See you at the fair

Renewable Energy and Sustainability Fair returns to Ogle County Fairgrounds this weekend

By Robert and Sonia Vogl
President and Vice President
Illinois Renewable Energy Association

The industrial model of economic development fails to incorporate the full costs of its operations into its budget and passes them on to the public and the environment. As externalized costs accumulate a point could be reached in which the costs of further development exceed the benefits of further economic growth. The concept is captured in the phrase – you can’t have infinite growth on a finite planet.

The damage from economic development can be offset to some extent by using less damaging technologies and changing patterns of consumption. The thrust is directed at creating a better world for both today’s population and future generations. The annual Renewable Energy and Sustainability Fair to be held Saturday and Sunday has a variety of alternative approaches to fulfilling our good intentions. Time will tell whether society adopts more environmentally sound practices or merely continues with business as usual.

According to an article by Jules Kortenhorst in the Rocky Mountain Institute Outlook three accelerating trends in our energy system are setting off an energy revolution.

One is the ongoing fall in the cost of renewable energy sources such as photovoltaic, wind and battery storage. He reports the cost of PV panels drops by 24 percent every time installed capacity doubles. Onshore wind costs fall 14 percent and battery storage cost reductions are around 20 percent.

A second trend is the falling cost and increased presence of electric vehicles. He indicates the trend is exemplified by Tesla’s model 3 which is expected to cost $35,000 and have a 300 mile range per charge. Several alternatively powered autos will be on display at the Fair.

A third trend is the integration of intelligent technologies with renewable energy sources, smart appliances and the creation of a two way flow of electrons between utilities and customers serving as a means to make more efficient use of energy.

Some of these trends will be addressed by workshops and technologies on display at the Fair.

But technological improvements are only a portion of the Fair’s offerings. Examples of sustainable living elements will also be addressed.

Organic vegetables and native plants will be for sale. Natural pesticides and high quality tools will make raising vegetables easier.

Handmade jewelry and hypoallergenic alpaca fiber products will be available. Preventing hunger by eating insects will provide thought provoking ideas. Beauty products, alternative health care solutions, cleaning products and hand-made soaps that work naturally will add to the items for purchase. Some fairgoers purchase many of their year’s gifts at the Fair.

Knowledgeable speakers with years of experience will discuss earth sheltered homes, straw-clay building and affordable and effective ways to retrofit a house to live with a hotter climate.

Producing food by using aquaponics and native forest products as well as simple techniques for making bread and cheese and butchering one’s own meat will open new opportunities for visitors. Simple cooking methods that use little or no added heat – solar cooking and fireless cooking – will be demonstrated.

Educational, entertaining activities such as making interactive sun-clocks will expand the horizons of knowledge.

Major sponsors of the Fair are the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, The Rock River Times, Northern Public Radio and the Ogle County Solid Waste Management Department.

For more information, see

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