercialisation of the eco-technologies. Consumers risk failing with the business that strives to help them. When we recognise the pitfalls for the businesses, we can assess them better and help them and others.
Each Eco-technology manufacturer needs to build their:
- supply chain security with distribution methods
- support network for parts
- expert after-sales service
- methods to listen and learn from user feedback
- installers – trained installers
- demonstration sites where people can touch and feel the gear before committing
The early adopters of new technologies pay a lot of money for products that are usually only just at the adequately functional stage.
These consumers often have to
- write their own ‘operations manual’ and
- source after sales parts and
- make modifications or improvements are at their own risk
- be able to service the equipment themselves
At Permaculture Visions we were the first people in our region to set up a solar-hot-water radiator heating system. We took temperature measurements for 12 months to help provide feedback to the supplier and write our own user-guide. With some self-maintenance it is still working well. Sadly the provider, along with many local manufacturing companies, has closed down.
Speeding up the Eco-technology uptake
Eco-technology uptake can be sped up on three levels: government, business and grass-roots. Greater government leadership can:
- provide regulating authorities who provide advise on national and international standards
- listen to independent forward-thinking councils such as Clean Energy Australia,
- support regional demonstration institutions such as Future world
- limited and targeted subsidies can make big impacts.
Business can bridge the gap
There is a gnawing gap between displays of new technology (crowing about it) and honest appraisal and evaluation. The consumer has to know their own needs and be able to assess whether the new technology is appropriate.
If you have a head for technology, are people savvy and don’t have an investment (financial or emotional) in any particular type of technology, here is a good business opportunity for you. You could advise people on which technology would suit their needs best. You could set yourself up as an aggregator. There are some aggregators for individual technologies ie. solar but there are no aggregators for a range of eco-technologies. This can be done as a consultant or in software format.
Business and institutions need to SHOW, EVALUATE, INFORM, SOURCE improvements and MAKE COMPARISONS.
Choices on the domestic front
Whenever we make a purchase, we are making a technological decision. If we choose an old technology, we might feel we are playing it safe – but are we really safe? When we reach out for an older, proven technology our choice has two impacts.
- It supports the current way of life that is not sustainable and governments are already acting to limit this technology.
- It fails to support technological advances unless there is a real improvement on the old technology.
The safest option is to adopt a mixture of safe and new technologies to serve our need. This is like wearing ‘a belt and braces’ to be sure the pants stay up. Consider first the soft technology options. There are a lot of natural and traditional technologies that cost very little to set up (eg. planting deciduous trees on the sun-side to cool the house in summer, using double glazing to hold heat and allow natural light).
Tailor and Blend your technologies
Optimise your soft-technologies like permaculture and dabble intelligently in the cutting-edge eco-technology to build a path to a healthier future.
Learn more about Permaculture with us.