Highlights from RELACCx in Puerto Rico
Remineralize the Earth was honored to be invited to present at the Renewable Energy Latin America & Caribbean Conference & Exhibition (RELACCx) in Puerto Rico November 19-21, 2014.
RELACCx is the premier renewable energy finance and development event for Latin America and the Caribbean. The two-day conference took an in-depth look at political and financial landscapes, prominent and emerging markets, and existing energy infrastructure to provide the audience with the tools needed to accelerate renewable energy development in these regions.
Bill Holmberg of ACORE and RTE Board of Director organized a workshop on November 19th sponsored by LACORE about Integrated Farm Energy Systems. Specifically, he promoted a project called Farm, Food, Feed, Fuel and Power (i5FPS) stating, “When this system reaches its full capacity it will be a huge carbon sink and a design for the future.” The Integrated Farm Energy Systems looks at the connections between farming, food, fuel and power systems to analyze new integrative strategies.
During the Integrated Farm Energy Systems workshop, RTE had much to contribute. Not only did Joanna Campe (Executive Director), Miranda Chase (Research Associate), and Dr. Stephen Herbert (Senior Researcher) give keynote presentations at the opening round table, but RTE also took part in suggesting new ways to improve energy efficiency of farming systems.
Joanna’s presentation “The Potential of Remineralization: Transforming ecological, economic, and social challenges on a regional and global scale” showed how rock dust and sea-based minerals enhance soil properties such as fertility, yield, nutrient density, and all around stronger plants. She spoke about the infrastructure needed to make remineralization happen for soils and climate.
Next up was Miranda’s presentation on agroforestry – land management strategies that combine agriculture and forestry- to create more productive land while saving water, decreasing erosion, and producing biomass, with remineralization as a major component.
Dr. Herbert highlighted his results of his research with rock dust and biochar (material derived from biomass and added to improve soil quality). He introduced the prospect of using solar panels in cattle fields positioned so that shade tolerant grass can still receive sunlight and continue to produce.
The continuously growing grassroots movement in the U.S has led to many commercial companies developing remineralization products, as well as internationally. Policy makers in Brazil, for example, have recently created a new law offering incentives for commercialization and use of products in Brazil.
Joanna Campe gave examples of well-established North American companies. Gaia Green Products Limited, founded by Michael Dean, formulates products with a mixture of rock types including glacial moraine and basalt, enhancing them further with a line of very sophisticated biologically-based products.
Rock Dust Local, LLC, based in Vermont has a unique, sustainable business model. Tom Vanacore of Rock Dust Local emphasizes reducing transport costs and urges the use of regional sources when possible. Vanacore’s customized products combine a finely ground basalt powder which gets utilized by the soil right away, with a coarser material, which breaks down more slowly over time. He also sells RichMix, a combination of rock dust and biochar.
Furthermore, Bob Cain of SeaAgri, Inc based in Georgia sells a sea-based product. Their Sea-90 is made of 100% natural sea mineral solids, available for crops and gardens, livestock and aquaculture.
Azomite Mineral Products, Inc sourced from Utah also has a distributor in Barbados. Justin Naab of Green Clean Environmental Solutions is a good source of rock dust for the Caribbean, considering that the Caribbean generally lacks hard silicate rock dust sources and Caribbean soils are missing significant geologic minerals.
It’s easy to see how much of an impact remineralization, and other innovative strategies like it, can make. During the conference, RTE brought this to the attention of large investors in sustainable technologies while looking for funding opportunities for international projects. RTE greatly expanded their network of opportunities.
RTE encourages the addition of compost teas, microorganisms, and worm castings, as well as permaculture techniques like rotational grazing and other highly productive systems.
RTE partners needed for moving forward can be seen to encompass three different sectors:
- Research including agrogeologists leading the way in Brazil as well as other soil scientists and university researchers in many different fields;
- Industry, technology and finance such as the mining and aggregate industry, soil and agriculture amendments, manufacturers and distributors, biofuels and biochar manufactures, biofuels technology developers, transport and logistics and finance.
- Policymaking from local, regional and national government policymaking bodies and agencies, to the UN, international development agencies, NGOs and businesses.
Other presentations at the workshop described projects around the world focused on developing more efficient systems to produce biofuels, cattle products (meat and dairy) and staple crops, with wonderful opportunities for networking and potential collaboration.
Joanna Campe, Miranda Chase and Prof. Stephen Herbert also did radio interviews with Renew the Earth that can be found here.
Our presentations have been sent to the P80 Group Foundation, in Little Rock, Arkansas. The origins of the P80 began with the inspiration of HRH Prince Charles. The concept quickly received the support of other global leaders such as Nobel Prize winner Al Gore. The Little Rock Accord is a formal agreement between the Club de Madrid (a coalition of former heads of state) with the P80 Foundation to initialize a global task force aimed at increasing the role of public and private sector finance, with an emphasis on pension and sovereign wealth funds, in an effort to drive low-carbon, climate-resilient and sustainable growth. Additionally, the accord addresses other climate-change challenges and we will be honored to have our presentations made available there.
RTE would like to thank board member Bill Holmberg of the American Council for Renewable Energy (ACORE) for extending an invitation and making it possible for us to come to the conference through covering many of our costs and to board member Ken Whitman of Natural Vitality, who sponsored a new website for us that we were able to launch just before the conference! And a hearty thank you to our commercial sponsors, Gaia Green Products Limited, Rock Dust Local, LLC, SeaAgri, Inc and Azomite Mineral Products, Inc.