Reading back over all the posts following Desai's initial ideas, it is
interesting that the bulk of conversation has focussed on power. Of
course that is important and Ray is right that power brings
development which needs more power which leads to yet more development
and so on. Historically that has happened in all developed and
developing countries, but only on the back of superabundance of diesel
or gas. That, as I have pointed out previously, is going to come to an
end some day.
But more importantly, the bulk of Desai's ideas do not focu on power
directly, but on small scale processing of food and commodities.
Whilst the power demand is gradually being addressed here in Toledo
via the Southern Banana Belt electrification project, the need for
small community food processing is not. That is where I see the
greater value of Desai's ideas.
This whole concept has been passed to the farming community for
discussion and we shall see what comes of it.
On Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 2:40 PM, Ray Auxillou
> Hmmmmnnnn! Your right, I have been through the Mexican village bit, with
> one lone 5 kw diesel generator tootling along at night for 3 or 4 hours, for
> house light bulbs in rural Mexico. Also introduced the first 3 hp hand
> pulled gasoline generator on Caye Caulker, donated by USA CARE charity. We
> taught the kids how to do electricity and wiring with it using the school
> building as test. That period seemed at the time, as the utmost in modern
> conveniences. However, the period lasted no more than three years, then the
> Coop put in a plant for the village. Bigger electric supply and the coop
> managment thought they would have excess electricity. Unfortunately, all
> those broke, poor fishermen went out and bought refrigerators, freezers and
> washing machines. Bingo, new plant was too small. Gradually kept stepping
> up the size of the generator and power supplied and one year finally Coop
> sold to government BEL. BEL brought in TWO bigger diesel generators to last
> through the ages. It was insufficient in two years. Population has grown
> from 300 people in 90 houses to 2000 people or 5000 people depending on who
> you talk to.
> I´m trying to say technology changes, supply and demand changes,
> population changes, the way you earn your bread changes, etc. Usually in 2
> or 3 year cycles if Caye Caulker is any guide. Right now, there are
> villages in the Toledo District that would appreciate a 5 kw steam driven
> electric generator. But in two years, the situation will change. BEL will
> probably come in with national power grid or something. Your steam
> generator will no longer be viable, either because electricity has enabled
> more complicated production artifacts, or a change in the way you farm,
> process and produce The labor that was okay when you put in the steam
> generator, can no longer find caretakers at cheap cost, because the village
> is turning from a shared subsistance poor people voluntary group labor,
> economy, to a cash economy. Where you have to pay for everything, included
> the gangs of poor villagers who used to help each other. BEEN THERE DONE
> Once the poor villagers turn to a cash economy and start to put a price on
> their labor, your small machinery is doomed. The economy of that village
> suddenly becomes profit motivated. Different ball game entirely.
> From: grant james
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Sent: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 8:37 PM
> Subject: Re: [-BTG-] New Member
> OK you can find all kinds of excuses why this wouldn't work yea kids are
> in school during the day time but there not in school in the evening or the
> week ends Mr Desai talked about running the steam plant at night to give
> lights to a village that is now using kerosene lights kids can run the plant
> in evenings then during day when its used to crush cane or run tools or as a
> way to pump water into a holding tank who ever needs the power can run the
> plant because there going to be right next to it an can keep an eye on it an
> maintain it
> Ray you have been in Belize long enough to remember times an places with
> no electricity and you know they have power outages now but your looking at
> this to have the ease of just flipping a switch when ever you want an having
> power right there ready to go an you want it to work for just you personally
> but Mr Desai is talking about this on a village level a whole group of
> people to make it work
> Plus this is not something that's going to be running 24/7 the plant would
> be used for basic power needs like for lights an to recharge battery packs
> in each home your not going to be running a modern power sucking house off
> one of these small plants the plants are intended for small scale to help a
> farm or village save on labor and keep money in the local economy to do the
> work of grinding grain running a cane press or a wood shop
> example of use for me would be set the whole plant up one of two ways one
> being generator head on it to run my cabinet shop tools have it right in my
> shop me maintaining it as i work or have it run my tools direct from a belt
> drive system off the 18hp one i could run a large furniture shop where i
> could make all kinds of things for a village you add in a machine shop an i
> can also build or repair things even replicate the steam plants
> Mr Desai is following the KISS method (Keep It Simple Stupid) very basic
> very uncomplicated easy to build an to maintain
> yours Grant
> On Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 3:33 AM, Ray Auxillou
> My point exactly. He can do it in India. You cannot do it in Belize.
> Different culture. Our kids go to school.
> From: grant james
> To: email@example.com
> Sent: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 7:29 AM
> Subject: Re: [-BTG-] New Member
> Ray and Hugh
> both of you i think missed what our friend said about who was running the
> steam power plants who sat there an made sure they ran day in an day out
> took care of feeding the wood or biomass oiling the thing an making sure
> there is plenty of water
> He said BOYS as in i presume he meant say 11 to 15 years of age they
> don't get a mans wage an if it was in a village the Boys could rotate who
> ran it every night as long as they where trained an responsible the the
> village as a whole provide the wood or Biomass for the steam engine and
> everyone benefits if there unwilling to do there share there power gets
> turned off
> Yours Grant
> On Mon, Dec 19, 2011 at 9:51 PM, Hugh Leyton
> Hi Ray,
> Was it not you, who was asking about high pressure Steam Engines for
> generating Electricity.
> Was it not you saying that you had access to plenty of Wood to run a Steam
> Engine ?
> If it was not you, who was it ?
> Certainly someone on this "Technical" group was asking questions about this.
> But I thought the idea then, what generating 100's of KW of Electricity.
> Where as we were saying that, that was not practical.
> But Using Wood to generate 5kW, 10kW or even 20kW or so, would be
> There is cheap labour in Belize, compared to America.
> So we should be thinking about smaller, Village ideas and individual farm or
> homestead power ideas.
> Veljibhai - I watched your video of those small Steam Engines.
> But I have a big query.
> Why are they blowing Steam out of the engine Exhaust ?
> Why is that spent steam not being condenced and returned to the Boiler for
> Since it is already hot, it would save a fair bit of fuel energy to re-use
> the same hot water, in an enclosed system and not venting the spent steam.
> Rgds Hugh
> On 19/12/2011 04:01, Ray Auxillou wrote:
> You have a problem. There are different levels of income in third world
> countries. We in Central America are not like India. We do not have cheap
> labor, or excess labor resources, for human labor competition. Certainly
> not in Belize, or Guatemala. A wood fired steam engine, would require, as
> in your case two boys to feed and look after. You could not do this in
> Belize effectively for low power situations. I had in my life, 20 acre
> coconut plantations twice. I ended up selling the land and getting out of
> the business, because the cost of labor skyrocketed, making them
> unprofitable. As peoples earnings go up, from new business ventures, the
> old businesses die out, from lack of labor price competitiveness. You have
> an excess of cheap labor. We cannot even find labor to cut grass and weeds
> in the yards with a machete. The cheapest labor here in Belize runs about
> $30 USA currency per day now. I remember 40 years ago, myself working for
> $20 usa a day in Florida, USA. India with labor at $1 or $2 is labor
> competitive, but not in most of the world.
> *From:* V K DESAI - FOUNDER OF TINYTECH
> *To:* firstname.lastname@example.org
> *Sent:* Monday, December 19, 2011 2:51 AM
> *Subject:* Re: [-BTG-] New Member
> I have no doubt that all developed countries including USA have to throw
> away centralized mass production system and all have to resort to
> production by masses approach as advocated by Mahatma Gandhi. The sooner the
> better. In fact real solution of all the problems of the world is lying in
> home scale production units and throw away madness of centralized mass
> production. It is simply for sucking the people.
> V K DESAI
> EMAIL email@example.com
> WEB www.tinytechindia.com
> On Monday 19 December 2011 04:22 AM, chris Harris wrote:
> Well it has got me thinking. But can you honestly see a future
> reversion to steam? Please leave aside the longing I suspect you and
> some other contributors have (tee hee) IS THIS A REALISTIC IDEA for
> the future? i am not saying it is not realistic, I just want to hear
> the views of others.
> Mr Desai's projection of splitting into small self supporting
> communities might be a realistic proposition for poor undeveloped
> countries might it not? After all we surely cannot see a world coming
> where Burma, Sudan, DR Congo, and many others achieve the level of
> consumerism that say the US has now? Can we? Where will the food come
> from? who will produce it? Where will the raw materials come from? How
> will they get there?
> I think these are the kind of questions Mr Desai is implying. Perhaps
> he would like to comment and share his wider thoughts?