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close this book Sustainable Energy News - No. 11 November 1995
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Sustainable Energy Information on Internet

By Deborah Anderson, CREST, USA.

Imagine participating in a debate with colleagues on another continent without leaving your office. Picture libraries, databases, reports, and company contact information at your fingertips, right on your own computer. All of this is possible today through the Internet, the world-wide computer network that is rapidly changing the way we communicate today. If you are thinking about using the Intemet in your energy organization, or if you are online and do not know where to find the sustainable energy information you need, there is a place on the Internet for you.


The Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development (CREST), a US not-for-profit organization, has created an on - line clearinghouse for information on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable development called Solstice. Solstice went online in September, 1994 as a project of the US Department of Energy and the US Agency for Intemational Development. Its purpose is to provide information on sustainable development, particularly energy, free of charge for anyone with access to the Internet.

For over a year, Solstice has continued to gather information such as directories of U.S. renewable energy companies, profiles of NGOs and private companies providing sustainable energy services, reports and documents on the benefits of sustainable energy, free educational software for users to download, and other documents of value to the intemational community. So far, the response has been incredible!

As of September, 1995, Solstice was receiving over 140,000 online contacts *each month* from more than 60 countries around the world. CREST can log the number of users, the country of origin, and the "domain" (such as non-profit, educational group, etc.) of anyone who visits its site, Solstice use has risen by at least 10-20 percent per month. Solstice regularly is contacted from countries as far apart as Finland and Fiji, Canada and Croatia, New Zealand and the Netherlands. As more and more people go online, Solstice is proving to be a valuable place for them to find the up-to-date information they need on sustainable energy practices.

How Do I Get to Solstice?

Realizing that not everyone has access to high-speed Intemet connections, CREST has designed Solstice for many different types of access.

The most popular way to see Solstice is by World Wide Web, the graphical interface to the Internet The World Wide Web allows users to see pictures and other graphics, or even to hear sound and see movies, from sites all over the world. You can see Solstice on the Web at

Because the World Wide Web is still not available to most people, CREST can also be reached by gopher at, and by ftp (file transter protocol) at Gopher, named after the mascot of the American university at which it was developed, is a text-only menu of choices that works better for people with modems slower than 14.4 kilobits. FTP allows files to be retrieved from one computer to another, also a good choice for slower modems or areas with a lot of server traffic.

Finally, for users who have email capabilities but can not use all the Internet features like gopher, CREST has an email service for retrieving files. Users send email to, and in the body of the message write "index solslice." The "Subject:" line of the message header may be left blank. A message with a listing of available information and how to get it will be sent automatically. So no matter how you use the Intemet, CREST can help you find what you seek.

What is on Solstice?

CREST has designed Solstice to be a sustainable energy clearinghouse, so there is a wide variety of information. Some of the most popular files are reports from the Rocky Mountain Institute, CREST's Renewable Energy CD-ROMs and free renewable-energy educational software, slide shows such as "Women and Renewable Energy" or "A Photovoltaic Tour of Switzerland," newsletters from energy organizations around the world, and archives of Intemet discussion groups on bioenergy, straw-bale construction, and US energy policy.

Solstice is also the home of many other organizations on the Internet. The Results Center, a leading clearinghouse for comprehensive and up-tothe-minute energy efficiency program information, has a homepage on Solstice. The US solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass trade associations have company directories and publications online Other energy organizations include the Rocky Mountain Institute, GreenSeal, Iris Communications, and the Solar Electric Light Fund. Solstice is constantly changing and adding new programs, so be sure to check in often! More Info: Deborah Anderson, CREST, Washington,D.C., USA. Ph/fax. 1+202289-00611-5354, email: