Photo of a small commercial indoor growing setup by CJP
We’ve recently shared interesting methods to improve the growth of plants, whether in the commercial or domestic setting. We learned that tomatoes may reduce need for pesticides, that plants can grow fairly well in artificial bubbles underwater, and now that technology might soon develop to use a metric of how much one’s plants are photosynthesizing to determine how much light they need, in an effort to cut electricity use. Catherine Elton reports for Conservation Magazine on a study published in the Journal of the American Society of Horticultural Science:
Indoor agriculture is gaining in popularity, and there are high expectations that—at a large enough scale—it could help satisfy the growing demand for food. But whether indoor farms, often called vertical farms or plant factories, make economic or environmental sense is hotly debated.
A wood-fired stove at Lehman’s (Photo: sonja/Flickr)
What started as a small hardware store serving the local Amish in Kidron, Ohio, grew into something much bigger than founder Jay Lehman ever dreamed. Gathering four pre-Civil War era buildings under one soaring roof, today the store is a place to embrace the past: from old-fashioned treats and sodas to practical, non-electric goods for a simpler life.
The story of the Lehman store is one of “peddling historical technology”. A story of being old-school. And being good at it. Their top-selling products have not changed for decades. Wood stoves, gas refrigerators, oil lamps, water pumps, and water filters are always popular: if you don’t have electricity, you still need ways to store food, stay warm, light the night, and access water.
“We’ve known the term ‘off-the-grid’ for many, many years,” Ervin says. “But now it’s a thing.”
This eco-friendly lamp runs on just 2 tbsp of salt and a single glass of water. PHOTO: SALt
When you discuss abundance of resources, it’s inevitable that shortage creeps into the conversation. So when one looks at how many of the 7,000 islands that make Philippines lack electricity, it’s also difficult to miss the natural and abundant seawater. Engineer Lipa Aisa Mijena and team put both in the same equation and the result is a a lamp that’s capable emitting light for 8 hours on just 1 cup of saltwater.
Uncharted Play is a social enterprise based in New York City founded with the mission of harnessing the power of play to achieve social good. PHOTO: UP
1.2 billion people around the world lack access to reliable electricity. They end up using kerosene lamps or diesel generators for their lighting requirements. But did you know that the annual collective emissions from kerosene lamps all over the world is equal to the carbon emissions of 38 million automobiles? It’s not just the carbon footprint – burning kerosene lamps indoors is as bad for the lungs as smoking two packs of cigarettes per day.
These beautiful, translucent barriers quiet traffic—and generate power at the same time
Driving the Dutch highways just got a lot more colorful. And this has to be one of the best Dutch ideas yet—roadside noise barriers that also generate solar power. Not only that, they work on cloudy days, and one kilometer (0.62 miles) provides enough electricity to power 50 homes. Continue reading
Part of a completed solar project on an old golf course in the Miyazaki prefecture. (Kyocera)
In Japan, country club memberships famously went for millions of dollars in the late 1980s. Then, too many courses were built in 1990s and 2000s during a real estate boom. Now the nation faces the question of what to do with its abandoned golf courses. Meanwhile, Japan’s energy strategy in the aftermath of Fukushima calls for roughly doubling the amount of renewable power sources in the country by 2030. It is already building solar power plants that float on water. Perhaps inevitably, then, the nation has turned to building solar plants on old golf courses.
Ather Energy’s e-scooter – S340 – is powered by a battery that charges within an hour
India is the world’s second largest market for two-wheelers, and more than 14 million two-wheelers were sold last year. But electric scooters, so far, aren’t too big a part of that pie. When electric two-wheelers were first introduced nearly a decade ago, companies were betting big. They had a brief honeymoon period between 2008 and 2010, with sales more than doubling during that time. But all that dwindled once the government slashed its Rs22,000 ($346) subsidy for lithium battery packs in 2012. From selling 100,000 units two years ago, sales plunged to 21,000 units by 2014. But Ather Energy is bent on revising the trend.
Ivanpah, the world’s largest concentrating solar power plant, located just southwest of Las Vegas, can produce a whopping 392 megawatts of solar energy to power 140,000 California homes with clean energy PHOTO: Inhabitat
So we’ve all learnt, at some time or the other, that black absorbs light the maximum. And that the sun is one of the best sources of clean and renewable energy. Now, put two and two together. Yes, we are definitely talking tapping the sun’s light and heat. And we need a black surface to do so. The catch: the color needs to be as black as black can get.
Energy from solar, biomass and hydrogen is coming together for the first time in India to light up a tribal hamlet. PHOTO: The Telegraph
When India’s Rabindranath Tagore became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, he made headlines. He continued to be in the news when he decided to use the prize money to set up a university town in India. Today, Santiniketan and its Visva-Bharati University can stake claim to their unique set of trailblazers of alumni; Nobel winning economist Amartya Sen and ace Indian auteur Satyajit Ray are among them. While the light of education draws thousands to the gates of the university town, its hinterland remains in darkness. But in education that leads to innovation we trust and there seems to be a glimmer of a sustainable solution on the horizon.
Short electricity cuts punctuate the day here in Kerala. As if to remind us, for a few seconds in our daily life, that the electricity fairy can play hard to get. Generators always kick in in an instant though, and that is it. Elsewhere, in Guinea for instance, generators are not there to save the day.
Only about a fifth of Guinea’s people have access to electricity. With few families able to afford generators, school children have had to get creative to find a place to read, do their homework and study for exams. So every day during exam season, as the sun sets over Conakry, hundreds of children begin a nightly pilgrimage to the G’bessia International Airport, to petrol stations and parks in wealthier areas of the city, searching for light.