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.

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