Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Nonsense About Clean Coal Exposed

As Treehugger, my favorite renewable energy and environmental blog broke this story which some may have missed, here is a reprise based upon their follow-up on this story:

A dyke holding coal ash broke in tennessee two days ago leaking 2.6 million cubic yards of coal ash sludge and destroying 400 acres of farmland, 12 homes and a train and leading to lawsuits worth $ 165 million against the Tennessee Valley Authority. Leave the lawsuits aside - I think the landowners deserve every penny of what they are asking for - the filth that has escaped into the open contains mercury, selenium and arsenic, though, in its infinite wisdom, the EPA does not consider it hazardous.

Now, my qiestion, especially because Coal India Ltd has gone overboard buying coal mines in Pennsylvania, Utah and Wyoming, is this: do you want a similar disaster in India? In a country where the average farm is 15 acres in size and provides barely more than subsistence to the farmer? Just imagine if this happened in the rich agricultural town of Neyveli which already has several thermal power plants and is planning to build several more. Would be great for the already poor food supplies, wouldn't it? India imports wheat these days. How about importing rice as well once the fields get destroyed in Northern Tamil Nadu from an environmental disaster of this kind?

Stupidity will never cease. I guess that is why Mirza Ghalib wrote (referring to India, his beloved country and to Delhi, his dear city) in the 19th century: "Iss duniya mein bewakoofon ki kami nahin hai Ghalib / Ek dhoondho to dus hazaar milte hain." Roughtly translated into English, this means, "There is no shortage of fools in the world. If you go looking for one, you are certain to find ten thousand instead."

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

US Now Largest Wind Power Producer

Ecogeek brings this news via Cleantechnika that the USA has beaten Germany as the world's foremost wind power producing nation: In what has otherwise been a pretty bad year, this is amazing news, indeed, and I hope that the American spirit of competitiveness and a similar spirit in other countries would make the world use as much additional wind power as possible in the future. This can only be good news to a blog that aims to show fossil fuels the fist. Way to go, America! Congratulations and don't slow down, please!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

More Problems that renewable Energy Businesses Face

Mohanakrishnan has sent me this piece from The Deccan Herald about how Wind Energy producers have been getting shafted by electric utilities in my former home state of Tamil Nadu in India (where Mohanakrishnan resides now) - please go to and go on to Page 6. Turns out that even after getting funding and setting up a business to get it running, you are nowhere close to making routine, steady profits thanks to the arrogant and stupid ways of the Central and various State governments in India. Is there any doubt over why this sector has not been advancing much, if it has been advancing at all? And, do you see why I continue to remain a pessimist as far as my country of birth is concerned?

A Cheap Refrigerator for Use in The Third World

EcoGeek has this piece about a very interesting development in refrigeration - a refrigerator that is heated on a stove or using any kind of cheap fuel and then placed inside a special thermos type container where it freezes whatever is placed inside it for 24 hours: The price also seems to be very reasonable. I can see a huge demand for this especially in South Asia. Every tea shop in the little bazaars, for example, would need these as would farmers who bear the worst brunt as far as getting regular supplies of electricity are concerned.

WARNING: DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINKS PROVIDED BELOW THE ECOGEEK POST. They lead to a fraud anti-virus site. Google up information about Adam Grosser instead.

Green Businesses and the Possible Dangers of Investing in Them

Good friend Mohanakrishnan posted this analysis on his investments blog about a company that has plans to manufacture biodiesel in the Southern Indian city of Hyderabad: and raises some very interesting questions that highlight not only the possible benefits and risks of investing in green businesses, but also, by extension, of the difficulties that potential entrepreneurs in this area face. The company that he speaks about is planning to manufacture and supply Bio-diesel to a Bus Transport company. It also plans to make money by selling carbon credits for the whole business of growing Jatropha and collecting carbon offset payments from polluting industries elsewhere. While, on the surface, this seems like a good idea, how is a potential investor to evaluate the business concerned before putting their money into the concerned company's shares? And, conversely, how is a potential entrepreneur who has plans to do something similar, to raise money for his / her business? The questions are intriguing, and, if you ask me, worrying as well. On them depends the future of the green dconomy to use a heavily clicheed term. Any responses to this question would be most welcome.

Transparent Photovoltaic Windows

Treehugger has this entry about a very exciting new technology that could make harnessing the energy of the sun not just easier, but also in keeping with the glass framed esthetics of modern buildings: A company called RSI Solar has developed windows that are transparent like normal glass windows and which convert sunlight falling on them into electricity. I can see how valuable this would be in the huge software complexes that are being built all over India not to mention large office blocks which try to mimic buildings in North America if the owners of the buildings were to replace their regular windows with these. And there is an additional benefit - these windows would also reduce heating inside and make the demand for power required for airconditioning smaller. All in all an excellent option for improving energy efficiency while keeping the appearance of buildings conventional.

RSI Solar's website is: Do check the link out.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Greenpeace's Youtube Page

While I am not personally convinced about Greenpeace (or, for that matter about any NGO) they do have a decent Youtube page with some documentaries: Their stand against fossil fuels is encouraging but the reason why they oppose its use are very different from those that I have. In the end, I guess, their views boil down to their extreme left wing views on politics and economics. Mine are more conservative. But, hey, if people like me are to spread a world-view about showing fossil fuels the fist, the easiest way to do this would be to ride in the wake of the waves that a huge outfit like Greenpeace creates with every one of its campaigns.

Good luck to them with their work. And do enjoy their videos when you find time.

Friday, December 26, 2008

What Does Not Work for Renewable Energy in the West is Exactly What Would Make it Work in India

The one thing that the media in South Asia in particular need to look at is how the Western media focuses on issues of importance to the markets that they cover and to the rest of the world by extension - there has been a major focus on renewable energy in recent months in virtually every major US newspaper and magazine as journalists fill a very strong public need for more information on this subject. The facts are clear - the world cannot afford to depend on the Middle Eastern monarchies to blackmail it over its energy needs. Correspondingly, we cannot afford pollution caused by fossil fuel based vehicles, powerplants etc. There has to be an effort at maximizing efficiency and the positive thing is that increasing public sentiment in favor of this is making even reluctant governments to act. This is not a debate over global warming - that is for scientists to concern themselves with and let those of us who are not as well informed know what the facts are. That said, this is about the environment that we live in. If our water and air are cleaner, if the foods we eat are healthier and if we spend less on transport, on heating our homes etc, we all stand to gain.

Which brings me to the point of this post: the record cold weather this winter across the USA and Canada has forced several solar powered homes to draw electricity from the grid as this New York Times piece shows: Which suggests that for parts of the world which do not endure snow ever, and this means 90% or more of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, or about one and a half billion people in all, solar power is a very real substitute for coal or other dirty power. The warmer weather that these parts of the world experiences also means that biodiesel can be used the year round if active efforts are made at collecting used cooking oil for example and also that wind turbines are a much better option because there is no question of their blades icing and fracturing. In effect, this means that these countries are ideally endowed with everything that would be required to use renewable energy year round.

The unfortunate part is that stupid politicians and bureaucrats and incompetent policy commentors are responsible for throwing a spanner in the works whenever anyone even thinks about any of this. It is unfortunate that the negative posts here outnumber the positive ones two to one, but that is how it is. Hopefully, things will change for the better. Personally, I prefer to be an optimist even if what I see around me is nothing but doom and gloom.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Interesting New Concept for Storing Wind Power

While I subscribe to the New York Times' Green Inc Blog along with several other excellent ones and they are all accessible from my page, I always post information that I find particularly fascinating and this is one such article: The main argument against wind power (and for that matter solar or tidal power) has been consistency. Wind speeds, for example, vary at different times during the day, resulting in varying power generation. This article talks about Compressed Air Energy Storage, one of the new ideas for storing power to use it when required.

This is a very positive development because, if it is perfected, this would enable wind power to be used as an only power source instead of being a supplementary one. One mroe development to watch with fingers crossed.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A New and High Tech Wind Turbine Design

As visitors here would know, I have been following the Pickens Plan whenever I find time. You do get some very interesting ideas there from engineers and entrepreneurs and even those who are in countries other than the USA need to look at this website from time to time to check some of these ideas out. One of the very interesting new ideas that has been written about there by the developer is that of the Dragonfly Wind Turbine: Looking like a jet engine turned into a wind turbine, this is designed around the Bernoulli's Principle. if I go back to my high school days in India, that principle reads, in the quaint English that is still used in India, "when air passes through a tube of unequal cross-section, at the point of constriction, the pressure decreases and the velocity increases." It is this principle that is used to build aerofoils and to give the curved top shape to aeroplane wings. The Dragonfly team are working at designing this into a turbine design.

Here's wishing them all the very best! They have assured me that I would get continuous information from them as their work goes ahead and I hope to post more regularly as I have this information. Do check their website out.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

More of What Won't Be Available in India Thanks to Governmental Stupidity

To add to the duffer-headedness in Delhi which makes for no real availability of clean power, there are good vehicles which would work on electricity and which would be excellent for India considering the low speeds that are typical of Indian city traffic, very high fuel costs, and the horrendous pollution that is a hallmark of Indian cities.

They won't be available because the country doesn't want to build the infrastructure to support them. Look at what is missing and which will continue to remain missing and weep:

1. The Optimal Energy Joule Van How about a 7 seat passenger van which runs on electricity and can go 400 km on a full charge?

2. The Nemo Urban Truck Like a number of Canadian electric neighborhood vehicle designs (all are restricted to 30 km/hr maximum speeds and are not permitted on expressways) this would be a superb, low polluting vehicle for the Indian streets especially for transporting food etc - home and office deliveries are becoming big in India. Why can't the country look at making life easier for the Mumbai dabbawalas, for example? Do the hard working, simple dabbawalas who have the country's first six sigma business, not deserve to modernize? And if they could do it using clean power, wouldn;t it be even better?

3. Considering how many townships are being built (luxury ghettos is what I call them) how bad would it be if the promoters kept cars away from individual buildings in garages at an external perimeter and used vehicles like these to transport people to their homes and back to the parking areas? The buildings could have thin film solar photovoltaic generators on their roofs to cherge them, or rooftop wind turbines. Keeping cars away from the actual buildings would keep the children safer, keep pollution further away and also provide security especially if visitors are also vetted and kept away until they are actually brought to the buildings in these vehicles by security staff. After Mumbai, you would think that some common sense would enter the builders' brains. Sadly, these seem infected with the same stupidity virus that affects the babu-neta cliques across the country.

Yes, this is one more angry post. If you're as angry as I am in agreeing with me, or for that matter, angry at me for my views, do post back. Yes, I am interested in seeing what happens in response to these posts. As I always tell my friends, bouquets and brickbats are equally welcome.

I Wonder What Will Wake the Delhi Dunderheads Up and Get them to Look at This . . .

The city of New York, arguably one of the world's wealthiest cities even after the thieves on Wall Street stole billions and continue to steal more, has decided, very wisely I must admit, to harness the power of the rivers flowing through it to light the city. The company in question, Verdant Power: is also doing projects in Canada. There are British, Spanish and Portuguese companies who are equally advanced in this area. But one country with a long coastline and a centuries old seafaring tradition, the land of my birth, cannot be bothered to look at using this inexhaustible source of energy - India.

As I think of heavily energy-deprived coastal and riverside cities like Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Vizag etc, there is absolutely nor eason why these cities should not get power from the water that flows on their shores or through the cities themselves. There is no reason why these cities should find themselves with 10 hours or longer in power cuts a day just because the bozos who rule the states that they are located in and the bigger bunch of clowns who are in Delhi don't have the slightest clue about what to do.

Let me point out the sheer stupidity of what is happening in India here:

1. Coal India Ltd has been buying up coal mines in Pennsylvania, Utah and Wyoming to ferry coal across to India and ruin the already stinking air even more as there is a shortage of coal in the country to generate power with. What about the cost of transporting the coal there? What happens if the Saudis and their partners in crime at OPEC decide to unilaterally hike oil prices like they are working on at the moment? Does anyone in Delhi have the slightest clue about how they would handle this other than get buffoons like P Chidambaram to make pious claims about how great the Indian economy is?

2. Over the past two years, the Neyveli Lignite Corporation has commissioned a 400 MW coal fired powerplant and is set to acquire an additional 1000 MW one. Once again, the coal will come from overseas - the air in Chennai wills tink even more, and the relatively clean air in Pondicherry, Cuddalore etc will also be affected. Fantastic, yes? And Indian money - difficult to earn under the best of circumstances what with bribes paid to the thieves in various government departments - will be squandered on buying and transporting coal from overseas instead of on building permanent infrastructure that would never require any fuel if they build wave powerplants

3. My good friend in Chennai, Mohanakrishnan who has a superb investment blog and I have been talking about the power situation in Chennai in particular and it is particularly bad. News that I have from Bangalore from another very savvy friend, Manoj Barai, is equally unfortunate. Now, when common people are as concerned about the problems that face the country and are aware of the technologies that the rest of the world is using successfully to fight the fossil fuel crisis, why on earth can't the morons in Delhi get their brains to work and find out about the state of the art worldwide? Is this because most of the clowns in government cannot even figure out how to use the internet? But when "commentators on public policy" like the often criticized C A Sadanand (on these blogs at least, where I have little sympathy for ignoramuses who fob themselves off as "authorities" on subjects that they are particularly ignorant about) are the government's eyes and ears on issues like this, what on earth can anyone expect?

4. The Indian economy is a mess - take it from me. A year and a half ago my wife was keen on buying a home in India and went there to check the place out. She returned determined not to waste any money on the place. It took her more than an hour to do a short trip from my former workplace to my parents' home, a trip that, even in the heavily crowded past when I drove there, took less than 20 minutes. The pollution was horrendous back then. I can imagine how much worse it is now. But no, the jokers who run the country have no idea what they should do. No intention, therefore, of putting up clean generation systems and of focusing on electric transportation. Companies like Tata sell electric cars in Norway but cannot do this in India thanks to the miserable goernment of India. When Indian businesses try to do something, they are let down by the government

Yeah, this is an angry post. I am continuously frustrated by the stupidity that exists in Indian government offices - the people of the country are intelligent but, somehow, they manage to get the biggest jokers you can find anywhere to rule over them. Some of them live abroad - I do myself - but we keep our Indian passports, and, friends who have become American or Canadian citizens decades ago, cherish their Indian dual citizenship (I call it second class citizenship because it is worthless as anything other than a multi-entry visa) more than they do their US or Canadian citizenships. This pathetic state of affairs has to end - will it ever? Again, I am a pessimist on this.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Excellent Forbes Opinion Piece on Solar Energy

I have posted from several business magazines here before to make a case for renewable energy - if these hard-nosed journals think that this is a good idea, I cannot understand why ill-informed skeptics get so much attention. In any case, here is an excellent piece from Forbes:

I wish they had an article-specific Permalink but they don't seem to have that. That said, they have a Clean Tech RSS Feed and that goes right into my list of Blogs that I shall be following if any visitors here want to check them out.

My hat's off to Forbes for this very intelligently written piece.

UPS Begins to use Pedal Power and Hydraulic Hybrid Trucks

In the New Yorl Times' Green Inc Blog there is this interesting article about UPS now using pedal transportation to make deliveries for the Christmas season along with Hydraulic Hybrid Trucks: I do think this is a good idea - fortunately, in South Asia, bicycles are used by Postal services quite well. But the idea of hydraulic hybrid trucks is very interesting to say the least. It does look like a technology that could be used by the various van manufacturers in India on their vehicles without all that much difficulty - just check the Youtube video at the link.

But, better yet, amid a flurry of new car introductions especially in India (all small ones and none that is a gas guzzler, fortunately) I received this e-mail from Optimal energy Ltd in South Africa telling me how the Indian auto industry still hasn;t got its act together: Their Joule Electric Vans are perfect vehicles for an Indian manufacturer to manufacture under license. Now haven't I been saying that about the APtera car as well . . .

Somehow, I am a borderline pessimist about the country that I was born in, these days..

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Some Hard Facts for the Clowns Who Say that Solar Power is Too Expensive

I have talked in this blog about self-styled "experts" like C A Sadanand in India who have been shooting their mouths off about solar power being excessively expensive and not a substitute for dirty fossil fuel derived power. Well, here's something that makes these bozos look like the clowns that they are: This solar power system in Nevada has reached grid parity without any subsidies. This means that it produces electricity cheaper than conventional fossil fuel based plants without any subsidy whatsoever.

Now, will some brave entrepreneur start something like this in India / Pakistan / Bangladesh / Sri Lanka and prove the jokers who have been talking BS wrong? What is more, whoever gets into this would enjoy profits that would have them laughing all the way to the bank.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Electric Vehicle Manufacturers Get Hit by Bad Economy

When even large manufacturers of conventional cars like GM and Chrysler come close to being shuttered permanently and Toyota and Honda end up with huge losses and forced to sell their cars at massive discounts (a very good friend was able to get a new Camry turning her two year old one which must have met with a hundred accidents for more than $ 12000 just because the dealer was desperate to get the new car off his lot and had Toyota's backing to do this) small electric vehicle manufacturers cannot, but be affected.

Norway's Think cars are in deep danger as are Nice Cars in the UK are in similar bad shape as they find it difficult to get capital and credit to continue their operations. The sad fact is that even with the current low gasoline prices, their cars are cheap to use compared to fossil fuel cars. But, overall market forces are against them. It is a sad day when companies founded on intelligent products that are very relevant to our times find themselves in trouble for no fault of their own. Somehow, I can only hope (as you are doing, too, I am sure, if you're reading this) that they manage to pull through. These companies deserve to. The world also deserves their superior products for its own future.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The New York Times is Cautiously Optimistic on Obama's Green team

While I have never been a big fan of The New York Times, today's editorial at: is one of their better written ones in a long time. For once, the Times isn't talking down to its readership like some of the arrogant morons at the newspaper enjoy doing. Neither is it talking out of its ideological hat.

Let's see if something comes out of this unsolicited advice that the Times loves giving everyone on earth. For once, I think they have something sensible to offer.

Friday, December 12, 2008

High Tech and the Autorickshaw

India's ubiquitous autorickshaws (and the Filipino Tuktuks and their equivalents in Thailand) are among the filthiest soot belchers on earth. I can think of no vehicle that I despise more and when I am in any of these countries, I do my best not to get into any of them as I do not want to add to the pollution that these countries already suffer from. Now, there's an attempt at making these more efficient. Treehugger has this very interesting piece about a San Jose State University development of a hybrid solar-human powered autorickshaw:

My feeling is that this very basic design could be improved easily or merely replicated anywhere else. Now, will some company in India take the callenge up? The target market includes India - Bajaj? TVS? Come on, guys!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Coffee Waste to Manufacture Biodiesel

I have fond memories of my parents' second home on Monteith Road in Madras, just a hundred or so yards away from the Coffee Board's offices. The street was lazy and my friends would come over and we would go walking towards the Rajaratnam Stadium in the evenings after class, practically every day. This, of course, was long before Madras became Chennai and that once lovely city began to stink from what has become its typical smell - a blend of the stink of rotting sewage and untreated vehicle exhausts.

Autoblog Green has some information that is partly positive - three scientists, all of Indian origin, working at the University of Nevada (a good state for the Renewable Energy Sector) have figured out a way to make biodiesel from coffee grounds which are actually waste which does not do coffee any good as far as taste is concerned. They estimate that their process could help manufacture 340 million gallons of biodiesel a year:

I have smelled the exhaust from biodiesel cars and it is far less irritating than the smell of fossil diesel. That said, I would like to see electric cars and trucks become more popular than merely tinkering with diesel or vegetable products to manufacture biodiesel. However, anything that makes the air around us even slightly cleaner is a big plus. I do hope that the Indian government gets its head out of its collective posterior and looks seriously at this use for coffee grounds. The country produces a huge amount of coffee after all and this could be a useful byproduct that reduces dependence on the Middle East as far as keeping its trucks and cars is concerned.

Electric Vehicle Sales Boom in Norway

Yes, the Norwegians make the Think, a car that they keep promising to launch in the USA but delay for some reason or the other. It turns out that the news isn't all that bad now - they have a boom in electric car sales in their country as Treehugger reports:

With all of Ford's woes, they must be kicking themselves for not having held on to this company which they once owned. In any case, the fact that a major oil producing nation is experiencing an electyric car sales boom is something very positive. Here's wishing Think go from strength to greater strength along with other companies like the Kewet Buddy. Yes, this means just 200 cars sold, but any number is a good one. That is 200 fossil fuel cars less.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Windmill Video

I visited by accident and found this video of an old Dutch windmill working as i did when it was first made: Not quite renewable energy and yet it is about hanressing the wind to perform a basic chore. Call me a Luddite if you want, but I find this fascinating and I do think that these would be vastly more picturesque than the powermills that we increasingly have these days. One of my favorite memories frm when I was a boy was going to a mill with my mother to watch flour getting ground. I would help her carry a sack of wheat and though the noise was deafening and the flour that came out too hot to touch, it was always an interesting experience. Thinking back, I cannot but wonder how much more fascinating it would have been if we had a windmill back then in Madras as Chennai was then known. The city is on the coast, after all, and receives very good winds. Well, sadly, if wishes were horses and all that . . .

More on Electric Carmakers' Problems

From the Wall Stret Journal:

US electric and hybrid carmakers have found that their big problems are 1. getting capital when oil prices have fallen sharply and 2. the fact that batteries are mostly manufactured in Japan, South Korea and "elsewhere in Asia." Well, with Lithium available in huge quantities in Bolivia and elsewhere in Latin America, perhaps, the USA needs to look at developing these countries as a manufacturing base for batteries and help itself as well as the economies of these countries by setting up manufacturing plants there. I know this is not going to be easy in a recession, but this is something that the USA could make work. It has more experience dealing with the Western Hemisphere than any other country in the world with the possible exception of the erstwhile colonial powers of Spain and Portugal.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Some Sensible Business Plans in These Troubled Times

From Treehugger comes this significant piece of news - a company has been filing for permission to build wave and combined wave and wind energy platforms off the US coast at several locations: This is extremely sensible planning and it is certain to pay off when the fossil fuel producers raise the prices for their stinking stuff as they inevitably will in the future when they run out of money that they have amassed by selling their stuff at ridiculously high prices. Its good to see that there is at least one company that has its thinking processes working full time. My hat's off to them!

Grays Harbor Ocean Energy Company's website is:

The Decline in the Electric Vehicle Business Must be Arrested

There has been much in the news about how electric vehicle development has been hurt by the current free fall in oil prices. Make no bones about this - the oil producing countries are really worried about their stranglehold on oil becoming irrelevant. It must be a small job for them to bring prices down for a while while they spend the money that they earned when oil hit record prices and kill the new alternative fuel businesses off completely. Once these are dead, they would literally have the rest of the world by the b@11s again until their oil runs out. This is a Trojan horse that the world's oil consumers need to look at very carefully and beware of.

Any failure to address this and we shall be back to square one in the blink of an eye.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Why won't Tata sell the hybrid Indica in India?

Treehugger has this article about the new Tata Indica hybrid which goes on sale in Poland and Spain shortly: The Tatas are also planning to offer their electric Indica in Norway. Now why on earth are Indian car buyers being discriminated against? Come on, Tata! Sell these cars in India and save the country foreign exchange and also pollution.

In any case, I don't want to sound sour - for an Indian company to be ahead in this cutting-edge game is a fantastic thing. Congratulations!

Redone Aptera Website

Everyone who visits here knows that I have the same enthusiasm for the Aptera car that Popular Mechanics and other magazines have with one caveat - I am angry that I will not be able to buy it since I live in Sh1tc@go. I am also angry about the fact that no major company in India or elsewhere in Asia has looked at licensing this design and building this car there - with fuel efficiency which would easily exceed 100 miles per gallon (35 km per litre for friends in South Asia) and with its fiberglass construction which would make eminent sense to manufacture using human labor, this car has sophisticated simplicity as its USP. Those who live in Southern California are going to be able to buy this car - in any case, ther est of us can drool over the redesigned website:

Feel free to sign up for their newsletter and do push them (and any of the Indian or other companies where you may have contacts) to license the design and manufacture it elsewhere as well. This is about showing fossil fuels the fist, after all!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hawaii Focuses on Electric Cars

The beautiful state of Hawaii has decided to focus on electric cars and has brought in Israeli transportation pioneer Shai Agassi to help in this as this article in today's New York Times explains: Mr Agassi is an Iaraeli, the citizen of a country that faces a boycott from the Gulf nations for political reasons and he has chosen to make it his mission to reduce his country's dependence on oil for that reason. However, he belongs to a particularly intelligent group of people - the Jews are a capable, thoughtful people and they have many great achievements in several fields to their credit. I do think that the rest of the world needs to look at the Agassi projects in Israel, Hawaii, San Francisco and elsewhere.

Israel is a very good friend of India and I must stress that I believe that India looks at this project with the same interest that the US state of Hawaii and cities like San Francisco are looking. One more nail in the fossil fuel coffin would mean cleaner air for us to breathe, less money going to the Saudi despots among sundry tyrants around the world, and savings that stay at home helping local economies everywhere.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Mumbai Attacks and this Fossil Fuel Business

This blog does not usually go into international events other than environmental ones, or into issues like terrorism etc. I do write about those issues on other websites though I do not have specific blogs about them. That said, the recent Mumbai attacks have been something that I have had a long discussion with a very good friend in India about. My contention has always been that the huge oil reserves below the Saudi sands give the extreme nut cases who rule that country and their cohorts a large amount of money with which to threaten the rest of the world and to pay for acts of terrorism against anyone who doesn't meet their religious criteria. I have long argued that if these lunatics were to be sidelined, then the use of oil would have to ber educed severaly by the rest of the world in order to deny them the money with which to finance terrorism. There has been positive news from the USA in this sense over the past ten months when oil consumption has been falling on a month by month basis. WHile some recent data suggests that pickup truck and other gass guzzlers have been selling well in recent weeks after oil prices started falling, my personal view is that this is more due to the extreme incentives being offered by car manufacturers keen on liquidating old stocks before the new and significantly mroe fuel efficient vehicles come out in early 2009 and then onwards. We shall see how this goes, but I do not think that I am wrong. When Black Friday sales drop enough to cause a 680 point drop in the Dow, I doubt that sub $ 2 a gallon gasoline is going to make a difference in driving habits other than to get people to drive a heck of a lot less, especially in what promises to be a harsh winter.

But that is besides the point. Manoj's e-mail which he requested that I post in full on this blog entry is below:

Hi Mehul

Before I start off my reply, would like to keep you forewarned that since the latest happenings have hit Indians hard where it hurts the most, India is finally waking up and saying enough is enough, this is a wound that is raw in the hearts and minds of most Indians me included and so my response might sound a little harsh or ballistic. But that is the way most of us currently feel and it should not be held against us.

I agree with you that a lot of funding for global terrorism is from middle eastern oil money. Also fact is that funding is the lifeline of all activity and the best way to stop any activity is to cut off its funding. Point taken fully. But in a scenario like today, cars two wheelers airplanes and any other form of transport is a necessary evil. In this day and age of globalization and rapid change it is foolish to say people should stop travelling or commuting just so that the USA can achieve its aim of bringing the Saudi's to their knees. Alternate fuels are slowly emerging as viable options to oil guzzling means of transport, but they are light years away from fully replacing oil. Let us admit it not matter how much we may dislike doing so, OIL IS AND WILL REMAIN ONE OF THE CORE AND MOST IMPORTANT REQUIREMENTS FOR ANY COUNTRY THAT WANTS TO HAVE ANY KIND OF GROWTH.

The world is aware of the fact that the gulf war was more about oil and not about nuclear weapons or about the now famous "Weapons of Mass Destruction" none of which were even glimpsed in Iraq. Everyone now knows that while Bush and his thugs did not find a single weapon of mass destruction, what they did find and find in large quantities and take full control of was the oil wells which was anyways his main reason to plunge his country and a large part of the world into a mindless war that still seems to have no end whatsoever. Why is America making so much noise about reducing oil consumption now???? when it has been the world's highest consumer of oil all these years. Just because the US has become a developed economy by mindlessly consuming oil, it is now trying to preach reduction in oil consumption to the world???

Let's be honest, the US is reducing oil consumption more because it is unable to afford oil thanks to the recent financial crisis caused by greedy american financial institutions which has left the man on the streets in the midst of one of the worst ever crises seen anywhere in the world. One is also aware of the oil reserves in US and Canada which are being preserved for use when the middle east resources dry up. So one way or the other some one is looking to benefit from oil and its rampant use.

The same frustration and demand for change that is reflected in my email is also what drove the change in the US and brought Barack Obama to power, and there is no need for me to highlight all the factors and the firsts associated with his election.

While reduction in oil consumption and cutting of Saudi money flows are the long term ways to meet some of the global challenges, what my friends are asking for in the email (this was an e-mail asking for more action by the Indian government in response to the Mumbai attacks) are more immediate term solutions. The political scenario in India and the lack of political will to do anything positive for the citizen of the country are the issues that every Indian wants to see addressed immediately. The man speweing verbal garbage and screwing the common Indian on the streets to improve himself and his ilk who claims to be a leader of the masses has to be sent only one message and that is "India has had enough, and Indians are not going to take any more nonsense lying down" This message has to be made loud and clear and whatever change is required to improve the lives of common Indians will have to be brought about. To this extent we will send out as many emails and messages as may be required, and we would appreciate any and every kind of help from any corner, even if it means merely forwarding such emails to as many people as possible.

Once we are able to bring in the necessary change and have the right people at the helm, then all the long term solutions that you are proposing will get noticed and implemented themselves. To that extent running a country is no different from running a business corporation. Get the right people for the right jobs and the company will run smoothly and grow by itself. Its not rocket science and India is now discovering that fact. Let us hope and pray for the sake of this nation and its people that the desired change comes up sooner rather than later.

Once again my apologies if I sound very drastic or ballistic about this issue, but that is exactly how I fell about it. I would be more than happy if you want to post my response in full (preferably) on your blog and I will be interested in the responses that it draws as well.

Warm Regards

Manoj Barai

Well, Manoj has no reason to be apologetic - energetic debate is something that simply needs to come on this blog as it does on some of my articles elsewhere. My response to the above is simple:

1. The economic situation is not as bad as some think, especially across sectors. Some sectors are doing well in business over here despite the mess on Wall Street and in the Housing industry. For example, while the Detroit Three are doing badly, there are 16 other companies manufacturing cars quite profitably.

2. The consumption of oil has fallen not just because some people have been hit hard by the recession but because Americans, in my opinion, are consciously driving less than they used to. This is on environmental grounds, because people are keen on not polluting the air around them and because many Americans have realised the pleasures of being witht heir families again in my opinion. And, if I got a penny for every time someone told me that they did not want their money going to the Saudis, I would make Bill Gates look like a pauper. I guess these views are common in the educational sector where I am involved full-time. But I hear these views increasingly all over the place.

3. India which has always been one of the biggest victims of Saudi sponsored terrorism is, sadly, among the world's biggest oil buyers these days. The stupidity of this approach is something that I cannot understand - in Norway, the Tatas sell electric cars to compete with Thinks. Tata BP Solar, for example, sells solar powered street lighting to countries like Afghanistan and across Africa under UN aid programs. No Indian city bothers to use these for reasons that only they know. And take the warm and sunny Indian weather - if there were a single country that was perfect for harnessing solar power on a mega scale, it is India. Vast government buildings, schools, colleges and universities etc not to mention mega-malls are all places where the newer thin film photovoltaic technology would make a heck of a lot of sense especially these days when power shortages are killing the retail sector. Somehow, Indian businessmen seem content to sit on their haunches and not do squat about something that would make them money. And the politicians and bureaucrats, the worst of the bums that populate the country, have even less of an idea what to do even though the tech is available and blogs like Treehugger, Green Daily, Autoblog Green etc work at a feverish pace highlighting advancements in this sector day by day

4. I still maintain that if the Arab madmen whose only desire is to spread murder and mayhem are to be brought to heel, the only way is to drastically reduce consumption of their oil. I know that several construction projects across the Middle East have been hit hard by the drop in oil prices from $ 140 plus a barrel to around $ 50. If even a further fifth of oil consumption were reduced - a very real possibility if large nations like India decide to do something pro-actively - they would, quite likely, implode. China is working hard to do this. India needs to catch up.

I would appreciate responses from my many friends who read this blog and comment to me privately to please respond either here or in e-mails to me. I hope you give me permission to post your responses here. This is a topic that I hope to popularize and push forward as I think it is important that we have a national debate on energy especially in India like the USA has thanks to the Pickens Plan. Do write in and have a wonderful day!

British Lawyer Proposes International environmental Courts

While International Courts do not have the clout to execute several of the decisions that they give judgement upon, they are an invaluable forum for highlighting sins of omission and commission by individuals, organisations and governments. Treehugger has this very interesting piece about an International Environmental Court proposed by a British lawyer at:

While they admit, themselves, that some prominent recent legal environmental action has not gone anywhere, I think this is a superb idea from a moral perspective. Pollution hurts people across national borders - there has to be a beginning somewhere to show polluters and those otherwise harming the environment that they are wrong. Many religious and secular groups have taken environmental issues on - in recent US elections, the torch for environmentalism has been carried quite strongly by evangelical Christian groups in recent months. It would not hurt, then, to have a legal dimension to this by having an international environmental court. Hopefully, in time, this could set an example and help the world's antions build their own environmental justice systems.

Berlin Electric Vehicle Conference on

As one of the world's leading centers for engineering and for building advanced cars, Germany is, surprisingly, somewhat of a new entrant to electric car design. But excellence is helping the Germans get ahead where they came in somewhat late as this detailed post on the BErlin Electric Vehicle Conference from Pege shows:

The blogger is a committed enthusiast as far as green technologies are concerned and other articles on his blog as well as links from his blog are well worth reading and enjoying just to see the possibilities that exist in automobiles, building technologies etc.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

43% of Spanish electricity Demand Met by Wind

I have to admit that with each passing day, my addiction to Treehugger becomes stronger. How else could it be when I am a renewable energy nut and the guys there keep collecting and putting out some incredible information with a dedication that can only come from the truly committed? Well, here's a part of the reason why - what would warm someone's heart more than the knowledge that an advanced European nation has managed to generate a little less than half of its electricity demand from wind energy:

Now that Spain's Iberdrola are active in planning projects in the USA, I hope they would use this information to convince the many skeptics who are out there about wind energy and what it could do. Granted that the USA's power needs per capita may be higher than Spain's, there is still no reason why wind energy should not support vastly more homes and businesses than it already does.

Thanks, Treehugger for showing that this is being done. And thanks, Spain, for leading by example!

Los Angeles Announces the World's Biggest Solar Plan

Hate some of the silly Commiefornia laws as much as I do, Los Angeles is a city that I love, some of its suburbs being my favorite places on earth. Pasadena is, in my personal opinion, as close to a paradise as any place gets on earth. Yes, it is polluted but it is also a city that is trying its best to overcome this. Ecogeek has an entry on its blog about this proposal: Once this plan is achieved, the city would get 10% of its electricity from the sun.

Hat's off to Mayor Villaigrosa (I hope I spelled his name right) and here's to hoping that mayors everywhere follow his superb example!

Some Bad News from The New York Times - and Some Good

Today's New York Times speaks about some bad, possibly dire news - the slump in coal and oil prices may mean that countries that were poised to go on the offensive to clean up their air and water may not do so because of prevailing economic conditions:

It is this blog's argument that that would be a grievous mistake. When the prices of coal and oil are down, so are the prices of other commodities. And that is why, this is the right time to focus on clean energy.

On a more positive note, there is a new trend towards Green Nightclubs - a positive idea in every way:


Friday, November 21, 2008

Autocar Reviews the Think Electric Car and Likes It

It is always interesting when a mainstream magazine reviews an alternative energy product. You never know what the results will be, though, if the magazine is a reputable one, the results will be fair. And that is exactly what has happened here:

Yes, the Think is expensive and the running costs are likely to be high as well because of the fact that you have to lease the batteries. But it is a remarkable achievement and I do think that those who wish to make a statement would do well to buy this instead of a gas guzzling and polluting Ferrari. Yes, a number of Hollywood and Wall Street types have done this with Priuses - the Think pollutes even less and I hope that they launch them soon. The publicity that these cars receive would make the development of electric vehicles race ahead and show fossil fuel the fist.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Piracy and the Danger to Fossil Fuel Supplies

Over the past few weeks the dangers that the world faces from piracy have been more and more apparent. At first, a Ukrainian ship carrying a number of Main Battle Tanks was taken by Somali pirates. Then came one successful engagement by the Indian navy with the pirates where they drove some of these thugs off, immediately followed by the taking of a ship with mainly Indian crew who seem to have been released following the payment of a substantial ransom. In fact, over 70 ships seem to have been taken in recent weeks by the same thieves who seem to operate with impunity in the region.

Now comes the most audacious act of these pirates, the taking of the Saudi oil tanker, the Sirius Star owned by the huge Saudi Aramco business. The tanker is reputed to be carrying crude oil worth $ 100 million at today's low prices, still an enormous amount of money by any standards you may want to use. From the raison d'etre of this blog, there is an argument to be made against fossil fuels using the hijacking of this tanker as an example. If frustrated, the pirates could do what Saddam Hussein did when he set the Kuwaiti oilfields ablaze - set this tanker ablaze. Or, they could damage the vessel and dump crude in the sea causing a major ecological disaster like Saddam did, again, when his army was driven from Kuwait and he wanted to render the Kuwaiti water desalination facilities unusable. These are all pointers to the risks that arise solely from using fossil fuels in an increasingly dangerous world. The situation in Somalia, therefore, is one more reason why this filthy fuel, oil, and its family in coal need to be done away with the world over.

There is too much at stake to continue to use this trash anymore.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shame on India!

It is a shame that a farmer who protested the dumping of waste on his property was murdered by the owners of a sugar mill in India. The Government of India needs to investigate this case and throw the book at the criminals concerned. The sad news comes courtesy of Treehugger:

Challa Krishnamurthy is a martyr. My hat's of to him.

Free Green Building E-Book

Green Daily has this post which would make for interesting reading for everyone interested in Green Building: Go ahead and download the book if you;re interested. The company offering this book are called Treehugger Consulting. Not sure if this is anything to do with another of my favorite Green News websites, Treehugger. In any case, if you're here, then you're a treehugger and you want the book from these guys.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Pickens Plan Flounders

Forbes and the Wall Street Journal have been warning about this and the green blogs have been discussing this as well for some time now. This morning's New York Times carries a piece that shows where Boone has hit a rock: This is unfortunate, to say the least, and this blog did talk about OPEC lowering the price of crude to kill the plan. Hopefully, Boone will continue to plug ahead and actually sell electric cars etc and gain something from the publicity that he has achieved so far. If he really has any intention of making money and helping the environment, he would certainly do something in this direction.

Let's see what steps he takes in the days ahead. Actions speak louder than words.

Cutting Edge Electric Motorcycle Tech on Treehugger

If you are a motorcycle buff like I am, just check this page out on Treehugger:

There's something on it to warm the hearts of every motorcyclist and environment-geek. And, since I know you're with me, that last term is used with extreme affection.


Monday, November 10, 2008

A Post on the Comments Page at The New York Times

This blog's raison d'etre, I need to reming visitors here, is to wean us off fossil fuels for more than one reason. Some of these are environmental and others because oil feeds some of the worst tyrannies around the world. I keep hoping that we find a substitute for oil to beat both these major problems. This is why I posted this COmment on the New York Times' website today. If visitors here feel the way I do, I would request them to do the same whenever they can. We need to raise awareness if we are to make a difference.

November 10, 2008 8:02 am
There is no doubt that the moment the US armed forces withdraw from Iraq, the Iranians would step up their attempts to gain as much control within Iraq as possible. The prize is too great - Iran has no refineries other than one in Chennai, India, while Iraq has three. There is also the matter of Iraq's huge oil reserves which are extremely valuable.But, a solution to this potential blackmail with oil reserves by Iran could be staved off if the USA were to focus on other forms of energy - pebble bed nuclear power and renewable energy and also sell the technology and equipment to generate renewable power to the rest of the world. That would make Iran's coming seizure of Iraq's oil reserves and infrastructure worth a lot less than it potentially is in an oil-driven world, lead to increased business for US companies which lead the world in R&D and in production capabilities in renewable energy and help in keeping the environment on the planet clean.A serious look at this alternate direction to energy policy could help not just the USA but the world while minimizing Iran's threat to the world in a significant way. Let us hope that Washington understands this and that it communicates this vision to American business and gets it to move ahead faster in this direction.
— Mehul Kamdar, Des Plaines, IL

Maldives Out to Buy Land in Case the Country Disappears under Rising Seas

In a sad investment for the future, the Government of the Maldives has begun looking for land to buy as rising seas threaten to destroy the islands. The people living in this idyllic republic would have no choice but to move elsewhere and Global Warming - whatever its causes - is the cause of this enormous disruption. I have several personal friends from that aprt of the world as well as friends of my family in business and government and this is really sad news. Not quite related to renewable Energy, but indicative of why the world needs to get working on using lesser fossil fuels asap.

The article from The Telegraph can be accessed here:

Dutch Build Artificial Island to Supply Green Power when Wind Drops

There is an excellent piece in The Times about a Dutch project to supply hydroelectric power generated at an artificial island of their country's coast to support power supply when winds drop, the single biggest problem confronting wind power generation. The Dutch government is investing Euro 3.5 billion in the project and is confident that it would be profitable. Very interesting idea though I am not sure if it could be applied in places which are not as technologically advanced as the Netherlands. I will be watching this development. The article link is:

The Dutch company behind this project is:

All power to them!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Businessweek Speculates on the Future Demand for Solar Homes

It is interesting how a combination of ideology, tax breaks and the possibility of blackouts have been driving more and more people to add solar roofs to their homes in several parts of the USA. Businessweek has a nice article that explores the costs involved and the other related issues that would affect the cost specifically at:

As far as South Asia is concerned, the issues would be completely different, though. Severe power shortages would make solar roofs more a matter of getting power reliably without having to depend upon the miserable government utilities than an issue of ideology or whatever. That they would reduce the amount of electricity consumed from filthy coal fired powerplants would be a huge plus, though. I wish some Indian business newspaper or magazine would do something about this in an Indian context. I am sure there would be more than a little interest. My guess is that thiswill happen - I do hear from people who want this kind of information and, soon, some savvy Indian publisher / editor is going to realise that this demand exists and start offering news to satisfy his readership.


Canadian Farmers Ship Grain on Sailships

I had read somewhere about French wine-makers shipping their wines to the UK on sailships. Now, Canadian grain farmers in British Columbia (one of the most beautiful places in the world) have begun shipping grain on sailships. Treehugger has the article at:

I seriously wonder if India, Sri Lanka etc could use this example to ship tea on old style tea clippers like in centuries past? Tha Tatas who are easily among the biggest tea producers are a company who have taken some pains to look at environment-friendly solutions with electric and air cars under development. Perhaps they could ship Tetley teas on sailships and reduce their carbon footprint? I am sure that if someone took this idea to them, they would consider it at the very least.

Riverside Communities in the UK Generate Small Hydro Power

An excellent article in The Telegraph talks about a small textile town which has creatively used an old textile mill to set up a small hydropower unit and power the town while selling electricity through the national grid. The initial, small investment by the townsfolk has drawn nice dividends and they plan on expanding the project further. The point here is that there are several similar paper and textile towns in Wisconsin, Southern Illinois and further Northeast in COnnecticut etc with very similar facilities. I wonder when some American businessmen would realise that there is an opportunity to make money over here? And, in India, some states like Kerala have several similar locations which could be used, though, of course, they would need to find some way to get the Communists on board. Those vermin would not want any progress, would they? They need a lousy state of affairs in order to justify their miserable existence.

Check out the link to the small hydropower project on The Telegraph's website at:

The Telegraph also has a nice Eco Homes Page at: There are several ideas here which could be used by anyone who is interested in this kind of thing.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Another Superb Blog - From Austria This Time

I have linked to a German blog with their permission. These are guys who use their historical engineering traditions to build some incredibly sensible products in the automotive and housing sectors. Do check their blog out. There is always something to learn over there.

My particular favorite invention is an exercise machine that drives a heat pump which you can use to make either a cup of hot coffee or to chill a tankard of beer for the effort that you put in. If you don;t feel like having a drink after exercise, of course, you can always have a protein milk shake or some other health drink, I guess.

I used to think of engineers as serious people who concentrated on technical stuff, but this site is run by someone with an amazing sense of humor. Don't give the site a miss. It is brilliant.


A Nice Forum for Those Interested in Electric Motorcycles

The owner of this forum posted on this blog some time ago and I have been visiting his forum but registered only recently. It is a lovely forum and he does take care to get information about electric motorcycles and the state of the art around the world. Anyone interested is welcome to register free at and participate in the discussions there and learn more.

My thanks to the forum for inviting me. I hope to be a regular visitor there and hope to invite friends who visit here to participate on this great forum too.


Forbes Warns of a Solar Industry Shakeout

I enjoy Forbes and Businessweek and subscribe to both. It is always good to see hard-nosed business magazines take a look at renewable energy because they have the experience to evaluate this field better than mere idealists. So, when Forbes warns of a coming shakeout in the Solar Sector, there is a need to be wary:

Personally, my feeling is that US companies in this sector need to get their heads out of their posteriors and look at South Asia to sell their products. They have funding available from the Exim Bank and there is a large market especially in South Asia. Somehow, they have not bothered to do anything seriously so far. They need to focus on places where people have some money and where they need these products. I wish they gain that bit of common sense and act.

I hate coming here every time to be a bit of a pessimist, but, unfortunately, I can see no other way considering how things are going.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Diesel Motorcycles Used by the US Armed Forces

Sometimes, something as simle as a search on Ixquick or Google throws up information that is very interesting and not, quite, accessible anywhere else. While several experimental diesel motorcycles were built on the Enfield Bullet frame in the past, that will not happen in the future because the new Bullet motorcycles have a unitary engine and gearbox design. Diesel engines are significantly more fuel efficient than gasoline and the US armed forces, apparently, have been buying a diesel motorcycle which looks very interesting to me. The manufacturer's website is: and their bikes look very interesting. I would love to ride them and check them out, but their civilian model is not going to be produced for some time because of military orders.

This is an interesting design and perhaps some Indian company like Enfield India or TVS could look at these bikes and try to offer them there. They would be a darn sight better than the antiquated Bullets being sold there even in the current modernized form. Let's see if these guys exhibit at the Chicago motorcycle show in Feb. In the meantime, here's wishing them the very best of luck. Good ideas should succeed!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Electric Supercar manufacturer Open R&D Center in Bangalore

Hybrid Technologies who manufacture an amazing looking electric sportscar , the LiV Rush, have opened a research and development center in Bangalore, India. The company is clear that this is to tap the "vast knowledge pool of India's engineers." I can only say my hat's off to them! Hopefully, they will sell their supercar in India too and show the old tech soot belcher manufacturers what it is to build an amazingly quiet and powerful car that looks beautiful and goes like a scalded cat. With a 200 mile / 320 Km range, the car should do some serious distance work as well.

Check this $ 100,000 / In Rs 45 Lakh approx beauty out at:

Don't you want one?

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Future of Car Racing comes to Montreal

As someone who has been following Formula 1 since the late 1970s, I have lately grown bored with the sport and with the shenanigans of its organizers. And the dropping viewership has been telling - no one wants to watch a pathetic parade, which is what F-1 is these days. And the focus on dumbing the sport down is likely to hurt it further. It is a good thing, IMO, as the bandicoots who dominate the sport would find themselves kicked in the groin shortly and consigned to the dustbin of history. And there comes the possible beginning of a new, more relevant and interesting sport if a proposal coming from Montreal is to be considered: Autoblog Green reports that Montreal, knocked off the Grand Prix calendar despite having been loyal to the sport, is planning an electric car endurance race. Link:

This is likely to be a tough sport to organise but I do hope that our good friends aacross the border would be able to do it, and thus, herald the beginning of a new era in motorsport. I can see visions of the Mile Miglia and other famous old endurance races being revived for electric cars if this goes off well. Oh, be still, my feeble heart!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Save the Environment and Get Drunk With Joy!

I must confess that I haven't had a beer in months - well, make it in three months now and I didn't have one for six months before that. And I haven't been mixing cocktails, having one or another of the lovely wines that I have collected over the past four years and so on . . . But here's an invention that would help if I wanted to have a beer or a cup of hot coffe and feel really good about working out as well: from Treehugger again. You have to hand it to these guys for their hard work in digging out the most amazing stuff!

Good buddy Niro has been talking about workout equipment that uses the energy that people burn to good use - maybe she could start with marketing stuff like this in her country. I am sure that there are many more places where this stuff would sell if the designers began marketing it seriously. Good luck to them!

Monitoring Your Energy Usage at Home and at Work

Somehow, I didn't get around to posting this for reasons of sheer laziness and nothing else - It took an entry on Treehugger to remind me that there is a very simple way people can figure out how much energy they use at home, and now, at work as well and how to reduce its consumption:

Consider that the original Energy Star @ Home and the new Energy Star @ Work programs were initiated by the Federal Government and you know that not all government departments are a dollar black hole. These guys need to be saluted for their good work!

Edit: Another government initiative from Switzerland and brought by Treehugger again: This one suggests something that I used very actively when I worked in the past - video conferencing. Saving on energy use in transportation is a big part of showing Fossil Fuel the Fist. Nice, very nice!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New Home Wind Turbine Design

Treehugger has this interestiung new design of Wind Turbine at: Apparently it can generate 2000 kwhs of electricity at low or high wind speeds in a year - that should be enough to power a single home in South Asia. The Swift Wind Energy website is:

Again, I hope that these guys will try and sell abroad. Exim Bank funds, guys! Even in the worst market, the Federal Government is ready to support your business. Forget about dealing with private banks!

T Boone Pickens gets it in the Solar Plexus

Green Daily has a detailed post on how cheap oil has affected T Boone Pickens' "Pickens Plan." The link is here: Boone would have to have been stupid to think that the Arabs would not try to drown him. I still think that he could get his own back if he were to use his very significant fortune to push the sale of renewable energy equipment abroad, using US Exim Bank funds to do this. I do know that Pakistan is looking seriously at importing large wind turbines, both on and offshore, and that India and Sri Lanka are likely to look for Solar Thermal Powerplants soon. If Boone were to sell these, he would push the price of oil and other fossil fuels like coal down even further, hurting the people out to drown him. He could also sell very highly fuel efficient vehicles like the Aptera cars and the Norwegian Think electric city cars in Texas and other parts of the USA - there are people who will buy these and who have the money to buy environment friendly vehicles. He could also promote environment-friendly housing and retrofit solar panels, for example, on existing homes.

Will he do this? I am not sure if he will . . . Let's hope that he does because that is the only way he could keep his plan from collapsing and ending up as yet another forgotten experiment, albeit one that was good intentioned.

Edit: Treehugger says that the publicity generated by the Pickens Plan seems to be working as far as creating awareness is concerned: Now, how about capitalizing on it, Boone, by selling more environment-friendly stuff? Huh? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink . . .

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Ultimate Gobar Gas Plant?

Vermont is probably the most beautiful state in the miserable American Northeast. I can't stand New York and I despise the fascists who rule over most of that region. However, Vermont, as I said, is different. Green and clean and with beautiful mountains and more . . . Turns out that they also have a very advanced system of using cowdung to generate electricity. I remember the push that India tried to make in the 1970s in trying to promote gobar gas, failing miserably like every government initiative in the country has. Perhaps, the Indian government needs to talk to private industry or encourage farm co-operatives to take something like this up. With the world's largest cattle population in the country, there would be enough dung to generate a lot of power. . .

Check out:

Thanks, Treehugger!

A Simple Solution for India's Soot Belching Buses and Trucks

Treehugger has this entry about a device that has been making waves in green circles over here: The thing looks simple enough: a filter that traps pollutants emitted by vehicle exhausts. While the designs on this page are meant for extremely clean California Spec cars, there is no reason why bigger ones could not be manufactured and mounted on the filthy trucks and buses that run all over India poisoning the air. Yes, the filters would also have to be changed more often in India, but, on the whole, this would be a good product to use there. Now, is there any way to make Ashok Leyland, Tata and others look at this? Anybody know?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Interesting Rooftop Wind Energy Kits for You Homebrewers

Just found this very interesting website through the Pickens Plan: I have linked to the blog on my profile page, so you guys who would like to visit it from time to time to check ideas out and respond to them, could check it out there. It is an interesting site especially for those who would like to try some home-brewing and build their own wind energy generators.

Do let the site owner know if you try something and, of course, send me pics if you do build something so that I may post about your work over here.


Solar Roof Tiles that Blend In with Non Solar Ones

Treehugger has this entry about a product that needs a close look at - roof tiles that blend in with your regular ones but which are actually solar photovoltaic tiles which would power your home: The design is lovely and I could see a huge market for them if they would sell their products, for example, in India, Sri Lanka etc. I guess the company will have its marketing department busy selling these in the USA itself - hope they do well enough to move abroad and aggressively! Check their website out at: Their other products like Solar Architectural Glass etc also look superb. Great work, guys!

A Change in Direction

I had to do this - no idea why I didn't earlier. I guess I AM lazy and this is a better way to get visitors here to check out the other blogs that I get a lot of superb information from. Today, I just linked to the other blogs: Treehugger, Greendaily, Ecogeek, Autobloggreen etc that I get information from. Of course, when I find something particularly interesting, I shall post a link to it on one of my posts. But, otherwise, visitors will be able to check out these superb blogs themselves. The guys who run those blogs put in a lot of really hard work - there is no reason for me to not acknowledge it. By linking to them, I have made this blog a hat off to them for their hard work.

Do check their blogs out if you have time. And, if you don't, the best news (IMHO of course) will definitely be highlighted here.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Now How About Putting These Up on our Beaches?

Ecogeek talks about a Solar Thermal system that could be built using recycled plastic and used anywhere where there is access to sunlight: I could see these on the more remote beaches across India's coast connecting to the major grids and carrying cheap and clean electricity to homes across the country. But how does anyone get the politicians in charge to see this? Giving free television sets away to win elections is their way in India . . .

A Website That Could Help Everyone Save Fuel

Green Daily directed me to this website: Some of the tips in it are known to most drivers (who mostly ignore them anyway) but others are new and worth trying out even if gas prices are falling these days as the Saudis keep trying to gouge the rest of the world with temptingly lower prices even through a depression. Since this blog is about showing fossil fuel the fist, the site just has to be mentioned here.

For friends in Asia and Europe: Please multiply by 1.6 to convert miles to kilometers.

Accidental Harvard Discovery Has Implication for Solar Photovoltaics

Treehugger again: Sometimes, good things happen by accident. Harvard scientists seem to have made a serendipitous discovery in "black silicon" which could make solar photovoltaic cells several times more efficient than they are at the moment. As the technology to make solar power more efficient and cost effective advances rapidly, I do hope that we shall show fossil fuel the fist asap.

Here's hoping for the best!

Reviving an Ancient Idea with a High-Tech Twist

Treehugger has this piece about a new twist on the ancient Persian technology of windcatchers at: From what I can see, this could be a superb addition to every new skyscraper that is being built, and even for the taller buildings that are coming up in India's overcrowded metros and secondary cities like Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad. I shall keep an eye on this technology and post about it as I hear more.

Watch this space!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

New Rooftop Solar Panels

Treehugger has this post about an exciting new type of rooftop solar panel: While talking a few days ago to a professor at one of India's most prominent colleges, I learned that they had been suffering from severe power shortages that have caused untold problems especially as the colleges is located in one of the hottest parts of the country. Imagine poor young kids sweating buckets and trying to study at the same time . . . Now, the various colleges and universities in India are huge places with massive buildings housing thousands of students at a time. It would be easy for these universities to line their roofs with solar cells and save power while running classroom fans to make life more comfortable for their students. If the universities and community colleges have extra money, they could also install Vertical Axis Wind Turbines at vintage points along their campuses. It would be a superb way of promoting green power and also of teaching students the advantages of green energy. Just think of the quality of future students who would grow up and gain their education with exposure to green energy. I can certainly see a great future ahead.

Sadly, even the Indian Institutes of Technology which are among the most advanced engineering colleges in the world, do not have anything of the sort.

Now, do you understand my frustration over what goes on in India?

Britain Plans Wind Turbines Along Canal Banks

Treehugger has this very interesting piece:

Now when is India going to think about something similar in Kerala? That is one of the most power-deprived states in the country, and one of the most picturesque as well. I can also see something similar along the banks of the huge rivers that flow through several parts of India, if the government decides to do something serious. Kolkata has huge power problems and the Hooghly could see these turbines along its banks feeding the city. Ditto for Varanasi and the Ganges. In Karnataka there is the Cauvery. The Punjab has its huge rivers. The possibilities are endless if you ask me, in a country that is already doing well in some pockets as far as wind power is concerned. Perhaps, if these wind turbines were coupled with tide powered ones, the many small communities along river banks would find their power needs fulfilled locally and without costly and inefficient power lines from fossil fuel plants located far away. How about that?

India Ships Its Biodiesel Raw Material Abroad

Think of the stupidity of it all - a country that bleeds from being ripped off (like most of the rest of the world, I may add) by oil producers, embarks upon the growing of a biodiesel crop - jatropha - and then finds that it has no blending facilities to use this fuel itself and shipss it abroad. Treehugger has a piece on this monumental stupidity in India: Would that the chowderheads in New Delhi think seriously about investing in one or another of the government owned refineries to keep the country from bleeding . . .

The US Army Slashes its Energy Bills With Solar Power

Green Daily has this entry about how the US Army plans to use a solar thermal energy powerplant to slash its snergy costs:

I wonder when India would follow suit? I can;t afford to be too optimistic as there are self-styled "experts" there who rant about the cost of solar photovoltaics while they are totally ignorant of the existence of solar thermal energy and of the fast developing field of thin film solar cells.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sent An Unsolicited E-Mail to a VC Firm - Not Sure What Would Come of it

As all my friends who check my blog out know, I do want desperately to be able to sell some of the products that I post about here in South Asia. I have introduced a company here to a state government in India and they are talking about their products there. I hope to work with more companies - there is a heavy demand for several energy saving and renewable energy generating devices in that part of the world and I hope that a major VC business would do something somewhat different - fund a marketing project especially focused on India. There is a reason for this: The US Exim Bank offers Export Credits worth $ 2 billion for exports to India alone. And, India is a country that is fond og high-tech and increasingly aware of the problems of severe pollution and of expensive energy costs. It is also a country where power shortages hurt people across the country for 5 to 12 hours in every 24 hour period. The government of India, socialist as always, keeps trying to get people to participate in ridiculous Build, Own and Operate programs asking them to build fossil-fuel based mega powerplants. No one is going to bite after the Dabhol Power Company debacle. The best alternative would be to decentralize and offer renewable home power systems.

Some states in India have already mandated the use of solar powered water heaters for all new homes. But this is simply not enough. Most new homes use inverters to store emergency power which they draw from India's horrendously inefficient power grid. There is a compelling demand for products that would convert solar energy through advanced photocoltaics that are roof-mounted or from small-wind turbines to power homes through long power-free hours. If someone were to finance the marketing of these products in India, there wouldc ertainly be profits to realize from this business. A simple import and redistribution network could be set up to sell a number of these products, and, with proper marketing especially through FM Radio and the print and television media should, simply speaking, work.

I wrote to a large Venture Capital company two days ago with a tentative question asking if they would be interested in financing a marketing business for renewable energy devices in India. To be honest, I have no idea what this will lead to. I am bracing myself for a simple rejection form letter so that, if something even mildly positive comes in response, it would be something that would surprise me positively. The company in question funds several green products but I don't know if they would like to fund a business that sells these and other products. I hope that they would see the importance in marketing these products through smeone who knows how to sell something, who understands the problems in the market that he talks about, and who has been keeping an eye on government financing available in the USA for this kind of business through the Exim Bank.

If I do not get any communication from them for the next three weeks, I shall post the mail that I sent them over here. If they do reply and tell me that they are not interested in this business, I shall let the correspondence die and then send a modified proposal (incorporating any of the exciting new developments that come up in the next three weeks) to another VC. I do not plan to be disheartened by rejections - they are a way of life and I hope to persevere through them. At the moment, as my friends know, I am an adult student at a superb university here and I have to concentrate on keeping my grades up even while I work on something that I would do come January.

Please watch this space!

A Lovely Electric Delivery Van That Will be Built in Europe Soon

Autoblog Green has some happy news about the Quicc delivery van which is going to be built by Karmann of Germany soon: Karmann is a coachbuilder with an immense reputation and this should turn out to be an amazingly well made product. Not sure what the price would be like, though, but technology of this kind should save money over the long term for whoever buys these vans. In the meantime, check out the Quicc company's website at

Now, this is becoming a regular hope, but will we see these vans in the USA? I hope that we will, but I am not optimistic.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Two Very Interesting Electric Vehicle Websites

Continuing on the theme of Electric Vehicles, there are two websites here that may interest those who like the idea of green transport: Green Car: They also have a print magazine that I shall try to read a copy of at my local library before I subscribe to it and EV World: The latter has been around since 1998 though I cannot recall having heard about it or seen a copy at Barnes and Noble or Borders. Hopefully, more people would read both these magazines, or, at least visit their websites. As someone who struggled to bring a specialty medical technology journal to market a long time ago (my crowning achievement, as fr as I can brag about the things that I did in the past) I know how difficult it is to get something like these magazines up and running. Good luck, guys! I hope that you succeed!

Top Ten Electric Cars You Can Buy Today

I know that this post from Auto Blog Green is somewhat dated, but that does not make it any less relevant: While I would not agree that the Reva G-Wiz is all that desirable because of its safety flaws (though it would be a superb little thing to use on golf courses and in large gated communities for driving around without getting out onto the roads) the list is interesting to say the least. The companies here have a lot going against them, especially with the Saudis extracting crude well over the OPEC limits in order to keep prices down and the rest of the world poor, but I am hopeful that more wind, geothermal etc powered electricity would be used to make more of these electrical vehicles viable.

My hat's off to these guys. May they succeed!

PS When I was a boy, I was crazy about old cars from companies that no longer existed - my father owned a Triumph convertible, and friends and relatives had vehicles like Humbers, Riley-Morris cars, Hupmobiles, Kaisers, Buicks, Stuedebakers, etc. I was born too late to see these cars duke it out for market share in the early years of the fossil-fuel automobile. I can happily say, now, that this era is, possibly, repeating itself albeit with electric cars replacing the dirty fuel ones. I hope that I live long enough to see electrid cars succeed dirty fuel ones - that would make me die a happy man!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Different Kind of Green Tea

This might be something that the big tea producers in India might want to look at - Tata, are you listening? Green Daily has this bit about Traditional Medicinals, a California based business who have bought enough solar panels to power 75% of their tea processing plant: They plan, off course, to go entirely off-grid and convert it to 100% solar power in the very near future.

I think this would also be a good idea for others in this business in India including A V Thomas, Girnar, Kannan Devan etc. Considering how globally competitive the tea business has become, the sooner the Indians start portraying a green image as one more advantage that they can offer, the better it will be for them. Let's hope that this happens asap.

Wind Turbines Don't Harass Farm Birds - British Research

Treehugger is one of my favorite websites as those who visit here regularly know. And it has some good news based on solid research: Wind turbines do not harass or kill farm birds as some fossil fuel pimps suggest. The study in question did not study bird-turbine collisions but that should come soon. In any case, engineers have already started looking at making wind turbines more bird friendly and incorporating their designs in turbines that are being sold as this is being written.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Wind-Powered Outdoor Electric Light

I often hear people talk about those who are environmentally minded as serious, boring types. Well, I would like to invite some of these people to think again. Ecogeek had this post about a Wind-Powered Outdoor Light that looks like a work of art to me:

With Christmas coming, I think the Forewinder would be a lovely way of decorating homes with an environmentally friendly light. And, to my eye, it looks a darn sight better than many of the stereotypical lights that are used outside most peoples' homes to decorate their Christmas trees. The Firewinder company's website is: and I hope that they would expand their business to the USA in the future. Here's wishing them all the best!

Friday, September 26, 2008

New Wave Power Project in Portugal

Again, this takes me back to my old home town and its massive coast. Once renowned for its beautiful beaches, Chennai is now known for the stink from the shit that the city dumps in the sea. Those who run the place have never wondered about recycling their sewerage and using it to generate power. If they ever get their heads out of the filthy smelling air over there, they might want to look at this:

And then there is Ocean Power Technologies whom I have written about before: With something like $ 2 billion worth of US Exim Bank funds available for business in India, this could be a fantastic project for some entrepreneur to start.

Sadly, I am pessimistic about this ever happening.

Getting Drinking Water out of the Air

Having lived in a hot, humid and perenially water-starved seaside town for a long time, I wish something like this gadget: were more widely available. I am not sure if it is environment friendly in its operation, but it can;t be dirtier than the process of bringing drinking water to the city by rail as the Chennai MMWSSB (there's a fine Indian piece of crap bureaucratic name) has been doing for more than twenty years.

Let's see if this thing becomes popular in India's coastal cities . . .

An Industry That is Hiring Despite the Economic Mess

It is interesting to note that the Green Sector is hiring people not just in the USA but worldwide because nations are moving to environment-friendly ways of living. I hope this trend accelerates - this blog is called "Showing Fossil Fuel the Fist," after all. There are several advantages to investments in the Green Sector - jobs tend to remain local and a whole slew of new jobs are created as people hire technicians, mechanics, accountants, support staff etc to support this previously almost non-existent sector. There is a very interesting website: and I am planning to attend one of their job fairs at Palatine in the weeks to come.

I hope this sector grows much faster than it is. The world needs to see it flourish. May it do well!