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: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/11/spainish-wind-power-record-43-percent-electric-demand.php

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: http://www.ecogeek.org/content/view/2327/83/ 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: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/25/world/25climate.html?partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

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: http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/25/green-nightclub-trend-comes-to-new-york/


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: http://www.autocar.co.uk/CarReviews/FirstDrives/Think-City-30Kw/231721/

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: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/11/organic-farmer-murdered-killed-india.php

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: http://www.greendaily.com/2008/11/13/free-green-building-e-book/ 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: http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/12/pickens-delays-his-plan/ 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: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/11/electric-motorcycles-dirtbikes-7-cool-green.php

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: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/maldives/3413969/Maldives-saving-to-buy-new-homeland-in-face-of-climate-change.html

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: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article5119585.ece

The Dutch company behind this project is: http://www.kema.com/

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: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_44/b4106088155598.htm?chan=autos_real+estate+--+lifestyle+subindex+page_real+estate+news

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: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/11/grain-shipped-under-sail-reduces-carbon-footprint.php

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: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/main.jhtml?MLC=/property/eco&xml=/property/2008/11/04/phydro104.xml&CMP=ILC-mostviewedbox

The Telegraph also has a nice Eco Homes Page at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/main.jhtml?menuId=5446&menuItemId=-1&view=PICHEADLINESUMMARY2&grid=F7&targetRule=14 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 www.pege.org 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 www.electricmotorcycleforum.com 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: http://www.forbes.com/2008/11/05/solar-evergreen-china-pf-ii-in_jw_1105soapbox_inl.html

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: http://www.dieselmotorcycles.com/ 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: http://www.hybridtechnologies.com/products/cars/rush

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: http://www.autobloggreen.com/2008/11/02/could-montreal-replace-its-grand-prix-with-an-electric-car-endur/

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: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/10/pedal-to-cold-beer.php 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: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/10/energy-star-at-work.php

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: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/10/using-lca-to-promote-video-conferencing.php 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!