Free energy

Renewable energy organizations convene for beer and uncomplicated technological showcases.

by Grace Gouker

Who: Minnesota Renewable Energy Society

What: Fall Festival

Where: Summit Brewery, 910 Montreal Circle, St. Paul

When: Nov. 18, 6-9 p.m.


There are plenty of businesses hopping on the renewable and sustainable energy bandwagon. A majority of these businesses do so purely for the âÄúgreenâÄù moneymaking machine they create, running on cogs of bamboo, recycled newspaper and organic shampoo.

At the best of times, you can help out your local farmers and reduce your carbon footprint by shopping at that ritzy co-op down the street. At the worst of times, you have people throwing out their old products for âÄúgreenâÄù ones, creating even more waste than they would have otherwise. Worse than that, there are the fad-exploiting businesses that create impossibly intricate machines and products for those who need simple, reliable ones most, deflating any relief progress made abroad. The Minnesota Renewable Energy Society, on the other hand, spurs technological and overall understanding wherever it goes.

âÄúIn Haiti and in Africa, we work to teach citizens how to assemble and operate these solar-powered products themselves, so they can continue to benefit from them long after we leave,âÄù Doug Shoemaker, Board Vice-Chairman of MRES said.

The organizationâÄôs efforts have included bringing materials to create solar panel generators, solar ovens and solar water heaters. Before they leave the area, members also host workshops on how to operate the machinery and how to build it themselves. This invaluable knowledge has helped keep the projects long-lasting.

âÄúWe wanted to teach them so that the products wouldnâÄôt sit unused and unhelpful for them and their community,âÄù Shoemaker said.

MRES is just as interested in educating their home base. Past workshops topics have included everything from photovoltaics to renewable energy careers to active solar hot air heating. If any qualms remain about whether you and yours can figure out all those fancy apparatuses, they can take care of you.

âÄúNot everyone can figure these products out right away, and thatâÄôs OK,âÄù Shoemaker said, âÄúWe help find the product you need and then give you the support, too.âÄù

Though it wonâÄôt include workshops, this weekendâÄôs MRES Fall Festival will feature some of the newest renewable and sustainable products on the market.

âÄúWeâÄôre trying to make this accessible to everyone, not just those who hear about these products on a regular basis,âÄù Shoemaker said.

Summit Brewery, as MRESâÄô host facility, will be providing the drinks. Most wonâÄôt be utilizing this information until after they graduate, but at least they can take advantage of the festivalâÄôs location.