To produce an output from my target steam engine of 15 kW (by the way, this target was randomly selected), we need someone who can tell us really about how much vegetation is needed per person/day and thus area to be lighted, and how bright, so we can come up with a realistic target) would require a steam engine in the neighborhood of 150 horse power (gasoline engines could do it with between 30 and 50 horsepower). To get that much from one or more modified engines would require a huge boiler and about 100 PSI pressure with tremendous steam flow. That translates to enormous amounts of fuel.
If we're talking about firing the boiler with wood, we're probably talking about a minimum half a cord of wood an hour to 2 or 3 times that amount. That much wood, harvested, cut, split, and transported to the boiler is quite beyond my own imagination. Coal would be better; but not all that much. I will complete my steam engine prototype design just in case someone can come up with a reasonable way to produce enough steam. Someone actually producing a prototype and doing the required measurements would take the guesswork out of the equation. However, the more I study the subject, the more I'm cooling to the idea of steam being the way to light our farms.
I'm already starting to formulate in the back of my mind how we might more directly harness the tremendous power of already naturally moving water. If a site is situated such that it is near a rather high waterfall, the approach is naturally how to utilize a column of water to power a water turbine as is already covered within the pages of Troubled Times. Most, however, won't be located in such a location. With the expected rain, however, one could reasonably expect to be close to vast amounts of moving water in the form of large streams. In that case, the energy is there for the taking. I'm starting to think about how to do that with materials at hand post pole shift.
Offered by Ron.
To me it looks like with the current technology on this planet that water, wind, bio-mass, and geothermal (listed in the order of most workability) are our best bet, with lots of innovation still needed on all of them.
Offered by Mike.