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energy

Thrive Solar®

by: gmoke

Wed Nov 19, 2014 at 13:28:26 PM EST

On Friday 11/14/14, Ranganayakulu Bodavula Ph D, Chairman and Managing Director of Thrive® Solar Energy Pvt Ltd (http://www.thriveenergy.co.in), spoke at Harvard's Center for Population Studies (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/population-development/).  On Monday 11/17/14, he spoke to the MIT student group, e4Dev [Energy for Development] (http://e4dev.tumblr.com).  

Thrive Solar Energy Pvt Ltd is a leading solar powered LED lighting solutions provider from India, offering

"14 types of solar powered LED lights that cater to the lighting needs of children, women, households and villages. Its lights are used by tea estate workers, farmers, weavers, vendors, dairy and any other village level vocation that is in need of a clean, safe and reliable light. Thrive Solar partners with NGOs, women Self Help Groups (SHGs), Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), funding agencies, banks, donors, educational institutions and businesses to promote and distribute its lighting products to bottom of the pyramid (BOP) communities, located in off-grid and intermittently grid connected geographies."

Thrive is making 2 million lights per year at a price as low as $2 per lamp and are projecting 4 million per year production soon.  They do not sell directly to consumers but through the different agencies with which they work.  Nearly half of India still uses 12 lumen candles and 40 lumen kerosene lamps which can be replaced with 60 lumen solar lights.  Currently, the Indian government subsidizes kerosene and paraffin prices by $6 billion per year.  Thrive says it can provide solar lights to every Indian family now for about $1 billion.  

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Through MIT's Nuclear Goggles

by: gmoke

Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 13:11:55 PM EDT

( - promoted by eli_beckerman)

Switzerland came to the Boston area a week or so ago.  There was a conversation with one of the political leaders of the country, Doris Leuthard, Councillor of the Swiss Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy, and Communications, at MIT on "Future Energy Supply and Security in Switzerland" and the next day a seminar on Watt d'Or, the Swiss award for the best energy projects in the country ( http://www.bfe.admin.ch/org/00... ), at Northeastern University to celebrate the opening of an exhibit that will stay up at Northeastern's International Village until September.

I attended both events and learned quite a few exciting ideas from the Swiss and, inadvertently, something more about the limitations of MIT's view of the energy future.

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Methane Management: Crowdfunding Natural Gas Leak Monitoring

by: gmoke

Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 23:25:12 PM EDT

HEET Home Energy Efficiency Team, a Cambridge, MA nonprofit which organizes public weatherization parties and barnraisings, is crowd funding a natural gas leak monitoring project in Cambridge and Somerville.  Boston University Professor Nathan Phillips, who drove the streets of Boston last year with a high-precision methane analyzer to find 3,356 natural gas leaks, will loan HEET his methane analyzer and other equipment to drive the roof Cambridge and Somerville roads mapping every leak. Moving at 15 MPH, covering both sides of every street should take about three weeks.   You can learn more about HEET'S Squeaky Leak project and help fund it, if so inclined, at http://www.heetma.com/what-we-...

Professor Phillips will analyze and map the results and HEET will do the driving, following up thusly:
Map of the leaks on the HEET website
Report the leaks to NSTAR to get all Grade 1 leaks fixed
Share the location and amount of leaks with the governments of Somerville and Cambridge so they can work with NSTAR to fix these leaks
Publicize the map to raise awareness about natural gas leaks in order to make sure effective actions are taken on the ground and in our legislature (https://malegislature.gov/Bills/BillHtml/122690?generalCourtId=11) as soon as possible to reduce the leaks not only in Massachusetts, but across the country

Lastly, to compare the amount and number of leaks between Cambridge and Somerville, to see whether Cambridge's decade-long policy of fining NSTAR heavily for opening any roadway that the City is not already working on, while charging it nothing to repair pipes under the roads the City is about to work on succeeded.  Since NSTAR has not shared with the city any map or information about the current or past gas leaks, Cambridge does not know whether this policy worked or not.  HEET's and Prof Phillips' project would provide that data.

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"Net zero is not a practical goal in New England"

by: gmoke

Wed Feb 26, 2014 at 14:37:42 PM EST

Peter Wilson (in a Cambridgewickedlocal with news from the Chronicle and Tab LtE http://cambridge.wickedlocal.c... wrote that "Net zero is not a practical goal in New England" and that may or may not be true.  There are a number of net zero energy single and two family buildings in NE, including in colder climates than Cambridge like Vermont, although the experience with larger and high rise net zero energy buildings is just beginning.  However, there are a few examples that approach net zero, including one in Vienna, Austria, the Raffeisens Bank, a 21 story building built to PassivHaus standards ( http://www.viennareview.net/ne... ).

Whether or not net zero is a practical goal, it is an essential thought experiment we need to run.  By viewing net zero energy as an approachable goal, the way statistical quality control views zero defects on a production line under Total Quality Management, we will assuredly come across many different ways we can reduce our energy needs, perhaps significantly.  

I say we are not going far enough.  We should be thinking not only about net zero energy but also zero emissions throughout our infrastructure.  We know that pollution causes problems, that pollution is waste, and should be smart enough, wise enough to think about reducing the waste we generate to as close to zero as possible.  I like the motto of Zero Waste Europe ( http://www.zerowasteeurope.eu ), "If you are not for zero waste, how much waste are you for?"

If you are not for net zero energy, how much wasted energy are you for?

However, even if we mandate that all new buildings achieve net zero energy, we still have to fix our existing buildings and probably have to start developing district heating and cooling to become a net zero energy community.  This is a hard problem and requires concentrated efforts.  Net zero energy for new buildings, if it is achievable (and I believe it is), is still only a start.

Thanks for your time and your work.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Caribbean Solar Sailboat Project

by: gmoke

Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 18:51:20 PM EST

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/sailing-for-solar-bringing-workshops-to-caribbean-communities

Help empower coastal Caribbean communities with a solar sailboat that will provide workshops and materials for solar electric modules, solar cookers and phone chargers.  Campaign now going on at Indiegogo:  $18,000 over the next 40 days.

This is a project of Dr. Richard Komp, a solar scientist who has worked since 1977 empowering rural communities with solar energy projects around the world, providing both hands-on teaching and renewable resources.  

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Toilets, Stoves, and Solar

by: gmoke

Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 21:12:32 PM EST

Susan Murcott, Bob Lange, and Richard Komp are three grassroots environmental activists who are changing lives all around the world.  Susan is a water researcher whose work on simple water filters has benefitted the lives of hundreds of thousands of people from Guatemala to Ghana.  Her latest project is building a block of toilets for a school in a village in Ghana, the second project of this kind she has been involved with.  Bob is a physics professor who has been doing science education in Africa for many years, an activity that morphed into installing small solar systems for villages in Tanzania and now into designing, building, and installing efficient cookstoves with the Maasai people.  This year, his work is expanding into Uganda.  Richard is a solar expert who has worked on everything from the physics of solar electricity to building solar stoves from scrap.   He has been teaching people all around the world how to do solar as a cottage industry for about three decades now.  His latest idea is to outfit a sailboat as a floating solar workshop that can teach people throughout the Caribbean how to better their lives with simple solar technologies. You can read his reports on his international work at http://www.mainesolar.org/Komp...

I consider myself immensely privileged to know all three of these remarkable and remarkably effective people.

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Net Zero and Beyond

by: gmoke

Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 14:47:51 PM EST

Cambridge, MA has been debating a net zero energy and/or emissions standard ( http://www.netzerocambridge.org ) for new buildings over 25,000 square feet since the Spring of 2013, partially because of an ecodistrict plan with MIT and others on a large parcel in East Cambridge (a plan MIT refused to make net zero even though they are rumored to be building a net zero project with some of the same partners in Basel, Switzerland).

The City Manager (Cambridge has a city manager form of municipal government, along with proportionate representation so city politics get weird fast) has established a "Getting to Net Zero" Task Force to study the issue.  Cambridge Community Development Department produced a fine overview of the state of the art in larger buildings for zero net emissions at (pdf alert) http://www.cambridgema.gov/~/m...

As the national Ecodistrict Summit was in town recently, the Community Development Department and Sustainable Performance Institute ( http://www.sustainable-perform... ) hosted experts from Integral Group ( http://www.integralgroup.com/ ), a deep green engineering firm to present lessons from the more than 40 net zero buildings they've worked on.

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What I Do and Why I Do It

by: gmoke

Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 19:16:38 PM EDT

(This would be a tremendous resource for bridging the academic worlds surrounding us with the communities within which they exist. - promoted by eli_beckerman)

I publish a weekly listing of Energy (and Other) Events at the colleges, universities, and in the community around Cambridge, MA ( http://hubevents.blogspot.com ) and have been doing it consistently since the end of January, 2010 ( http://hubevents.blogspot.com/... ).  This is the second iteration of the idea as I published a similar listings service plus reviews and articles from February, 1995 to February, 1998, "A List of Environmental and Telecommunications Events and Issues" or "AList...." for short ( http://world.std.com/~gmoke/AL... ) {The issues from April 1997 to February 1998 are available at http://world.std.com/~gmoke/AL... but you have to click on the weekly issue heading first before you can read any of the articles.}

My original idea was to have a searchable calendar of all the public lecture information at all the colleges and universities around the Boston area, something like 70 of them, so that anyone could take the opportunity to gather in all the free learning they want.  Imagine the resource for anyone from high school kids to retired people.  I'd been availing myself of the privilege for a number of years already, meeting in small seminar rooms with distinguished experts and famous names that normally you'd only see on TV.  And I even got to ask them questions.  What a gift!  As an experienced autodidact, I took notes at the events I went to, when something of actual note occurred, and thought that the next step would be to invite others to contribute their notes from the events they went to that I couldn't attend so that all that wealth of information could be captured, a community commonplace book.

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Resilience and Climate Change

by: gmoke

Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 17:48:13 PM EDT

(Sure feels like we're entering a new era, a true test of our resilience as a society, and as a species. - promoted by eli_beckerman)

Recently, I've noticed there has been a shift from talking about mitigation to adaptation to resilience when dealing with climate change.  From my perspective, this is not a bad development as resilience focuses on practical preparedness for immediate hazards.  This can partition change into small increments that are readily understandable and remove the polarized politics of climate change from the discussion.  If you're talking about measures to prevent system failure because of a weather emergency, it tends not to matter what your position is on greenhouse gases because everybody remembers the last hurricane, flood, or blizzard.  In addition, resilience measures can also be adaptation and, even in some cases, mitigation strategies for climate change as well.  At least, this is what I'm observing here in the Boston area and what I've heard out of post-Sandy New York and other areas.

This week I attended a discussion at the Boston Society of Architects about a new report, Building Resilience in Boston
pdf alert:  http://www.greenribboncommissi...  
Before the meeting, I spent some time scanning the document and found it to be superlative work, a great introduction to the concepts of urban design for resilience and emergency preparedness and, most especially, a fine literature search of the state of the art all around the world.  If you want to begin the process in your own city or town, this document will give you plenty of useful ideas and show you where to get more.  It is useful not only for cities like Boston, London, and New York but also towns like Chula Vista, CA and Keene, NH.

Another indication of growing seriousness on these issues I noticed is that the dangers from temperature extremes are entering the picture, especially since there has been a 2,300% increase in casualties from heat waves and 189% increase from cold snaps in the 2001 to 2010 decade (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/07/16/1224282/-World-Meteorological-Organization-Heatwave-Decade).

According to Christina Figueres of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, whom I also saw this week, there are over 300 cities around the world which are actively working on mitigation, adaptation, and resilience in the face of climate change.  So while international organizations are struggling to find actionable agreements and individual countries are fighting to avoid responsibility, municipalities around the world are taking practical steps.

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MA Senate Bill 177: Fueling Jobs Through Energy Efficiency

by: gmoke

Thu Sep 19, 2013 at 15:01:33 PM EDT

Just went to an all morning meeting on PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy), a means of financing energy efficiency and renewables through property taxes, a method that has been successful for commercial and industrial buildings in Connecticut and even residential properties in Vermont.  MA passed PACE legislation in 2010 but has yet to finance a single project.  Senator Brian Joyce is sponsoring this legislation to amend the current legislation which requires cities and towns to issue bonds and transfer that responsibility to a state-wide program, as has been done successfully in Connecticut.

This is probably one piece of legislation that would do a lot to accelerate energy efficiency and renewables in the commercial and industrial real estate sectors and needs a public push to gain the attention, and votes, of the legislators.

More information is available from Senator Brian Joyce, State House, Room 109D, Boston, MA 02133  617-722-1643 Brian.A.Joyce@masenate.gov

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Energy Upgrade Parties at the Sustainable Houses of Worship

by: gmoke

Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 15:06:42 PM EDT

For the last few years, I've been publishing a weekly listing service on Energy (and Other) Events (http://hubevents.blogspot.com) that happen around Cambridge, MA in the colleges, universities, and the community.  This week, I noticed that there is a lot of practical activity around energy and the churches.  From now until Thanksgiving, there will be three energy upgrade parties at three different churches in three different neighborhoods of Boston and two "sustainable house of worship" workshops, one in the suburbs and one in the city.  

The energy upgrade parties are organized by the Home Energy Efficiency Team or HEET (http://www.heetma.com/) which for years now has been  teaching volunteers hands-on skills in lowering their energy bills and carbon emissions while making the building they're in more energy efficient.

The workshops are organized by Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light (http://www.mipandl.org) which has been helping houses of worship reduce energy costs through energy efficiency and a heating oil buying club through MA Energy Consumers Alliance.  One of the workshops will be happening in conjunction with a HEET energy upgrade party.

I've always thought that this is how energy organizing should be done: practical efforts that increase end use efficiency, save people money while making them more comfortable in their own neighborhoods, and speed the transition to renewables.  Solar barnraisings, energy upgrade work parties, we should be building our energy future now, as an act of protest against the status quo and a mechanism of liberation from it.  

Power to the people, as an actual practice.

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Sierra Club Green Schools in Massachusetts

by: gmoke

Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 22:48:22 PM EDT

http://www.sierraclub.org/sier...

7 of the 162 Sierra Club "Green Schools" were in MA, in order of standing:
Harvard 16
UMass Amherst 27
BU 88
Hampshire 89
Mount Holyoke 124
Worcester Polytechnic 125
Suffolk University 148

It was the seventh year the Sierra Club has asked colleges and universities to fill out their questionnaire.  According to one source, MIT didn't participate.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Sixpack of Solar: How Many Solar Devices Can You Make from a Plastic Bottle?

by: gmoke

Wed Jul 24, 2013 at 23:06:48 PM EDT

( - promoted by eli_beckerman)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

How Many Solar Devices Can You Make from a Plastic Bottle?
A clear PET plastic bottle can help disinfect water.
6 hours of sunlight's UV-radiation kills diarrhoea-causing pathogens in water making it safer to drink.
A clear bottle full of water and a little bleach can become a solar skylight, providing the equivalent of a 50w incandescent light to a windowless shack.
Cut the bottom off a clear plastic bottle to make a mini-greenhouse, a hot cap, to protect seedlings from frost.
Surround that bottle hot cap with a circle of other bottles full of water for solar heat storage to extend the growing season.
Here's a bottle inside a bottle inside a bottle to heat water in the innermost bottle
and a variation of this design using a clear bottle, a dark can full of water, and a set of reflectors.
They illustrate the essentials of solar thermal energy:
light reflects
dark gets hot
clear keeps the wind out
With that knowledge you can move, concentrate, and store energy.
This clear plastic water heater is much larger and more practical for household use. It is made almost entirely from recycled packaging waste.
You can make a window out of plastic bottles, too,
and a south-facing window is already a solar collector.

But that's another story.

previously published at http://solarray.blogspot.com/2...

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World Meteorological Organization: Heatwave Decade

by: gmoke

Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 23:14:06 PM EDT

(Damn. - promoted by eli_beckerman)

The World Meteorological Organization recently released their Global Climate Report:  Decade of Extremes ( pdf alert:  http://library.wmo.int/pmb_ged... and video at http://youtu.be/qSz7U0C0bsY ) looking at general weather patterns decade by decade from 1881 to 2010.

"...it is worth noting the very large increase (more than 2 000 per cent) in the loss of life from heatwaves, particularly during the unprecedented extreme heat events that affected Europe in the summer of 2003 and the Russian Federation in the summer of 2010. On the other hand, there were fewer deaths due to storms and floods in 2001-2010 compared to 1991-2000, with decreases of 16 per cent and 43 per cent, respectively, thanks, in good part, to better early warning systems and increased preparedness."

2,300% increase in casualties from heatwaves
189% increase from cold snaps
in the 2001 to 2010 decade.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Swiss Solar Boat (and French Polar Pod)

by: gmoke

Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 14:12:37 PM EDT

(cool stuff - promoted by eli_beckerman)

Solarboat1 photo GEDC0433solarboat_zpsccffba27.jpg

On June 25, the world's largest solar ship, the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar (http://www.planetsolar.org), was docked in Boston and hosted a symposium on water and climate change, "From the Alps to the Atlantic." This 35 meter by 23 meter catamaran is currently on the DeepWater expedition, harvesting data from the Gulf Stream after a maiden voyage around the world on the equator.  From Boston she is bound for St John's, Newfoundland, Reykjavik, Iceland and finally Bergen, Norway.  After the transatlantic DeepWater expedition, the PlanetSolar will work with the Waste Free Oceans Foundation (http://www.wastefreeoceans.eu) to clean up European waters.  The research team from University of Geneva is headed by Professor Martin Beniston and consists of climatologists, physicists, and biologists.  

The PlanetSolar has 512m2 of PV cells and the largest civilian mobile battery in the world providing 20 kW of electricity, 17kW for two 60kW electric motors,  with 3 kW for life on board, for an average speed of 5 knots and a maximum speed of 14 knots.  The PlanetSolar is a traveling experiment laboratory and sampling station working on water issues around the world with room for a crew of nine.

The symposium included talks on the global water cycle including river systems (http://www.globalrivers.org), glaciers and mountain water resources (http://www.acqwa.ch), ocean ecology, acidification, phytoplankton and zooplankton biology, and other issues.

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Retiring NE's Coal and Oil Electric Plants

by: gmoke

Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 18:33:51 PM EDT

(We are so far from zero emissions that nothing short of a revolutionary paradigm shift will bring it about. - promoted by eli_beckerman)

The Restructuring Roundtable is a mostly monthly (it takes the summer months off) meeting of the energy sector in Boston that takes a morning to discuss energy issues in depth with the major players from all around NE. There is also much time allotted for networking.  The slides from the presentations are available online within a day or two and the video of the presentations comes a little later.  It is a great resource for anyone interested in these issues and the public is most definitely invited.

The Roundtable, for me, follows in the tradition of the NE-wide energy policy meetings the great Duane Day used to host at the Department of Energy starting back in the days before Reagan killed us.

The 6/14/13 Restructuring Roundtable was "ISO-NE's Generation Retirement Study & 2020 Resource Options for New England."  You can see the agenda and look at the slides here:
http://www.raabassociates.org/...
The video should be available in a few weeks.  ISO-NE manages the electricity market in New England and is thus the entity that is responsible for maintaining the flow of electrons from one utility to another when necessary.

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Occupy Sandy

by: gmoke

Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 16:53:29 PM EDT

http://techpresident.com/news/...

A group of people from the Occupy Wall Street movement is collaborating with the climate change advocacy group 350.org and a new online toolkit for disaster recovery, recovers.org, to organize a grassroots relief effort in New York City.

Occupy Sandy:  http://occupywallst.org/articl...

Boston TEDX talk by Recovers.org http://www.ted.com/talks/caitr...

The combination of the jobs and economic focus of Occupy with the climate change and energy transition ideas of 350.org along with the disaster recovery systems of Recovers.org is a model that can build resilience and preparedness quickly if continued.  Add Solar IS Civil Defense, set the Maker Culture loose, and it just might shade over into Solar Swadeshi, Gandhian economics, a non-violent and restorative open source peer-to-peer economic system where we plan for 100% success for all humanity, to paraphrase R Buckminster Fuller.

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Building Resilient Communities: John Robb at the NYC Maker Faire

by: gmoke

Wed Oct 17, 2012 at 16:14:12 PM EDT

John Robb is a strategist and theorist of modern warfare.  His book, Brave New War, is the best introduction I know of to small group warfare, the way technology has enabled ad hoc groups like Al Quaeda and others to wage war against superpowers like the USA.

In the last few years, Robb has changed his focus to the concept of resilience.  Looking at the failure of international, national, and regional governmental, economic, and social systems to confront the challenges of climate change and institutionalized as well as ad hoc criminality, he has started an initiative to relocalize our basic systems of survival as  we watch the slow decline and collapse of the overarching social machinery that currently exists.

The solution is to build resilience, is to build resilience at the local level... You take control of the things you can have influence over, the things in front of you, the things that are human scale.... and strangely, when you start looking at building resilience, building local viable communities, it solves all the problems at the global level, economically, environmentally, and in terms of quality of life...

Here is his lecture at the recent NYC Maker Faire.  The video starts about 8 minutes in and his description of a resilient community ends around 15:40 when he begins to take questions.  These seven or eight minutes are a useful introduction to a reasonable way forward.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/g...

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The Cambridge, MA Solar Tool

by: gmoke

Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 13:13:43 PM EDT

You can now estimate with great detail the solar electric potential of any roof in Cambridge, MA by just typing in an address on a webpage, the Cambridge Solar Tool
(http://cambridgema.gov/solar).  For instance, the double triple decker in which I live has six apartments and a total roof area of 2,781 square feet. 1,136 of those sq ft have high PV (photovoltaic) potential.  This could support an 18kW solar electric system providing 22,945 kWh per year, enough to power about a third of the electricity used by those six apartments, if each apartment uses the rough US average of around 11,000 kWh per year (my own annual electric use is around 1,600 kWh/yr).

The estimated savings per year for such a PV system are $9,081. The total cost  is $101,720.  With the Federal tax credit of $30,516 and a MA state tax credit of $1,000, the final cost to the owner would be $70,204.  In addition, the Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) of 27¢/kWh could produce $6,212 per year (at least that's my reading of the MA SREC program, but I could be wrong).  Such an investment would pay for itself in about 8 years with a return on investment (ROI) of 12.93%, a better return than gold (10.19%) or the stock market (Dow Jones average:  5.50%).  The solar electricity would replace other fuels that now spew 12 tons per year of carbon into the atmosphere.

If the owner did not want to put any money down, they could opt for a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), buying electricity from a third party which owns, installs, maintains, insures, and monitors a PV system on the roof of our double triple decker at a long term, generally 20 years, fixed and lower cost than what is paid now for power.

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Solar IS Civil Defense PSA

by: gmoke

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 20:36:40 PM EDT

(and knowing is half the battle. - promoted by eli_beckerman)

Solar IS Civil Defense - what we are all supposed to have on hand in case of emergency - flashlight, cell phone, radio, extra set of batteries - can be powered by a few square inches of solar electric panel.  Add a hand crank or bicycle generator and you have a reliable source of survival level electricity, day or night, by sunlight or muscle power.

This is also entry level electrical power for the 1.5 billion people around the world who do not yet have access to electricity.  Civil defense at home and economic development abroad can be combined in a "buy one, give one" program like the Bogolight (http://www.bogolight.com) which is a solar LED light and AA battery charger.

Solar IS Civil Defense and could be much more.

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