Energy Technology

In the Solar Test Field we’re researching energy autonomy and ecological life structures for sunlight-rich regions, and cooperating with Juergen Kleinwaechter to create regenerative social and technological solutions. The energy of the sun is a gift from nature which is freely available and abundant around the world, especially in the Global South. We’re learning how to harness it in a living model without depending on large-scale industry.

“An essential contribution to our new models for settlements, where humans and nature cooperate, is our research into decentralized energy systems using solar technologies that can be built locally. By decentralized, we mean creating regional, relatively self-sufficient subsistence economies that are linked to each other. Worldwide exchange between autonomous regions will give rise to a humane and peaceful globalization.”

BARBARA KOVATS, elder and group leader serving the Test Field

What We’ve Learned

  • We are gifted with a vast amount of energy coming from clean renewable sources. The sun sends 15,000 time more energy to the Earth than humanity currently needs. Using this, we can produce an abundance of energy for everyone while restoring the Earth.
  • Leaving the fossil fuel industry behind is an existential imperative. Creating models for decentralized energy autonomy using the power of sun, earth, wind, water and biomass enables us to catalyze this necessary transition worldwide.
  • In a nonviolent culture, energy technologies are based on resonance, growth and synergy rather than principles of decay and breaking resistances. They no longer destroy or create scarcity, but work with abundance and collaboration.
  • Building community is the foundation for any true sustainability. It is not technical or ecological knowledge that we lack, but rather the decision to collaborate in such depths that the new systems can come to life. That’s why we’re working to provide a social platform of trust and solidarity where experts can collaborate and contribute their solutions to an integrated system.
  • Using permaculture design principles, we can create a model for urban regeneration.
  • Decentralized water, food and energy systems are interconnected, and can provide independence from global supply. Autonomous decentralized communities and exchange among these communities offer the foundation for a peaceful future world.
  • There are regional benefits to this, as money and labor stays in the region, which supports local production.
  • We create an essential knowledge transfer by inviting people to come, experience and learn with us as we live with the systems and tailor them to community needs.

What Is the Solar Test Field?

Built in 2009, 30 people live and research around the Test Field kitchen and workshop using mirror, biogas, solar technology and thermodynamic cycles. Our goal is to provide viable models for decentralized energy autonomy around the world, demonstrating how a village community living under simple conditions can live in abundance using regenerative eco high-tech for the solar age. This “first draft” for sustainable living includes:

  • energy supply
  • water management
  • waste management
  • permaculture
  • architecture and ecological building.

We cooperate with long-term partner Juergen Kleinwaechter and we’re inspired by his prototypes. We create systems to give us proof of principles for the technologies.

The Test Field is a playground for our research that continuously evolves, trialing new prototype solutions such as exchanging cement for lime, using different biogas digesters, solar distillation, dry toilets such as treebogs, growing mushrooms and more. Similar to a Montessori open learning space, we explore what it means to live with the rhythms of nature and in community.

As well as a place of experimentation and of testing new inventions in the daily life of a modern village, it’s an education center for transferring knowledge to change makers and hope carriers in the Global South. They join us to live with the technologies so we can work on how to integrate the solutions in their communities.

We collaborate with technologists, innovators and students from all over the world, and invite students to come and complete degree-level project work with us. If you’re interested in studying here, contact us.

Tamera Ultralight Membrane Mirror – First Prototype (September 2016)