Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fossil Fuels Were Shown the Fist in 2008 - Good News From a Dark Time

One of the Green Business websites that you can reach through the many links on this blog, Green Biz, has this heart-warming news as far as I am concerned: http://www.greenbiz.com/news/2009/03/26/renewable-energy-generation-climbs-2008-fossil-fuels-dip In 2008, non hydro-electric renewable power generation grew 17.6% while electricity generated from coal and natural gas declined. Overall electricity generation declined due to the economy, but, hey, if this trend continues through the present and into the future, we will breathe cleaner air.

While there are some skeptics who feel that Renewaable Energy will lose steam in the present and into the near future because of economic conditions worldwide, I personally think that the opposite is true. Many nations have understood that the old ways of wasteful spending and inefficiency are no longer viable. When large economies like the US and European ones grow only by 2 or 3% a year, the only way that they would be able to offer better lives to those living in these parts of the world would be by saving money. One way to do this would be to enhance efficiency - nothing can be more efficient than a system that uses local environmental factors like the wind, sunlight, wave power etc to generate the energy required by a nation. While some forms of renewable energy are currently expensive to exploit, the fact is that engineers like nothing better than a challenge. I do think, looking at the many blogs that I have been following like an addict, that there is some superb competition going on at various universities, in various companies and in garages around the world to build highly efficient clean gadgets for use in our day to day lives.

Those countries that manage to get an advanced foothold in these areas at this bleak economic time will be the ones most ready to do well when economic conditions improve. There are many vastly better informed people than I am who also believe this. And, in this, I am happy to be a member in an optimistic circle that is working to make things better in some small way.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Shower With an Electronic Cut-off

It had to come sometime - the process of switching taps (faucets in the USA) on and of using a light-dependant resistor has been around for a long time. Somehow, the concept was not extended to other products until now - Inhabitat talks about a Shower with an electronic cut-off at: http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/03/30/teenage-daughters-taking-too-long-in-the-shower-try-the-aqualim/ Designed by an Australian company, the technology that goes into this product is very simple and home brewers could actually make one of these at home if they wanted to. Hopefully, the concept will catch up in other parts of the world.

In the meantime, the Aqualim company has a stylish and very useful product for anyone who can't be bothered to build one him / herself and who wants to buy a readymade product with the warranties etc that this entails. Check out their website at: http://www.aqualim.com.au/Aqualim_Home.html

Texas Sets an Example for All of South Asia to Follow

The one thing that so-called "liberals" in the USA hate is the mention of Texas. The state reminds them of the former US President, never mind that it has invested much mroe in renewable energy - especially wind energy - than any other and that it continues to lead the way ahead. Now, we have a powerful new move by the Lone Star State to focus upon Solar Energy as this entry from Green Daily shows: http://www.greendaily.com/2009/03/29/texas-legislators-hope-to-initiate-solar-bonanza/

In this, lies a powerful example for the sun-drenched nations of South Asia. If the Texans know something well, it is the energy sector. The state has been a pioneer in the production of oil and it also leads in natural gas production both in the USA and outside this country. If the Texans start looking actively at solar power, then there is ample reason for other places with the same kind of exposure to sunlight to start doing this. In the end, this is the kind of development that could make the skies over South Asia cleaner and living there cheaper and more comfortable. Imagine not having to endure eight hours of power cuts a day.

Also check out the original New York Times piece on which the Green Daily entry is based: http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/25/texas-aims-for-solar-dominance/ I do wish one or another South Asian nation would have the same spirit.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Compressing Wind in Underground Caves to Generate Power

As yet another example of out of the box thinking, a number of businesses are coming up with different methods of storing power generated by wind. The most interesting of these (to me, at least) seems to be an American initiative in storing strong winds in underground caves and compressing them so that when let out, they could drive a turbine and generate power. The businessman promoting this project got his inspiration from the idea of the Air Car - time to feel proud India because the Tatas are busy working on this technology which they have licensed from its French inventor - and I hope that this would be replicated at other spots around the world. The Times link is: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article5992419.ece

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Why Electric Cars Can Do a Lot More Than Just Provide Clean Transportation

As friends who visit here know, I have been participating occasionally on the Pickens Plan group. One discussion that I started a long time ago has been particularly enlightening because of the fantastic amounts of information that experienced members there have come forward to post: http://push.pickensplan.com/forum/topics/2187034:Topic:1179199?page=1&commentId=2187034%3AComment%3A2003777&x=1#2187034Comment2003777

Just imagine - electric vehicles could be charged during off-peak hours on a wind powered grid and electricity that would otherwise have gone unused would be stored to do useful work later. Simple but very intelligent thinking by the poster on the thread. I love the Renewable Energy community for this simple reason - people with good ideas come forward to participate in intelligent discussions with an open-ness that is sometimes lacking in other fora.

If you;re not a member of the Pickens Plan, do sign up and check them out. They are doing some excellent work getting the word out about this very important area of activity in the USA.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Reusing the Heat from Your Shower - Another Brilliant Green Idea

You have to hand it to the engineers working to keep the world green and our homes and workplaces efficient at a mad pace these days. There is no other way the harm that is being caused to the environment due to our lifestyles could be kept in check. Enter a Canadian company that offers heat exchangers that reuse the heat from the hot water that you use for your shower and more - Inhabitat has this entry featuring their Ecodrain which can save water heating costs by upto 40% at: http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/03/23/the-ecodrain-cuts-water-heater-use-by-40/

Now if only the homes that used this system were powered by wind or solar power . . .

My hat's off to Ecodrain and thanks are due to Inhabitat for bringing this information to the world. Ecodrain's website is: http://www.ecodrain.ca/

After a Controversial Initial Model, Tesla Motors Launches an Electric Family Saloon Car

For a company that has sold less cars than the average car dealership anywhere in the world sells in a month, Tesla Motors has received an enormous amount of attention for its initial roadster offering. Widely praised for its acceleration and occasionally criticized for its price and the very short range that the car is capable of, battery technology not quite being what it needs to be to make it more capable, the company just unveiled a four door family car which costs less than the roadster and offers a better range, if they manage tog et the money to build the thing: http://www.autobloggreen.com/2009/03/26/tesla-model-s-50-000-ev-sedan-seats-seven-300-mile-range-0-6?icid=sphere_blogsmith_inpage_autobloggreen Autoblog Green, of course, is the site that I would choose to get news about something like this.

The car looks beautiful to my eyes and I do hope that they manage to build it. Not sure where the company will put it together, though - the roadster is basically a battery-powered Lotus Elise assembled to spec in the UK. Let's hope for the best - cars like these deserve to succeed if fossil fuels are to be shown the fist. Tesla Motors' website is: http://www.teslamotors.com/

Bullshit Being Fobbed Off as Genius

There are, occasionally, questionable stories that come up in the media especially when star-struck reporters and editors do not bother to check up on a story's antecedents. This happens most often with media outfits that promote a specific ideology, and, India's Communist newspaper, "The Hindu" seems to have fallen into this habit with this story: http://www.hindu.com/2009/03/28/stories/2009032854610700.htm

While I do not wish to slam some young kids for a fraud that has, almost certainly, been perpetrated by some crooked science teacher in their school, I wonder how difficult it would have been for The Hindu to figure out that such a design was mooted by an African NGO based on tribal designs that have been used to keep food fresh in that part of the world for centuries? Or that Treehugger had slammed an attempt by a US based business that wanted to patent this same idea in much the same way that this school wants to? Here is where Greenwashing is clearly at play with a liberal dose of BS piled on top by a newspaper out to prove a point. The sad bit is that there are many two bit Communists and jingoists in India who would cheer and applaud at this unfunny joke. A sad state of affairs to say the least!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

More Sailships Used to Deliver Goods

I have talked about how much I wish sailships were back again in the world these days and praised some French businesses that were delivering wines on tall ships. Turns out that now some US businesses are doing this as well. Bravo!

There is genuine potential to make sailships and delivering commodities on them highly profitable. Historically, tea clippers went faster than many steamships did and their top speeds are still what modern diesel powered ships struggle to keep up with. Just imagine delivering valuable cargo like tea, coffee, cocoa, precious stones, wines etc from Latin America, Asia and Africa to Western Europe and North America! I would love to see this happen - no spending on fuel ever and also additional profits on carbon offsets that could be sold by the sailship operators. As someone who grew up in a seaside town, this just fills my heart with joy! Check out the Green Daily link at: http://www.greendaily.com/2009/03/24/wind-powered-delivery/

Friday, March 20, 2009

British Wind Power Company Works on Advanced Electric Car

I like this post on Autoblog Green a lot because it features a very interesting (and frank) video interview with Dale Vince, the founder of Ecotricity and his plan to build an electric sports car that would outperform a Lotus: http://www.autobloggreen.com/2009/03/19/zero-carbonistas-wind-powered-car-with-no-name-keeps-moving-for/

What struck me were VInce's explanations about why he decided to get into the wind power business - the exact, same reasons apply to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh etc as well. Yes, I know that Pakistan and Bangladesh have extensive natural gas reserves but I would, much rather that these countries use these reserves for more than just powering their vehicles considering that both countries have abundant wind and sunlight as well . . .

In any case, the Vince interview is very interesting. He is working on a name for his car - anyone with ideas might want to post on the thread. Also, do check his website out. The man is an inspiration to anyone who likes cars and motorcycles and wants to pursue his / her enjoyment without using fossil fuels. Now, what do I have to do to make the money to buy an electric sportscar, ha, ha! http://www.ecotricity.co.uk/

More on Electric Airplanes from AV Web

After yesterday's post about the coming Electric Aircraft Symposium, AV Web has a podcast today on the same issue. If you're interested in the possibility of an aircraft that reduces pollution and in which you can travel 300 miles for about $ 10, you need to listen to this podcast at: http://www.avweb.com/podcast/podcast/AudioPodcast_BrienSeeley_ElectricAirplaneSymposium_199990-1.html?kw=AVwebAudio

Goes to show that being environment friendly and showing fossil fuel the fist can be good on your wallet!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Electric Aircraft Forum to Focus Upon New Propulsion Technologies

With electric and hybrid propulsion becoming more popular in cars and boats (though the current low prices of oil have been a sales dampener for both) it was inevitable that aircraft would also become a challenge for engineers looking at making them more fuel efficient. The AV Web carries news of a coming general aviation show with a special focus on new methods of propulsion at Germany and an Electric Aircraft Symposium in San Francisco shortly thereafter (both in April) at this link: http://www.avweb.com/eletter/archives/avflash/1334-full.html#199983

While this blog has talked about the Pipistrel electric gliders in the past, there is a new hydrogen fuel cell design that the innovative little company has come up with and a link to it on their website is at: http://www.pipistrel.si/news/784 The new aircraft will be on display at the German show.

All in all, there are a host of interesting links at the AV Web page and it is well worth a free subscription to for anyone who is interested in the business of aviation in general with occasional looks at evolving green aviation technologies.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

LEED Standards a Fraud Says Expert

Also from Treehugger: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/03/the-four-sins-of-leedwashing.php In the rush for magic mantras and catch-words we often get tied up in cults chasing false messiahs as this whole business of LEED certification is concerned. In my own completely inexpert way I have discussed this with a very good friend, Manoj Barai who posts here from time to time as he is a professional in the Indian real estate sector. Hopefully, countries like India which are poor and which lack infrastructure would take the newer standards / suggestions into consideration and not get overswayed by the LEED mantra to nowhere.

Recession Kills Portuguese Wave Power Project

Treehugger has this news via Cleantech and the IHT about the death of the Pelamis Wave Power Project that I had written about on this blog: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/03/portugal-pelamis-wave-power-project-dead-in-the-water.php Unfortunately, while the technical problems with the project were solved by its promoters, the current recession simply killed it. The tragedy is that the power that it would have generated would, most probably, come from fossil fuel sources and this is certain to cause more problems than it solves.

Well, one can only hope that the economy would improve . . .

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New Battery Tech from MIT Promises to Revolutionize Electric Devices Inclusing Vehicles

Forbes has this interesting piece about a new battery material that could help recharge conventional rechargeable batteries 100 times as fast. This would mean reducing charging times significantly for any product that needs recharging - or, much faster times to recharge your electric car or motorcycle and bring the times closer to filling a tank up. The developers feel that this technology could be available as early as 2011.

I say Bring it On! Let's show fossil fuels the fist asap! And, most importantly, congratulations!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Indian Scientists: Solar Water Heaters Provide a Payback in 2 Years and a Lifespan of 20

I do wish that politicians and bureaucrats across India would listen to Indian scientists who have carefully evaluated various solar powered systems and come to the conclusion that solar water heaters provide the most efficient use of Solar Energy as this post at Cleantech says: http://www.cleantech.com/news/4252/indian-scientists-water-heating-solar I have had positive feedback from another blogger earlier telling me that states other than Karnataka have some incentives of their own in addition to Central Government incentives and that some municipalities have these as well. I hope that this additional piece of positive pro-solar heater news filters across the country and helps whichever party or coalition that gets elected in May make its mind up about the direction that the country needs to take vis a vis solar water heaters.

I remember how "Geysers" became a status symbol some time in the early 1970s in India along with the first refrigerators and television sets that came into the country when I was a boy. Through the 80s these became a middle class possession and now huge numbers of people in India use them. If the amount of electricity that could be saved by switching from electric geysers to solar water heaters could be calculated for a country of over a billion people, it would, certainly, be something to blow peoples' minds. All of this would be less coal burned, for the major part. Now that can't be a bad thing, can it?

Tiny Maldives Sets an Example for Bigger SAARC Countries in Working to go Carbon-Neutral

In one of the most crowded parts of the world which has the sad characteristic of being horribly polluted, South Asia crowds millions into a once beautiful region that is now dirty, which has disease, malnutrition and whose hard-working people find their governments sending much of their money away to the Middle East to buy expensive fuels. It iss here that the Maldives, a tiny island nation, has now decided to set an example by working to go carbon neutral within a decade as this post on Earth2Tech explains: http://earth2tech.com/2009/03/16/clean-energy-island-maldives-goes-carbon-neutral/

While I worked briefly at the Vijaya Hospital in Chennai some years ago, I got to know a number of Maldivian people including some of the seniormost politicians in the country. The one thing that you could rest assured about when you met any of them, was that they would be extremely polite and soft-spoken. Many of them also had strong views about the development of their island paradise. That is why, their recent fears about their beautiful country getting submerged if Global Warming continued have, most probably, prompted their efforts in setting an example to the rest of the world.

Let me not sugar-coat what happens in the Maldives, though - about ten years ago, the air in tiny Male was very badly polluted because of the large number of vehicles there. But, the Maldivians had some respect for the environment that I did not see anywhere else in the region. For example, dropping any trash - even a cigarette butt - in the sea could get you prosecuted as some Indians found out when they got slapped with heavy fines. The intention to do something positive was there. And that is what, I think, is pushing the Maldivians to make the changes that they seem set on making.

I am prepared to wager a bottle of fine wine that the Maldivians will achieve what they are setting out to do with time to spare. Their government and people do work together, after all, and do not suffer from the imperious politician-citizen disconnect that you find in other parts of South Asia. My only hope is that this new approach would find favor and imitators among the politicians and people of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the three large nations in the region and the worst polluted ones as well.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Businessweek: World's Worst Air Pollution is in New Delhi

It is official: India's capital is a filthy place and the only good thing about the air pollution in New Delhi is that everyone from the President to the city's poorest, breathe in the same filth: http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/blog/eyeonasia/archives/2009/03/worlds_worst_ai.html?chan=top+news_top+news+index+-+temp_global+business Interesting, too, that this distinction does not find mention in the Indian media in the run up to an election. Could the Indian media, horror of horrors, be biased as has been alleged in several places, India included? Are Indians getting their news from two bit propagandists and sundry jingoists who cannot bring themselves to address the country's worst flaws? Aren't these hacks also apologists for the crooked politicians and bureaucrats in India because they do not hold them to account for their misgovernance?

The answers, if anyone wishes for a honest response, are in the affirmative to all of the questions above. The facts are also clear as has been posted on this blog in the past. Thousands of crores of aid money, much of which could be used to make life better, is not being used at all in India. The enormous potential of the sunlight and the winds that the country receives is being ignored by a government of ignorant buffoons who prefer to invest public funds in buying filthy coal mines in other countries, in doing deals with petty dictatorships like Omar Bashir's Sudan in getting oil concessions and which use two bit clowns like the so-called energy "expert" N N Sachitanand to knock down the potential in fast developing renewable energy technologies using ignorance and not knowledge as arguments.

While I am not going to be able to vote this May as there is no way that I can make it to India come election-time, I shall watch the campaign carefully to find out if there are any politicians who promise simple but concrete solutions to make the air and water cleaner. And, as this blog is determined to do, to show fossil fuels the fist, they will be featured here.

Municipal Financing for Renewable Energy in Homes - A Model for India

With solar water heaters becoming mandatory for new apartment complexes in Bangalore and parts of Karnataka State in India and similar laws on the horizon in several states (though nothing is really likely to happen until the General Elections are over in May) there is certain to be an explosion in the demand for some attempts at solving India's chronic power shortage problem. I have been a big supporter of the Karnataka law and have also been vocal about the immense potential that this opens up for entrepreneurs who wish to come up with useful solutions that address this problem and the new regulations.

Today's New York Times has this entry on a very interesting Municipal Financing solution being offered by cities in California, the USA's most indebted state and one which has major infrastructure and other problems - just like Karnataka State where Bangalore is the capital has in India: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/15/science/earth/15solar.html The concept of offering municipal financing by allowing deductions in property taxes over a period of time to offset the cost of installing renewable energy systems is an excellent one. India already has laws which allow businesses to write off the cost of renewable systems to the extent of 100% depreciation in just one year and both the Central Government and several state governments waive sales taxes on these products. If an incentive in reduced property taxes were offered, this would certainly prompt existing multi-storey apartment building societies to consider installing solar heaters and reduce the amount of power consumed in the country. Entrepreneurs (and there are very few in the renewable energy field in India) would do well to carefully exploit all of these possibilities and convey them to potential clients in a marketing push. And banks could lend money to finance the purchase of these products. There is a huge market waiting to be addressed and there are massive gains for not just entrepreneurs and consumers but also to the rest of the country on reduced energy costs and on the concordant reduction in pollution that is inevitable to follow this implementation.

Hopefully, someone would push for this to be addressed, come June.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fun Stuff: Making Your Own Toothpaste

Green Daily has this fun entry that should be useful to anyone who wishes to make their own toothpaste and avoid using chemicals that might accompany commercial toothpastes: http://www.forbes.com/2009/03/11/india-financial-loss-billionaires-2009-billionaires-india_slide.html After all, when you brush your teeth twice a day you may want to keep it as matural as possible. The recipe that they have is easy to make and should be well worth trying, at least.

And I have subscribed to Care2's feed on the blog for those who might want to follow them. It is an interesting site to follow especially wrt the do it yourself stuff and some of their recipes.

An Eco Baron's Fall from Grace?

The latest issue of Forbes magazine which I just received has a sobering entry about billionaires going bust. While, on the whole, the news isn't really as bad as it sounds - some of these people still have several billion left - one name caught my eye: Tulsi Tanti, the founder of Suzlon Energy. A pioneer in the wind energy business, Tanti built his company up quite fast buying REI Power in Germany and expanding his business to the far corners of the world during a period when oil prices hit record highs. Unfortunately, poor quality control seems to have led to his downfall. Last year there were already rumors about blades on his turbines cracking in Minnesota. While the Suzlon people attributed this to the blades not having been adequately tested in the kind of severe Midwestern weather that we often face, they claimed to be working on better designs and that they had offered to replace the damaged blades under warranty. It turns out that for some reason, clients in the USA are not buying this argument. A leading Californian power producer has cancelled an order for 150 turbines from Suzlon. My guess is that this would go to Clipper Wind who are based in California and who have had their own problems recently due to the recession. But what is clearly a symptom of Suzlon's sickness is a godsend fro Clipper. They do not have quality problems of any kind going by the reports available to me. And that is their salvation in these difficult times.

Forbes estimates that Tanti who was worth $ 3 billion last year is worth much less - his net worth has fallen by "at least $ 2.6 billion" according to them. My guess is that if some other company steps in at this point in time, they may be able to buy Suzlon and REI's assets for a bargain price. I also know, for certain, that a certain prominent Indian businessman's claim that he was setting up a wind energy farm on the country's West Coast in association with Suzlon is complete BS. I doubted as much when he talked to me last and I even told his managers this. Well, if he reads this blog as I suspect he does from time to time, he knows that I know about his "project."

That apart, I will be looking harder for a large turbine for a friend who has a hilltop property near a large Indian city and who has been thinking about putting up a large turbine there. Luckily for him, there is a power station belonging to the state government right below the hill. When some businesses fail, I guess others have opportunities to work on and succeed. When it comes to green business, I do hope that the successes are vastly more than the failures and that Suzlon's failure is forgotten when other companies begin to shine. And, finally, I do hope that Suzlon manage to pull back from the brink.

PS A link to Indian billionaires who have dropped in net worth to a considerable extent is accessible at this link: http://www.forbes.com/2009/03/11/india-financial-loss-billionaires-2009-billionaires-india_slide.html

Tanti figures prominently in the list.

Video Reviews of Electric Trucks on Autoblog Green

Again a very interesting concept that should be dynamite on Indian roads - if the country could generate electricity without 8 hours of power cuts a day, that is. Autoblog Green has this series of expert video comments and a review in progress of Smith Truck's Newton, a new electric truck design that is being tested right here in Chicago. I shall keep an eye open for these trucks and all I can say is that Tata, Ashok Leyland or one of the van manufacturers in India needs to seriously look at making one of these.

Check out the Autoblog Green link at: http://www.autobloggreen.com/2009/03/13/video-smith-electric-trucks-get-pro-reviews-at-work-truck-show/

Smith Electric Vehicles have a website that is equally interesting at: http://www.sev-us.com/default.html

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Why India Cannot Really Move Forward on Anything

While this is not directly related to an environmental issue, it has everything to do with why India cannot seem to progress on any front - the environment included. Many years ago when I was a boy, the ambition of anyone who was a few years older than I was was to get a "government job." The average Indian could not think any further than becoming a bureaucrat. Those were the years when Indira Gandhi ruled, followed, as I gew older, by her equally thuggish son Rajiv. The Indian state could do little more than carry out the Gandhis' diktats and continuously hammer the average Indian in every way possible. Corruption was one of the most prominent ways among these - you still cannot get ANYTHING done with an Indian government office without paying a bribe. But this is, again, off topic in the light of today's post.

Considering the number of new environment friendly power generation and green building technologies that are available today, has anyone paused to wonder why no one - yes, not a single Indian business - has even bothered to do something to bring some of these technologies to a country that always gloats when it is referred to as a "technology powerhouse?" The answer may be in Sramana Mitra's piece in Forbes at this link: http://www.forbes.com/2009/02/26/india-angel-investors-technology-enterprise-tech_india.html?partner=technology_newsletter

Indians seem to make good servants but lousy entrepreneurs. Let's face the facts here - when students from the Indian Institutes of Technology, considered India's answer to MIT etc, do not want to do anything more than get a job, there can be little hope that anything would go ahead to lead the country into a pioneering direction. If this sounds harsh, it is not what I am saying myself. There is, sadly, a lot of evidence that this is absolutely true. The occasional small piece of good news that comes out is nothing much. What is glaring is the amount of wasted potential in a country that produces more engineers in every single year than the USA, the world's most technologically advanced nation, produces graduates.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Tragedy of Contaminated Water-Bodies in India

I have been corresponding with a Local Government Advisor Dr Mayraj Fahim for some time on issues facing people in South Asia and especially on issues in India where she works with civic groups in the city of Bangalore. It was coincidental, then, that I received a very interesting (albeit sad) set of links from her about poor water quality in India just as the Times of India carried a sensational scoop on the fecal content in Indian "mineral water." The Times link is at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/Ahmedabad/Shit-in-water-AMC-BIS-gear-up-for-cleaning-act/articleshow/4248188.cms

The link that Dr Fahim sent me is even more embarassing: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&refer=exclusive&sid=aErNiP_V4RLc To quote some of the unfortunate statistics: open defacation and animal waste has soiled 75% of India's water sources. And 100,000 tons of human excrement are left each day in fields on vegetables that Indians later come to consume. Quite literally, Indians are eating sh1t. A separate link that she has sent me shows how dire the situation is for India's children who are malnourished in the extreme: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India-tops-world-hunger-chart/articleshow/4197047.cms

I find it difficult to believe that in a country that has not used more than In Rs 78,000 crores of foreign aid as I have posted earlier, the money was not used to make use of this excrement - IT IS A RESOURCE. This human and animal waste can be used to generate Methane which would work as a fuel and substitute India's oil imports to a significant extent. The remaining slurry could be processed into fertilizer. The processing of this resource could generate jobs. This would reduce unemployment and increase prosperity. Need I go on? Before I am accused of emulating a scratched record, let me confess that the best thing that could happen would be for me to close this blog down because matters improve so much that there is no need for it. Sadly, knowing how things work in the country of my birth, it is going to be a long time before anything changes for the better - if it ever does. As my good friend Mohanakrishnan has pointed out in his response to the post preceding this one, little ever changes for the better. Even attempts at doing something positive in a small way come to nought because one government starts something and its successors decide that whatever was done earlier makes no sense. Tragic, yes, and that is India.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

NYT Article on Renewable Energy Has Important Lessons for India

I enjoy reading articles on renewable Energy in the mainstream media as I pointed out last night. These are often hard nosed evaluations of the technologies etc that activists try to promote and the result is a balanced one to say the least compared to the sometimes shrill promotions that some blogs come up with. Here, again, I must insist that not all blogs are at fault but the "Obama is God" attitude of some of the more prominent ones makes me, an old skeptic, want to retch.

But this is not about politics - this blog is a look at Renewable Energy from my inexpert understanding of the subject. And that is why this piece from today's New York Times is particularly interesting: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/07/opinion/07bowles.html The author of this opinion piece is the secretary for energy and environmental affairs for the state of Massachussetts. As a state that is home to some of the top technical universities in this country, he has a strong list of sources to draw his information from and a pool of experts to consult in drawing up his conclusions. And a reading of the piece suggests how simple and sophisticated his ideas are - love or hate the Times as you may, this piece is impressive and practical.

Which brings me to its value for a third world nation with a major energy problem like India. India is surrounded by the sea because it is a peninsula. The opportunity here - you can have combined wave and tidal power stations all around the coast. The country is bathed in sunlight. The opportunity - rooftop and large solar thermal powerplant possibilities right across the country. Just imagine the overall potential - there is so much that India has and hardly any of this is being used. Historically, the country was called "Vasundhara" because it was believed that it could provide everything that anyone ever needed. This is why, beginning with Cyrus the Great and the Persians who invaded in the distant past right down to the British, all kinds of people wanted to make India the jewel in their crown. Sadly, today's Indians, and Indian politicians in particular, have no such pride in their own country. If they did, they would tap the abundant energy that the country is blessed with.

Some Superb Articles from Forbes

I always prefer to take articles on green and renewable energy in the mainstream media much more seriously than I do in blogs and for a reason - these are the views of skeptics who have found something worthwhile in one or another area of environment-friendly technology. If they are convinced, and these are the views that are bound to be considered by large businesses, investors etc, then the products and technologies that they talk about would be sound. Blogs end up as the voices of activists who often are devotees or addicts to something without practical thinking on the issues that theys eek to address. Don't get me wrong - I am not going to unsubscribe to Treehugger for example, but if I find something in Forbes that would get vastly more credence than I would give to a mere blog.

Having said this, let me butt out and leave you with a link that you would enjoy if you have come thus far: http://www.forbes.com/2009/03/02/greentech-solar-autos-technology-ecotech09_land.html?partner=technology_newsletter

Friday, March 6, 2009

Innovative Marketing of Solar Panels by a New Startup

Forbes Magazine has this entry about a company that plans to offer solar panels to budget-conscious buyers by using economies of scale - something that I have been talking about on this blog ever since I began writing for it: http://www.forbes.com/2009/03/02/veranda-solar-greentech-technology-ecotech09_veranda.html?partner=technology_newsletter

I think this is a superb idea and one that should make this company, Veranda Solar http://www.verandasolar.com/ a lot of money especially if they focus on the export market using US Exim Bank incentives to push their panels in other countries around the world. Here's wishing them luck!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Jatropha Cultivation - A Mixed Blessing in India

India has led the world in cultivating Jatropha to produce Biodiesel but the experience has not always been a good one as this article suggests: http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=45949 Cows have died from eating the toxic jatropha leaves (there is a new patented British technology, though, that makes jatropha oilcake safe for cattle feed) and all sorts of teething problems have been encountered. While jatropha is a good bridge to a fossil fuel free economy, this article only highlights the need for more concerted effort in installing advanced wind turbines, tidal powerplants, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic plants etc. None of those would be eaten by cows which get poisoned to death.

Let us hope that this happens sooner rather than later in India. The country needs to do this - India's people deserve to live in a clean environment.

India in Positive Focus Again - Nobel Winner Thomas Friedman in The New York Times

I enjoy reading Thomas Friedman's column in The New York Times even though I do not always agree with his views but then who am I? A mere small time blogger. He is a Nobel winner and I have to respect the man to the utmost for that! So what can I do when he writes a very affectionate column about a visit to India but applaud? Check it out at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/15/opinion/15friedman.html These can only be the views of a man who is a friend of India and who is positively impressed by my country of birth. And when he talks about the India Youth Climate Network with praise, their website needs to be visited as well: http://www.indiaclimatesolutions.com/ Congratulations, guys! Superb show!

Thank you, Dr Friedman! And all the very best IYCN! Good show, India!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Superb Show India! Now When Will These Cars be Available to Indians?

The Geneva Auto Show is the world's biggest and the most important in terms of new car models that come to be displayed every year. So why am I celebrating during a time of gloom? India's Tata Motors have managed to hog a considerable portion of the limelight with their Euro spec Tata Nano (a car that many so-called "experts" said could never be built - the same "experts" who gave AAA+ ratings to crappy Wall Street Banks, I'm sure) and, more importantly, since this is a blog meant to show Fossil Fuels the Fist, because of Tata's new Norwegian engineered Indica Electric car: http://www.autobloggreen.com/2009/03/04/geneva-2009-euro-spec-tata-nano-its-bigger-and-all-electric/ When a prestigious website like Autoblog Green raves about this, there is something for everyone to cheer.

This is a good beginning, no doubt, but there is competition that is certain to come. Several Chinese manufacturers have started working on electric cars and countries as diverse as South Africa and the UK have designed commercial vehicles that work on electricity. But I do think that if Tata have made it this far, there is no reason why they would not go further - a lot further in fact. And yes, I am rooting for them to succeed - and rooting for every other designer of electric vehicles to succeed as well. This means YOU Aptera, Tesla and all other creative companies out there. All the very best and may you all win!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

India's Opposition Politicians Call Government BS on Power

Good friend Mohanakrishnan has sent this piece by former Indian Express Editor and MP Arun Shourie on the power situation in India: http://in.news.yahoo.com/48/20090228/1241/top-half-truths-and-whole-lies.html Conveniently, Shourie does not do more than offer acute criticism. In the event that his party wins in the coming election, it would not help for him to articulate a solution that his own colleagues would almost certainly forget, like India's politicians are almost obliged to once they win.

That said, the state of Karnataka's regulation requiring new apartment buildings to mandatorily have solar powered water heaters is something that the rest of India needs to emulate. And the Government of India, the almighty power that feeds the Indian nation out of the goodness of its mammaries, could look at putting solar panels on government buildings. Prices for solar photovoltaics are low at the moment as the current recession bites across the world and the doofuses in Delhi could get a bargain if they tried to set up a tendering process for them. Let us hope that common sense (a very uncommon commodity in India, by the way) prevails at least as the country lurches towards an election.

Indian Opposition Parties Call Government BS on Power

A link sent my by friend Mohanakrishnan on Yahoo's Indian website has former Indian Express Editor and MP Arun Shourie call the government's lies on the power situation: http://in.news.yahoo.com/48/20090228/1241/top-half-truths-and-whole-lies.html But Shourie is a politician these days and he confines his remarks to acute criticisms without offering any possible solutions to the crisis. Or, he may not be aware of the alternatives that are available and which could be used beginning tomorrow if the Indian government and private bodies in India so choose.

The state of Karnataka has introduced some sensible legislation mandating solar powered water heaters for all new multistorey apartment buildings. I think they need to go further by offering tax incentives to owners of older buildings and of individual homes to do the same. And, considering the problems that Bangalore has with power, why not ask all of the software companies - none of them are short a buck or two - to put solar photovoltaic panels on their rooftops? Indeed, why can't the almighty Government of India begin with a plan to make all buildings owned by the government either fully or partially powered by solar power? With the current glut in solar panel production and the low price of panels as many companies feel the recession bite across the world, this would be a superb time to buy and set this up.

Here's hoping for the best ONLY because this is an election year. Indian politicians work hardest in the run up to an election. Hopefully, in the two or three months ahead, they would do something useful on the power front.