July 13, 2008 at 11:34 pm #650
Thinking about it, does the insitute have a requirements gathering framework for infrastructure? The Infrastructure area seems a little “jumping around” in the approach. My own personal philosophy is that one of the major problems at the moment is waste or resources, not the requirement to be able to generate massive amounts of energy. A structured approach to gathering the requirements for all the logistics of a seastead would make for quicker and easier debates about what sort of energy generation is required, what sort of communications requirements exist, what sort of water, food, heating, cooling, movement, transportation, waste managment, mechanical power, etc would be needed.
Sorry to mention this if such a structure already exists. If not, I would be more than willing to put one together.
Thanks.July 18, 2008 at 9:38 pm #3448
If you have sufficient energy, waste and resources are minimal engineering problems. TP plants can process waste into fuel, desal plants can make fresh water, grow lights can allow food production in otherwise dark spaces (inside a spar?), etc.July 18, 2008 at 10:33 pm #3450
Most of what we need can be bought off-the-shelf from West Marine. Outfitting a sailboat or a power boat is pretty much the same as outfitting a seastead.
The more you push towards self-sufficiency, the harder it gets, but self-sufficiency is not a requirement.July 19, 2008 at 11:12 am #3453
I agree. If you have enough energy, you can do pretty much anything you want. Doing things with as little energy as possible is of course another equally valid factor. An advanced civilization needs to excel at energy production as well as efficiency. Also, energy production needs to be reliable.July 19, 2008 at 9:10 pm #3456
I think energy self-sufficiency is just a matter of cost. If you have enough money, you can buy a whole bunch of solar cells and batteries and become energy self sufficient. At this point in time it is not a technical issue, but more of an economic one. The economics will change over time as solar/wind/wave technology evolves.
Food Self-Sufficiency is one I would like to tackle, but I do not think it is worth tackling up front. I think we will want to try out a bunch of technologies and settle on a mix of them before we succeed on that one. Technologies like hydroponics, aquaculture, inflatable gardens, vertical farming, etc. Who know maybe protein vats will come along for artifical meat.July 22, 2008 at 4:22 pm #3481
July 22, 2008 at 5:22 pm #3482
- Buying solar panels isn´t really self-sufficient. You´d have to produce them locally for that. And mine the materials, build the tools for production and so on and so forth.
- Milton Friedman with a brilliant elaboration on the subject: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6vjrzUplWU
- True self-sufficiency is very hard if not impossible to achieve. And the more of it you want, the more you will pay, the less you will produce, and the poorer you will be.
- Division of labor and trade with others is what makes a society wealthy, and as a consequence, successful.
- I agree that everything in the end is a matter of cost.
By “self-sufficiency”, I meant that we did not have to import any diesel.
I mean the same thing with water and food self-sufficiency. If you want to suggest a different word or phrase, I’m open for suggestions.July 22, 2008 at 7:17 pm #3483
Maybe I went a bit off topic there. I just get annoyed that the idea of self-sufficiency pops up all the time even though it is both impossible to achieve in any real sense and bad for you to the extent you “suceed” in doing it.
July 23, 2008 at 2:56 am #3484
- I guess what you are trying to do is to operate for as long as possible without getting supplies from outside?
- If this is the case I would have to ask what the purpose is. What do you gain by importing solar panels every twenty years compared to importing diesel fuel every six months?
Your definition of self-sufficiency differed from mine. Fair enough. My definition is that you are self-sufficient in something when you no longer need to import it. (I’m open to an alternative word or phrase.)
Self-sufficiency is not a requirement. Period. I want to interact and trade with the rest of the global economy. I have no desire to minimize contact with the rest of the world. (Let me be clear; I agree with you.) However, I do expect people to make their own economic choices using criteria that they care about.
For water, energy, food choices:
- It is probably cheaper to produce water on site using reverse osmosis or thermal desalination than it is to import it. So I expect people to expend money up front for the appropriate water maker equipment.
- I expect people to make a choice between importing diesel fuel every six months vs. importing solar panels. The cost of delivered diesel fuel may make this choice tilt towards solar. Even if it is tilted towards diesel, people may choose the more expensive solar because a diesel generator is noisy and smelly or some other reason.
- Growing some food locally, may be cheaper than importing it. I doubt very much that it will every be cheaper to grow all food locally. If people choose to invest in more local food production because the locally produced stuff just plain tastes better; I can live with that choice. Personally, I would probably choose to a small veggie garden and import the rest. This is my choice and other people are free to make a different choice.
The ultimate choice on these consumable issues is up to the end-users.July 23, 2008 at 10:44 am #3491
July 24, 2008 at 3:32 pm #3495
- Ok, then I think we´re on the same page, pretty much.
- Going back to the topic of the thread (requirements analysis) I guess the requirements will change depending on the purpose of the individual seastead. One seastead may be living quarters only and perhaps can get by with solar or wind power. Another seastead might be for industrial production and as a result will need large amounts of cheap and reliable power which will probably means diesel generators. Just to use energy requirements as an example.
- With this in mind I guess the seastead should be designed to be equipped as the individual owners choose, ie as open and flexible as possible.
Another option for energy is to use the solar/wind/wave energy to supply us with Steam Energy. This way we wouldn’t have to bring in the high priced diesel. Plus we would shoot two birds with one stone, if not three. 1) reliable power no matter the weather; 2) purified water available as an end result of purifieing it; and 3) Hot water for showers and such as well. And 4) it’s cleaner than burning any kind of fuel be it diesel or otherwise.July 25, 2008 at 7:43 am #3496
It would probably be a good idea to be able to be fairly self-sufficient if needed, while also engaging in extensive trade in order to tap into the global division of labor. There’s a balance in there, but it’s also important to be able to survive for a good while if trade becomes unavailable due to storms or whatnot.
I’ve been active on the nation-builders group at Yahoo with Wayne, Patri and others, and like them I’ve been thinking about the issues for several years. Wayne’s answers generally seem very sound to me. Solar and batteries, diesel backup, fruit and vegatable hydroponics, aquaculture, and lots of trade would be my suggested balance also. On site desalination is essential since water is a vital daily need, and it doesn’t seem to make much sense to import it. At sea, there’s “Water, water everywhere” after all, and it would be nice to be able to drink some of it.July 25, 2008 at 10:35 pm #3506
Importing water is probably way costlier than making it on site anyway. So I´m sure Adam Smith would approve of this.August 27, 2008 at 11:10 pm #3655
While it hasn’t been updated in 5 years, the book does contain a bunch of stuff about infrastructure requirements and ideas:
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