Thursday, September 28, 2006


Solar energy is our future!
The author of Solar Power with 12 Volt Systems on his life, work, and convictions

Many people wonder about the current state of this world. Why it is like it is, and what the future might bring? My name is Michel Daniek, and I am one of these people. Since I was a teenager, I wanted to know all about the world, but for a long time I found only more questions instead of answers. Interested in Astronomy and reading Albert Einstein already at 13 years old, I realized that not even physics had all the answers. Even the world of science seemed to be a big mystery in itself.
But most of all I always wondered about our society and environmental health on earth. Collectively seen we still don't seem to recognize the dramatic problems caused by CO² and radioactivity. If we will burn up all the fossil fuels like mineral oil, natural gas and coal, we are also using up the oxygen in our atmosphere changing it back to CO² again. The oxygen content of our atmosphere was created by photosynthesising plants over millions of years of life’s in our planet’s evolution. Deforestation is reducing the Earth’s capacity to maintain the oxygen content of the atmosphere at levels suitable for complex life forms like us. If we don’t stop pressing our foot on the gas pedal of fossil fuels, we will produce an atmosphere without oxygen, similar to primeval times on earth again. The content of oxygen in our atmosphere has declined since the industrial age.

The problem of radioactivity as an unwanted waste-product of nuclear energy, as a leftover of atomic bomb tests and reactor accidents such as Tschernobyl, is likely to be one of the main causes for genetic illnesses. Radioactivity causes mutations that can lead to genetic defects. Studies on people who lived in radioactive contaminated areas simply don't allow any other conclusions. The so-called "natural background radioactivity" has increased a lot since the discovery of the nuclear fission, and so we have the increased frequency of various forms of cancer.
As a young man I wondered, like many others of my generation, how long do we still want to watch, paralyzed and idle, how all our basic living conditions are destroyed on this lovely planet ? When will this civilization finally become adult and responsible enough, not to leave a giant heap of environmental problems to their own children and enough radioactive waste to endanger future generations for millennia ?

These issues and questions have lead me to believed in solar energy as an important step away from the fossil fuel crisis and the catastrophe of nuclear energy. Solar power is the energy of our future ! The number one energy source was and always will be the sun! But why, despite the fact that all the techniques and materials are available, is solar energy still not more widely used ?
I am personally convinced that technologies using energy directly from the sun are being suppressed by big business and political interests. These groups spread misinformation and use solar models, inventions, projects and studies for the sole purpose of proving them as non-profitable. They claim that solar energy is too expensive. Do these claims really hold if we weigh their cost against the true cost of nuclear contamination and CO² output from fossil fuels? At the end of the day, the energy industry’s only concern is simply to make as much profit as possible. Even most solar panel production today is in the hands of petroleum companies who can dictate the prices.
Furthermore, the electricity industries do not produce appliances requiring less energy, or remind people to use energy more efficiently. Instead they put products on the market such as television sets, music, and video equipment with “standby” buttons and many other appliances that use power even when they’re switched off. A German study has demonstrated that appliances on standby require an entire nuclear power station’s output, to do nothing. Rather than increasing efficiency, companies still develop equipment that consumes much more than its predecessors. The consumer isn't informed about this senseless consumption of electricity. Even specialist retail doesn’t really know or inform about these problems. In addition, unfounded rumours are spread, such as, computers should best be left switched on for 24 hours. All this is obviously done only to increase the electricity consumption to the maximum, just to maximise profit in the short term.
Also, there is the problem of “electro smog” – electromagnetic fields around electricity pylons and wires. High voltage electricity pylons produce huge electromagnetic fields which cover large areas of land. This is not without danger to organic life. For example, electro smog can cause sleeplessness, nervousness and can damage the immune system of the body. People are becoming now more aware of this problem. The electro smog load of mobile telephones has already become a topic, and minimising electro smog in bedrooms is now one aspect of environmental house building. But the full extent of the problems associated with the pollution of electro smog is either largely still unknown or hidden.

But let me return to my own story and attempts to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem, like my friend Patrick Whitefield likes to say. I was Born 1964 in Giessen, Germany, and grew up in a middle class family as the only son of a plumber. Interested in technology, I got the opportunity to play in my father’s workshop since my early childhood. As a teenager I completed an apprenticeship as an industrial mechanic in the motor industry, but soon I started wondering if there could be alternative ways of living. For a number of years, I worked as a bicycle mechanic for handicapped people, but when I reached 30 I found myself totally dissatisfied with the way of living in Germany, and bought myself a truck to live in and left Germany in search for other ways of life. Travelling around Europe I played with the small solar system in my truck and have lived and worked with solar energy every day. In 1997, I found myself a new home in an alternative village in the sunny south of Spain.

In view of all our global problems, I find the still widespread ignorance very hard to understand. How long do we still want to rely on the politicians and big industries? I passionately believe that it is time to take our own responsibility seriously and therefore to try to walk new ways independently.
As far as I see it, the disaster lies first of all in this, that we are not willing to see the situation in which we undoubtedly are. The environmental destruction and its consequences are still not really in front of our eyes, or many even aren't really ready to regard the destruction process as real. In consideration of this dangerous situation it is essential that we recognize and understand the deeper roots of the global crisis in ourselves. The problem reflects the emotional, moral and spiritual condition of humankind today, and expresses the current state of consciousness of our species. In the end, I believe, it is not a matter of economic or technical problems; our situation reflects the estrangement of modern humanity from itself and a profound confusion about the intrinsic and spiritual values of all life. I think the separation from our true nature causes a deep longing, and that’s why we try to fill the resulting lack of meaning with substitute satisfactions. That is why human desire is so insatiable. We seem to long for never-ending joys. Instead of enjoying our timeless presence as co-creative participants of life’s continuous exploration of novelty, we hunt for self-affirmation and immortality. Instead of being one with the cosmos we wish to be its master. Instead of uniting with God and our divine nature and co-creative agency, we want to play God disregarding life as the sacred ground of our being.

When I reached 32, I was convinced that small decentralized solar systems are the perfect solution for our global energy problems. Here we all can practically engage and really do something. Here seemed to be a real way out of at least one of the disastrous dead ends our civilization is heading towards. I saw that many people seemed to be a little clumsy and helpless when it came to using solar power practically, and thanks to my passion as a thinker and my practical experience, I felt that I had some quite practical solutions to offer! Now, almost 10 years later, I believe the solution could be two things. First, we need to connect more and more solar power into the grid; and second, we need to use less and less energy until the old power stations can be switched off.
There is still a long way ahead of us, but for many my work and ideas have already offered a way towards further development of a greater energy consciousness. Knowing that these small solar systems are only the first steps and still only ecological compromises, I hope to create at least possibilities and living examples in which we can learn playfully to be more conscious with our energy use.
In 1998 this made we want to write a beginners book about simple solar energy systems and publish all my ideas and inventions as a resource for others. Initially my work was published in the form of handwritten, photocopied booklets, but the 3rd edition has been actualized and is now fully revised, word processed, and illustrated. The book is available, at a very reasonable price, in English, German and Spanish.

For many years, I have had endless fun with being able to operate my own household, my wood and metal workshop and even some of my hobbies like our Jimi-Hendrix cover band only by solar energy. Again and again I have been astonished by how easy and simple 12- Volt photovoltaic solutions are in the end. The astonished eyes and ears of many people who have never regarded this as possible have been a constant amusement and encouragement for me.

Let me give you some examples: Who can imagine that one can weld metal quite wonderfully with solar energy? And, that is possible with results that are even better than the ones achieved with most customary high voltage welding devices. Even better, this technology is so simple, that all manually talented people can easily copy it. With only three second hand car batteries, a current regulator made from old fence wire and some thick welding cables you can build yourself very potent welding equipment. But ATTENTION ! These welding systems are very powerful, so please read all safety instructions in the book before you try to copy it !

My whole wood and metal workshop now runs on 12 or 24 volts battery current. This is also possible because more and more professional wireless tools are now readily available. They usually work easily with solar current, if they are attached, without the original battery-pack, via a self-made adapter directly to the solar battery. Over the last few years I have been part of a team building wooden eco-houses only using tools powered by solar energy.

If we choose to live only with solar energy we also don't have to do without real loud music any more. Car amplifiers with up to 3000 watts leave no more wishes open even for huge PA-Systems. And a small 200 watts car amplifier already lets a guitar yell out like the legendary guitar of Jimi Hendrix. A standard 300 watt car amplifier, modified as a bass amplifier, often turns out to have more pressure than many comparable professional main current amplifiers.

Often, these new self made solar-powered devices operate much more effective and are much more energy-saving. My own washing machine, made with a simple warm water collector out of old plastic tubes and an old car windscreen wiper motor from the scrap yard, still does it not total automatically but uses only 50 watts and washes just as cleanly as every normal machine with over 2000 watts of electricity consumption.

Nevertheless, I still believe that the most important thing to do is to develop and spread a new energy consciousness. It is not difficult to make easily readable voltmeters from old multimeters. These can help people, who want to live with solar power, to get a better feeling about their own electricity consumption.

All this and much more is explained clearly in my book
Solar Power with 12 Volt Systems,
which is published by Permanent Publications (www.
ISBN 978 1 85623 039 1
128pp. 158 drawings & 28 photos.
PBK. £9.95

25% OFF
All Permanent Publications books when ordered from our sister site before 31st December 2012:
postage & packing FREE (UK only) when ordered online.

I have done my best to describe every step understandably even for laypeople, who have little or no experience as electricians. The book includes detailed practical knowledge about batteries, solar panels, regulators, cables, switches and fuses, as well as an elementary course in becoming a 12 volt electrician for solar power use and a basic ABC of how to read and use a multimeter. My intention in writing this book was to enable people to connect their own solar system and to give them many tips and tricks about inverters, lights, music systems, cordless tools, solar tracking systems, solar grinding, solar welding and more. Furthermore, the book contains an introduction and a of lot useful information about the big theme of electro smog.

My hope with this is: to add something useful to this world, to enable more and more people to go solar, to share my own fun with others in using less and less energy, so we hopefully can say to our children one day: It wasn't easy, but in the end we have managed to really make a difference and turn things for the better.

Here some nice recomends from others:

"Michel Daniek, although he might not want to hear this, is one of those people who makes you think that however much you care, and however much effort you make to do your bit for a better world, there's always that extra mile to go. Michel goes that extra mile, but he has the great gift of making it lively and fun. Both the man and his book are a real inspiration."
Chris Steward
I'm really glad that this book is being published, because it's very good and covers a subject that hasn't really been covered before. In the future this is the kind of knowledge we'll all need, and that future may be closer than we think.

Patrick Whitefield

Michel Daniek lives by his convictions. He is a skilled mechanic, inventor, and designer - a practical and intellectual multi-talent. Known affectionately to his friends as “Solar-Michel,” he has helped many people in search for a more ecologically responsible lifestyle to be able to power their lives of the sun. This book offers a delightfully entertaining and yet eminently practical read. As peak-oil and rising fossil fuel prices make micro-generation more attractive to homeowners everywhere, this book offers a point of departure for people ready to go solar.

Daniel C. Wahl, PhD, Centre for the Study of Natural Design, University of Dundee


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