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human activity and the destruction of the planet


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Birmingham couple become model for living a low-carbon life

There are many people across the country who have already cut their carbon emissions down to near zero.  Some of them are featured in an Observer article this week:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/may/04/carbon-cutting-zero-emissions-eco-warriors-damaged-world

Among them are Chris and Harriet Martin from Birmingham,UK.

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Harriet and Chris Martin in their back garden: behind them you can see solar panels on their pergola

Harriet Martin is quoted as saying, “My husband Chris and I are Quakers. Eleven years ago, we downsized to a semi-detached house in Bournville. To make our new home energy efficient, we insulated as much as we could – even under the floorboards. We installed double glazing and put solar panels on a pergola in the garden. In total, we’ve reduced our home’s carbon emissions by 85%. We open the house to show people what we’ve done.

Our diet is now 60% to 70% vegan, and the remainder vegetarian. We grow a lot of our fruit and vegetables on our allotment. We eat seasonally and I bake my own bread.

Even though we own a car, we rarely drive and try to walk as much as we can or take the bus. We avoid flying, preferring to travel by train. We mend our clothes and furniture. When I feel I need to buy something, I try to get it from a charity shop, borrow it from a neighbour or ask for it on Freecycle or Freegle, where people advertise things they want to get rid of.

We bank with Triodos Bank. It costs us a few pounds each month, but it means we know our money will be used for ethical and sustainable purposes, not fossil fuel exploration or companies.

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Centre for Environmental Research and Education (CERE) in India starts an urban afforestation project

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CERE’s Urban Afforestation Project (UAP) is increasing the green cover in Indian cities by helping companies, organisations, and individuals to reduce their carbon footprint.

CERE calculates the amount of carbon sequestered at each plantation site, taking into consideration species type, age of saplings and projected growth rates. Sequestration values are calculated as projections over 5, 10, or 15 years. Carbon Sequestration Certification is an integral part of the program and clients are provided with a CERE Offset Certificate at the end of the plantation and assessment.

See the locations at which plantation drives have been held and added information on this new website.

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Katy, Rashneh and colleagues – full list here

CERE’s Rain Water Harvesting programme has proved to control floods and our Carbon Map and Cap project is also growing from strength to strength, helping major companies to go green by mapping their carbon emissions and determining their carbon footprint and thereafter, helping achieve reduction targets to cap their carbon emissions.

Their Schools for Solar programme started this year with three institutions being solarised and the project will expand further next year to cover many more schools and colleges. CERE’s educational books, posters and e-learning courses are being used by various stakeholders.

As they say, most parts of India receive a high amount of solar radiation for 250 to 300 days in a year which-eventually adds up to a potential of producing 6,000 million GWh of energy per year. All will hope that – as soon as possible – the country will tap this resource to generate electricity on a large scale.

With acknowledgements to:  https://notthembutus.wordpress.com/2019/02/23/news-about-the-work-of-cere/



 


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Could the Sahara desert be used to provide energy for the rest of the world?

The Sahara Desert would seem to be a dream location for powering the rest of the world by the use of renewable energy, both wind and solar.

I have thought about this possibility for a long time and it would seem that I am not the only one.  The difficulty with this may be that the Sahara desert is part of a number of African countries.

It covers large parts of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan and Tunisia, extends over 9 million square kilometres (3,500,000 sq miles), and covers about a quarter of the African continent.

Logically, to use solar panels and wind farms in the Sahara desert, or any other desert for that matter, would seem to be an ideal solution to reverse global warming and deal with climate change.  It might even help to reduce extreme poverty in Africa.  But, would the large energy companies ever allow it to happen?

So, what has been happening so far?  Morocco has already begun to install solar panels on is territory, with a solar park about the size of Paris.  It is called Noor, which is Arabic for ‘light’.  See:

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/morocco-turns-the-sahara-desert-into-a-solar-energy-oasis

There is also the Sahara Solar Breeder Project, a joint initiative between the universities of Algeria and Japan.  It is claimed that solar power plants there could supply half the world’s energy requirements by 2050.  It will begin by building a silicon manufacturing plant in the desert to transform silica in the sand into silicon of sufficiently high quality for use in solar panels. Solar power plants will then be constructed using the solar panels, and some of the electricity generated will supply the energy needed to build more silicon plants to produce more solar panels and then more electricity.  A short video explains the process:

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2010-12-sahara-aims-power-world.html#jCp

The whole idea has been discussed by a number of groups:  See as follows:

https://www.quora.com/Why-dont-cant-we-put-solar-panels-in-the-Sahara-Desert-as-a-source-of-electricity-It-seems-like-it-would-also-help-the-African-economy-perhaps-lessening-the-poverty-and-violence

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-34987467

https://theecologist.org/2010/feb/10/whats-stopping-us-getting-solar-power-deserts

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/dec/11/sahara-solar-panels-green-electricity

https://singularityhub.com/2017/12/03/the-tantalizing-dream-of-a-solar-sahara/#sm.00004g1rcd15l3ffir2gs4mipa8mq

One group feels that it would become a target for terrorist activity, especially as there is much political instability in this part of the world:

http://tinosolutions.com/why-dont-we-put-solar-panels-in-the-sahara-desert-2/

Many of these posts describe it as a tantalizing dream. But, to me, it is the most obvious option open to the global population.  If it is feasible, then we should find a way.

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There is also a claim that wind and solar farms could make it rain regularly in the Sahara desert, through a two-fold increase in rainfall, enabling vegetation to take hold.

ttps://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/pa8edb/wind-and-solar-farms-could-make-parts-of-the-sahara-green-with-vegetation

 


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Solar Panels: the majority of the UK public want to install them

A survey, reported in The Guardian has shown that more than half of people in the UK would install solar panels on their homes, if there was Government support on the cost of installation.  62% said they wanted to fit solar panels and 60% said they would buy an energy storage device.  Many have made this decision because they want to break up the energy suppliers market dominance but less than 10% of those surveyed had already installed solar panels.

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/aug/20/majority-of-uk-public-want-to-install-solar-panels-poll-finds

The survey was commissioned by Client Earth, an environmental law group: https://www.clientearth.org/

The survey also found that solar is the most popular energy source, with coal the least popular.  Nuclear energy and gas were almost as unpopular as coal.

Further data and graphs are given in The Guardian article.

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India: new contract for 500 megawatt Bhadla solar park in Rajasthan

The Financial Times has outlined details of this project, which went up for auction in May.  The companies which won the bid have said that they can build the project for 2.44 rupees ($0.04) for every unit of electricity eventually generated. The article was written by Kiran Stacey from New Delhi and published on 1st November 2017.  See:

https://www.ft.com/content/4dca7f72-b31d-11e7-a398-73d59db9e3299?accessToken=zwAAAV-azb9Akc9Nyn9ysx0R59OjmHPVnbnjmQ.MEQCID3mnYDb7NVXzpn9wAPEMb7C6IwZUIHs5MHMvp8lsZK8AiBs5deHUvR6sQJI9vkbwoRdq_62CK-xxB3Zy7cuLTijAQ&sharetype=gift

This detailed and interesting article provides a number of facts about India’s place in the renewable energy field.

  1.  India’s solar power tariffs have reduced from over 8Rs/Kwh to 2.44Rs in the last six years.
  2. Solar power in India has grown at double digit rates over the last six years.
  3. There are plans to increase India’s solar capacity by 76% more in 2017 than in 2016, which will make India the third largest solar market globally. An interesting graph is included in the FT article, which shows that China is by far the leading solar industry around the world.  In second place is the USA, though their additional capacity has dropped in the last year.  The capacity of Japan and Germany is also dropping, which has enabled India to soar into third place.
  4. The price of Chinese-made solar panels has tumbled in recent years, due to over-production.
  5. At present, 60% of India’s energy is coal-powered, so there is still a long way to go, though the reducing price of solar panels makes the solar industry much more competitive.

The FT article mainly focuses on the economical effects of these changes and the risks associated with them.

However, it makes sense for this to happen, in view of the rising temperatures experienced in India in the last few years.

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Map of India showing high temperature areas during recent heat wave

And now, further details of the new solar development in Rajasthan have come to me, as follows:

The winning bid for the third and fourth phase development at Bhadla solar park in Rajasthan – a500-megawatt solar farm – was one of the lowest prices for solar power ever seen anywhere in the world. The companies — Acme Solar, an Indian developer, and SBG Cleantech, a joint venture whose shareholders include SoftBank of Japan — said they would build the project for a guaranteed price of just Rs2.44 ($0.04) for every unit of electricity they eventually sold – substantially cheaper than coal

The Bhadla auction confirmed that the country is undergoing a generational shift from coal-fuelled power to solar and wind and placed India at the centre of a global renewables revolution that is driving down the cost of green energy and which represents one of the biggest threats to fossil fuels.

As India is already the world’s third-biggest carbon emitter and plans to electrify even its most remote villages within two years, a rapid expansion in the country’s renewables sector would prove a huge boost for attempts to keep global temperature rises below 2C — the target set by the 2015 Paris climate accords. 

Further details can be found at:

https://chssachetan.wordpress.com/2017/12/30/indias-development-of-solar-energy-1/