Saturday, December 11, 2010

Swedish Town Uses Waste Instead of Fossil Fuels for Most Public Energy Consumption

The New York Times has this article to brighten the Saturday morning news for everyone who - like this blogger - believes that there is a strong need to use less oil and coal: Link. By converting all of its kitchen waste into biogas and using this gas to heat homes as well as in public transport, the town has not only reduced public consumption of oil and coal to almost zero, it has also managed to slash its energy bills per year by almost half.

Cities with vastly larger populations - and there are many such around the world - could take note of this very successful experiment. More people means more kitchen waste and therefore more raw material to work with in order to extract biogas. Use the Terrabon Link catalytic system to convert sewage into fuel or use an alternative method that extracts gas from sewage, or an algae based system, and there is a strong possibility that far larger cities could be weaned off oil and coal. An ambitious way forward, no doubt, but the good people of Kristianstad started to work on a fossil fuel free future some years ago and successfully got there. It is time the rest of the world learns from their pioneering effort.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Canada's Globe and Mail reviews the Nissan Leaf and Gives Insights into Electricity Generation in the Country

As someone who always enjoys visiting Canada (and not just because he happens to have very close friends there) this blogger finds that our neighbors to the North have a lot of very interesting and eminently sensible ways of doing things that we overlook even over here in the USA. This article on the about to be launched for sale Nissan Leaf electric car talks about the anxieties that Canadians share with us Americans - range issues and fears over charges depleting faster in the winter. But then, there is a hugely positive fact that the review casually tosses out as if it were not even worth mentioning - 70% of Canada's electricity is generated from renewable sources. In three provinces - Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia, that figure is 100%.

Why is this important? The Canadians have oil - a lot of it - and they make a lot of money sending it South to us. In a sense this is a good thing - it makes the USA less dependent on rogue nations like Saudi Arabia or Venezuela for one thing - it makes money for Canada selling a mineral resource overseas. The Canadians, themselves, use their earnings from the export of their oil to prepare themselves for more renewable energy to be locally used. Smart? You bet!

A powerful and wealthy nation like the USA with a host of problems might sometimes be too absorbed with its own issues to look at solutions in other countries. That said, I do think that it would be a mistake to ignore the Canadian example. Several experts have shown that it is well possible to generate 20% of the electricity that the USA uses from onshore wind. Use offshore wind and combined wind and tidal power both in the sea and off the Great Lakes and this percentage could rise even more. I've said this before and I'll keep repeating this as long as I can - everytime I walk along Lake Michigan, I am amazed at how violently the water heaves up and down several feet even on relatively calm days. All of that energy could keep the lights, HVAC systems and office equipment and home appliances running in most of the cities that dot the lake. In cities like Chicago and Milwaukee to name just two, it could also run cars.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Virginia Tech's Prototype Home for the Future

The New York Times has featured Virginia Tech's entry for a prototype energy efficient home for the future in an international design contest: at this link. While "concept" anything is usually impractical in the extreme, most concepts have some good ideas built into them which could be commercialized and used in conventional housing. Its been a long time since I featured any new low energy use housing on this blog and I hope that this post gives some of my readers ideas.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Scots Find a Use for Whisky Byproducts

A most interesting post here about the University of Edinburgh developing a process to convert whisky byproducts - pot ale and draff - into butanol fuel
for cars. Though Scotland is the biggest whisky producer, the USA, India and Ireland also produce significant amounts of grain whisky. Perhaps, this is an idea that would catch on in other parts of the world as well . . .

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Using Waste Land for Solar Power Generation - An Idea for all of South Asia

Dr Mayraj Fahim who has been a long time supporter of this blog and who has sent me several valuable pieces of information for posting here sent me this link from the New York Times. There is plenty of waste land in India and Sri Lanka that I am aware of - severely degraded by pollution and bad ecological practices which would be ideal for generating the clean power that the region badly needs. While these projects work, the land could be slowly restored using currently available methods and technologies to a clean, natural state.

South Asians, whatever their nationality, find it convenient to imitate Western fashions, listen to Western music, watch Western films and more. Perhaps, a case could be made for them to start imitating Western environmental practices as well . . .

First Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prizes recognizes Yuneec, Sonex and Antares [w/video] — Autoblog Green

First Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prizes recognizes Yuneec, Sonex and Antares [w/video] — Autoblog Green

Along with the development of electric cars, there has been a simultaneous (if somewhat less well known to the public) development of electric aircraft. A part of the problem is that aircraft need to be built light and current batteries are heavy, even for cars. However, I do think that technology will find a way to improve these airplanes. Who would have dreamt, when Wilbur and Orville Wright managed to fly a few hundred meters, that someday there would be aircraft that would reliably fly hundreds of people across the world? I do think that this is the beginning of a golden age in electric powered flight. I am happy to be a spectator through this phenomenal process!

Do check out all of the videos and links on this Autoblog Green page.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Britain Set To Enact Excellent Insulation Regulation for Buildings

Today's Telegraph has this bit of news about a plan in Britain to tax homes which are not properly insulated: Link. This is something that this blog wholly endorses - homes that are not properly insulated invariably become energy-wasters when either heating or airconditioning are used. This is a measure that would deter this kind of unintended wastage. And, of course, most countries offer tax breaks for making homes more energy-efficient. There's no reason to sit back and warm one's cushions if one's home is energy inefficient / old / in need of upgrades. Way to go, Britain!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hewlett Packard Moots Using Cowdung to Power Warehouses

I remember the 1970s when India tried promoting "Gobar Gas" plants for farms in the country, in one of very few socialist exercises that were positive in any way. the experiment failed, however, and all was conveniently forgotten since. This blog has looked at examples of western businesses - mostly farms - which have been using methane to power themselves. This new Hewlett Packard initiative, Link however, is a very positive one because you have a prominent high tech business looking at using methane from dairy and meat farms to power its warehouses. As the Times article points out, other companies are looking at using this power to run data centers. Is there a hint in this for the many software technology parks being set up in India at the moment? Even if they are not looking at them at the moment, they should. India has a huge population of cattle which are left abandoned and suffering on its streets. At the very least, these could be cared for for their dung and it could be used to produce power, something that the country is desperately in short supply of.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Electric Watercraft - Via Gizmag

While I am old fashioned and would not go into a river / lake on powered motorcraft, preferring a scull or an outrigger instead, there are many who do not have my patience. And these people often use gasoline powered individual watercraft which not only pollute the air, they also send in pollutants into delicate marine environments. Gizmag reports a new personal electric craft being developed by the Ohio based Silveira Group Link here While this is not yet available from what I understand, I personally feel that it can't arrive soon enough! Here's keeping my fingers crossed in the hope that I will be able to see one of these soon at Cabelas or Basspro, or even at my local Costco which has begun to sell watercraft of all kinds.

Behind the Wheel of the Audi e-tron Electric Sports Car

Behind the Wheel of the Audi e-tron Electric Sports Car

There have been all kinds of reports slamming electric cars as "soul-less" and worse in the motoring media. Both ordinary transportation as represented by quadricycles like the REVA and high performance sportsters like the Tesla Roadster have found themselves criticized along this vein. Perhaps, the scribes and television hosts who rushed into judgment were a little too quick off the mark. There were early fossil fuel cars that were not particularly enjoyable to drive and I recall my own Premier Padmini and Maruti van in India - both utter pigs to drive and will all the sophistication of a rusted hammer and anvil set, and with filthy exhausts to boot. Now, with the Audi e-Tron sportscar, we have a journalist from Robb Report, a magazine for wealthy buyers of very high grade products, come away impressed. Remember that this is a magazine for people who would otherwise buy Lamborghinis or Aston Martins, and you have to sit up and take note.

Hopefully, this is a trend that will accelerate in the future. You'll see this blog follow these trends!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Some Nice Solar Powered Homes in the USA

As the old saying goes, a picture is sometimes worth a thousand words. These pictures are nearly a coffee-table book on elegant homes that are also efficient, powered as they are by the sun. From The Wall Street Journal for your viewing pleasure!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Green Poseur Ted Kennedy is Finally Buried

I love the hypocrisy of the left-wingers. They scream themselves hoarse about how bad carbon is and how renewable energy should be embraced. They worship people like Ted Kennedy whom some call a "Green Lion" though the man was responsible for blocking a wind power project that he decided would harm the view off his beach-house. And now, when the Federal Government finally gives the go-ahead for the project, the Secretary of the Interior has to go and pay obeisance to the dead Kennedy's widow as the linked New York Times piece describes.

Well, here's a final nail in the Greenwash Vampire's coffin - this plant will be built even though the final number of offshore turbines will be smaller in number than what the promoters wanted to put up. And my only regret is that old Ted wasn't alive to see these go up around his beach-house. In any case, it is a fitting finale to a hypocrite who managed to fool a lot of idiots into considering him a great champion of environmental causes while using brute political power to stop a really green project. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Welcome clean offshore power to Massachusetts!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Germany's First Offshore Wind Farm - Der Spiegel

As the world's most balanced and well run economy, Germany always has something for the rest of the world to look at and be inspired by. Der Spiegel has this excelelnt analysis of the first offshore wind energy powerplant in Germany off the Emden coast. The 220 GW project will power 50,000 households. Knowing the Germans, this powerplant will be fully commercially viable and not a mere demonstration of left-wing idealism by a bunch of starry-eyed jholawala types (yes, an Indian expression there, ha, ha!) hellbent on doing little other than preaching to the rest of the world.

Considering that India, the country of my birth, has a huge power deficit problem and that it also has one of the world's longest coastlines, and, considering that some reports suggest that if India continues on its current path of building more and more coal fired powerplants, it will have to spend more than $ 40 billion a year on importing coal alone in about 7 years time, I hope someone in New Delhi is watching this development. I also hope that whoever is watching it is open-minded enough to think seriously about looking at replicating this around the country. Not to do this would be stupid in the extreme - the Germans didn't become as rich as they are by half measures. If India - and other countries in the region - want to enjoy the same levels of prosperity, they will need to follow in the Germans' footsteps.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

US Military - Massive Gas Shortages Possible As Early as 2015

Looks like the US Military agrees with Kuwait and other peak oil experts predicting massive oil shortages as early as 2015 as the Gas 2.0 blog describes. I found this blog by accident today and am glad that I did. For regular visitors here, I shall link to it after posting. Occasional visitors who are interested in this subject would be well advised to subscribe to it. You will find a lot that interests you, especially if, like me, you believe in showing fossil fuel the fist.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Very Interesting Trash to Energy Piece n The New York Times

With the quantity of trash increasing in cities around the world year after year despite the best attempts of governments to get people to recycle their garbage, the best option for getting rid of trash that cannot be recycled might be to burn it and use it as a fuel. This New York Times article gives an interesting overview of several studies that suggest that this method of getting rid of garbage might be the best way to actually use the garbage in generating electricity and heat and prevent further pollution. It speaks of studies that show that burning non-recyclable trash is a better idea than using it in landfills.

Right now, Europe is significantly ahead of the USA in using this technology. It would be nice to see some American companies compete with the Europeans and try to beat them at their own game. This competition can only result in the best possible results no matter where it is applied.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Indian Wind Energy Expert Calls Government Bluff

From an informal interview with K Kasthurirangan of the Indian Wind Power Association, “While India can produce 48,000 MW of wind energy, so far we have installed wind mills that could generate only 10,500 MW.” Need I post anything more? A most interesting article that can be read here.

Do check out the Indian Wind Energy Association website: at this link.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010



I learned about this particular project - Solar Impulse - which aims to fly a solar powered airplane around the world for the first time with a mixture of child-like excitement and awe. As a boy who was a happy airplane model and glider buff and who saved pocket money every week to buy up books on aircraft until other interests took over, I always suffered from a sense of regret over not living in the era of the Wright Brothers, Santos-Dumont, Alcock and Brown, Lindbergh and other pioneers of aviation. Somehow, all of those regrets are now dead, many years later, in life. Those attempting this flight are pioneers in the same sense as the earliest pioneers were. And, someday in the near future, their feat will be of as much significance as the exploits of the early aviation pioneers. I shall follow Solar Impulse with the delight of nine year old boy. Anyone who cares about the environment and who is excited by the whole business of invention, discovery and human achievement, will be as delighted by this as I am.

I shall wish the team at Solar Impulse the very best of luck while I look forward to congratulating them!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Interesting Forbes Piece on Designer Biofuel Crops

While the basics of converting plants into fuels are known, the efficiency of the process depends on breaking the plants' cell walls down into sugar with a minimum use of energy. That would make the process less energy intensive and reduce the overall consumption of energy used to process biofuels from plants. Forbes has this very interesting piece on two competing companies that are working to make this happen.

If this process were significantly developed, it would go a long way to reducing criticisms of the amount of energy required to produce ethanol for use as a fuel, for example. It could also help produce even cheaper biodiesel from plants like Jatropha in countries like India and Mexico that are trying to grow the crop on degraded land. It is a story that this blog will follow as it is something that is important as a transitional process from fossil fuels to cleaner, renewable ones. Agrivida's website is: Link and Syngenta's is: Link 2.

Watch this space!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

An Interesting New Development in Clean Flight

As visitors here would know, transportation is something that this blog is very interested in and this post from Gizmag, a blog that I refer to as frequently as they send me their regular updates, has something VERY interesting to offer. A helicopter that runs on 70% Hydrogen Peroxide and which uses a unique tip-jet powered system has the potential to reduce the usage of fossil fuel in single and two seat helicopters very substantially. Add to this with the fact that this is easy to fly - I shall take Gizmag's opinion here as I am not a pilot myself and they are experts who know their stuff - and this should make for safety, fun and more.

My hat's off to the Swissscopter company for their fantastic achievement and I shall await information on their two seat design as it receives certification. Do check their website out and subscribe to Gizmag. It is a website well worth subscribing to if you are a technology buff of any kind.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

SolarBullet Campaign shoots for high-speed solar train

SolarBullet Campaign shoots for high-speed solar train

This is something that could have fantastic implications for a country like India if it becomes successful. Imagine a train that is fast, clean and capable of carrying people from point to point with very low fuel costs - while this may or may not be practical on long distance routes, in the numerous mass transit trains that are being planned in the cities, this would be fantastic. My guess is that the monsoon would probably be the only time that these trains may need an external supply of electricity to run. At all other periods, they would simply be perfect.

I recall the days of steam engined trains from when I was a boy - people would advise anyone who traveled on Indian Railways back in those days not to take the first three or four compartments on any train or else they would end up looking like chimney-sweeps at the end of their journey. It is not all that different with diesel engined trains these days. A clean solar powered train that works on the light of the sun would be a magnificent clean alternative.

I do hope planners in India are looking at this project carefully. The Solar Bullet Website is: Link.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The World's Largest Solar Powered Vessel to Navigate the Globe in 2011

Gizmag has a very intriguing piece about a large vessel built in Germany and designed in france which will travel around the world using the power of the sun alone in 2011 Link. With the use of lightweight composites and some of the most advanced technology available today, the vessel will travel at 8 knots and show what is possible in today's world with available technology. Considering that ships put out more pollution than all the cars in the world combined, this project by Planet Solar is expected to raise awareness of the possibilities available to anyone who would care to use them.

I'll admit that this is an impressive technological tour de force. A 31 meter boat that can traverse the world at 8 knots using solar power is simply magnificent. But what about using the power of the wind? The last tea clippers were as fast as some of the commercial vessels today with speeds averaging 16 knots - twice what the Planet Solar vessel can achieve. In any case, it is always a positive thing to see a new technological direction and you can rest assured that after Planet Solar's debut, the vessel's designers would try and improve significantly upon its performance using lessons learned from their trip around the world. Exciting times are in store indeed! This boy from a seaside town is very, very excited!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tesla CEO Musk used private jet 12 times to lobby Washington for DOE loans

Tesla CEO Musk used private jet 12 times to lobby Washington for DOE loans

Here's "Green Hypocrisy" for you and no, you didn't see it on the official Obama propaganda channels - NBC and The New York Times. Would hurt the Dear Leader's image if they ran this news even while they criticize other automakers for taking jets to meet the Lords Almighty in Congress.

This blog has been consistent about one thing - that Renewable Energy can be a good way of earning and saving money, first and foremost. It can be a perfect way of reducing the severe dependence of countries like the USA and India on oil from countries that are inherently hostile to them. This blog has also been severely critical of the enormous fraud that some powerful vested interests are perpetrating in the name of cap and Trade fraud as well as get rich quick schemes that seem to pop up by the day. Sadly, Elon Musk's Tesla Motors is yet another monstrous fraud, and, hopefully, someone with a conscience will call him on it. Don't expect that to happen on the pages of The New York Times or on NBC. Their acquiescence to this monstrous corruption shows what they are about.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

British Company Invents a Washing Machine that Uses Almost No Water

The Telegraph has this very interesting piece on a British company, Xeros Ltd, that has invented a washing machine that uses almost no water to wash clothes: Link. Corresponding to the heavily reduced water consumption is a proportionate reduction in the use of detergent and electricity. I would like to see one of these machines, and, if they go on sale in the USA, to buy one as a replacement for the Braun at home.

The manufacturer, Xeros, has a nice website at: Link Is an Indian company going to jump and license this tech? I hope someone does . . .

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Algae Biofuel a Hoax?

I just saw this very interesting article on the website of a magazine that I had not heard of before: Biodiesel Smarter via Autoblog Green The article is short and sweet - I recommend it for anyone who visits here.

For all you guys interested in the Biodiesel business, it may be a good idea to subscribe to the magazine too. Very reasonably priced and they do seem to talk very clearly and honestly.

Monday, February 1, 2010

What Renewable Energy is Really About: Saving Money

Trust a hard-nosed business newspaper like The Wall Street Journal to make the case that Renewable Energy is about saving money and not about some loony left-wing desire to save the world: Link Somehow, the morons who go around with a messianic zeal touting Renewable Energy never make the case that the use of RE is good economics. You save money over the long term because you use natural energy that you do not have to spend money to access - sunlight is free compared to buying electricity generated from coal or whatever other source, reduced pollution means less sick people and less spend on keeping your environment clean, less spending on medical treatment etc and much more. The list goes on and on.

In a country like India or Sri Lanka where most of the year brings abundant sunlight, this could mean immense savings in electricity costs, as hot water is something that everyone needs. The import of coal from other countries would slow considerably because electricity would not need to be used for heating as much as it is. Power shortages and outages would also be reduced as the load on the generation and transmission system would be minimized. Yes, without beginning with the intention of becoming another Mahatm Gandhi or Nelson Mandela, it would be possible to become self-reliant, conscientious and to save the world as well as one's own finances in a world that is increasingly getting more expensive to live in. Now, if only the loudest voices for renewable energy could see things this way . . .

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Study: algae biofuels not the easy, green biofuel answer - yet

Study: algae biofuels not the easy, green biofuel answer - yet

While this post may indicate some disappointment for people living in the West, it holds tremendous promise for those who live in countries like India - feeding algae with sewage makes them grow in a very efficient way. Take the fecal matter from over a billion Indians, cycle it into motor fuel and the country could cut down on the huge amounts of money that it sends to the Middle East. Yes, the technology is available, the money is available if someone can persuade the authorities in India to work on a project to convert sewage into fuel, and there is a lot of employment to be generated from the new plants that would result from this effort.

Over to the GoI - and I must put my skeptic suit on, even as I wait to be proven wrong in my skepticism.

China Leads Renewable Energy Race

The New York Times has this wake up call for the USA: Link But this could as well be directed at another country that needs to wake up and compete with China: India. While the Americans have a problem with cheap Chinese wind turbines coming up here, I think India needs to rejoice. A surplus in China will mean even lower prices - India imports a lot of turbines even now. It would be better to spend money on buying these from the Chinese than on spending India's hard-earned money on coal from China, Indonesia and Australia. In the long term, India would be less dependent on both the vagaries of pricing fossil fuels from other countries as well as on depleting supplies. This is an opportunity for Indians to not only work with the Chinese, but also to compete with them at the same time.

I hope someone in New Delhi is listening . . .

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

An interesting Wall Street Journal video on using solar water heating:

In the hot countries of South Asia, the problems of snow etc would be non existent. Hopefully, this is an idea that catches on . . .

Thursday, January 7, 2010

And Something After My Own Heart - A New Sailship

Friends of this blog know how much I love the idea of bringing back sailships. The very idea of modern cargo ships carrying food and valuable commodities using wind power gives me pleasant daydreams. I spent an entire semester at my university's downtown campus looking out on Lake Michigan and watching the ships - both sail and power just across from our campus - to say that I was in heaven would be an understatement. And now Ecogeek has this very positive news: Link that brings hope to my weary old heart. A 3000 ton sailship to begin with and a fleet of more than 50 such vessels if all goes well! Life is going to become better if you ask me!

B9's website is: Link

Congratulations to them on their courageous new venture. I hope they succeed beyond their own, wildest expectations!

An Excellent Website for Those Planning a New Green Career

I just found this website Link that has a lot of free information and some very good ideas for anyone who wants to start a Green business or look for a career in the new green economy by specializing in a certain area. DO visit them - and don't blamd me if you end up spending hour after hour there.

This is seriously good stuff - and free.