Sunday, January 22, 2012

Day 9 - A lake and Capstone Projects

Day 9 started out with some adventure - kayaking , swimming, and a sunset boat ride on the lake in front of our newest hotel. Everything was beautiful.

Me kayaking on the lake

That afternoon we also had our final plant visit - a wind energy plant. GREEN not only teaches about renewable energies, but also offers opportunities to students after the trip. At the wind plant we met a GREEN alum who was returning to Costa Rica to earn his certification in wind turbine management. GREEN emphasizes the "Network" component of its name, meaning that they want to stay connected with their students after the trip and help them find opportunities to excel and learn in their fields. All of the attendees of GREEN are students, the majority studying engineering, who want to learn about alternative energies in one of the places where its most prevalent in the world.

In previous days on the trip we had learned about wind power in class, in addition to the classes we had on solar power, geothermal energy, biodiesel, biogas, biomass and hydroelectric power. This trip gave an overview of myriad different ways to be sustainable. Additionally, we toured sustainable housing that J.P. himself had designed that encompassed smarter and more efficient uses of natural lighting, electricity and water management.

We also learned about the overall structure of Costa Rica's energy systems. Costa Rica has one main, government-owned power supplier called I.C.E. All the different plants that we visited created energy and sold it to ICE, who distributed the energy to its customers. This means that even if one plant wasn't functioning, all of its customers would still have power since no plant gives energy directly to users.

All of these sunset pictures are from the boat

The wind plant we visited
After all of the day's adventures, we returned to the hotel for our Capstone project presentations. My group presented on the sustainable futures of three different methods of powering automobiles: hydrocars, electric cars and traditional fossil-fuel powered cars. Concluding the project, and considering that we had already finished all of the trip's plant tours and classes, we had officially concluded the educational portion of the trip.

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