Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Thursday, May 05, 2011

watts the bad word

one of the design elements at pR is being off-the-grid.
it has been simple and non-controversial to be off-the-grid with human waste management and water.

and but being off the power grid has been very simple from the implementation standpoint, it has been a challenge from the ideological and environmental standpoint.
we currently have:
1. an installed solar power generation of 1.15KW (20 panels) in a 24 V system.
2. with a battery system capable of storing 400 Amp Hours and
3. an DC to AC invertor of 1.5 KW capacity.

it is well known that item 2 is an environmental disaster (inspite of many recycling claims) and this has been a point of concern for advocates of solar technologies.
in germany, a simple solution of connecting household solar electricity generation to the grid has changed the game and knocked batteries out of the loop.

while we marinate in this challenge, tehelka's latest cover story, highlights the energy issue that the country faces.

there is a argument for rationing...
How is one to bridge the gap between rural India’s search for basic light and a fan and Mukesh Ambani’s monthly electricity bill of Rs. 70.69 lakh?
Meanwhile, according to research by Bharat Jhunjhunwala, former IIM Bangalore professor and author of The Economics of Hydropower, we require only 2 percent of our present electricity generation to provide lifeline consumption of power to unelectrified villages. According to RGGVY, 30 units per month are enough to meet the energy needs of a village household. “Going by that rate, we need 1.2 billion units per month. We are currently producing 67 billion units per month,” says Jhunjhunwala.
even before fukushima, the issue of nuclear waste disposal has been a reason why i could never support this technology.
Perhaps most worrying of all the downsides though is that, as sources in the nuclear industry in France admitted to Tehelka, there is as yet no long-term sustainable solution on what to do with radioactive waste. Even in a country like France which depends on nuclear power for 80 percent of its electricity, research is underway. Areva told Tehelka that 96 percent of its used fuel is recycled, but a research programme is underway to find solutions for the final disposal underground of the remaining 4 percent radioactive waste. That final disposal would be at about 500 metres below ground. For the time being, however, the hazardous waste of all French nuclear plants are temporarily stored at the Areva plant at La Hague, 20 km from the city of Cherbourg in Normandy, which has 80,000 inhabitants and is surrounded by several villages.
While radioactive waste is currently stored in containers on site in India, Jaitapur will perhaps be India’s first experiment with storing waste underground in lead containers. Any leak could contaminate ground water.

there is a definite an direct correlation between our GDP growth and the growth in power demand. maybe even by a factor of the second exponential.
and the reckless search for 10% growth will lead to reckless push towards installing new power plants.

there are many solutions which need to be worked upon parallely.
1. creating decentralised, local generation/usage solutions like the examples in the start of the article.
2. investment in cutting down on distribution losses over creating new capacity using any technology.
3. decreasing consumption has to be a vital part the overall solution and
4. as tusha concludes,
Which brings us full circle back to the original riddle: Yes, we all want electricity. But not generated in our backyard!
Perhaps the first step to unravelling this will be for governments and corporations to insist on the very best practices possible – on humanitarian, environmental and technological grounds.


?!!!@#%* said...

this talks another aspect of comparison between solar panels and nuclear plants.

and there is revision also happened to that article for the in appropriate comparison from an initial version!



Yugandhar said...

csm, today's editorial page in our local telugu daily had an article on nuclear energy and the dangers thereof. One sentence says that just by arresting transmission losses and thefts around 30 to 40% of power can be saved and all our needs can be met without generating a single extra watt. Whatever the studies point at, my gut feel is that reducing the usage is a key parameter. And some one buzzed this about CFLs

Krupakar said...

SKD-Am thinking of a similar solar setup for the new house, although not at the PointReturn scale. Have any solutions that beat the battery problem emerged from the marination?

Arvind said...

IMO, we need to decentralize power generation. This will reduce power generation at coal and nuclear plants and encourage solar/wind energy.
I'm looking forward to feedback on the just launched Honeywell wind turbine. The smartbox control system shown on that page is very interesting. Essentially, you'll use all the power generated on-site first, supplementing it with grid power as required.

csm said...

krups - you should check out the bangalore youngster - sanjeev rao.
he has developed a hybrid system using simple materials.
read about him at energy kid.
write to him sanjeev (at) energykid dot co dot in
call him on +91 99001 17482

all - germany is showing the lead and glad that many agree that decentralisaion is one imp path forward.