Solar & Wind Technology Vol. 7, No. 1, pp, I-2, 1990 Pergamon Press pie. Printed in Great Britain.
The papers for this special edition of Solar and Wind Technology have been selected from the full set presented in Hobart. The occasion was the Fifth International Conference in the series "Energy for Rural and Island Communities", opened by His Excellency the Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia Sir Ninian Stephens. All four previous conferences were held in Inverness, Scotland, with the Proceedings published by Pergamon Press. This 5th conference was held at the University of Tasmania and was organized by Dr John Todd of the Centre for Environmental Studies. This is the first time the conference has been held in the Southern Hemisphere, and as editors we are grateful for the efforts made by the staff of the Centre for the success of the occasion. The full set of papers is available as an internal publication from the Centre. The biannual conferences have been running since 1980. At that time to be interested in renewable energy was to be labelled "alternative". To be interested in renewable energy, energy efficiency, conventional sources and the local community as one "hybrid system" was undoubtedly perceived as odd. Yet the years since have proved that not only were the early concepts sensible, but the ideas now make commercial sense. The ERIC conferences have more than interest in small scale energy systems as such. The participants come from a wide range of countries and social circumstance. Yet distinctions are not obvious. There is a unity of purpose and experience that transcends conventional boundaries. The participants from industrial countries realize that their societies are bound in traditional technologies that fetter indigenous rural development. They often feel jealous of the free thinking enthusiastic schemes apparent in developing countries. Yet those from the developing countries feel they do not have the resources to tackle the obvious challenges of their own rural communities. There is much to be gained by sharing experiences, and participants soon learn that although circumstances differ considerably, no one is "better" than anyone else. We have chosen a selection of papers covering the spread of technologies, yet demonstrating the need for interdisciplinary knowledge and efficient hybrid systems. In particular we note that the "appropriateness" of a project is not obviously related to technical sophistication. There are examples where well designed plant made with straightforward local skills is the best. Equally there are other examples where the excellence of the design relies on microprocessor based control. The underlying message however is that small, efficient, well designed energy systems are now becoming widespread with commercial commitment. Energy for rural and island communities has arrived.
Preface Another important aspect of ERIC conferences is the opportunity for those working on the technological development, manufacture and planning of remote area power supplies to meet personally with the users. The very nature of the problem with the large distances and expenses of travel, mean that these groups do not easily meet. The great diversity of technical and social problems that are encountered when new technology enters rural and island areas means that there must be full understanding by all those involved. Likewise the great benefits that can result in such circumstances gives great encouragement to all those personally involved. The next ERIC Conference will be in Inverness, Scotland, from Monday 1 October to Thursday 4 October 1990. Details are available from the Energy Studies Unit, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow GI IXQ, U.K. Dr JOHN TODD Centre for Environmental Studies University of Tasmania Hobart Australia
Dr JOHN TWIDELL Energy Studies Unit University of Strathclyde Glasgow G1 1XQ U.K.