When Renewables Are Less Expensive Than Coal…

A solar power plant in Gujarat, India. Renewable energy in the country would be cheaper than between 87% and 91% of new coal plants, the report says. Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters

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Most new wind and solar projects will be cheaper than coal, report finds

Almost two-thirds of renewable energy schemes built globally last year expected to undercut coal costs

Almost two-thirds of wind and solar projects built globally last year will be able to generate cheaper electricity than even the world’s cheapest new coal plants, according to a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena). Continue reading

Footstep by Footstep

soccer

This solar-powered football pitch in Lagos also uses kinetic energy generated by footballers playing. PHOTO: Edelman PR

There’s a host of ingenious solar projects impacting the developing world. Energy’s role in political, social, and economic development is being highlighted more than before and being energy-smart is the blueprint to a sustainable future. Clean energy is the way forward. And Lagos has an example. In the name of soccer.

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Look At the Germans

Wind turbines surround a coal-fired power plant near Garzweiler in western Germany. Renewables now generate 27 percent of the country’s electricity, up from 9 percent a decade ago. PHOTO: Nat Geo

Wind turbines surround a coal-fired power plant near Garzweiler in western Germany. Renewables now generate 27 percent of the country’s electricity, up from 9 percent a decade ago. PHOTO: Nat Geo

Germany has been one of the few countries that have successfully moved away from nuclear energy. Germany has so far successfully shut down its nine units that had the capacity of generating enough power for at least 20 million homes in Europe. In fact, the contribution of nuclear power in Germany’s electricity generation has now fallen to just 16 percent and renewables are now the preferred source of electricity generation in the country.

Germany is pioneering an epochal transformation it calls the energiewende—an energy revolution that scientists say all nations must one day complete if a climate disaster is to be averted. Last year about 27 percent of its electricity came from renewable sources such as wind and solar power, three times what it got a decade ago and more than twice what the United States gets today. The change accelerated after the 2011 meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, which led Chancellor Angela Merkel to declare that Germany would shut all 17 of its own reactors by 2022.

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When the Sun Goes Down

About seven out of every 10 households in rural India have no access to electricity. Many of these households still use less efficient energy sources that are harmful to the environment, such as kerosene. Even in places where electricity is accessible, shortages are frequent and the supply is inconsistent. In such a scenario, solar lamps come as a blessing and are revolutionizing lives in the country and around the world.

PRASHANT MANDAL FLIPS ON A CANDY-BAR-SIZE LED LIGHT in the hut he shares with his wife and four children. Instantly hues of canary yellow and ocean blue—reflecting off the plastic tarps that serve as the family’s roof and walls—fill the cramped space where they sleep.  He shuts down the solar unit that powers the light and unplugs it piece by piece, then carries it to a tent some 20 yards away, where he works as a chai wallah, selling sweet, milky tea to travelers on the desolate road in Madhotanda, a forested town near the northern border of India.

“My life is sad, but I have my mind to help me through it,” Mandal says, tapping the fraying cloth of his orange turban. “And this solar light helps me to keep my business open at night.”

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Giving Food a Longer Life

The FoodWa, which comes in two sizes, and is like a big ventilated box. The smaller "Batch" version can handle about 11 pounds at a time. PHOTO: CoExist

The FoodWa, which comes in two sizes, and is like a big ventilated box. The smaller “Batch” version can handle about 11 pounds at a time. PHOTO: CoExist

Each year, the world loses or squanders a third of the food it produces. This means that somewhere between planting seeds in fields and providing nourishment to the world’s 7 billion people, approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food with a value of more than US$1 trillion is lost or wasted. These numbers are simply untenable in a world where, according to Food and Agriculture Organization, some 870 million people do not have enough to eat. In fact, according to the FAO-commissioned study that tallied these numbers, if just one-fourth of lost or wasted food were saved, it could end global hunger.

And drying food, to prevent it from rotting during storage, maybe a solution. A clean, green solution especially with the FoodWa system that uses solar energy to dry foods.

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In the Foothills of Ethical Fashion

Avani uses green energy for all their production processes. Solar energy is used in the form of solar powered spinning wheels and calendering machines for all textile production. PHOTO: Avani

Avani uses green energy for all their production processes. Solar energy is used in the form of solar powered spinning wheels and calendering machines for all textile production. PHOTO: Avani

AVANI is a voluntary organization working in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, located in the middle ranges of the Central Himalayan region of India. The genesis of AVANI came about in the context of the isolation and consequent problems of the far-flung villages situated in one of the highest mountain ranges of the world. Its work focuses on developing and disseminating appropriate technologies for meeting the energy and water requirements of the local villages, promoting craft-based (development of handmade naturally dyed textiles) and farm-based livelihood opportunities. To date, AVANI projects include the dissemination of solar technology, water resource management, natural textiles and paints, and the social and economic development of rural communities with projects such as healthcare and micro-finance.

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New York, Have a Sunny Day!

With New York packing so many buildings into a small area, the rooftops offer seemingly limitless potential to take homes off the grid. PHOTO: Business Insider

With New York packing so many buildings into a small area, the rooftops offer seemingly limitless potential to take homes off the grid. PHOTO: Business Insider

For the average homeowner, there’s more benefit to going solar than ever before. With the sun being a consistent source, of energy, those investing in photo-voltaic panels can be assured of seeing returns. There’s bound to be questions about feasibility, yes. About how much space is required, the type of structures involved, whom to contract for setup, etc.That’s where Mapdwell, a spin-off company from MIT that is creating incredibly detailed maps of the solar potential for each and every building in various cities, comes in.

“Solar energy has all this baggage, in a way. Solar panels have been out there for 30 to 40 years, but most homeowners still believe panels are “complicated, expensive, not-for-me kinds of things,” says CEO Eduardo Berlin, an architect and designer who is based in Cambridge, MA. “Solar is a real possibility for many people now, but somehow that got missed. It never got rebranded. The idea that you can put something on a roof and create energy from the sun, it’s pretty amazing.”

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Solar Comes Home!

Kerala, India, has the world’s first solar-powered airport. PHOTO:  CIAL

Kerala, India, has the world’s first solar-powered airport. PHOTO: CIAL

For five years now, RAXA Collective has called the state of Kerala, India, its home. Over the years, the ‘three magic words’ – community, collaboration, conservation – have guided our work here. And every story in these three spaces has us glad for finding another believer. Now we’ve found a believer who puts his thoughts into action in the Cochin International Airport. Welcome to our land and the world’s first solar-powered, power-neutral airport.

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Where Does This Light Come From?

Energy from solar, biomass and hydrogen is coming together for the first time in India to light up a tribal hamlet. PHOTO: The Telegraph

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.

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Playing by the Sun

A general view of the inside of M. Chinnaswamy Stadium cricket stadium. PHOTO: DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

A general view of the inside of M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. PHOTO: DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Well, nothing unites all of India like a good game of cricket. And when the legendary game takes a green turn for the better at one of the country’s premier cricketing grounds, it makes news. The heart of the matter: The M Chinnaswamy Stadium at Bengaluru is the only solar-powered cricketing ground in the entire world.  Continue reading