In his book Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability (affiliate link), David Holmgren, one of the founders of permaculture, has written about 12 design principles. Catch and Store energy is the second permaculture principle. In this post I summarise this chapter and give examples from my own experience.
Energy is defined very broadly
In this case, energy encompasses both the obvious heat and electricity, and less obvious forms of energy, such as water, trees, seeds, food and soil. This principle is important because we live in a time of energy abundance due to the availability of cheap fossil fuels and it can be very easy to forget to plan for energy catchment and storage.
We have become accustomed to buying what we need when we need it because fossil fuels have made this such an easy option.
|Energy is both heat and sun energy
and less obvious things like trees
Should we stop using fossil fuels?
This is not to say that we should stop using fossil fuels immediately, but we must try to use them in the most efficient way to create systems that will become self-sustaining. We should design with an expectation that fossil fuels will one day not be available so cheaply (if at all). This will result in a more stable system that cannot be so easily disrupted by shortages.
For example, during the flood in QLD in 2011, although some people in Brisbane required food drops after two days of isolation, we did not run out of food after nearly a week (I think we would have been ok for at least a month). This is because we had a well-stocked pantry, freezer and garden to provide for our needs.
Plan for a future without cheap energy
This kind of scenario can be helpful in planning for a future without fossil fuels. We were very lucky not to lose power at that time, and promptly purchased a petrol generator, however that only lasts as long as you have petrol, so we need to think more about food storage options that do not require electricity. We now have a campervan with solar panels, battery system and fridge, so that will help us as well. I also try to preserve food using fermentation and drying, which can be stored outside of the fridge.
A broad topic
There is so much to write about on this topic, I'm going to spread it over a few posts this month:
- Energy for free - Passive solar design
- Living soil - Biological agriculture
- Trees, seeds and food - Perennial vs annual plants
- Water - Keyline Design
Find out more about Permaculture using these books (affiliate links):
And the other posts in this series: