Rainbow Dreaming  

Peter Pedals demonstrates pedal-power, Websters Creek, 1993
Image: © Harsha Prabhu

Energy from Nature

I earned my nickname "Peter Pedals" from many years of experimentation with 'pedal power' as a renewable energy source to achieve things other than getting from A to B. This human muscle power, adapted to the task at hand with the use of a pedal machine, deserves its place amongst other renewable energy sources, such as the harnessing of sun, wind and water power.

My interest in renewable energy led to several public demonstrations of these systems. Two friends joined me in 1984 to sell solar equipment at local markets from the back of a van and to help people to set up their own power systems. This led to the foundation of the now successful Rainbow Power Company in 1987. Today the company sells solar, wind and hydro-electric equipment both Australia-wide as well as throughout South-East Asia and the Pacific region, Africa and South America.

The Rainbow Power Company is the largest solar powered workshop in the southern hemisphere with a 7kW solar array and 13.5kW grid interactive inverter system. We also have a wind turbine and a steam engine to help supplement the solar power and as a backup. This makes us totally self sufficient for power, with the added benefit of being able to sell our excess power to the grid and buy it back again when we need to (ie when there is insufficient sun or wind). If the grid has a blackout, the power at our premises continues regardless, operating as a large UPS (Un-interruptible Power Supply). Even though Nimbin has a town sewerage system and water reticulation system, we use a composting toilet and collect more than sufficient water for our needs from a fairly sizeable roof into two holding tanks.

Reshape is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rainbow Power Company which takes care of all aspects of the business outside of Australia. Reshape can carry out feasibility studies and site assessments as well as providing training and designing village power systems, individual home power systems and UV water sterilisation plants.

Renewable energy is non-polluting. It's what the planet needs. It's everywhere: we just need to tap into it. It's energy from nature.

Peter van der Wik. (alias Peter Pedals), co-founder, Rainbow Power Co., Nimbin

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