The cacao-farming community of Daban, in Ghana, is seven degrees north of the equator, and it’s always hot. In May, I met with several elders there to talk about the electricity that had come to the town a few months earlier, when an American startup installed a solar microgrid nearby. Daban could now safely store the vaccine for yellow fever; residents could charge their cell phones at home rather than walking to a bigger town to do it. As we talked, one of the old men handed me a small plastic bag of water, the kind street venders sell across West Africa—you just bite off a corner and drink. The water was ice-cold and refreshing, but it took me an embarrassingly long moment to understand the pleasure with which he offered it: cold water was now available in this hot place. There was enough power to run a couple of refrigerators, and so coldness was, for the first time, a possibility.
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A decade ago, most experts would have predicted that foreign aid, rather than venture capital, would play a central role in bringing https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=qLuiZJpaVzM to sub-Saharan Africa. Off-Grid Electric has been funded by sources including Tesla and Paul Allen’s venture fund, Vulcan. Allen, one of the world’s richest men, is worth twenty billion dollars, or roughly half of the G.D.P. of Tanzania, a country of almost fifty-four million people. Should he be able to make yet more money off the electrification of African huts? There’s more than a whiff of colonialism about the rush of Westerners and Western money into Africa. As Attah, the young Ghanaian who helped found Farmerline, put it, “There are a lot of Ivy Leaguers coming to Africa to say, ‘I can solve this problem, snap, snap, snap.’ They’re doing good work, but little investment goes to community leaders who are doing the same work on the ground.”
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We have proved the commercial profit of sun power in the tropics and have more particularly proved that after our stores of oil and coal are exhausted the human race can receive unlimited power from the rays of the sun.
Just in time for the space race, the first solar panels made their debut in the satellite industry. Vanguard I, the first solar-powered satellite celebrated its 53rd birthday this year, setting mileage records and holding the title of being the oldest artificial satellite still in orbit.
Besides the greening of fossil fuel and nuclear power plants, another option is the distribution and immediate use of power from solely renewable sources. In this set-up energy storage is again not necessary. For example, TREC has proposed to distribute solar power from the Sahara to Europe. Europe can distribute wind and ocean power to the Sahara and other countries. In this way, power is produced at any given time as at any point of the planet as the sun or the wind is up or ocean waves and currents are stirring. This option however is probably not possible in the short-term, as fossil fuel and nuclear power are still the main sources of energy on the mains electricity net and replacing them will not be possible overnight.
A wide range of policies fall under the RPS umbrella. In general, RPS set a minimum requirement for the share of electricity supply that comes from designated renewable energy resources by a certain date or year. Generally, these resources include wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and some types of hydroelectricity, but may also include other resources such as landfill gas, municipal solid waste, and ocean energy. Some programs also give credits for various types of renewable space heating and water heating, fuel cells, energy efficiency measures, and advanced fossil-fueled technologies.
Other water-splitting cycles can also be developed. The water-splitting schemes WS2 and WS3 presented in Scheme 2 use basic reaction types that are common to organometallic catalysis. However, for the water-splitting problem, O, as opposed to C or N, needs to be managed. Every reaction, however, does have a precedent for carbon or nitrogen. In WS2 in Scheme 2, oxidative addition across XH (X = C, N) bonds is a basic reaction of organometallic chemistry but is not yet well established for water (38–43). If this reaction can be achieved cleanly, hydrogen may be generated by α-H abstraction, which is a common reaction in organometallic chemistry and is used to generate metal–ligand multiple bonds. For instance, the α-H abstraction of metal alkylidenes produces alkylidynes (44). But α-H abstraction to produce metal-oxo species, and H2 is uncommon for well defined hydroxo–hydrido complexes. In the case of WS3, the water–gas shift reaction produces H2 from H2O using CO as the reductant. An intense research effort, beginning in the 1970s and ending in the 1980s, provided the basic science for the development of catalysts to effect the water–gas shift reaction (45). However, the reaction must be closed by the conversion of CO2 to CO. On this front, little is known. Some inroads to CO2 reduction have been made on photo– (46, 47) and electro– (48–50) catalytic fronts, but generally the precise path to CO2 reduction is ill-defined, making it difficult to improve these systems by design. A recent report of CO2 reduction by a well defined homogeneous metal complex operating at high turnover number and frequency (51) is a harbinger of the promise that basic science holds for the design of efficient CO2 reduction catalysts.
It is an important source of renewable energy and its technologies are broadly characterized as either passive solar or active solar depending on how they capture and distribute solar energy or convert it into solar power. Active solar techniques include the use of photovoltaic systems, concentrated solar power and solar water heating to harness the energy. Passive solar techniques include orienting a building to the Sun, selecting materials with favorable thermal mass or light-dispersing properties, and designing spaces that naturally circulate air.
First, the power generated by solar panels on residential or commercial roofs is not utility-owned or utility-purchased. From the utility’s point of view, every kilowatt-hour of rooftop solar looks like a kilowatt-hour of reduced demand for the utility’s product. Not something any business enjoys. (This is the same reason utilities are instinctively hostile to energy efficiency and demand response programs, and why they must be compelled by regulations or subsidies to create them. Utilities don’t like reduced demand!)
Energy efficiency and renewable energy are said to be the twin pillars of sustainable energy. In the broader context of sustainable development, there are three pillars, ecology, economy and society. Some ways in which sustainable energy has been defined are:
In a stand alone power system, the house in question is not connected to the electricity grid (the distribution of electricity through high-tension cables). It is “off” grid. This means that the stand alone power system is the sole source of energy available to the home. In a stand alone solar power system, the energy created during the day is stored in a battery bank for use at night. Sometimes batteries are used in grid connect systems as a backup.