In another farming town, in Ivory Coast, I talked to a man named Abou Traoré, who put his television out in a courtyard most nights, so that neighbors could come by to watch. He said that they tuned in for soccer matches—the village tilts Liverpool, but has a large pocket of Manchester United supporters. What else did he watch? Traoré considered. “I like the National Geographic channel,” he replied—that is, the broadcast arm of the institution that became famous showing Westerners pictures of remote parts of Africa.
The man turned down Lewis’s pitch. He was worried that he wouldn’t be able to make the monthly payments in the lean stretch before the next cacao harvest. “That’s crap,” Fossouo whispered, pointing again to the man’s wife. “He loves this woman, he can move the world for her.” When we went to the next house, Fossouo took over. This prospect was a farmer and schoolteacher, and they talked in his classroom, which had a few low desks with shards of slate on top. Fossouo had the man catalogue everything that he was spending on energy: money for kerosene, flashlight batteries, even the gas for the scooter that he borrowed when he needed to charge his phone. Then Fossouo showed him what he had to offer: a radio and four lights, each with a dimmer switch. “Where would you put the lamp?” he asked. “In front of the door? Of course! And the big light in the middle of the room, so when you have a party everyone could see. Now, tell me, if you went to the market to buy all of this, how much would it cost?” Fossouo tried angle after angle. “You have to think big here,” he said. “When I talked to your chief, he said, ‘Don’t think small.’ If your kid could see the news on TV, he might say, ‘I, too, could be President.’ ”
India is becoming one of the world’s main producers of PV modules, with plans to power 100,000 villages and install solar-powered telephones in its 500,000 villages. By 2000, Mexico plans to have electrified 60,000 villages with solar power. Zaire ‘s Hospital Bulape serves 50,000 outpatients per year and is run https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=IlyS2Uetf04 on solar power, from air conditioning to x-ray equipment. And in Moroccan bazaars, carpets, tin ware, and solar panels lie side by side for sale. Probably the most outstanding example of a country’s commitment to solar power is in Israel . In 1992, over half of all households (700,000) heated their water with solar energy systems. And there are 50,000 new installations every year.
Wind Power. The movement of the atmosphere is driven by differences of temperature at the Earth’s surface due to varying temperatures of the Earth’s surface when lit by sunlight. Wind energy can be used to pump water or generate electricity, but requires extensive areal coverage to produce significant amounts of energy.
If nothing is done to check these trends, the U.S. electric utility as we know it could be utterly upended. The report compares utilities’ possible future to the experience of the airlines during deregulation or to the big monopoly phone companies when faced with upstart cellular technologies. In case the point wasn’t made, the report also analogizes utilities to the U.S. Postal Service, Kodak, and RIM, the maker of Blackberry devices. These are not meant to be flattering comparisons.
Renewable resource harvesting and use typically do not produce pollution or contribute to global warming. The use of renewable resources and energy sources is increasing worldwide, with certain nations, such as Bhutan, and US states, such as California, beginning to rely entirely on renewable energy. From 2008 to 2012, the U.S. doubled renewable generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources. America and Britain are now home to some of the largest wind and solar farms in the world.
Utility investors are accustomed to large, long-term, reliable investments with a 30-year cost recovery — fossil fuel plants, basically. The cost of those investments, along with investments in grid maintenance and reliability, are spread by utilities across all ratepayers in a service area. What happens if a bunch of those ratepayers start reducing their demand or opting out of the grid entirely? Well, the same investments must now be spread over a smaller group of ratepayers. In other words: higher rates for those who haven’t switched to solar.
Biomass briquettes are increasingly being used in the developing world as an alternative to charcoal. The technique involves the conversion of almost any plant matter into compressed briquettes that typically have about 70% the calorific value of charcoal. There are relatively few examples of large-scale briquette production. One exception is in North Kivu, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where forest clearance for charcoal production is considered to be the biggest threat to mountain gorilla habitat. The staff of Virunga National Park have successfully trained and equipped over 3500 people to produce biomass briquettes, thereby replacing charcoal produced illegally inside the national park, and creating significant employment for people living in extreme poverty in conflict-affected areas.
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Some consumers choose green energy tariffs because it encourages suppliers to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, reduce their carbon footprint and reduce their impact on the environment. However, because all electricity is supplied by the National Grid regardless of how it’s made, there’s no real way to ensure that the energy you pay for is actually green.
A wind farm is a group of wind turbines in the same location used to produce electric power. A large wind farm may consist of several hundred individual wind turbines, and cover an extended area of hundreds of square miles, but the land between the turbines may be used for agricultural or other purposes. A wind farm may also be located offshore.
In some countries such as the Netherlands, electricity companies guarantee to buy an equal amount of ‘green power’ as is being used by their green power customers. The Dutch government exempts green power from pollution taxes, which means green power is hardly any more expensive than other power.
In February 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched its SunShot initiative, a collaborative national effort to cut the total cost of photovoltaic solar energy systems by 75% by 2020. Reaching this goal would make unsubsidized solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity and get grid parity . The SunShot initiative included a crowdsourced innovation program run in partnership with Topcoder, during which 17 different solar energy application solutions were developed in 60 days. In 2011, the price was $4/W, and the SunShot goal of $1/W by 2020 was reached in 2017.
By lowering a building’s utility bills, these systems not only pay for themselves over time, they help reduce air pollution caused by utility companies. For example, solar power systems help increase something called “peak load generating capacity,” thereby saving the utility from turning on expensive and polluting supplemental systems during periods of peak demand. The more local-generating solar electric power systems that are installed in a given utility’s service area, the less capacity the utility needs to build, thus saving everyone from funding costly additional power generating sources. Contributing clean, green power from your own solar electric system helps create jobs and is a great way to mitigate the pollution and other problems produced by electricity derived from fossil fuel. Solar-powered electrical generating systems help you reduce your impact on the environment and save money at the same time!
When we talk about green energy, we mean electricity and gas made from renewable sources: green electricity made from the wind, the sun and the sea, and green gas made from organic material and, soon, grass.
Jump up ^ Noth, André (July 2008). “History of Solar Flight” (PDF). Autonomous Systems Lab. Zürich: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. p. 3. Retrieved 8 July 2010. Günter Rochelt was the designer and builder of Solair I, a 16 m wingspan solar airplane … 21st of August 1983 he flew in Solair I, mostly on solar energy and also thermals, during 5 hours 41 minutes.
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Several refineries that can process biomass and turn it into ethanol are built by companies such as Iogen, POET, and Abengoa, while other companies such as the Verenium Corporation, Novozymes, and Dyadic International are producing enzymes which could enable future commercialization. The shift from food crop feedstocks to waste residues and native grasses offers significant opportunities for a range of players, from farmers to biotechnology firms, and from project developers to investors.
Nearly all the gasoline sold in the United States today is mixed with 10% ethanol, and motor vehicle manufacturers already produce vehicles designed to run on much higher ethanol blends. Ford, Daimler AG, and GM are among the automobile companies that sell “flexible-fuel” cars, trucks, and minivans that can use gasoline and ethanol blends ranging from pure gasoline up to 85% ethanol. By mid-2006, there were approximately 6 million ethanol compatible vehicles on U.S. roads.
President Trump has derided renewable energy as “really just an expensive way of making the tree huggers feel good about themselves.” But many Western entrepreneurs see solar power in Africa as a chance to reach a large market and make a substantial profit. This is a nascent industry, which, at the moment, represents a small percentage of the electrification in the region, and is mostly in rural areas. There’s plenty of uncertainty about its future, and no guarantee that it will spread at the pace of cell phones. Still, in the past eighteen months, these businesses have brought electricity to hundreds of thousands of consumers—many of them in places that the grid failed to reach, despite a hundred-year head start. Funding, much of it from private investors based in Silicon Valley or Europe, is flowing into this sector—more than two hundred million dollars in venture capital last year, up from nineteen million in 2013—and companies are rapidly expanding their operations with the new money. M-Kopa, an American startup that launched in Kenya, in 2011, now has half a million pay-as-you-go solar customers; d.light, a competitor with offices in California, Kenya, China, and India, says that it is adding eight hundred new households a day. Nicole Poindexter, the founder and C.E.O. of Black Star, told me that every million dollars the company raises in venture capital delivers power to seven thousand people. She expects Black Star to be profitable within the next three years.
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