The world is quickly abandoning coal, the dirtiest of fossil fuels. But that’s not the end of the road for coal mines—in many countries they’re coming back to life as solar farms. Over the weekend, the world’s biggest floating solar project began operating in the eastern Chinese city of Huainan, which accounted for nearly 20%…
Tag Archives: India
Originally posted on Climate Denial Crock of the Week: India charging ahead on renewables. Vying with China for global leadership in the growth industry of the new century. Meanwhile, Washington looks longingly to the 19th century. Watch for new video on this topic coming very soon. Meanwhile, Denmark has decided to offload oil interests, and…
India is surging ahead with renewables because the India government recognizes that renewables will be cheaper in the long run than fossil fuels. China is doing the same, and both countries are positioned to become the power houses of industry in the coming decades.
But where does that leave Australia? Fumbling in the dark, that’s where. We could have become world leaders in solar technology, but the lack of political vision and will sent our innovative companies offshore, and now we import the technology from…China.
All that potential, wasted, because our politicians are ‘scared’ of upsetting the apple cart. So instead of leading, we follow, and in the process, we get left further and further behind.
Ten years ago, the Australia people voted with their wallets when they installed record numbers of rooftop solar panels. But instead of rewarding us, successive governments have tried to slow or stop small scale solar altogether.
And then there’s Adani…taxpayer dollars to fund the hope of short term gain. Pathetic.
Large, corporate power suppliers often cite baseload [the amount of energy needed to satisfy the minimum energy demands of a given society] as the reason for dismissing solar power. Solar panels/arrays don’t work at night so solar must be useless for baseload.
On the surface, the need for baseload power does appear to leave solar out in the cold, but…all baseloads are not the same. In India, there are tens of millions of people for whom baseload equates to just one light bulb. These are the people living in distant rural areas, or city slums, or simply on the pavement. They are poor in a way we in the West cannot even imagine because, despite their poverty, they have to spend a significant portion of their tiny monthly incomes on kerosene for their lamps, or batteries for their torches. All because they are too poor to tap into the electricity grid.
And this is where Piconergy comes in. Founded by a group of young, well-educated, clever young men, Piconergy has created a super small-scale solar power plant called the Helios [from the Greek word for ‘sun’]. This is the product description from their website:
– Strong and sturdy Power Box which can be easily carried around and/or wall mounted, housing our battery management system & a 6V 4.5 Ah Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) technology based sealed maintenance free battery.
– 5 Watts-peak Solar PV Module with 4m cable & connector.
– Three LED Light Bulbs producing up to 200 lumens each with 3m cable & switch to cover maximum area for illumination.
– USB port for charging mobile phones.
– Optional SMPS Adapter to charge battery from grid supply.
And this is the product:
Piconergy are making the Helios available to families in the slums of Mumbai:
- so the children can study at night,
- so cottage industries can make more products to sell,
- so families do not have to live in the dark
I cannot tell you how much the dedication and commitment of the young men at Piconergy warms my heart. They are not just talking about social inequality, they are doing something practical to help. But my admiration for them goes beyond questions of social conscience – I want a Helios for myself!
Why? Why would a middle class woman in Australia with solar panels on her roof already want such a small-scale solar device? I’ll tell you why. I want my own Helios because the solar panels on my roof are tied in to the grid. When the grid goes down, my solar panels are turned off as well. In a word, they become USELESS.
I cannot tell you how many times we have sweltered during a 40 degree day because the grid was down. No aircon, no fan and no landline telephone. If our mobile phones aren’t charged then we are literally isolated from the outside world. And then there are the nights when we need torches and candles just to get to the bathroom. Again, because the grid is unreliable.
After the fire that destroyed homes south of the river a couple of years ago [in Warrandyte], SP Ausnet is finally putting in heavy duty powerlines and some underground cabling, but for now we continue to lose power, and I continue to keep torches and candles dotted throughout the house.
For us, the potential for sudden, energy poverty is very real, and I intend to do something about it. More on that later.
For now, though, if you care about those less fortunate than yourselves, may I suggest you give Piconergy a boost in social media. After all, ‘Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.’
Queensland’s Galilee Basin contains a lot of coal which could create a lot of electricity, but let’s not get precious about why we’re going to export it to India. No Australian government, state or federal, is interested in providing the benefits of electricity to India’s poor. They are only interested in export dollars. As for India’s poor, they cannot afford coal fired electricity.
“The poor will benefit from coal-fired power generation only if you ignore the costs of pollution and if industries can be attracted to rural areas. Without industry, though, electrification for the world’s rural poor requires a different model to that offered by coal-fired power.”
That quote comes from an article written by three Australian academics:
- Lynette Molyneaux is a researcher, Energy Economics and Management Group, Global Change Institute, The University of Queensland,
- John Foster is a professor of economics at The University of Queensland,
- Liam Wagner is a lecturer in economics, Griffith University.
They crunched the numbers and came to the conclusion that India’s poor would be far better off with localised, small-scale solar power generation. You can read the Quartz article here:
Or you can read the original article on the Conversation here:
Now, my fellow Aussies, ask yourselves whether making an almighty mess of the Galilee basin is really worth those export dollars when only large corporations will really benefit?
Then ask yourselves what might have happened had we supported our solar industry [we let it die here or go offshore] instead of coal?
I believe a thriving Australian solar industry could be bringing in squillions of export dollars from the Third World as well as doing a great deal of good for the Third World’s poor. Instead, countries such as China* are exporting solar panels to the world and we are still trying to flog coal.
Clearly the coal industry has a great deal more lobbying power than the fledgling solar industry did. Or perhaps our politicians are just too damned stupid to read the writing on the wall. Or perhaps it’s a bit of both. Either way, we Aussies are the ones who will miss out in the not-so-long-run.
*This is an interesting article looking at the provenance of so-called ‘Australian solar’.
I first read about floating solar power plants in Quartz, and just had to share. Here are a couple of amazing video clips that prove this is not sci-fi!
The second video clip is not as slick as the first and has no sound at all. BUT. It shows time lapse photography of the plant being put together in a week!
And just in case you think these are just weird one-offs, here’s one from India. 🙂
The thing I like most about this concept is that it is cheap. So cheap, in fact, that it puts clean, green energy within the grasp of the poorest countries. With it, they can embrace technology and make a better life for their people without having to go the dirty-fossil-fuels path.
I predict that these countries will be leading the way in clean energy within 30 years while my own country will still be talking about waiting for the rest of the world ‘to do something’ about climate change…
Have you ever read a book that you wanted to stop reading… but couldn’t? Darshan is such a book.
I am not exaggerating when I say that Darshan is one of the most beautifully written books I have read in a very long time. The prose is exquisite, evoking sensations I should not be able to feel. I have never been to India, yet while reading this novel I could smell the parched earth of the Punjab, and the spices that make Indian food so distinctive.
I have not been to Fiji either, yet lush, verdant green filled the backs of my eyes, and my skin seemed to sag beneath the cloying humidity of this island paradise.
I have been to the US, but not to the places described in the book. Nonetheless, I seemed to know them, as if the author had reached into my subconscious to find the memories that would make me ‘see’.
And there, in a nutshell is the problem with Darshan, it’s too good.
I felt all flushed with fever
Embarassed by the crowd
I felt he found my letters
And read each one out loud
I prayed that he would finish
But he just kept right on
Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
[Roberta Flack, Killing me Softly]
Everyone will find something different in Darshan, I know that, but at the heart of this amazing piece of fiction is a universal truth about families : we love each other, but the expectations we hide can never be fulfilled, and so, in the end love turns to pain.
As I sit here, trying to find words to describe what Darshan did to me, I’m inundated with memories of my own childhood. I tried so hard to do all the right things, to be what was expected of me, yet all I really wanted was to be accepted for who I really was – a dreamer.
I remember the day I presented my first printed book to my parents. It was a slim, user guide for a piece of software. I didn’t expect them to read it, or understand it, but it bore my name and I had laboured over every word. It meant so much to me.
My parents turned the book over in their hands. Then they put it on the table and said something like “that’s nice, dear”. Actually they would have said the Hungarian equivalent, but let’s not quibble.
They were bursting with pride when I graduated from University, I have the photos to prove it. But my little book meant nothing to them. They did not even realise they were meant to be proud of me.
There was no malice there, I know that, they simply didn’t understand. But that small book was the achievement of my life, up until then, and I expected them to feel something. To give me my due!
But you see, my parents wanted me to achieve something that would make money, and hence have tangible bragging rights – like a shiny Mercedes, or bright sparkly diamonds. All I gave them was a few bits of paper covered in ink.
To be fair, my parents were not shallow consumers, far from it. We arrived in Australia as refugees, literally wearing all our possessions on our backs. I saw them struggle to learn English in their 30’s, struggle to get a good job, buy a house, put me through school then university.
In my family, every step from destitute refugee to middle class citizen was signposted by dollar bills, but my little book was given away for free with the software! What value did it have? Worse, if their daughter could never make any money, how would she survive in this strange, harsh world?
In Australia there are lots of refugees, and even more immigrants, so my story is nothing unusual. Neither are the expectations placed on my generation. But the truth Darshan showed me was that every generation has expectations of the next, and those expectations are rarely met.
And so I sit here and I wonder what expectations I have placed on my daughter. Will she grow to resent me, despite my best efforts?
I want to believe that this generation communicates better than the one before because I want my daughter to be happy, but how do you ask those sorts of questions? Where do you even begin?
I’ve turned comments off for this one.
-hugs to you all-