10/2/20 – Footnote on Alaska

I made it to the airport on my bike with the battery status meter blinking, the same indication as “reserve” on your gas gauge. I rented a mini-van, took the bike back to the Sockeye Inn and crated it up for the return flight home. I was very pleased to ride a little over 100 miles in Alaska by stretching the battery capacity as described previously. I have always taught my students and customers that the human factor of how we use the solar energy we have available is just as important as any other consideration.

A good example came from Charles Trenin, one of my early solar water heating customers, who during winter used hot water sparingly, taking shorter showers and only doing wash on sunny days. Another client in his passive solar home was sure to arrange furniture so as not to obstruct the concrete solar mass floor, making sure the sun was allowed to fully charge the floor with thermal energy. PV customers find ways of conserving to reduce load, and by so doing find themselves growing from 50% to 60 and 70% of their electrical usage from sunshine. Many Mr. Sun customers have achieved 100% for their home and their electric car.

So, let it be said I practice what I preach. I reduced my speed from 25 mph to 15. This by itself uses less energy than maintaining a higher constant speed. I found that I could maintain 15 mph on my own and by using the battery power in short pulses I could do 40 miles or more in a given day without being physically exhausted. In the end, I was able to take a single battery, pre-charged by solar energy, with a capacity of taking me 32 miles if I sat passively on the bike without peddling, and stretched it to 102 miles by strategically using the battery in synergy with a little effort from my legs.

John Patterson speaking at a solar conference in Italy

The purpose of Sunride is a call to America and the world to look to the sun to solve our energy problems. Rather than being held up by issues of cost, or storage, or overcast skies, find ways to make it work because certainly we can. At an international conference I attended years ago in Italy, after I spoke the moderator said, “That’s what we like about the Americans: that ‘can do’ spirit.” 

10/2/20 – Footnote on Alaska

Leave a Reply