November 13, 2007
Solar Power from Satellites
At some point before 2050, satellites collecting solar power and beaming it back to Earth will become a primary energy source, streaming terawatts of electricity continuously from space. That’s if you believe a recent report from the Pentagon’s
National Security Space Office, which says confidently that we will see “a basic proof-of-concept within 4-6 years and a substantial power demonstration as early as 2017-2020″.
It’s obvious in some ways: above the atmosphere, a solar cell receives about 40 times more energy per year than an equivalent site on the ground, due to the absence of atmospheric scattering and seasonal or nightly reductions in light.
The NSSO suggests that an orbiting spacecraft with solar panel arrays would be comparable to current ground-based installations spanning hectares and, eventually, a few square kilometres. Then that energy can be sent to the ground - using, the Pentagon suggests,
a giant laser or microwave beam.
The report, Space Based Solar Power as an Opportunity for Strategic Security, suggests optimistically that one application will be the beaming of “energy aid” via satellite into conflict and disaster zones, minimising the human cost of resource wars and
catastrophic events caused by global warming.
“The technology has been in development for a while,” says Joseph Rouge, associate director of the space office. “The truly hard and expensive part is going to be getting it into orbit. We’ll need regular launches and on-orbit robotic assembly systems. It’s
a $10bn [£4.8bn] programme, but by 2050 it could deliver 10% of America’s power needs.”
Source: The Guardian
October 25, 2007
Solar power could be the world’s number one electricity source by the end of the century, but until now its role has been negligible as producers wait for price parity with fossil fuels, industry leaders say.
Once the choice only of idealists who put the environment before economics, production of solar panels will double both next year and in 2009, according to U.S. investment bank Jefferies Group Inc, driven by government support especially in Germany and Japan.
Similar support in Spain, Italy and Greece is now driving growth in southern Europe as governments turn to the sun as a weapon both against climate change and energy dependence.
Subsidies are needed because solar is still more expensive than conventional power sources like coal, but costs are dropping by around 5 percent a year and "grid parity," without subsidies, is already a reality in parts of California.
Very sunny countries could reach that breakeven in five years or so, and even cloudy Britain by 2020.
"At that point you can expect pretty much unbounded growth," General Electric Co’s Chief Engineer Jim Lyons told the Jefferies conference in London on Thursday, referring to price parity in sunny parts of the United States by around 2015.
"The solar industry will eventually be bigger than wind."
The United States’ second largest company, GE is a big manufacturer of wind turbines and wants to catch up in solar, said Lyons.
October 09, 2007
For 15 years, Chewang Norphel, a retired civil engineer of Ladakh, has been building "artificial glaciers" to make life a little easier for the hard working but poverty-stricken farmers of Ladakh. He uses a network of pipes to capture and channel precious
snowmelt that would otherwise be wasted. First, water from an existing stream is diverted through iron pipes to a shady area of the valley. From there, the water flows out to a sloping hill at regular intervals along the mountain slope. Small stone embsnkments
impede the flow of water, creating shallow pools. During the winter, as temperatures drop, the water in these pools freezes. Once this cycle has been repeated over many weeks, a thick sheet of ice forms, resembling a glacier.
Norphel says an artificial glacier scores over a natural one in many ways. " It is closer to the village and at a comparatively lower altitude. "
Norphel can be contacted at Tel: 01982-252151
August 05, 2007
Computer tools for conservation
This tool — known as the "SWAP model," short for State Wildlife Action Plan — is unique: It considers a habitat’s numerous species all at once and displays the results in maps that are intuitively easy to grasp. A cutting-edge, customized computer
tool that takes 150 years of information on at-risk animals across Tennessee and marries that data to the latest in mapping software — geographic information systems (GIS) has been in use in the U.S.A.
The SWAP model incorporates 150 years of information on:
Animal sightings in Tennessee; Their preferred habitats; Threats to these animals (such as road construction or dam building); and Conservation actions known to counteract these threats. The software tracks 664 at-risk animals across the state — on land,
in water, and in caves — with data mathematically weighted toward most recent sightings, species most at risk, and other key factors.
Then it produces maps that display color areas where at-risk species are proven to live and thrive. The darker the color, the more viable the habitat. Part of what makes the SWAP model so innovative is that it turns the longstanding conservation strategy
of preserving a habitat for the sake of a single rare species on its head.
“That’s the old, standard way of conservation thinking,” “The SWAP model allows us to see all the at-risk species in an area that will benefit by removing certain threats or restoring habitat."
Another intriguing aspect of the SWAP model is its ability to project hypothetical scenarios. What if the Conservancy were to restore a farmland pasture to wooded wetlands, for instance? Would that help the at-risk species in the area?
The SWAP model can predict the outcome.
Read the full article at http://www.nature.org
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July 06, 2007
Motorcycles typically get about double the gas mileage of even the most fuel-efficient cars—but that doesn’t mean they are green. They spew up to 15 times more pollution per mile, mostly in the form of smog-causing hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides.
The Green Rating of Indian Industry project was started by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in 1996. According to CSE, among the two and three wheelers, models of Hero Honda (Splendor and CD 100) are the most eco friendly two wheelers. They
have scored above average in vehicle and engine design and are one of the very few four-stroke two wheeler fitted with any kind of pollution control equipment.
Bajaj boxer, has scored well in vehicle and engine design but lacks in emission control equipment and comparatively poorer emission.
The best performing two-stroke model ranks fourth amongst the two wheelers. The lowest score has been obtained by Kinetic Safari moped, which obtained average scores in design and emissions and very poor scores in pollution control equipment and emissions.
In the meantime, Evera Auto India is set to launch a battery powered motorcycle in the northern states of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand in July.
The company based in Firozabad (Uttar Pradesh)is hoping to corner a niche segment in the expanding two-wheeler market with the launch of the eco-friendly vehicle. The motorcycle has been built indigenously and will be launched in the third week of July according
to Mukesh Bansal, promoter of Evera Auto India.
A battery that runs a 250-watt motor powers the motorcycle, making it a non-polluting vehicle. After being charged for six hours, the motorcycle can run for 80 km at a maximum speed of 25 km per hour.
"Till now, the electric powered motorcycles that were available in India were imported from China. We have worked over the technology of this motorcycle for the last two years," Bansal said.
"We are targeting a specific class who have to travel 10-15 kilometres everyday. The running cost of the vehicle is extremely low. The only price that the owner has to pay is the charging cost of the battery."
The motorcycle will be priced somewhere between Rs 25,000 and Rs 32,000 ($600-780) and the company expects a good sale in the first year of its launch.
( Source: Various Media reports )
June 09, 2007
There is a growing sense of panic among global political and business leaders, especially in countries such as Singapore that have large coastal regions threatened by rising sea levels.
Therein lies the profit opportunity for Silicon Valley technologists, who are quickly shifting more attention to clean-tech. Clean-tech ventures are now receiving ten percent of venture flows, up from just one percent a few years ago.
“We think clean-tech is the biggest economic opportunity of the 21st century.” As if Silicon Valley clean tech entrepreneurs and investors didn’t already have enough reasons to feel bullish about the fast growing clean tech industry, a disturbing new scientific
study published May 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that the annual growth rate of global C02 emissions measured in 2004 is nearly triple the rates previously measured between 1990 and 1999. 73 percent of global carbon emissions
growth is coming from developing countries like China and India.
- Nicholas Parker, co-founder and chairman of The Cleantech Group, an international network of clean tech business leaders and investors
March 06, 2007
IIT Mumbai, Powai, is saving electricity on a daily basis and it’s being done with a few thousand square feet of mirrors, discovers Piali Banerjee
The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) is doing it with mirrors
nowadays. There’s an initiative to save electricity on a daily basis in IIT,
Powai, and it’s simply being done with a few thousand square feet of
There are 12 faculty offices in the mechanical department of IIT where
using tube lights during the day is passé. Diffused sunlight is used
instead. (Like most offices, these too are designed in a way where
artificial light is needed all day.)
"Saving electricity is more important than producing it. That’s why we
decided to use the sunlight with the help of mirrors," says Chetan Solanki,
who hit upon the idea and set up mirrors in his own office, only to find
many of his colleagues asking for deflected sunlight in their rooms, too.
So, today he’s a busy man, organising mirrors for everyone.
"I’ve just received a fresh consignment of mirrors, so I’m ready to do up
10 more offices," he says.
So, how do the mirrors actually work? "A long panel of mirrors is fixed
above the windows of the office, facing the floor. This deflects the
sunlight from outside, onto the ceiling of the room. The ceiling being
white, and not-so-smooth, this light is dispersed to the rest of the room,"
"One more mirror is placed near the ceiling, which can actually redirect
the reflected sunlight bang on to the desk. Since this is diffused light, it
brings no heat with it."
For a 10 by 15 sq ft office, you need about 15 sq feet of mirrors, at a
cost of Rs 30 per sq ft. Since every office is fitted with two tube lights,
for a working day of eight hours, this ’mirrorwork’ saves 700 Watthours of
electricity, which works out to Rs 3 saving per day. It takes about six
months to recover the cost of the mirrors… After that, it’s a free lunch
Source: Mumbai Mirror dated 6March 2007
February 25, 2007
Green Tech: Eco Software
Environmental degradtion affects everyone; is being
caused-in varying degrees- by everyone; and demands
some action from everyone. Some of these actions
could be as simple as switching off the lights when no
one is around, or aligning the text in a document before
printing for optimal usage of paper, or turning off a
computer monitor when the machine is not in use. Yet,
few care to do these in today’s high-pressure work
environment. This is where software comes to
GreenPrint: It’s a software application that sits
between a web browser and printer to make web pages
printer friendly before it gets printed. While printing a
web page, it’s not uncommon to find that a whole page
has been used just to print a single line (often the url of
the page), or patches of ink for an advertisment. The
application automatically removes the ads and aligns the
text optimally. And thus saves paper.
Surveyor:It promises to reduce a computer network’s
energy consumption by putting PVs into low - power
status when users are away or switching them off during
non-work hours. A PC consumes 588kwH of electricity
every year on average. and managing it could cut upto
200 kwH .
Such software need not necessarily reside in computers. They could be embedded into other systems too.
January 25, 2007
In a new study issued last week, automotive consumer information service Intellichoice.com reported that gasoline-electric hybrid cars and trucks—favored by environmentalists for sipping instead of guzzling gas—have significantly lower total cost of ownership
than equivalent traditional gas-only models.
“Across the board, we found that all 22 hybrid vehicles have a better total cost of ownership over five years or 70,000 miles than the vehicles they directly compete against,” said Intellichoice.com publisher James Bell.
“Hybrids are proving themselves to be an excellent alternative for car buyers,” Bell added. “Even when factoring in the additional upfront costs for their purchase, the long-term savings hybrids generate makes them a sensible and attractive purchase.”
Intellichoice.com’s findings run contrary to previous analyses from Consumer Reports which concluded that hybrid owners cannot make up the higher up-front costs of a hybrid with fuel savings down the road. The key difference is due to the fact that Intellichoice.com
factored in hybrids’ retention of resale value as well as the availability of various tax and financial incentives.
October 11, 2006
Here is an excerpt from a report in the New York Times dated 28 September 2006.
Wind power may still have an image as something of a plaything of environmentalists more concerned with clean energy than saving money. But it is quickly emerging as a serious alternative not just in affluent areas of the world but in fast-growing countries
like India and China that are avidly seeking new energy sources. And leading the charge here in west-central India and elsewhere is an unlikely champion, Suzlon Energy, a homegrown Indian company. ...
Roughly 70 percent of the demand for wind turbines in India comes from industrial users seeking alternatives to relying on the grid, said Tulsi R. Tanti, Suzlon's managing director. The rest of the purchases are made by a small group of wealthy families
in India, for whom the tax breaks for wind turbines are attractive.
Wind will remain competitive as long as the price of crude oil remains above $40 a barrel, Mr. Tanti estimated. To remain cost-effective below $40 a barrel, wind energy may require subsidies, or possibly carbon-based taxes on oil and other fossil fuels.