> Ron Swenson
> Solar Powered Personal Rapid Transit (PRT)

> Ron Swenson has been promoting sustainability based on solar (renewable)
> energy and conservation of natural resources for over three decades.
> After conducting courses in Design, Computer Programming, and Cybernetic
> Systems as an Assistant Professor at San Jose State’s School of
> Engineering from 1965 to 1968, where he learned about doing more with
> less from Bucky Fuller, Ron turned his attention to passive solar energy
> buildings and founded EcoSystems, Inc.  In the 1990s, he built a solar
> race car and electric bikes. In 1998 he co-founded SolarQuest, providing
> solar energy training for youth in the US, Uganda, Bolivia and the
> Galapagos. Since 2003, Ron has been developing and installing commercial
> solar electric systems. After discovering a way to build a practical
> solar-powered transportation system in 2008, he founded Encitra (ENergy,
> CIties, TRansport), which has created a set of virtual reality tools
> used in urban transit planning. In addition to solar related ventures,
> Ron has also been involved with several high technology ventures,
> including Aha, Inc. and Enigma Logic, Inc.

> Ron has written numerous articles and peer-reviewed papers, primarily in
> the field of renewable energy and published in the proceedings of the
> American Solar Energy Society. In addition, he frequently gives
> presentations about renewable energy and peak oil. Ron’s web publishing
> includes EnergyCrisis.com, Ecotopia.com and Solarevolution.com.

> Ron will describe a solar powered personal rapid transit system that
> Encitra is designing for a city in Sweden and survey a number of PRT
> projects throughout the world.
Ron started by mentioning that his Swedish ancestors (including his grandmother and grandfather) had lived for many generations off of the light that fell on their land. In a northern latitude like that, this took a lot of planning. He finished the anecdote by saying "it is possible to live off the power of sunlight." Then he reminded us of some of the reasons we need to change, starting with the fact that global mean temperature has been going up with CO2 conentration in the atmosphere.

Not only has CO2 become more of an issue, but likely the fuel supply will diminish over the coming period. He showed us this supply curve that clearly shows the diminishing returns we are likely to get from mining fossil fuels.

Clearly [North] Americans use more energy per capita per year on average than others. In a globally competative environment this simply can't go on forever.

As a young professor, Swenson was very influenced by R. Buckminster Fuller.

For an example of how bad dealing with oil depletion can be, look at Egypt. Swenson argued that their current turmoil is at least partly caused by the fact that they used to export a lot of oil, the money from which was used to make life better in the country. As oil exports have fallen, the ability of the system there to make life better has eroded.

Swenson has become more sensative to the role of hyperbole in the political process. Consider this quote from Obama's State of the Union 2012 address:

The truth is that our proven reserves are only good for 11 years. Do you really want to plan based on Obama's quote?

Nuclear power is frequently pointed to as another source of energy. But look at Fukushima. Do we really want to have more problems like that one?

Also, nuclear power is based on Uranium mining and refining, which takes a lot of fossil fuels. As the price of oil goes up, so to is the price of Uranium.

Looking for a better answer, Swenson came back to the fact that photvoltaic solar power is the most efficient way to convert sun power to useful energy.

The answer is clearly a switch from oil to solar.

It turns out that if you make the vehicles small, and use steel-on-steel guildways, solar power from pannels along the tracks is enough to power urban travel.


They have built a few systems outside the USA, but still none of them here. Solar Skyways is looking for a city with the courage to try something different here. He showed us some breif videos of such systems.


For more information, please visit SolarSkyways.com.