The thing about travel
Yurts at Poncha Pass - Colorado Yurt Rentals and Sustainable Building Workshops - Photo of Chris in ground of Earthship

Written by Chris

December 21, 2014

The thing about travel is, well you just keep traveling. Trees blow by from the viewpoint behind foggy glass, I move into new places and call them home but only for a few months, and friendships as cherished letters to stranded islanders, are put to sea in hopes of one day connecting down the line. Arrived, task at hand, one sets out to communicate. Whether it is on the street with directions in a foreign tongue, a bus ride to a factory on the southern part of the city out in the dunes, or meeting a sudden fellow traveler heading in the opposite direction, communication defines travel.

I’ve just arrived back from Lima Peru, my first extended business trip ever. Define business? I aim to define it as pursuing a value to society through a puzzle and working towards the realization of that puzzle. Business would be the active time in seeking out each piece. The trip started with looking up some amazing individuals met earlier this summer when we visited for a deployment survey. Having lived there in ’09 and now making new acquaintances, I would go so far as to say on a whole, the Peruvian people are some of the most kind, genuine, and fair people I have ever met. Meeting with the factory owner shows they are still interested in producing our system and after catching up with a fellow surfer with life long business ties to Lima and who has shown some of the most genuine interest in the project to date, offers contacts in Ilo to help organize the deployment.

Onto Ilo and I find myself talking to local fishermen in the square. They go to sea roughly once a week for a weeks time and take it easy during the more wave prone winters. Fishing makes up a substantial percentage of the local economy, and I find the area suffers from a lack of reliable ice to move fish to market. Ilo, also happens to be located on the northern fringe of the driest place on earth, the Atacama Desert. The area could benefit greatly from desalinization, which Atmocean could provide as an end product. I gain audiences with the port Authority, and the Captain of Ilo, in the Peruvian Navy and present our project plan to them. Presenting in front of 4 officers with crew manning stations in the command center, and in Spanish no less, proves to be a nervous point in the trip. But success as they can appreciate the concept of clean wave power with the potential to take advantage of the local waves, creation of jobs, added energy security, while potentially also being capable of delivering fresh water and or salt water ice to the local community. If water from the rivers become scares, to be able to switch over power generation to more fundamentally important water desalination for a period of time, would be invaluable.

The Captain gave me three potential sites to deploy at and after site surveys; I was able to locate a beach currently used as a rock dump with good road access. The grade drops off gradually and we can find 100 ft. of depth 2.25km from shore. Had to get approval for benthic charts for that one. Was a good day to wear running shoes as I often encounter the process of doing things in Peru involving orders, separated payment, and receipts of payment, are all done at separate places. Between running permits back and forth for signatures, I find a moment to sit seaside and enjoy the local cuisine of cerviche with a glass of chica morado, a dark red, lightly sweetened juice, made from Peruvian red corn.

Preliminary permit in hand, I jump a taxi headed for Tachna in the south, 40km north from the border of Chile. I watch as we glide through the bone dry desert, where the ocean meets the sand and the Pan American carries us southward. A billboard appears for Bolivia’s access to the Pacific through a narrow corridor stretching no more than 200m, with only the sign separating it from the surrounding landscape. Back in Lima, I make a point to seek out a way to participate in Cop20, joining the Renewable Energy Forum, which represents a one-day conference for private and non-profit organizations to discuss efforts designed to navigate climate change. What I take from the conference is that if any entity is going to lead on climate change, it will be the people in the forms of organizations and corporations. With governments limited access to investment capital, government should focus on highly durable and stable regulatory structure so that corporations and NGOs have a consistent business climate to grow from. I hope we all demand action from our leaders in Paris next year at Cop21, to make a climate change framework a tangible reality.

In the last few days, I worked on getting to the factories around Lima where we have started placing order. We’re looking good for a spring demonstration system, followed by a full-scale 0.5 MW array next December. As our technology is modular, we believe there is the potential to deploy 100 systems, or 50 MW of rated electrical output within three years, should the stepping-stones prove successful. Off stateside to meet with our New Mexico production factory and celebrate the season with family before moving to Lima in January, as the tumbleweed cartwheels onwards.

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