Tag Archives: energy

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

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Waste Streams turn to Gold

A couple of related articles in the past months have got me thinking about the trash streams we generate and its adverse impact in the developing world.

The National Geographic in an article “High Tech Trash” estimates that over 70 per cent of high tech trash winds up in landfills creating a toxic time bomb. The EPA estimated that between 1.5 and 1.9 million tons of electronic junk was discarded in 2005. The future looks even bleaker as millions of TVs will be rendered inoperable with the switch to digital transmission next year. Already the US discards nearly 25 million TVs and 100 million cell phones every year. 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, Lokvani.com, 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