Category Archives: Solar

12 wonderful wishes you can share for 2012

As we tick down another year and look back at all the milestones of the past year and plan for the next, it is time to also consider some of the wonderful organizations that are making an impact around the world.

Here is my list of a dozen that are making a difference in no particular order. Most of them are young organizations that are just getting started and an opportunity for you to get involved and help them on their way.

  • Greentown Labs An incubator for clean technology ventures that allows entrepreneurs to get down and dirty constructing their next generation green machines. Setup as a nonprofit and collaborative, Greentown provides a unique location for startups that need to build stuff.
  • Sol Solution A nonprofit that helps underprivileged schools to save on expenses by installing solar solutions to offset their electricity expenses.
  • Social Capital  Social Capital inc has worked over the past 10 years to strengthen communities by connecting diverse individuals, neighbors and organizations and bringing them together through civic initiatives
  • ABAN Is a young organization that I came across during a visit to University of North Carolina that was started by a team of passionate students that works with the street girls of Accra to help them learn a trade, make a living, and secure a future as well as helping them transform their city into a healthier environment.
  • Space with a soul is another innovative nonprofit that provides shared office space and services to nonprofits. A great landing place for emerging nonprofits as they get started.
  • Peace First Peacefirst works to build a safe and productive environment at schools by teaching students the skills of conflict resolution and civic engagement.
  • Samarthanam Samarthanam is a nonprofit registered in India and the US that provides quality education, accommodation, nutritious food, vocational training to help empower the visually impaired, disabled and underprivileged in India. It runs a free middle school for underprivileged youth including the visually handicapped.
  • Merrimack Valley Sandbox Launched in 2010 November by the Deshpande Foundation, the Merrimack Valley Sandbox works with students in the Lowell/Lawrence area through partnerships with colleges and community organizations to build leadership and entrepreneurship within the Merrimack Valley.
  • LifeCity  LifeCity helps encourage green businesses in Louisiana through its membership organization where customers get discounts to green businesses and products and green businesses certified by LifeCity get greater visibility and support from LifeCity members.
  • Peacetones  Peacetones supports talented, unknown artists from developing nations build their careers while giving back to their communities.
  • Vision Aid VisionAid works to help people with visually related disabilities in underserved areas to lead a life of independence and dignity.
  • Ummeed is a nonprofit that works with children with developmental disabilities in Mumbai and is one of the few that helps bring professional support to this segment of society in India.

Towards a Greener Future

I attended a conference “Making Green Economy Real” organized by The Boston Pledge at Bentley University outside of Boston. After opening remarks by Partha Ghosh, founder of The Boston Pledge, that provided some great insights into the challenges facing the economy, Prof. Bill Moomaw, one of the authors of the IPCC report that shared in the Nobel Peace Prize with VP Gore, provided a terrific overview of what was needed for the US to really go green. 

Recently returned from Washington, Prof. Moomaw had accompanied the Tufts team that entered the biannual Solar Decathalon sponsored by the Department of Energy.  The Decathalon is a challenge to design, build and operate a house that is completely powered by solar energy on site at the Washington Mall. Twenty teams from all around the USA, Puerto Rico, Spain and Germany participated. The winner for the second time in a row was Germany. But more important were Moomaw’s observations about the state of the art in solar and energy efficiency as represented by the various entries. Continue reading

SELCO India – Bringing Light To The Rural Poor

While visiting India, I spent a couple of days in Mangalore, a coastal city about 900 kms south of Bombay (Mumbai). I was taken around by Hemalatha Rao, SELCO India’s Karnataka operations chief to see some of their rural and urban implementations. SELCO was founded by Harish Hande after he completed his Ph. D. from the University of Massachusetts in Lowell. Harish’s objective was to provide affordable energy solutions, initially with solar energy, to the underserved rural areas of India.  I wrote a short column about my visit in Lokvani (reproduced below). I have also put a number of photos from this tour on this page.

SELCO India – Bringing Light To The Rural Poor, Raj Melville,, 04/03/2008

Zooming past the lush paddy fields in Udupi, perched on the pillion of a motorcycle, I was whisked off the paved roads to a hamlet of a half a dozen houses tucked away in rural Karnataka. My host, Pravin, a sales technician for SELCO India, allowed me to shadow him on his rounds to his customers. The first stop was at farmer’s home, a three room house at the edge of their small plot of land. Miles away from the nearest town, it did not have access to modern amenities like electricity, running water or phone service.

The young farmer who met us at the door was obviously pleased to see Pravin and proudly escorted us to the one piece of technology in their humble abode. A single wire ran across the wall to a fluorescent light and a wall plug. A transistor radio plugged in provided the only form of entertainment. Outside, above the roof, a rectangular solar panel was perched on a pole, capturing the plentiful sunlight and converting it to electricity that was stored in a battery to be used by this family at night. This simple setup powered four lights in the house – in the kitchen, a bedroom, the hallway and at the entrance – and provided up to four hours of light in the evening. Continue reading