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(Em)Powering Communities: SolarKiosk

Posted in Models, Movements by Jessica Bird on February 15th, 2013

 Source: TransitionsFF

CIMG0790
Photo from SolarKiosk.

From ‘SolarKiosk: mobile modular power for really remote areas” on Good.is

For those who’ve grown up constantly plugged into the power grid, it’s almost impossible to think of life without an endless supply of outlets, power cords, and technology. But for an estimated 1.5 billion people around the world, power—from cutting and burning firewood to lighting kerosene lamps, paraffin, and candles—doesn’t come easy. According to the United Nations Foundation, almost 3 billion people rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating, about 1.5 billion have no access to electricity, and 1 billion more have access only to unreliable electricity networks. Smoke from polluting and inefficient cooking, lighting, and heating devices kills nearly two million people a year and causes a range of chronic illnesses and other health impacts.

In an effort to tackle health and development-related obstacles in developing countries, a company based in Germany and Ethiopia is bringing clean energy to “off-grid areas” around the world. Housed in a metal hut topped with a solar panel-filled roof, the designers have named their creation a “SolarKiosk,” a small-scale power source for communities without electricity. Each SolarKiosk is expected to provide enough power for villagers to charge their mobile phones and car batteries, run a computer, or power up a solar fridge. Goods sold from the Kiosk include solar lanterns, mobile phones, and cards to top-up cellular devices. Considering that the Kiosk’s fridge may be the community’s only one, it could be used to house everything from medication to chilled drinks. The kiosk could also provide television, music, and internet depending on the locale. The creators project that a larger-size SolarKiosk could even produce enough energy to run a telecom tower reliably, while also providing security and maintenance. It will even be possible to connect multiple kiosks to create a local grid.

The world’s first SolarKiosk set up shop on July 15 [2012] near Lake Langana in Ethiopia. Designed by Graft Architects, the project not only provides clean energy solutions to “off-grid” countries, but once installed, becomes a power-generating shop and business hub, providing jobs to community members and education on how solar products work. It also becomes a glowing, solar-powered light source at night. Each kiosk comes in a lightweight, DIY kit, making it is easy to transport and build a kiosk in off-road, rural areas—the package could even be carried to its target location on the back of a donkey. With the exception of pre-manufactured electrical components, the kiosk’s parts can be constructed from a range of local materials including bamboo, wood, adobe, stone, metal, or even recycled goods. Post-assembly, the entire structure is firmly anchored in the ground. […]

NB. The second SolarKiosk was installed in Teppi, Ethiopia, in November last year. – [JB]

>>> You can read the full article on Good.is.
>>> You can learn more about SolarKiosk on their website.


Teaching neighbours to build small renewable energy projects for resilience

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on October 31st, 2012

Source: Resilience


Photo via JfS

From “Transition Town Fujino goes for local energy independence” by Carol Smith via OurWorld 2.0:

Fujino is one of three fully functioning Transition Movement initiatives in Japan, although over twenty are in the works. Established in the fall of 2008, Transition Fujino (which we’ve featured on Our World a few times in the past) started up by sharing information on the core issues through events like briefings and film presentations.

Then a local currency, the Yorozuya (meaning “general store” in Japanese), was launched and began playing a major role in stimulating local networking. The Yorozuya project started with 15 members in 2009 and has now grown to include 150 households. Those participating can exchange goods and eat at restaurants using the currency. The network also thrives by targeting local needs, such as providing pet care, weeding vegetable gardens, and picking up children. It further serves to connect those in need with those who can give a hand. Following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, the network displayed a great ability to support disaster-affected areas by collecting cash donations, gathering and sorting emergency relief supplies and regularly holding charity events.

In the wake of the [March 03 2011] disaster, the working group Fujino Denryoku (“denryoku” meaning “electric power”) was established to help people break away from their dependence on electricity provided by the traditional power utilities and transition towards self-sufficient, locally-distributed energy created with the participation of local people.  The group’s first project was to supply power for lighting and sound systems at a local festival. Project teams also went out to festivals in the earthquake disaster zones in the Tohoku region and offered support to the affected areas by supplying power generated with renewable energy.

The working group also holds monthly “Solar Power System Workshops”, where participants, including beginners, can easily assemble a home system by connecting photovoltaic (PV) panels and batteries, etc., as part of a campaign called “An Energy Shift Starting at Home”.  At the first workshop in December 2011 participants initially learned from one another, but the workshop began to attract attention from a wider public and within six months it was being introduced on TV and in magazines. Now the workshops host not only local residents, but increasingly people from outside communities.

Read the full article on the Resilience website to find out more about Transition Towns in Japan, energy independence and local resilience, or read the Japan for Sustainability (JfS) newsletter article by Yuriko Yoneda that this article was based on.

 


Transforming Tokelau: Heading for 100% solar by the end of 2012

Posted in Models, Movements by Jessica Bird on August 27th, 2012

Source: New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Aid Programme

From “Tokelau: A Leading Light in Renewable Energy

 

An innovative renewable energy project is set to transform Tokelau and lead the world in transitioning from dependence on fossil-fuels to renewable energy.  

With global attention focused on the effects of climate change and the international price of oil, it may come as a surprise that the tiny nation of Tokelau, comprising three remote atolls midway between New Zealand and Hawai’i, is moving to the forefront of the debate by installing renewable energy systems that will dramatically slash its reliance on imported fossil fuels. Undertaking a project of this scale on all three atolls is no mean feat. The closest atoll is around 500km north of Samoa; there are no airstrips or wharves, and the only access is a long boat trip from Samoa that ends outside the reefs, where a landing barge takes passengers and equipment to shore. Offloading goods in the swell is challenging. However, soon the job will become easier since almost 2,000 barrels of diesel a year will no longer be required to generate electricity.

Developing renewable energy projects in the Pacific brings unique challenges. Systems and components must be designed to withstand harsh tropical and marine environments, strong winds, high temperatures, and a corrosive salt-laden atmosphere. Unlike in New Zealand, where if a part breaks or needs replacing it is possible to replace easily, in Tokelau the systems and components must be designed to promote robustness and longevity, because transport is infrequent and challenging. And yet by the end of 2012 Tokelau expects to switch off its generators and begin to use an indigenous resource it has plenty of – sunlight.

Tokelau’s 1,411 residents are New Zealand citizens, and New Zealand is advancing $7 million to the Government of Tokelau to install the renewable energy systems that will help achieve its long-term goals of energy independence and reducing reliance on expensive imported diesel, which will put Tokelau at the forefront of global climate change mitigation efforts.

The energy crisis in the Pacific is not confined to Tokelau. Most Pacific Island nations are highly dependent on imported fossil fuels to meet energy needs, and are vulnerable to international price fluctuations and escalating fuel costs. Almost every aspect of Pacific economies is underpinned by imported fossil fuels, and the increasing cost of diesel results in extremely high costs of electricity for households and businesses. In many cases, the cost of importing fuel is many times higher than all export earnings combined, so Tokelau’s, and the Pacific’s, dependence on diesel is bad for the economy as well as the environment. […]

“This project is unique and has the potential to demonstrate what can be achieved through the perseverance and hard work by the Government of Tokelau,” adds Joseph Mayhew, Development Manager Energy in the New Zealand Aid Programme. “Photovoltaics are a mature, reliable off-the-shelf technology that has been proven for years. Given the high cost of diesel, renewable energy should not be seen as an ‘alternative’ source of energy, but rather an essential key to unlocking the Pacific’s potential.”

Read the full article from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Rooftops in New York City: Climate change responses

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on June 20th, 2012

The Guardian site is hosting a series of videos from the Climate Desk about New York’s rooftop revolution.  The three high quality videos – each with site visits and interviews – take the viewer through an overview of emerging projects in the area of green roofs, solar harvesting, and white roofs.

www.guardian.co.uk/environment/interactive/2012/jun/07/climate-change-new-york

 


Funding small-scale solar projects for widespread gains

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on May 3rd, 2012


Photo by Rajiv Patel (Rajiv’s View) via flickr CC

From “Solar rooftops sought in poor communities” by Bernice Yeung:

San Diego is home to more than 2,600 solar residential rooftops – more than any other California city – but in the neighboring lower-income community of National City, there are only about a dozen.

A bill before the California Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce this month seeks to equalize renewable energy installation in the state by promoting small-scale solar rooftops in the disadvantaged communities. The bill targets neighborhoods with high unemployment rates and those that “bear a disproportionate burden from air pollution, disease, and other impacts from the generation of electricity from the burning of fossil fuels,” the bill said. Bill author Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Mountain View, said the legislation would create jobs and build “cleaner, safer, and healthier neighborhoods.”

[…]

The legislation would require the state to install enough systems to produce 375 megawatts of renewable energy – or about 1,000 small-scale projects – in disadvantaged communities between 2014 and the end of 2020. Utility companies are required by a 2011 state law to achieve a 33 percent renewable portfolio standard by 2020. The renewable energy systems supported by Fong’s bill would take the form of rooftop solar installations on apartment complexes and commercial buildings, and each project would be limited to producing 500 kilowatts of power, a project the size of a typical Costco rooftop. Advocates say passage of the bill could improve both the health and economy of these low-income communities.

Through a program known as “feed-in tariff,” the owner of the solar panels would be able to earn revenue by selling back unused energy to the local utility company. Additionally, the bill promotes the hiring of local workers to install the solar panels. And because reliance on carbon dioxide-emitting power plants used during periods of high energy demand – called peaker plants – could be decreased with an increase in renewable energy creation, there are health implications to the bill, said Strela Cervas of the California Environmental Justice Alliance, which sponsored the legislation.

[…]

Read the full article by Bernice Yeung on California Watch.


Solar Energy from Existing Structures: Free Calculator

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on November 11th, 2011

Source: Renewables International


Image from SEES Manual


From New software calculates a city’s potential by Sven Ullrich & Craig Morris:

Researchers at the University of Göteborg in Sweden have come up with a new computer program to analyze the potential of solar power generation and solar heat for entire cities. The program supports a wide range of data formats.

Called Solar Energy from Existing Structures (SEES), the new software collects, stores, analyzes, and graphically displays geographical data for roofs to determine their suitability for solar arrays. It calculates both the angle of solar incidence and shading from trees and nearby structures. In addition to this data, the roof angle and climate data are included with a resolution of up to an hour. The program shows building roofs in their actual environment. In the model, the sun shines on the building’s three-dimensional surroundings to correctly reveal shading, which can also be calculated for individual months and the year as a whole.

Read the full article by Sven Ullrich & Craig Morris on Renewables International.


DIY Solar-Powered Indoor Kitchens

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on August 26th, 2011

Source: No Tech Magazine

From “Build a Solar Powered (Interior) Kitchen“:

Solare Brücke is an organisation that promotes the distribution of solar thermal technology, both in developing countries and in the first world. They offer detailed construction manuals, which can all be downloaded for free.

One example is the Scheffler-Reflector: “To make cooking simple and comfortable the cooking-place should not have to be moved, even better: it should be inside the house and the concentrating reflector outside in the sun. The best solution was a eccentric, flexible parabolic reflector which rotates around an axis parallel to earth-axis, synchronous with the sun. Additionally the reflector is adjusted to the seasons by flexing it in a simple way.”

The Scheffler-Reflector can be built in steel or aluminium, and there are additional manuals available for the mechanical tracking system, a stove and a baking oven. There are also plans for a solar tunnel dryer and a smaller solar cooker.

Read the original article at No Tech Magazine.


Retrofitting Solar Panels to Existing Structures: High Speed Rail

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on June 15th, 2011

Source: guardian.co.uk

From “High-speed Euro train gets green boost from two miles of solar panels” by Damian Carrington:

A two-mile-long Belgian rail tunnel, built to shelter trains from falling trees, will from Monday provide a double environmental benefit by hosting a unique solar power project. The high-speed line running from Paris to Amsterdam passes Antwerp and a nearby ancient forest. To avoid the need to fell protected trees, a long tunnel was built over the line which has now been topped with 16,000 solar panels. The electricity produced is equivalent to that needed to power all the trains in Belgium for one day per year, and will also help power Antwerp station.

“For train operators, it is the perfect way to cut their carbon footprints because you can use spaces that have no other economic value and the projects can be delivered within a year because they don’t attract the protests that wind power does,” said Bart Van Renterghem, UK head of Belgian renewable energy company Enfinity, which installed the panels. “We had a couple of projects lined up around London with train operators and water utilities, but they have been put on hold.” Van Renterghem said this was due to the UK government’s controversial review of subsidies for large-scale solar power projects, which will lower the returns available.

The UK government argues that solar technology is too expensive, but Van Renterghem said he had seen the cost of cells halve in the last two to three years thanks to economies of scale in Germany, France and Belgium. The new Blackfriars station in London, which will span the River Thames, will host the largest single collection of solar panels in the UK when it opens in spring 2012. The roof of the new station will have 4,400 panels and a capacity of 1MW, enough to provide 50% of the station’s electricity. However, the development is not dependent on the level of government subsidy for solar power as the £7.3m bill was paid by the transport department’s environment fund.

Read this article by Damian Carrington on The Guardian.


Ecopolis video – featuring Australia’s John Lasich and his solar technology

Posted in Models by fedwards on January 30th, 2009

Check out this Youtube video (3 minutes) which features John Lasich, Co-Founder of Solar System, who believes that we can access enough energy for all the world’s megacities (more on sustainable cities!).