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Green Business Ideas for the future Cities


During my recent visit to Birla Institute of Technology & Science, (Goa campus) I was given an opportunity to talk to a class of students on the synergy between Renewable Energy & Future technology with its potential business applications. Not being an expert in any of the subject, I considered the path of least resistance. That is to put forth a few Green Business Ideas and with the talent pool BITS has, if there would be any viability in my ideas, they would perhaps be the best bet to make them happen.

By default, I have never attempted to invent the wheel. It needs a superior mind to be the inventor. But, I have some confidence in exploiting a tool to its maximum benefit by tweaking it just a little. Thus, a few thoughts came into my mind.

On my last invite to BITS – Goa, I was fortunate to meet some of the best minds of the country which inspired me to come up with a thought which I penned down as Solar Laptop & Mobile : In your store by next summer? While researching for my impending lecture this time around, I found that the idea has already been implemented.(article). Not in the exact way I had written about but we already have a piezoelectric laptop and jogging shoe. And  among many inventors some of the protagonists are Indians too. The only feather missing was the name of a primer Indian institute. Its time the Indian Engineering students change that. However I was  glad to find young achievers in a lesser known Nagpur institution the Nuva College of Engineering when it came to the piezoelectric shoe (article). Here I found people who are already doing parallel research and achieving the same concepts.

I am not sure how many young minds in India are even aware of The National Innovation Foundation.? As with every meaningful governance tool, it too languishes in a dusty corner with no real attempt by the Ministry of Science and Technology to promote it among the masses in a sustained and populist way. If one sees the site, some of the products although brilliant, have not found currency in the fast modern megalopolis simply because most innovation have not reached the market, barring an amazing few.

The need of the hour is that we have a constant dedicated media, specially a visual media which keeps showcasing the excellent Green Ideas which is being thought the world over. If India can achieve this one single act, I’m sure that brilliant young minds would showcase more and more concepts of efficient living. It would and should become a platform for exchange between the academia : business doing a greater good to this resource depleted planet.

It is said that Ideas can save a life, believing in this I put forth a few more ideas to the students at BITS – Goa.

The first thing I said was that one could revisit the piezoelectric powered lap-top and see if they could harness  the ambient light emitting form the screen into small photo-voltaic panels fitted just above the key-board space. And can a battery also be developed which could convert the waste-heat into power? True the initial contraption may be an extension (accessory) rather than a part of the computer, but it would help extend the charge thus reducing drawing of power from the grid.

The concept could perhaps be extended to large computer Server Rooms. Server rooms by default have to be kept cool 24x7x365 thus a huge drain on electrical power to run air-conditioners. Therefore can it be possible that the heat being exhausted by the server fans be directed to a metal plate which has its other end super cool, thus inducing a current, which then forms part of the energy demand of the air-conditioners ?

While in 2009 Maxell did created a near recycled battery and also conceptualized the reverse supply chain, not much traction is seen on it. Simply because we always lack the money and might to do a good thing. The other day, while discarding a dozen coin cell / button batteries from my child’s toys I was deeply disappointed that none were rechargeable. And there was no shop or scrap-dealer ready to take them. Simply because they have no resale value, weighing between 1.9 gram to 2.6 gram the 10 pieces could have hardly moved the scale to excite a scrap metal vendor. However if the same calculation is applied as I did in the article Green Business Ideas – CDM methods for Steel Production.the result too would be in million tonnes of steel.

I wondered if the promoters of POSCO steel plant which is facing the ire of the Odisha villagers would consider, the idea of innovative recycle. But then we are always happy to rip and rape life-style and virgin land rather than think sensibly. After all most of us are intelligent human devoid of silly sentiments of saving Earth. We are smart enough, when the time comes to relocate to another living planet in the Universe! So what if we don’t have the address, we can always ask it from the doomsday cults who keep sighting aliens.

Bio-degradable batteries

So the next best Idea which young achievers could look at is bio-degradable cells. Already there is a lot of research on-going but I’ve yet to see a button battery which is bio-degradable. The thought itself is so exciting, because different branches of engineering students, within the campus can group together to devise the perfect tool.

Perhaps they could design a Mobile phone or adopt one of the path-breaking concept of a Grass -phone but add more piratical concepts and look to at it. Then engineer the battery area in a way so that button cells are no longer  required but the ones which are bio-degradable can be used. Even the new lithium-ion batteries which are paper-thin and bio-degradable need to be developed further to be made for mass consumption and cheaper. Which then can be applied to the host of  futuristic smart phone designs which are already being showcased. And to add on to the technology of Mobile phones there are two more areas of research. The first one is to develop an “App” which can control the cell-phone camera; when detached from the phone and stuck to a wall or placed on a table to shoot self-portraits. It is almost a necessity, which almost all cell-phone users must have faced one time or the other. The detached camera can be controlled for zoom and focus via blue-tooth while the applications helps set that perfect screen-shot with the desired back-ground. No more waiting for strangers to click ones photo, blurred or shaken and missing some vital elements the photographer would have wanted !

The second more closer to my thoughts is a simple layman friendly mobile phone application which could measure the ambient light in a room and rightly advice, post keying in the information as to how many lights and at what temperature the Air-conditioner should be set, vis-a-vis light transmission from the windows at day-time and the out-side temperature prevalent. This would make sense even in LEED certified building as because complete automation of lighting controls on an hour to hour basis is not yet prevalent and not all homes have the automation facility which one may find in offices, which are more given to better energy management.

While it can not be denied that institutions world over have some of the most brilliant innovations happening, the Indian scenario needs to improve further. As is the case of the piezoelectric driven laptop, where the Indian scientist are doing the research in Australia; we need more scientist doing research in India itself. It is only then we shall be able to have products which are cheaper and more affordable to the masses.

Ideas like piezoelectric should find currency and support from both business and government alike because the seer population of India would be a boon to such renewable energy development. It is time we have people looking at the applications of piezoelectric as the west is doing so actively.

And here the role of institutions become important in terms of indigenous design and development.

 

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Recycle Rare Earth & Renew Energy


Through this article I would once more attempt to join the dots which would perhaps lead us to practice sustainability as naturally as breathing. To do this each of us must be able to co-relate as how seemingly diverse things dove-tail to one conclusion. The modern humans insatiable need, which without being tempered by understanding at the basic level would not lead us towards the very Millennium Development Goals we aspire Using just one product, my attempt is to put forth an idea, which used as a datum could hopefully be applied over a vast field of products by those who are more capable.

“Mobile communications offer major opportunities to advance human and economic development — from providing basic access to health information to making cash payments, spurring job creation, and stimulating citizen involvement in democratic processes,” World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte said in a press statement. “The challenge now is to enable people, businesses, and governments in developing countries to develop their own locally relevant mobile applications so they can take full advantage of these opportunities.”

A July 2012 report – Approximately three-quarters of the world’s population now has access to a mobile phone, according to a new study from the World Bank. The number of mobile phone subscriptions has sky-rocketed over the past 12 years. Fewer than 1 billion mobile subscriptions were active in 2000, while there are six billion subscriptions active today. Last year alone, mobile users downloaded more than 30 billion apps. A study by the World Bank and infoDev titled “Information and Communications for Development 2012” found that worldwide mobile subscriptions grew from less than 1 billion in 2000 to over 6 billion. And mobile subscriptions in low and middle-income countries increased by more than 1,500 percent between 2000 and 2010, from 4 to 72 per 100 inhabitants.

Reading – Digging for rare earths: The mines where iPhones are born About 60 miles southwest of Las Vegas, in a mine some 500 feet deep, the beginnings of an iPhone come to life.But the sleek, shiny iPhone is far, far removed from the rocks pulled out of this giant hole, which looks like a deep crater on the moon. A very deep crater. The ground is covered with rust-colored boulders, rocks, and pebbles. The walls etched with striations in varying shades of black, are notched, every 75 feet or so, creating steps that only a giant could use to climb out of the pit….Inside the rocks from this mine are rare-earth minerals, crucial ingredients for iPhones, as well as wind turbines, hybrid cars, and night-vision goggles. Minerals such as neodymium are used in magnets that make speakers vibrate to create sound.….

As defined by IUPAC, rare earth elements (“REEs”) or rare earth metals are a set of seventeen chemical elements in the periodic table, specifically the fifteen lanthanides plus scandium and yttrium.Despite their name, rare earth elementsare relatively plentiful in the Earth’s crust, with cerium being the 25th most abundant element at 68 parts per million (similar to copper). However, because of their geochemical properties, rare earth elements are typically dispersed and not often found concentrated as rare earth minerals in economically exploitable ore deposits. It was the very scarcity of these minerals (previously called “earths”) that led to the term “rare earth”.

We pause at the word – typically dispersed and not often found concentrated in economically exploitable ore deposit.and the words of World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte.-..”to enable people, businesses, and governments in developing countries to develop their own locally-relevant mobile applications”..

Sustainable development as we know requires the principle of the three “P”s – Planet – People – Profit fitting perfectly with the four “R”s Reduce – Reuse – Recycle – Recover (energy).

  1. Wherever possible, waste reduction is the preferable option.
  2. If waste is produced, every effort should be made to reuse it if practicable.
  3. Recycling is the third option in the waste management hierarchy. Although recycling does help to conserve resources and reduce wastes, it is important to remember that there are economic and environmental costs associated with waste collection and recycling. For this reason, recycling should only be considered for waste which cannot be reduced or reused.
  4. Finally, it may be possible to recover materials or energy from waste which cannot be reduced, reused or recycled.

Empirical evidence suggests that by practising waste prevention, reusing products, recycling, and making environmentally conscious purchases, businesses can cut costs and increase profits. Cost savings take the form of:

  • Lower waste disposal costs;
  • Lower waste treatment costs;
  • Lower energy costs;
  • Savings on materials and supplies;
  • A reduction in regulatory compliance costs;
  • Lower storage costs;
  • Cost recovery through the sale of recyclable materials;
  • Cost recovery through sales of 4Rs technologies.

Now let us add two more” R”s – Refuse and Rethink.

While we all are attempting to practice sustainability, that it has still not percolated down to the grass roots is because we as a collective of Sustainable practitioners are yet to join the dots in a simplistic fashion. And unless we do so, the ground swell of awareness and true sustainable practice which is balanced with modern life-style will elude us. The concept of Sustainability can not be a placard which one can paste on the door of the office. It has to be from within us. The society as a whole must adopt sustainability in their consciousness. The Peoples must be identified as such; just as we associate Precision = German / Swiss; Adaptive = Indians;  Disciplined = Japanese; and other cultural stereotypes; the world as a whole must adopt it as a culture.

We as modern humans are so trapped in our system that while we say Sustainable Development, in the same breadth we also look to encourage Countries to develop Mobile Applications, without pausing to think that the very popularity and success of these applications would lead to another explosion of growth in manufacturing of Mobile phones and thus from 6 Billion in 2012 we would perhaps cross the 12 Billion mark in half the time it took us to reach the first 6 Billion.

From a World Bank perspective that is Sustained growth. From an Sustainable Development Goal, it is a prelude to doom, as the miners rub their hands with glee whilst ripping out the “rare earth” from the bosom of Earth and lay waste vast tracts of land. Which would take a Millennium to sustain itself again. No better anti- thesis can be found for the term Millennium Development than this.

So is the euphoria at the World Bank on the reach of the cell phone right to the grass-roots misplaced ? The answer is a resounding NO! Right from Disease Response; Education Through Games; Monitoring Government Accountability;  and Disaster Response; cell phones have a very positive impact and this achievement is set to grow over time.

But it becomes a little too much when Preserving the Rainforest as mentioned in the link is added to support it. The crony capitalism becomes evident. Although the very same mobile telephony can be used to create greater awareness on climate change. This boon itself is a curse, should we not also not make Mandatory for all mobile phone manufacturers to create a reverse supply chain management to recall each and every cell phone; when its stipulated usage life is over. 

And to believe that the people would do this out of altruism would be the biggest folly. One would rather have someone at e-bay buy it, than s/he walk down and put it into the recycle bin for free. That is how we all are. We are a market society conditioned by a market economy and we all are buyers and sellers. We can do nothing positive (or negative) unless we can see tangible benefits (profit) for ourselves.

While we teach our children the advantage of the R’s ( Learning the 4 R’s :Recycling and Rubbish Exhibit (R.A.R.E.) program teaches kids to reduce, reuse, recycle and rot ) why is it that the Corporates not adopting it. Or rather why is it that the UN unable to make it mandatory for all corporates to follow the rules, by declaring a resolution at the United Nations Security Council ? As in my last article, I firmly believe post the devastating Hurricane Sandy that Climate change become an agenda for the Security council rather than the UNFCCC.

That the 4 R’s has distinct advantages has already been highlighted earlier in this article. If we just take the advantages – Savings on materials and supplies; Cost recovery through the sale of recyclable materials; and apply it to just the cell phones let us see what we get.

English: Global rare earth element production ...

English: Global rare earth element production from 1950 through 2000, colored to indicate source. (1 kt=106 kg) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Mobile phone is made Gold, Silver, Tantalum, Platinum, Palladium, Lead, Tin, Copper, Plastic, Glass, Steel, Aluminium, Silicon etc. Coltan is used to make the SIM card. Now if we assume that in a year at least 50% of the 6 Billion Mobile phone users world wide change their handsets, the savings on material supplies and cost recovery through the sale of recyclable materials would be handsome.

What if this recall of Mobile phones is driven by one of the many arms of the UN, with active support from the NGO’s who have the depth of reach into the hinterlands of the developing world? NGO’s which are truly altruistic and would surely give value for money deals to the rural poor. And at the same time convince the city dwellers to also partake through school programs in this novel recovering of the Natural resources.

There is already a stellar example of this form Nokia, The need of the hour is that more people know about it and start doing something similar. And this is where the failure of the popular media to take up a cause which is really worth-while is completely underscored. And it also shows how less traction the UN gives to promote ingenious concepts, leaving it at the mercy of market forces which are hostile to change. A market based society can only look at every thing from its skewed logic of economics, which is responsible for the mess we are in today.

Nokia’s ‘Remade’ Cell Phone Made Of Recycled Materials – In February 13, 2008 Nokia’s CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo unveiled Remade at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona. The idea was to create mobile phones that cause less of a strain on natural resources, while reducing landfill and increasing energy-efficient production. A concept phone called “Remade,” which would be built almost entirely out of recycled materials. Phones based on the Remade concept were to be made out of metals from aluminium cans and plastics from drink bottles. Materials from old car tires would make up the phones’ rubber key mats. The phones were also to use environment-friendly technologies, including printed electronics and display graphics that save energy.

Map showing the estimated thickness of the Wor...

Map showing the estimated thickness of the World’s crust (km) (Photo credit: BlatantWorld.com)

The above example shows how Corporate responsibility if truly applied can create a sea-change in how we look at our resources and develop sustainable ways to live our lives without sacrificing the comforts of modernity. I wish we would be able to see more companies follow. We must understand that our ability to sustain and survive depends on how we care for the planet. If we continue to create great wound ( mines ) on the skin of the Planet, somewhere and somehow there is bound to be effects which we can not fathom at present. And if we don’t think on those lines soon, it might just be too risky a situation later.

“Remade” is simply a concept for now and not a commercial product, but it demonstrates what can be done using nearly no new materials to build a mobile phone, said Nokia’s spokeswoman.

The above speech needs to change thus – “Remade is now being provided funds from the UN sponsored Global Climate Fund and we would encourage more companies to submit their ideas to avail the funding & market support (through mandatory resolutions passed) required to make their sustainable products economically viable” – a hypothetical spokesperson of the UN.

Courtesy: http://www.iisd.org; http://news.cnet.com; http://wiki.answers.com;

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2012 in Global Warming & Climate Change, My Thoughts

 

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A clarion Call to Sustainable Living


A couple of days ago, I was giving a presentation as how through my firm I can provide Solar Photo Voltaic system to all Commercial and Infrastructure projects which require large amount of energy to operate.  And that too in an OPEX format, by that I mean I have investor backing who would want to become RESCO. Presently it is  on roof-top model. So Hospitals, Hotels, Malls, Commercial Complexes and Airports, Rail-stations etc, which have large roof-top can have power. It would obviously lower Diesel consumption, which is generally used for back-up.

The idea as I have mentioned in my earlier article Green Business Ideas – Applying Solar OPEX model on Green Buildings will make Grid parity easy. is becoming popular but when we want to scale, its facing the biggest road block of subsidised tariff on fossil fuel. Even when my concept of Solar OPEX is ready to handover ownership on the 10th -15th year, and only charging discounted tariff on generation, due to heavy subsidy in the industrial sector the idea just can not germinate under the intense competition from the subsidy. We can provide power to all at about INR 8.50/- but all arguments fall flat when the industry and in some states even commercial power is at INR 4.50 – 6.00/-.

Recently there has been an article which says that a lobby consisting of industry captains, NGO‘s and common persons are petitioning the UNFCCC meet at Rio, to come out with strong laws which would abolish subsidy on fossil fuel. And to be honest, this would give birth to the best Green Business Idea of this century.

Long there has been talk of how one must charge the true value of water, only then the waste of it can be limited. Longer has been the demand to remove subsidy from fossil fuel. Granted it is a political hot-potato, but if one shows a slight more maturity and instead of short-sighted goal explain to the people the farsightedness of this measure, I am sure people would understand. Unfortunately, mostly vote bank politics and corporate greed drive policy.That we have finite resources must be advertised with all the collective forces we can gather and impart that knowledge to all.

We must now begin to evolve an universal law. Not laws which govern different countries. Constitution of each country is different. What is crime for one can be heroism for another. How then we are the United Nations?Let there be diversity in approach to a solution but let laws that govern the sustainability of Earth be one. To be adopted by every member nation. It is only then we can have prosperity. It is not a tall task to achieve because, when 134 Nations can come together to force a recalcitrant Nation to subjugate, it can as well be applied to save the Earth from disaster.

Today our civilisation is in a cusp. It is time we move away from the era of Capitalist consumerism. Human history had many epoch – the stone age, the bronze age, the iron age. And Human Civilisation did thrive. Excellence was achieved. So much so that they still stand testimony in the name of Arayabhatta, Chanakiya,Confucius, Aristotle. In great monuments like the Pyramids in the Americas and West Asia, the monuments in Macedonia and Greece, the Great Wall and many more. They stand testimony to time. Sustainable thoughts & deeds and also sustainable buildings. Sadly today we can not be as advanced in thoughts as our ancestors, the reason is complete disconnect from Nature.

Though I do not advocate any religion, yet in paganism which was followed around the globe once, there was a direct connect to Nature. We must evolve ourselves into a collective which can rise above religion and creed, greed and short-sightedness to evolve a solution which is the NEXT CIVILISATION. An era where B-Crop are norm then exception and Sustainable is not a catch phrase but a human and corporate agenda.

 

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Greening The HVAC Energy Supply


English: A huge double HVAC exhaust of an offi...

English: A huge double HVAC exhaust of an office building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The HVAC &R industry is transforming and morphing itself to the needs of the current Environmental scenario. They are packing more efficiency with less energy consumption and maintenance needs. The home versions too are coming with intelligent functions and sleeker smaller sizes which blend with the décor. Yet there is one thing which the industry requires to truly make it, what the environmentalist can call a GHG friendly product. And that is tie it to a power source which is a RE (renewable energy) source.
Imagine the advantage, a major revenue consumer like the HVAC & R, would have as an impact to the market if RE could be packaged to it. Let us examine the possibilities and potential of this concept.
Renewable Energy source such as Geo-thermal (rock-heat essentially) combined with a Gas based electric source would be the choice where the premise has the space but not the roof-top which can hold the other RE-source that is a Solar +Wind hybrid.
This is a solution which the HVAC&R industry should study closely, especially in light of the new BEE norms that have come into play from the year 2012. While compliance to the law is a must, with a weak Rupee and a fluctuating consumer market innovation can be the only solution.

CIX Diesel Generator

CIX Diesel Generator (Photo credit: Tom Raftery)

While the roof-top AHU’s can be designed to have SPV panels on top, it would only increase the cost of the product, while making some energy generation green. However if the HVAC &R industry tie up with the nascent SPV industry which are offering Solar Solution in the Operation Expense Format, it can revolutionize the market dynamics.
Let’s first understand the OPEX-Solar model. In this model the certain SPV companies are offering solution in which the total EPC and O&M expense is being borne by the SPV Company for a minimum period of 15 years before handing over the ownership of the asset to the user. All that the Solar Co’s are asking is the tariff as generated. Although this model is already a success on individual roof-tops and can be provided for up to 1MW on connected load, this requires proper Government support to be able to increase the load to above 2MW and at nominal wheeling charges.
It would create a win-win situation for both the HVAC&R industry and the Solar Photo Voltaic industry and a revolution in India in the Clean Tech – HVAC & R space.

English: Worldwide Renewable energy, existing ...

English: Worldwide Renewable energy, existing capacities, at end of 2008, from REN21.http://www.ren21.net/globalstatusreport/g2009.asp Total energy is from BP Statistical Review.http://www.bp.com/statisticalreview (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another area which the HVAC & R tied to RE can get advantage from is synchronizing their system to Diesel Generators. During Grid power failure, the captive power used to run the HVAC & R plants are large Diesel Generators and an expensive option. Diesel is used for various purposes. Trucks (37%), Passenger Cars (15%), Buses (12%), Agriculture (12%), Industry (10%) and Power generation (8%). If we add the last three we get 30% of the total diesel pie of which we can easily allocate 40% as to be utilized for use of HVAC & R, by these three industries, for the purpose of cold storage, shop –floor cooling & cooling administration offices. Therefore with HVAC equipments tied to RE, the industry create a space which has no parallel till date. And in the process opens up a funding line which was till now only given for Clean technology purposes.

 

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Subsidy on GHG producing products and procedure must stop


Locator map of the state of Maharashtra, India...

Locator map of the state of Maharashtra, India with district boundaries and Admin. divisions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The State of Maharashtra tabled its annual budget this week. Although on the face of it there is cause for worry, as some measures would bring in more inflationary pressure for the common man; the environmentalist in me was happy. Diesel, Petrol, Plaster of – Paris ( with which large Hindu Deity Idols are cast every year, and immersed into lakes & rivers, polluting them further; thus the idols will be cast with eco-friendly materials now ) have become costly. Electric vehicles have become cheap with no tax applicable. Wow ! Reva electric, I will visit your show-room soon. Yet there are areas which strangely the Government both at the Centre & State, choose to ignore. And that is related directly to our forest cover.

During my recent visit to a food processing factory, for data gathering and understanding the process, (so that I can design a  IGBC  “Green Factory” rated second unit ) I was aghast at seeing tonnes of chopped wood being used to fire up the boiler, which produces hot-water required in drying up the pasta in the moulding machine. Inspecting further I saw them using archaic, bakery kilns which need a lot of wood to produce the heat required, to dry another food product.

I offered to give them a 250KW Solar Photo voltaic pilot under OPEX format, to produce the electricity which would at least reduce the use of wood; it was politely declined. Reason – They presume wood to be cheaper as 1kg is sold to them at a paltry sum of Indian Rupees 2.50 /- , because even if I don’t charge them a dime for the solar panels; instead take a tariff for the electricity generated,  it would work out to be INR 8.50 /- per KW. Which is higher  than the e-DISCOM charging the industries at INR 6.80 /- per KW.

The boiler requires 55 kg per hour x 24 hour x 365 days !

I stood silently looking at the chopped corpses of trees, which were once alive and swaying gently in the breeze while birds and bees sang the welcome song to the newly arriving butterfly, bursting out from the shell of the pupa – hanging under a shady green leaf; and advised, how instead of throwing away the charcoal produced in the process of burning the tree – to use it again; its heat is more intense per Kg/Cal  then the wood.  While silently bowing my head to the trees which even post being killed and burned can help humanity in form of charcoal.

And I was angry. Angry at the system which only gives lip service to the cause of sustainability. Where no real measures are in place to curb the menace of chopping down trees for fire wood ; not for cooking meal of the improvised indigenous people living in the forest { they are persecuted by forest officials, who most ( if not all ) are in cahoots with wood smugglers } but for making pasta for the élite, who live in cities and take out candle light march to make the World aware of “Global Warming” ! Candles by the way is a GHG producing hydro-carbon.  Sad that no real and meaningful progress is being done to educate about  the actual cost of  electricity being provided cheaply by the state through coal-fired Thermal power plants.

While it is true that our modern economy has trapped itself within a vicious circle where we can not find easy answers for achieving a balanced and sustainable growth while maintaining the life-style we have adopted, it is equally true that unless hard measures are taken now,  our life would be styled to that of early cave-men in the near future. And the answer is No, if one is thinking it would be the fate of everyone. It would be only for those who would be unfortunate enough to survive the floods, droughts, famine and War that would be fought between countries for the best water hole !

I grieve,  when our leaders express that they have the mandate of the people towards development  which are inherently high -carbon; and my frustration is directed towards UNEP. Can they not devise a system wherein  they can get the mandate of the grass-root people around the World, which can stand as legitimate in the International court of Law ?  How can we create a sustainable economy when coal fired thermal stations and raw wood is being burnt by million tonnes per day, is considered to be cheaper than renewable or alternate energy ? How difficult is it to get a missed call, a sms and an e-mail endorsement which has some legal standing ? How difficult is it for powerful environmental groups, who have the ears of UNEP, to create an advertisement which all type of media can then carry as their CSR. Can they make more people aware of the thoughts of Buckminster Fuller and many such eminent personalities, who show the way towards transition to sustainable energy management ? thus mobilizing the people in understanding pertinent issues and then conduct a debate as whether the people are ready to burden their shoulders with hard economic choices, for a short term to be able to enjoy sustainable economy forever afterwards. And thus debunk the justification given by the elected representatives, who claim to know what people want ?

I have never for a minute believed that personal prejudice and bias do not creep into policy making. For every Politician & Bureaucrat is human first, not to be affected by the environment s/he must have grown-up in. And most often than not these people have over-riding ambition for self-promotion, before National /International cause, they endorse. And if that self is conditioned to feel comfortable in an environment, hard it is to break away from that familiar life-style which has provided all that they have today. And the familiar life-style sadly is high-carbon economy & the creature comfort it gives us till date.

When people are told that catastrophe would befall in the next 50 to 100 years, they laugh, and say – ‘enough time in hand’. The Taj is 358 years old and every day  hundreds of people travel back in time and come back, when they enter the gates of the Taj Mahal – 300 years is here and present ! So the effects of our inactions today will be felt by our own future generation, not too far in the distant future, for us not to care enough !

Therefore can’t the UNFCCC at the Rio+20, armed with concrete evidence in terms of Peoples endorsement towards a low carbon economy petition the UN to pass a binding resolution for all Nations to comply to green standards ? All  resolutions to bomb a country or pass stringent economic sanctions without a shred of evidence pass smoothly at the UNSC, but when it comes the time for UNFCCC – which has evidence of clear and present danger to the World, no resolution gets passed for economic sanctions on Countries which are doing very little in terms of climate change abatement. The UNEP would always lose out to UNSC in these matters as I had predicted in my previous article. Unless we all join hands, big and small organization, individuals and lay men to lay bare the critical situation we all would face, if lopsided environmental reforms continue deep into 2020, the red-line flagged by the SREX report as point of no return for disastrous Global Warming .

 

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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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Coal corporations helping India’s Clean tech aspirations is becoming successful – a model more nations need to follow.


Renewal Energy Distribution Companies find it so difficult to work and grow.The primary reason being denial of open access system by the power supplying companies the unquestioned rulers. The resistance is natural although national policy says in time open access must be allowed to level the playing field and bring grid parity. These companies have spent a lot of money and effort into developing the infrastructures and letting the new RE guys piggy-back on them is not something which sound business policy advocates. Yet, these powerful “Goliaths” would fall and the “RE Davids” would rise. Sustainable Energy requirements is the call of the hour.

For Humankind, the preservation of self is the most supreme and any event or cause which would stand in its way would have to perish. Today the desperation for survival of small island nations and mountain states, being mostly small in size and economic might; not really being heard by the mighty nations and the supporting fossil-fuel corporation. But as the effect of Climate change is being felt and the associated business risk gets recorded within the mighty nations, along-with more businesses understanding that their economic salvation lies in marketing and manufacturing ecologically sustainable products, the fossil fuel led lobby’s influence and foot-print is bound to shrink.

And no one can stand against the might of the collective. History has proved it time and again. And when an idea whose time has come also gets the support of the powerful United Nations, crony capitalism and narrow national interest will lose. It is the writing on the wall.

But Indian ethos teaches compassion. Those who have provided energy to the world for the last 300 years must not be thrown out unceremoniously but shown the light. Just as it is difficult and confusing for a one mighty ruler to accept defeat and face uncertainty, so is the case of these Energy Czars. Redundancy is not a polite word.

So India has devised a way out. The solution although complex, the logic is simple – channel the oil / coal profit into R&D of Renewable Energy solutions.This is the reason why in India we have the NVVN .  In Mumbai, India; BEST ( Birhan mumbai Electric Supply & Transport Undertaking ) draws 10% of its Electrical power for supply from RE as mandated for development & support of RE.Such mandate is more or less followed by all states.

Moreover, no one imagines that in the next 50 years, oil / coal would vanish from our economy. While its use begins to diminish ( hopefully ) it would be wise for the companies to diversify and invest from now into the clean-tech. And in the present economic situation, buying could be cheap.Further they should help in easing the entry of roof-top solar / wind in the immediate future. This would free up their power for industrial use, while residential, school & malls could draw their power from the RE industry.

A win-win situation for all. Hope the model is adopted by Nations sooner than later.

 

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