Living Energy Farm — Who We Are, What We Do
Living Energy Farm is an intentional community, organic farm, and appropriate technology development center in Louisa, Virginia. LEF is home to six long-term residents and children, as well as interns and volunteers. We are completely off the grid and aim to use no fossil fuels. We grow most of our food, and operate an organic farm for income. Our mission is to demonstrate, and promote, technologies and lifestyles that are truly sustainable and accessible to everyone.
We know that a rapid global transition from fossil fuels to renewables is necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change. Environmental leaders insist that the obstacles to this transition are purely political. Unfortunately, reality is not so simple. Solar and wind are inherently different from coal, nuclear and natural gas. Powering a conventional electric grid with solar and wind alone, on any scale, requires battery storage and other electronics that are prohibitively expensive to most communities, even in the wealthier parts of the world. To transition to only renewables, we must let go of the paradigm of mindless, unlimited energy consumption.
At LEF we live well within an energy budget that everyone, and the planet, can afford.
Our DC microgrid is powered by 1.9kw of photovoltaic (solar electric) capacity. We use a modest, affordable set of nickel iron batteries that will last for decades. At LEF, our electric system will cost about $25 per year. By contrast, the average American pays $1,320 per year on electricity. Typical AC stand alone PV systems might depreciate $1,000 to $2,000 per year for the panels, batteries, and electronic equipment.
When we set out to build LEF, we flipped the question of “how do we power our lives with renewables?” around to “what kind of lifestyle can we sustain on a modest renewable energy budget?” The answer is, a very comfortable one: our houses are warm in winter and cool in summer, we can take a hot shower any time, run a refrigerator and washing machine, charge our devices, etc. What makes this possible is the magic of cooperative living combined with the design principles of a DC microgrid: we maximize conservation, insulation and efficiency; pay attention to the timing of our energy use; and live our lives in tune with the rhythm of the sun. We are advocating a globalist vision — organizing our lifestyle in a manner that is affordable on a global scale.
We feel like we have found a unique approach to community energy use and supply. Please join us as we spread the word!