Renewable Energy – Empowering Women & Saving Forests

Posted by on Jan 16th, 2012 and filed under Featured, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


During the recently concluded UNFCCC , COP 17 at Durban, that Climate change is a clear and present danger with Humankind pushing the limits of the Earth’s ability to cope with man-made pollution, was well documented by each Nation which spoke at the Plenary. And it was underscored with a grim report by the IPCC -4th assessment draft.

The year 2017 from where Human Economic progress will be trapped into a

high carbon growth, which would compound and complicate the situation into a series of worst case situations year on year, each year causing great socio-economic suffering. The Stern Review details it for those who want to know more.

It is also mentioned, the worst of Climate change, caused due to unprecedented pollution the Human race produced in its quest to find a “safe – healthy – prosperous” life style; would affect those who neither had/has the means nor the thought process to live such life-styles; the indigenous people in the Brazilian rain-forest, the ethnic groups in wild and still  beautiful  and untouched Africa and the “poor” Nations and  economically weaker class of the societies.

While it is true that when one measures “development”  through the all-pervasive Capitalist Economic theory the World follows in its trade; the definition of poor would be a Man or Nation with no “money”, “cash” or whatever the experts like to call it. However today, one must pause and think on the terms “Rich” & “Poor” in the Climate change context.

Fresh Air, Clean & Sparkling Rivers, Beautiful Blue Sky, Lush Green Meadows, rich and varied Flora & Fauna are (strangely! – they don’t have the money to pay for such nice things, one might say ) with the POOR and UNDEVELOPED or UNDERDEVELOPED Nations, States, Provinces.

And what is most striking is that the RICH just don’t have it around them anymore. They need “treated & bottled”  Water, “filtered and air-conditioned” Air;  Zoos, which one needs to drive down ( provided one is in town/ else a planed tour itinerary during holiday season ) and an “all expenses paid” incentive ticket  to fly to these very underdeveloped/undeveloped  provinces & Countries to have a glimpse of the Blue Sky. Even virgin snow is hard to come by as by morning layer of sooth from Car exhaust ruins its colour.

It’s perhaps time that the UN & IMF, World Bank and those snooty Credit rating Companies, redefine which are the Bankable and Rich Nations.

Having said that, let the present so-called “Rich & Developed Nations“, be pressured by the right thinking citizens of those countries to save the very things they all want – Safe, Healthy & Prosperous life-style. And we just have SIX years  left to move the clock back-wards to meet that.

So what is it, in my opinion that needed to be done ? Simple, help the poor with their livelihood . Each day thousands of Women & Girl Child walk miles to fetch potable water & fire-wood. This happens in almost all South Asian & African Countries. It perhaps true for parts of South America too.

Many sea /river societies in Africa find sustenance through trade in Fish. The big and fresh catch is usually traded with the agents of Multi Nationals for pittance. The smaller catch is then sold in the local market, where it’s “smoked”  over burning wood. This practice over the years has decimated the forest around these societies. And many such examples have been documented across nations. Soon even these Least Developed Nations and societies would have no tree cover, being poor and economically weak finding the right solution would not be  easy. It would be next to impossible and the first of Climate Change Refugees would be getting ready for exodus, creating further aggravation.

But among all these gloom, there is hope. A ray of hope and a whiff of opportunity – Renewable Energy; namely Solar & Wind.

With the Green Climate Fund, a nascent reality; the LDC’s must create Program of Activities which is similar to what is now on going in India. TERI the think- tank institute headed by Dr. Rajendra Pachauri himself, has a program called “lighting a billion lives”. Here Solar powered lanterns are given to villages across India.

Earlier on India has/had a program under which Bio-gas which is produced from cattle manure ( Gobar -gas ) and piped  into homes for cooking. Now this is a finite resource because it is quantity dependent. It is therefore successfully implemented in villages which have cattle rearing as their primary business. In the State of Gujrat, India; its a great success, as AMUL created a business revolution around dairy and animal husbandry is a roaring business there.  However not every village can have cattle which would be producing to fulfill the requirements of energy for the entire village. Therefore the use of RE mostly Solar, or a Wind + Solar Hybrid could be the solution for each and every village. Not only in India but in Africa &  other countries too. By devising a Solar Tree ( roof top if applicable or possible  ) and drawing cables to each and every house hold in the village, electricity could be provided. Add cheap yet sturdy induction stoves and you are giving these societies a chance.

Why induction stove one may ask. Simple, as per the report from the Department of Energy United States, an induction stove is nearly 90% efficient in sending the heat where it is required the most – to cook the food. Whereas in a butane / propane , the gas we find in LPG cylinders, only 40% is efficiently used for the purpose of cooking. The rest heats up the stove, pan and the air around the flame.

Now considering that 1 kiloliter of LPG = 7.4 KWhr ( kilo watt hour) of energy. And BTU ( British Thermal Unit ) a measure to calculate heat. Lets look at an example given below to support my idea of a “Solar Stove”.

Domestic gas in India contains – 14.2 kiloliter = 105.08 KWh of energy                     BTU/Hr = 105.08 x 7185 = 754999.8 BTU/hr

Induction of 2.2 kW = to a gas burner rated at almost 16,000 BTU/hour;

Gas heating efficiency is 40% only. Induction efficiency is 90%, say if we take it to 80% then

1 LPG cylinder = 754999.8 / 2 = 377499.9 BTU/hr is actual usage.

So on a SPV of 2kWp x 5 solar hour  = 10kWh, ( In India we have an average of  5 hour of good Sun-shine )

Therefore total energy received per day = 10 /2.2 = 4.5455 x 16000 = 72,728 BTU / Hour is actual usage.

Now any expert would tell you 72,7288 BTU is a lot of cooking heat.

From the above calculation one can see that at village level where food is only cooked for sustenance, the energy used by each house hold would be at a minimum. If the Solar panel & stove is sized properly as per the societal needs in each society  across Nations, two most important changes would perhaps take place.

1. The Girl child & Woman would no more need to chop down trees for fire-wood, thus help heal the immediate environment.

2. No smoke from fossil fuel would be emitted into the atmosphere.

So this concept if implemented rightly, might just begin to turn the tide as Worldwide some 2.7 billion people rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating, and 1.4 billion have no access to electricity.

So whats with the electricity? Well if the 1.4 Billion were never introduced to the  oil and coal based electricity we would to Earth that much good. And now that we know the effective use of a new kind of Solar Stove; with cooking time reduced and need a minimum, may be some of that Solar power from the solar tree could light up a LED lamp in the village home.

Are the signatory of Kyoto  Protocol listening?

By: Sandeep Goswami

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