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Tag Archives: Solar panel

Green Bussiness Idea: Sustainable Trade Practice is possible.


Driving the circular economyIn the recently concluded Accenture Sustainability 24 Webinar, closed loop recycling was given its due weight-age. The beautiful explanation  in info-graphics must be shared for one and all in this planet to understand the importance of sustainability. As one reads through this article while the graphics scrolls side by side (click to enlarge graphics) one would be amazed as to how easy it is to understand that we are at the very edge of entering a resource depleted world.

A BBC Special report on Thursday, 25 October 2007 gave State of the planet, in graphics with these comments – Globally human populations are growing, trade is increasing, and living standards are rising for many. But, according to the UN’s latest Global Environment Outlook report, long-term problems including climate change, pollution, access to clean water, and the threat of mass extinctions are being met with “a remarkable lack of urgency”. Global Environment Outlook [21.9MB]

The implications of this is evident from the various events which are unfolding is bits and pieces between then and 2013 AD. If seen from a perspective, one can easily see that as resources become scarce and traditional monopolies erode, regional and international tensions are bound to grow. And the tragedy is that sustainable practices would become the first casualty. Simply because it is perhaps the only sunshine industry in this despondent atmosphere.

China solar panel imports investigated by European Union &  China files EU solar subsidy complaint with WTO are just a few headlines on anti-dumping and protection news in the BBC webpage.

As long as the paradigm of Business and Trade remains entrapped in the archaic mode, our lifestyle will not let us stop from consuming 5 times of what is available to live sustainably. Even while we clearly understand that we are living in a shrinking world Graphicof resources.

While in Germany the primer company Solar World is anxious at the way the state of China is helping its domestic industry to produce cheaper Solar panels thus foreboding doom for stellar Solar PV company; somewhere in Britain nascent industries which make the balance of systems for the SPV’s are happy at the rise of the Dragon and would in no way want anti-dumping laws to be initiated against China.

Thus there are no easy solution out of this.That is if we still continue to follow the same patterns of Trade & Politics since Marco Polo.

However, we don’t need to and can’t afford to do any more.

While I can’t even think of suggesting Economics or Socio-Politics to the masters of the game, I do believe that at times simple ideas become the stepping stone of success. What is needed is to pick up the best created by the masters themselves and apply some innovation.

If we look at the idea of the Public Distribution System (PDS); better understood in India as ration shops and the concept of MNREGA we perhaps could create an idea which can at least be a fair attempt to slow down the depletion of resources until better model of adaptation and mitigation is developed in this rapidly warming Globe to give us the chance to live Sustainably.

The Circular economy advocates in the graph alongside show how from Minerals,Metals to Fossil fuel we are looking at an increase of consumption of 118% in just a span of 20 years (AD 2010-2030 ).

GraphHow this exponential increase would effect the planet is well documented in the 3 graphs above. The human ecological footprint is way above the straight line of the Biocapacity of this planet.And that straight line was created by Nature in a complex chain of event which we are still “researching” on.

With this piece of evidence I would reinforce my humble thought that, its time we think of a global rationing system. From Minerals to Metals to Fossil Fuel. It is time to put a stop to this mindless Business As Usual model.

Let us explore and expand the idea further.

The word Execution has very ominous meaning.

And some gentlemen have played their part in the destruction of this Planet very well in their Avatars as CEO’s. It is time when, we yank those CEO’s who should actually be the “Chief Environment Officer” as was mentioned during the Sustainability 24 – 2013 Webinar; than Chief Executive Officers. And make them responsible for the preservation and judicious use of  resources which are finite.

And let the Academicians and Scientist, instead of Trade & Political pundits of all Nations sit and decide the quantum of Quota which should be applied to de-pressurise the planets resource utilization.

Once they have achieved this, let the Corporates and MSME’s come in a common platform to innovate and scale up the process of  R’s. Reuse -Recycle-Refuse-Regenerate and thus like a Phoenix rise from a linear economic model to that of a Circular economy.

Additionally we must through the help of UN make this a true ONE WORLD than just a lyric in a song. To do that we can start by stopping to  count human population and poverty Country wise.

It is time we talk of Human population and poverty in global perspective rather than roll out the demography of a Country. Why should there be a rule of one child per couple in one country while there are no such limitations in another? Do we count insects, birds, fishes and other animal species in such a fashion?

Does it not occur to the most intelligent of animal species that the impact of Human is no more localized? If we have 9 Billion people with only, say as few as 500,000 in some Arctic country and a Billion in another, does it really mean that the one with higher demography is consuming it’s own resources more and the country with less population has limited impact on the consumption of produce within its own geographical limits and beyond? It is the Human species which has created a Political boundary into a Geographical one.

The planet and its forces do not conform to it. Read up on any Earthquake or Tsunami.

It encompasses all and everything from Minerals, Metals to Fossil Fuel and Life itself. No one Nations owns one over the other. No one Nations has aplenty while it is scarce for the other.

And  the Geographical boundary begins and finishes with the Sphere itself.

And to retain that life which till date is understood to be found only in this Sphere called Earth, we must ration its resources.

Production of each and every goods must be based on a quantum per year. Recycling and consumption of recycled products by each country in equal measure should be mandatory. No hand -outs to so called Third World Country, while the rich retain the right to plunder.

The issue of trade and economy can be addressed by the WTO quite well. Never was there a time when one country has not felt aggrieved and the other supposedly advantaged, in the polarized World we live in. And never will it be possible to think rationally until we actually become United as a Nation. Understand the power as well as the limitation of being ONE.

Sustainability can be practised and the concept of Circular Economy can truly succeed only if each Nation agrees to follow a rotary format of what it can produce and consume every five to ten years cycle. Shorter or longer cycle can be put in place depending on the type of industry and its gestation period.

And the most important aspect perhaps for success of such ideas is that of Human resources. Why should there be competition say for example, amongst IT professionals of one Nation with that of the other? Why can’t the Countries on whose share development of IT and its related products fall, pool all the best Human Resources across Nations? And here too individual professionals can be rotated based on the numbers, thus giving each a guaranteed employment such as in MNREGA, which I mentioned above at the start.

This model would insure equity in participation from all Nationals in making this World a better place to live in while in the process Wealth instead of Riches can be created.

If there would be even an iota of rational thinking in this process, I would request all those who can think and act better to reach out and make it happen.

 

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Green Business Ideas: Solar Net Metering can help provide solar power in the night.


In the Indian Express Newspaper on the 19th October, a news caught the eye of one of my friend and client, for whom I’m designing a Green township. Rooftops as Energy FarmsGujarat has launched a pilot project where rooftops of homes and commercial establishments are being rented out to generate solar power that is fed into the state grid, translating into a source of income for property owners and greening electricity production.

The State of Gujrat, under CM Narendra Modi is quite tuned to the Climate change and understands the need to engage the common person in creating an energy surplus state. With each house-hold given the incentive of Rupee 3/- via the Grid interactive system. Starting with Gandhinagar, the program of giving ‘carbon credits’ to five more cities have been approved by the Gujrat government. One hopes the rest of India would follow this sensible way of boosting the energy issue, without courting controversy.

Net metering is an electricity policy for consumers who own (generally small) renewable energy facilities (such as wind, solar power or home fuel cells) or V2G electric vehicles. “Net”, in this context, is used in the sense of meaning “what remains after deductions” — in this case, the deduction of any energy outflows from metered energy inflows. Under net metering, a system owner receives retail credit for at least a portion of the electricity they generate. (Source: Wikipedia)

In simpler words, When your home is equipped with a renewable energy source (such as wind or solar power), it sends the excess energy that’s generated back into the grid to power other homes. While you’re away, your house is generating energy but you’re not using it. Net metering ensures the energy you generate at home doesn’t go to waste. An electrical converter called an inverter turns the DC (direct current) power coming from your renewable energy source into AC (alternating current) power, which matches the voltage of the electricity flowing through the power line. If you’ve generated more energy than you’ve used at the end of the year, your electric company may pay you back for the extra power. Net metering can be measured over the month or year. Annualized net metering provides a more accurate measurement because it takes into account your changing energy usage and production over the four seasons. ( Source:How Stuff Works).

This week Tamil Nadu opened up the GBI –The scheme of generation-based incentive (GBI), essentially aimed at covering domestic consumers, will be administered jointly by the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (Teda) and the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco). Included in the recently unveiled Solar Energy Policy, the scheme envisages providing Rs. 2 per unit for the first two years; Re. 1 per unit for the next two years and 50 paise per unit for the subsequent two years.

While it is good to see that the state after state is awaking to the solar policy and even looking at giving a return, what they also need to look at is innovation. The most important factor is who would be the beneficiary of this GBI ? Will it actually elevate the suffering of the needy? Who guarantees that the surplus power thus created would eventually given back to the very locality which is providing the roof-tops? With states having shortfall in their generation, it would be easy to send the power for commercial use and thus encourage more commercial enterprises to set shop; having found assured power. This is most possible because commercial power brings in more profit to the electric company. The other profitable venture is from the rich residential area where the tariff is decent. However, the rich and the upper middle class in megalopolises, live in tall sky-scrapers where open roof-top is a premium. But they require system which is minimum 5KW. Here the price becomes steep even if space can be found even for most upper middle class consumers.

The roof-tops which is available & most need the power belong to the tier-II cities middle class and the rural poor, who are already finding hard to make ends meet. With, the cost per watt peak between INR 50/- to 120/-  which per Kilo Watt translates to One Lakh Twenty thousand, is not something every “Aam Admi” ( aam = common; it also denotes – Mangoes) can aspire to purchase and that is something our policy makers have not thought about. A person who uses only 5kwhr of power or 5units a day is not someone who could or need to spend Rupee 1.2 lakh or $ 2232. Therefore, it could be easy for the unscrupulous to capture vast rooftops, set up the solar and skim the poor roof-top owners. Imagine, the economically weaker section providing their collective roof-tops at the city fringes and receiving Paise Ten of every Rupee envisaged in the scheme, while the rest the “investor” pockets. It is not that such eventuality would not have been thought by the policy makers, but who would be monitoring? In the “scam a week” India of today, every utopian idea can get bastardized easily.

But, here is the way one may improve the concept and provide the power to one and all especially the middle class, who are a fairly large consumer as a group staying in class 1 cities like Pune, Bangalore and the likes where roofs; unlike Mumbai are still available in size large enough to cater to a decent solar power generation. One can also add New Delhi as the megalopolis which can afford and need the solar to stem the power outages in Summer.

There are already RESCO‘s who have been supporting my concept of OPEX Solar and the only thing they are interested is in banking the extra-generation and availing it when required from the DISCOM. Here they are wanting to put up the system which generate power during the day which is enough to cater to the needs of that very roof owner for a 24hour period.

The solution is simple. Say for example, a restaurant requires 100Kw and consumes 40KwHr during the daytime and 60KwHr in the night. As solar does not function in the night, ideally they would require a battery bank to store the power. However, if the surplus 60Kw is sent to the grid and in the evening the grid supplies that much power back to the establishment, then in effect the restaurant is running its operations on 100% Solar power. Same can be thought for residential areas which are large consumer of power.

The Grid can benefit in many ways –

1. It can charge a fee say between 2 to 5% ( similar to wheeling charges ) from the RESCO.

2. During the daytime when peak demand makes it difficult to manage, the extra solar power coming to it would ease the pressure and can be sold at commercial rate while eliminating the chance of a Grid collapse.

3. It would also help them not to short-change the rural and the urban poor, by being able to cut down on their load-shedding hours, which in certain places is 6 hours or more. Which would eventually help the countries growth.

What we require are policy which are driven from the Centre and applied equally by all states. The incentives which are envisaged are good. Let that be given to the RESCO’s who find it un-viable to provide the services to the rural and urban poor, whose tariff does not allow the companies to have a IRR which is acceptable. A decent  tariff is INR 7.50. Therefore if the state gives the extra INR 3.00 on the tariff of INR 4.50 which is the tariff in some places, almost all the roof of India would see a solar panel within 3 years.

 

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Green Building Ideas:Using Solar panels as roofing sheet instead of asbestos.


Using Solar panels as roofing sheet instead of asbestos. Simple process for creating affordable housing especially for the rural poor along with doing  village electrification.  With this thought in mind I spoke to one of my friends who is a Block Development Officer in the state of Orissa. The reception to my idea was instant. Rural electrification.

What if the Solar OPEX model which I helped devise and is working wonders for  the Indian cities be utilized for the villages? While taking off the load from Malls, Commercial centres and the rest which guzzle energy would free up plenty of energy for the state government to provide it to the rural poor, sadly the infrastructure to carry it is not there. We would require the large pylons to be installed first, then string the heavy duty cables then create sub-stations etc. All this network requires enormous amount of synergy between various stake holders and it is nothing but a nightmare in India.

So if I can convince an investor, who is already supportive of my Solar OPEX   concept and we are already having 2MW worth of commitments, for institutional and commercial establishment each, and work has already begun past the inception stage towards EPC; the same amount or perhaps more in Rural Electrification?

We have thousands of home in Rural India who have none or limited access to electricity. And also thousands of homes who have thatched /asbestos roof, which under various programs are being removed to give FRP or GI-Sheet roofing. Solar Panels by default come in metal trays which can also act in -parts as roof. Where that is not possible a Solar “trees” can be planted within the village at strategic locations and the power distributed within its periphery.

So if my B.D.O friend can devise an instrument where the various subsidies which are given to Kerosene, Diesel and roofing materials can be accumulated under one program and driven by say the MNRE & NREGA  missions combined,  which one can find by clicking on the link  and provide the subsidies to the investor of Solar, this idea of village electrification would become possible in the shortest possible period.

It is a Green Business Idea which corporates must think of coming around too, and frankly there would be no competition as the scale is so vast that even 10 large investors with an appetite of 100MW each can not consume it.

Moreover, as investors are more interested in their RoI, this is the right opportunity for them to invest. The subsidy on Diesel and Kerosene is breaking the back of the Indian economy. So if we can even implement a model of distributed generation for Malls, Cold Store Chains etc mandatory within the various city premise, to balance out the expense incurred for creating the rural electrification infrastructure, the total cost saved by the transmission agencies would be  enormous.

It is also a fact that most grid have massive under-recovery from many zones. It would serve well if States took the decision to limit transmission of power through the Grid to these areas, and implement the roof-top solar instead. Thus the defaulters would not be able to draw-in more power than what is generated in the day-time. And while the Grid would supply power into the night it can be timed such that it can be exploited the least.

 

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Green Business Ideas: Greening the Solar RE raw material supply chain.


 A hyperpure polycrystalline single-crystal silicon by the Czochralski process. . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Human race has gone through many ages. The Stone AgeIron Age … and now the Wind & Solar Age (Crystalline Silicone Age ) has begun. And in every age each action has had a reaction. The reason for worry, to put it simply – the stone age guy had lots of resources and very little impact on Earth by his action, while for the RE -age guy the opposite holds true.

Solar Panels, which is predicted as the next messiah along with its other RE counterparts  needs a closer scrutiny from the perspective of what it is manufactured from. Simply because a wrong policy would kill the initiative before it truly matures from the nascent stage it is today. And nothing would give the detractors of RE more pleasure than seeing the premature death of the promising “One”.

Silicon : The chemical compound silicon dioxide, also known as silica (from the Latin silex), is an oxide of silicon with the chemical formula SiO2. It has been known for its hardness since antiquity. Silica is most commonly found in nature as sand or quartz, as well as in the cell walls of diatoms.

Uses: Silicon dioxide is used to produce elemental silicon. The process involves high temperature reduction with elemental carbon in an electric arc furnace.The most prevalent bulk material for solar cells is crystalline silicon (abbreviated as a group as c-Si), also known as “solar grade silicon”. Bulk silicon is separated into multiple categories according to crystallinity and crystal size in the resulting ingot, ribbon, or wafer.

Types:

  1. monocrystalline silicon (c-Si): often made using the Czochralski process. Single-crystal wafer cells tend to be expensive, and because they are cut from cylindrical ingots, do not completely cover a square solar cell module without a substantial waste of refined silicon. Hence most c-Si panels have uncovered gaps at the four corners of the cells.
  2. polycrystalline silicon, or multicrystalline silicon, (poly-Si or mc-Si): made from cast square ingots — large blocks of molten silicon carefully cooled and solidified. Poly-Si cells are less expensive to produce than single crystal silicon cells, but are less efficient. United States Department of Energy data show that there were a higher number of polycrystalline sales than monocrystalline silicon sales.
  3. ribbon silicon is a type of polycrystalline silicon: it is formed by drawing flat thin films from molten silicon and results in a polycrystalline structure. These cells have lower efficiencies than poly-Si, but save on production costs due to a great reduction in silicon waste, as this approach does not require sawing from ingots.

Health: Inhaling finely divided crystalline silica dust in very small quantities (OSHA allows 0.1 mg/m3) over time can lead to silicosis, bronchitis, or cancer, as the dust becomes lodged in the lungs and continuously irritates them, reducing lung capacities. However a study which followed subjects for 15 years found that higher levels of silica in water appeared to decrease the risk of dementia. The study found that with an increase of 10 milligram-per-day of the intake of silica in drinking water, the risk of dementia dropped by 11%.

That ends our brief introduction on the most common form of material being used to make Solar Photovoltaic Panels. Now we will understand what does CIGS stand for.

Copper indium gallium selenide (CuIn1-xGaxSe2 or CIGS) is a direct bandgap semiconductor useful for the manufacture of solar cells. Because the material strongly absorbs sunlight, a much thinner film is required than of other semiconductor materials. The CIGS absorber is deposited on a glass backing, along with electrodes to collect current. CIGS’s absorption coefficient is higher than any other semiconductor used for solar modules. Devices made with CIGS belong to the thin-film category of photovoltaics (PV). The market for thin-film PV grew at a 60% annual rate from 2002 to 2007 and is still growing rapidly. Therefore, a strong incentive exists to develop and improve deposition methods for these films that will allow lower cost and increased throughput.

Now having understood the process, what we must look at are the methods of obtaining these minerals. While we may be extolling the virtues of  Solar Photo Voltaic, we must also keep an eye at the process of extraction, refinement and delivery of the basic raw materials that go into production of these wonderful RE tool. In effect we must map the complete manufacturing process and see to it that every time it is sustainable all the way. The question which then rises is, are we doing it ? Because as in other sectors and industry, the fact that the total supply chain must be green and sustainable is gaining traction and the RE industry, which is supposed to be the messiah should look into that aspect too.

Chemical Processing Equipment at a Poly-Silico...

Chemical Processing Equipment at a Poly-Silicon Plant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The raw materials that go into making a solar photo voltaic panel starting with raking & tracking system, cabling, inverter and batteries and ending with the voltaic panels are a huge list. Most of them are mined, some like gallium are  recovered from the by-products of zinc refining, Bauxite and the mineral sphalerite, as well as coal, often contain gallium as an impurity. No gallium is mined; it is obtained as a by-product of mining and processing other metals, notably aluminium, zinc and copper, and is produced in any nation that produces these metals.Therefore to get gallium we need all these mines and the problems associated with these will have a direct bearing on Solar PV.

Silica sand is the major raw material used by foundries for making moulds to pour molten metal to cast the intricate metal components for use in practically all industrial sectors. This too is the basic raw material for the most popular and efficient Mono & Poly crystalline Solar PV.

India is mineral-rich. Approximately 24 types of minerals, including iron, bauxite, copper, chromite, gold, lead, manganese, zinc and coal, are found in nearly 50 percent of its total landmass of 3.20 million sq km.  But the main concentrations of this mineral wealth happens to fall in the ecologically rich, tribal-inhabited areas of south, central and north-eastern India that has suffered neglect say environmentalists and development activists. Then there are various emerging issues with mining that can be associated with cultural or industrial factors or trends, such as changes in commodity demand, workforce, or technology. Health and safety is also becoming a major issue in all countries.

It is therefore important that the sunrise industry look into sourcing most of its material from recycled materials. If it starts early, nearly 50% of its raw materials can be sourced from recycled material and this would in effect reduce the over all cost. In time as the industry matures, the older generation panels would itself feed into the raw-material chain.

To achieve this, industry captains need to pause and think in the direction of sustainable supply chain and the Climatologist could surely help with a nudge.

 

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Challenges of roof-top Solar: Can we have make them more non-reflective ?


Every new idea faces some challenges. Those which can rise up to them quickly and even before they become problems are the ones which have a future. Many articles speak of some opposition to Solar Power plants. Some don’t want it to cover large expanse of land, while others find that it changes the scenery around their habitat, thus an eye-sore. Wind power too has faced similar problems.

India  has through its National Action Plan for Climate Change, brought about 8 missions of which 3  look at the direction of energy efficiency with scope for renewable. As the power plant through Solar, which is comparatively new in implementation, in India matures, so would the problems. And the problems it would face would be unique to it.

English: Solar One power plant in Mojave Deser...

Large solar-plant in India, would not face much problems as long  as they are  installed in low density, arid to semi arid regions, for now. Although it would be better for the investors to do the Environmental Impact Assessment and have back up plans for adaptation. And those  close to rural habitation, must also think of innovation in case pressure in land due to population density increase. Which is a definite possibility in India.

However, Roof-top solar; which in my opinion is the real game changer in the immediate future; would be facing issues which the Indian Solar industry has not yet perhaps anticipated . The problem would be from the potential hazard of glint & glare of reflected sunlight, especially in high-density Urban settings. ( even the large rural SPV plants would have the problem if directly under flight path of the air-force / aviation industry )  The sooner the manufacturers and all related stake-holders wise up to it the better it would be for all.

In my earlier article on OPEX Solar I have already started receiving tremendous response. Therefore, I am able to anticipate the issues which could come up first hand. Buildings in any city are of varying hight. Tall buildings overlooking clusters of row-houses or commercial centre like malls, cinema halls and even hospitals and schools. Typical settings where one can seek business in roof -top solar. More often than not, these roof installation would be of a fixed type south-facing system angled in accordance to the latitude of the city. The reason to make them face south is for receiving the maximum  sunlight as the sun traverses the sky from dawn to dusk. While this would ensure maximum power-generation, it would also generate maximum ire from the poor souls who would be occupying the buildings which would be bouncing the reflected sunlight. And the Indian summer, well to put it mildly is very bright indeed. Not only would it add to the glare, in-fact the reflected heat if intense could also damage PVC pipes and other materials, if preventive steps are not taken before hand.

So what are the precautions one must take to avoid this situation ? Some article have already covered this issue. However I am for the solution and not flagging the problem and leaving it there.  While solar panels are designed to absorb sunlight to convert it into electricity, most commercially available PV panels today lose about 4 percent of their potential power output due to light reflection from the front surface of the cover glass. Solutions are already on the way, with Honeywell launching the SOLARC anti-reflective coating in February 2011. SOLARC materials are based on advanced materials used in semiconductor manufacturing. They are transparent coatings that improve the light transmittance through the glass that covers photovoltaic, or PV, panels, thus increasing the PV module efficiency and power output. These coatings also significantly reduce glare from the glass, allowing the PV panel to better blend with its surroundings.

Here one needs, especially in India to educate the potential investor to be ready to invest a little more on the prevention and precautions with respect to glint & glare. Especially to avoid the opposition, the type I have posted as links through out this article. India, needs the power through SPV. It is the only way to reduce the carbon emission, which is sure to increase as the Country grows. And as all know, carbon emission is a politically loaded subjected. It can bring intense pain or relief in terms of international relations in the years to come.

Should we lose out on the potential of the Sun, which India has in abundance due to wrong application, it would be a tragedy for the Nation.

 

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Green Business Ideas :Costal RE is the answer for Shipping Co’s to save on Bunker Fuel tax.


Fifty-five major European airports accounting for over half of all passenger traffic on the continent are now part of a program aimed at cutting carbon emissions, Airports Council International said Tuesday. Airports are changing airport vehicles and buses to electric or hybrid power, and installing solar panels to generate the airport’s own electricity, among other measures. Specific taxiing techniques are used to reduce fuel burn, and ground power is provided to parked airliners instead of having them leave their engines running.

A super initiative. This is how Business must be conducted. Reviving the Economy by producing jobs where there was none.  The last part of the paragraph ….ground power is provided to parked airliners … was what made me sit up and think. As I have confessed earlier, I can not invent the wheel, its for the gifted to invent. But I do get inspired to think…of a green business idea ! Would these Solar Panels be portable ? What would the plug and play system design be? How do you power those Airplanes which may not get docked near the Hub but put at the far end of the tarmac, in full capacity airports ? How do you account for drop in transmission? Or would it not be a super idea for smaller airports too around the World? Would this create jobs for smart engineers who are perhaps jobless now.  Whatever be the economic situation  in Europe or America,  unlike in India, they still have the best of invention and also the facility for growth and encouragement of new ideas (which is the reason of its success for so long) can not be denied.  And the future of newer versions of RE would also come from those who most need it.  For, Climate change would affect economies which are more developed than those which aren’t, simply because a flood, tornado or fire can not destroy property or business which has not been built!

It is imperative that USA & Europe survives the Economic stress it is going through. It is good for them it is good for us. For no Country is insular in this century. Every Nations economy is interdependent to another, one way or the other. And therefore Green Business Ideas, which may perhaps help those who are already capable but not focused, must be provided by those who can. For what good is an idea when it is not used? And no one can be an expert in all domains to implement. But many may have different ideas in various domains. Having said that let us re-explore the Renewable Energy we can harness from coastal power, while focusing on the news item pasted above.

Coastal Power is  being funded in the School of Physics and Astronomy, the University of Edinburgh by the Scottish Government. Palamis, as you would be able to see in the video  has devised a beautiful idea. An idea which needs to be instantly PROMOTED !!

Nissan’s Solar Panel-Covered Ship was already a super idea, but not all ships can have that much space, nor does the Sun shine bright and clear 24 x 7. So one can think of further innovation.  Imagine large container ships, towing in its wake a similar contraption as created by Palamis. Attach on to that another contraption, the floating solar panels, which I have shown in my article ( Green Business Ideas: Solar on Water,Wind to power Ships while Geothermal beats recession away – Future RE ) and I improve on the idea of the wind RE here. Lets add one as a mast to the ship ! A V-WAT obviously. For vertical wind axis turbine would be more practical and it would spin as the ship moves forward. All ships while moving also create a wake, and the wave RE can generate power, while when anchored off-shore in still waters, it can splay out the floating solar panels to cover a larger surface area and generate the power required.

While all Ships entering Europe would be taxed on CO2e emission on the bunker fuel, the Shipping businesses could limit that tax by simply producing some RE power ! Moreover as this idea takes root, even the luxury yachts, anchored in various marinas can be asked to adopt to RE power, while docked. Perhaps European Climate Foundation CEO, Jules Korenhorst, who spoke about bunker fuel tax way back in 2009 could see some practical idea in what I am proposing.

Who knows perhaps we would see this idea adopted and adapted before the next Cannes Film Festival by the Rich & the Famous.

 

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Green Business Ideas – Using Solar Panels as Glass Facade can reduce Heat Island Effect in Cities and earn LEED credits


glass facade

In the past week I was interviewed by two News media both electronic & print which were very excited about a report by scientists from the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) India,  on Glass Façade Buildings in the City of Mumbai, India  and how it is raising the overall temperature by more than 17° C in the surrounding area of the building. Although it could be true, one must explore about how this problem be addressed without making ‘glass’ a bad building material. Things are not always black or white, therefore I would use this as an opportunity to once more showcase how Sustainable Cities  could be planned.

Glass has been a tradition building material for eons now. Colored glass was found from the Babylonian era and some of the most beautiful Churches and Cathedrals draw their prime beauty from the Stained Glass murals. Glass is the only single medium which allows the external environment into the room in a controlled fashion. Which means one can enjoy rain, snow or bellowing wind swaying the tree tops without getting wet or cold and having that curly lock of hair firmly in place.

Yet uncontrolled use of glass can create problems, such as raising the ambient temperature of the city/town and making it warmer. While extensive use of glass in building façade may be considered a good thing to counter the harsh winter experienced in the temperate regions of the World, it is foolish in Hot climes.

The reasons are simple. The word ‘Green House‘ originally meant ( before Global warming became popular) a glass house which kept the temperature warmer than the freezing  European cold and let some plants & vegetables grow. This happens because the heat from the Sunlight gets trapped within the space by the default property of glass.

While this is good for designing a building in say Norway or Alaska, where every drop of Sunlight would bring in the warmth and perhaps help save in reduction of energy consumption required for district heating, the same principle would require enormous amount of  district cooling which otherwise would have been normal in case of a hot and humid city like Mumbai or any other city with similar climatic conditions. And those large  water-cooled Air-conditioning plants placed on the roof tops to cool the buildings do so by pumping cool air inside the buildings while sucking the hot air away and out into the surrounding atmosphere. So a total glass building would not only throw more hot air out into the cityscape it would also use more water to cool itself. Yes, there is air cooled A/c plants too and high-efficiency COP’s have the ‘Green’ label attached but it too consumes energy and heats the sorrounding it however saves on water. Only the most well designed and high-end commercial glass façade buildings conform to all Sustainability criteria. But it does not hold true for all.

Therefore while the building may look swanky and very western, I would caution the tenant in buying space there as their energy bills could shoot up. Moreover by default of design constrains, its cheaper to make the Glass Facade buildings near hermetically sealed. Further no one would want the Air conditioned space to get warm because of a leak in the window casing.

Now the above observations lead to some unique problems for India or for any Emerging Economy in the Third World with similar climatic conditions.

First is the heat & dust. Not only does glass buildings get warmer inside it turns ugly on the outside too because of the perpetual dust. And once the commercial buildings are sold it becomes the building owner association responsibility to take care of maintenance. Maintaining tall glass façade building does not come cheap. It requires a whole new engineering solution, such as façade cleaning lifts and trained people to do it.

Second, we are a ’emerging economy’. Which means only a few rich & super rich have the luxury of having uninterrupted power. Rest are routinely treated with planned load shedding / power cuts and have to generate their own power through fossil fuel smoke belching  Diesel generators. In case of longer duration of power failure, rationing is done to cut cost and even the generators are shut down. And in this case one has no choice but to sit in airless rooms breathing Carbon –Di– Oxide exhaled by the neighboring colleague and hoping to survive the day.

Third, in smaller Tier -II & III towns and even the cheaper business districts within the megalopolis  the buildings only ape the Glass Facade exterior with no  Fire Safety Norms as a priority, and are built by unscrupulous Builder developers who themselves are an ignorant lot along with little or no understanding of EHS ( Environment – Health – Safety ) nor it is understood by the general public. ( the whole of India has only 2-3 dedicated burns center, one in Mumbai. New Delhi has none. However thousands die each year through burn related accidents) . So Glass buildings which are not designed well may lead to catastrophe in case of fire. Further as some are built right upon the road-side in high density areas, during Earthquake or other calamities, it may only compound the problems further with razor-sharp glass falling all over. True the glass have built-in safety feature to shatter into small bits but bad fixing and poor quality glass do not perform as intended.

Business and Scientific report do not go hand in hand. But  Science must be heeded if Business is to thrive. Global warming and its associated risks are too well documented to be ignored.  ( read my article for details:  Climate change – the most significant emerging risks facing the world today ) If the City of Mumbai or any city with similar climatic conditions continues to grow in this fashion and Glass façade buildings become norm and not exception, we are looking at a serious problem.

So we come to the question of what would the Developers and the Public do post reading the NEERI report ? Will tall glass façade building vanish from the cityscape? No chance.

But saving Mumbai ( and other cities ) is a must. Therefore here I will present an alternate thought which the Glass manufactures like ASAI, MODI etc along with the Solar PV manufacturers would I hope discuss over cocktail & dinner and come back with great Eco Ideas which would at least help reduce the problem of Heat Island Effect. And for this we must look at BIPV.

CIS Tower, Manchester

Image via Wikipedia

Building Integrated Photo voltaic (BIPV) has been around for sometime. It produces electricity and can also act as a Glass Facade. (As the image to the right shows, the dark blue glazing with a logo on top )  Now this is an option which has not been explored to its full potential in India and the rest of the World because of the cost verses production of electricity. It is generally understood that BIPV which is still in its nascent stage needs to develop further to truly become the choice for Architects and Builders to consider using it as an alternative to Glazed Building. This can happen only when the cost of the product becomes near equal to that of conventional Double Glazing Unit ( DGU ) which we see all around the city of Mumbai. However we can speed up this process by simply bringing in the economy of scale.

So how does one bring about this economy of scale? Simple, by introducing the Green building concepts which require the use of Solar Power or Green Energy. Both in the TERI – GRIHA  and IGBC -LEED certification process require  to bring energy efficiency of about 14% to the Building Envelope ( skin of the building; the outermost wall /glass surface ) which  at times design constrain and economic factors make  very difficult to deliver. Further Green Building Norms also ask for 10% of the total building energy be drawn from Solar Power. This too, is difficult due to unavailability of required roof-top space in certain cases.

BIPV

Now BIPV  are SPV  (solar photo voltaic) patches of  modules which is sandwiched  between glass.  It not only produces electricity but also reduces the amount of Sunlight from entering the building which is known as the SHG factor for glass ( Solar Heat Gain). So this can act like ceramic frit-glass, which too is an architectural favorite as it has lower SHG factor  and yet have dual function. Further in the Green Building rating system one looks for high SRI  (surface reflective index) content to reduce the heat island effect. Glass has high SRI index. So it reflects more sunlight away and what could have entered the building unhindered gets caught and converted into energy by the SPV cells. So another LEED credit point, credit interpretation could be sought jointly by the SPV as well as the Glass manufacturers.

Now as more and more buildings all around the world are opting for LEED Certification ( Leadership in Energy and Environment Design ), the above two credit points would fit well into the scheme of things. But this may not be enough to reduce the cost of  BIPV. Therefore we can adapt the idea which I have explained (in the article – Green Business Ideas : Cheap Solar Power is possible  ) earlier to manufacture cheaper BIPV’s  and yet creating space for newer research & development. Therefore what NEERI published as a problem can be solved by scientific ways and high-end engineering which follows the basic principles of Sustainable Building Design. And who knows one day we may have enough BIPV clad Green Buildings just as the above French building ( click on image ) which would help further reduce the enormous Carbon Footprint each City has, to make a safer Earth with better business ideas.

 

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