India looks to microgrids to bridge the energy access gap

March 22, 2017 by  
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The government has promised energy access to all households by 2019. Here are five issues to watch as India reaches for this ambitious target.

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India looks to microgrids to bridge the energy access gap

India triples solar power capacity in three years

March 14, 2017 by  
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India’s solar power capacity has exploded over the past three years, growing from just 3,000 megawatts in 2014 to an installed capacity of 10,000 MW in 2017. And that’s just the beginning of the country’s solar ambitions, with a renewable energy target of 175 gigawatts as soon as 2022. India’s government is working to further its ambitious goal already, with more than 14,000 MW worth of solar projects in the works, and another 6 GW set to go to auction soon. India expects to add a total of 8.8 GW of further solar capacity in 2017. As Swarahya reports, this investment in solar power is aimed at addressing a growing demand for electricity in India. Projections peg the country’s power consumption at three times its current rate by 2030. The government’s recent national electricity plan says those needs could reach as much as 360 GW of total generation by 2022. The plan says that by developing renewable technologies like solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectricity, the country can meet the growing demand while reducing environmental impacts. Related: New 2D perskovite cell could slash the cost of solar No doubt, reducing air pollution is also high in the minds of the Indian government. A report issued earlier this year showed that China and India are leading the way in deaths due to air pollution . The two countries experienced a combined 2.2 million deaths due to air pollution in 2015 . Via Swarahya Images via Pixabay and Flickr Creative Commons, jepoirrier

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India triples solar power capacity in three years

Award-winning grass-covered pavilion in India constructed with over 1,000 recycled pallets

February 14, 2017 by  
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Over a thousand discarded shipping pallets went into the making of this partly planted, undulating pavilion in New Delhi. Local architecture firm M:OFA Studios drew inspiration from India’s ruins and their love of upcycling to create Pensieve, an award-winning experimental pavilion with a name inspired by the “memory basin” in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. The temporary installation served as an urban playground and public gathering space that inspired people to contemplate their surroundings. Built as part of India Design ID 2014, the Pensieve is no longer standing though it continues to be recognized in awards, such as its nomination in the Kohler Bold Design Awards 2016. Over 1,200 recycled pallets were stacked together in an asymmetrical shape inspired by the hundreds of stone ruins that dot the capital, where many locals used as playgrounds in their childhood. Compost added inside some of the open pallets was used as a growing medium for grass and other plants. Related: Charming Wine Shop Built with Repurposed Shipping Pallets Pops Up in Poland “The concept initiated from the basic idea of ‘fluid’ thoughts,” write the architects. “Built out of recycled wood , this pavilion was asked on the idea of unobstructed thoughts associated often with the children. The pavilion became a reminder of those simpler times, where the kids looked at the world beyond a 4 inch by 3 inch display screen in their hands.” The large 800-square-foot installation framed a public gathering space that also included solar-powered furniture that lit up when people sat on them and a hundred fiber-optic sculptures that used motion sensors to light up at night. + M:OFA Studios Images via M:OFA Studios

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Award-winning grass-covered pavilion in India constructed with over 1,000 recycled pallets

Solar-power system could provide clean drinking water in rural India for the first time

February 2, 2017 by  
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A solar-powered purification system could slake the thirsts of rural India with clean drinking water for the first time. This would be no ordinary feat. Tens of millions of people in India lack access to potable water, and roughly 600,000 Indian children die every year from water- and sanitation-related diseases like diarrhea or pneumonia, according to UNICEF . In the country’s most far-flung regions, where 70 percent of India’s population lives, toxic bacteria routinely fouls at least half of the water supply . But while the Indian government has focused its efforts on treating surface water in rivers and streams, researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland want to attack the source of contamination: sewage. They’ve developed a system that uses sunlight to induce high-energy particles within a photocatalytic material, which uses light to generate a chemical reaction. These, in turn, activate molecules of oxygen, mobilizing them to destroy bacteria and other organic matter. Because the materials require no power source, an off-grid system requires little more than attaching the photocatalyst to containers of contaminated water and angling them toward the sun until they’re safe to drink. If necessary, the system could be used in tandem with a filter to catch larger particles. Related: 6 Innovative, Life-Saving Designs for Clean Drinking Water The researchers are now working with the Indian Institute of Science Education & Research to scale up the technologies they honed during a five-month pilot project. “Working closely with our Indian partners, we aim to harness the sun’s energy to tackle a huge problem that affects many people around the world,” Neil Robertson, a professor from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry, said in a statement. + University of Edinburgh Via FastCo.Exist Photo by Jake Givens

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Solar-power system could provide clean drinking water in rural India for the first time

India’s capital of Delhi just banned plastic disposables

January 23, 2017 by  
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While balls dropped, glasses clinked, and fireworks lit up the sky on January 1, India rang in the new year with a death knell for single-use plastic. To ease growing pollution in the capital of Delhi, the National Green Tribunal has not only banned plastic disposables in the territory, but it’s also directing Delhi authorities to take “immediate steps” to reduce waste in the three main dumping sites of Okhla, Gazipur, and Bhalswa, which residents allege use illegal mass-burning technology that creates air pollution. “Each of these sites is a depiction of mess that can be created for environment and health of people of Delhi,” Swatanter Kumar, who chairs the tribunal, said in a statement. The National Green Tribunal had earlier chastened the Delhi government for its “laxity” over the rising frequency of smog so thick and acrid it sears eyes and burns throats. Plants that fail to comply with prescriptions laid out by the Air Prevention and Control of Pollution Act and Solid Waste Management Rules will face fines of 500,000 rupees—or $7,346 in American dollars—per incident, Kumar said. Related: California officially becomes the first state to ban plastic bags Similarly, Delhi’s vegetable vendors and slaughter houses that throw garbage in public places will have to cough up 10,000 rupees ($147) in reparative costs. Delhi residents have hailed the changes as both necessary and long overdue. “This is a brilliant move,” Priyanshu Sharma, who studies hotel management, told the Hindustani Times . “There are dumps around our house and sometimes they do not get cleaned for days. People also have to learn not to litter. A cleaner Delhi will always be a better Delhi.” Others expressed a mix of optimism and caution. “We have been trying to keep our city clean through various programs and it’s great that others will join in too in their own little ways because of this ban,” said Priyadarshini Valecha, who owns a waste-management company in Gurgaon. “Putting a fine is an effective way of reducing waste. But, only time will tell how successful this would be. I wish it the best!” Via TreeHugger Photos by Julian Stallabrass and Tawheed Manzoor

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India’s capital of Delhi just banned plastic disposables

Breakthrough technology turns coal plant CO2 into baking powder

January 3, 2017 by  
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When it comes to mitigating the impact of modern civilization on our planet’s environment, many scientists and engineers have been focused on ways to clean up excess carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change. India-based company Carbon Clean Solutions is making headway in that area, with its unique method for turning CO2 into harmless baking powder . The method can be employed by coal-burning industries to reduce CO2 emissions and turn the waste into usable byproducts that do no harm. Carbon Clean is putting its methods through the wringer at a coal-fired thermal power plant at the industrial port of Tuticorin in southern India. There, CO2 is captured from the boiler and used to make soda ash (sodium carbonate) which is the very same stuff housed in any baker’s pantry. Transforming the dangerous atmosphere-heating carbon emissions into harmless baking powder is no simple (or cheap) task, but Carbon Clean is pushing forward even so, and the firm is doing it without government subsidies. Related: Researchers accidentally turn CO2 into ethanol The firm says this process can lock up 66,000 tons of CO2 each year from the Tuticorin plant, which is the equivalent of removing 12,674 cars from the road for the same time period or burning 6,751,435 gallons of gasoline. While many firms are still leaning on carbon capture and storage (CCS), which typically involves attempting to sink carbon underground – a process which is very expensive and has no opportunity for future profit. Carbon Clean’s method is the first large-scale example of carbon capture and utilization (CCU), wherein CO2 is essentially recycled into baking powder that can be sold off to help pay for the capture process. CCU is also slightly cheaper than CCS, costing around $30 per metric ton of CO2 captured, another item in the “pro” column for Carbon Clean. While these efforts won’t be enough to turn coal into a sustainable industry, Carbon Clean’s technique could help fossil fuel industries greatly reduce their carbon footprints. Likewise, CCU methods of trapping CO2 could create new avenues of economic opportunity in places like India, where coal-based industry is widespread. Via The Guardian Images via NLC Tamil Nadu Power Ltd and  Shutterstock

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Breakthrough technology turns coal plant CO2 into baking powder

9 reasons 2016 wasn’t as bad as you think

December 31, 2016 by  
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It’s been a turbulent year for people everywhere, but we are determined to keep sharing stories that highlight what is good and right with the world. From the 105-year-old woman from India who started planting trees because she couldn’t have children, to two teens in Bali who convinced their government plastic bags simply aren’t worth the harm they cause, and the the man who turned an ordinary van into a slick mobile film-making studio, drastically improving his quality of life, we’ve published several inspiring stories this year. Here are nine that seemed to strike a particular chord with our readers – let us know which one moved you the most. [poll id=120]

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9 reasons 2016 wasn’t as bad as you think

India just fired up the worlds largest solar plant to power 150,000 homes

December 1, 2016 by  
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Things are heating up in India, where one of the world’s top polluting countries has unveiled the world’s largest solar power plant . The 648-megawatt project in Kamuthi, Tamil Nadu stole the title from California’s 550MW Topaz Solar Farm, making it the largest solar power plant located on a single site. India’s newest solar plant, which was built on a speedy timeline of just eight months, is largely self-maintaining, with a host of solar-powered robots that clean the solar panels, keeping efficiency rates high and human effort to a minimum.

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India just fired up the worlds largest solar plant to power 150,000 homes

A green heart unifies BREEAM Excellent University of Cambridge Primary School

December 1, 2016 by  
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Marks Barfield Architects has completed the innovative and flexible University of Cambridge Primary School, a BREEAM Excellent -rated campus powered by solar energy. Arranged around a unifying central green, the school is arranged in a circular plan with classrooms and spaces clustered together into three blocks. The school design was informed by the latest research from the University’s Faculty of Education with considerable input by leading educationalists and Head Teachers to create an educational environment where “learning can take place everywhere.” The University of Cambridge Primary School was completed in the first phase of the University’s 150-hectare North West Cambridge Development and is the first University Training School in the United Kingdom . The school’s three non-hierarchal clusters comprise six classes, plus an early years cluster, that open up to a shared “learning street” on one end and a covered outdoor learning space on the other. In addition to providing a learning environment for primary-aged children, the school will also facilitate teacher training and educational research for the University’s Faculty of Education. These diverse objectives were made possible by the collaborative nature of the design process. “University of Cambridge Primary School is the result of team effort,” said Julia Barfield, Director of Marks Barfield Architects. “Each decision was made incrementally, based on a process that assessed the site context and the educational needs of the school, while drawing on the guidance and research of leading academics from the UoC Faculty of Education . The result is a school where the education ethos and the architecture are totally aligned, such that learning can take place everywhere.” Related: Marks Barfield Proposes a Soaring Bamboo Science Center for the Amazon Rainforest The primary school achieved BREEAM Excellence by minimizing energy use and maximizing access to natural light and natural ventilation. The glazed cloister canopy that runs around the internal perimeter of the central courtyard provides shade and is covered with artist Ruth Proctor’s digital screen print “We are under the same sky,” which features 67 unique images of the sky taken from around the world. One-quarter of the building footprint is topped with solar panels. + Marks Barfield Architects Images (c) Morley von Sternberg

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A green heart unifies BREEAM Excellent University of Cambridge Primary School

New study finds PET bottles of five huge soda brands contain harmful heavy metals

October 7, 2016 by  
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The Indian government just delivered a blow to soda drinkers around the world. They commissioned a study that uncovered five toxins in the PET soda bottles of five major brands, all owned by either Coca Cola or PepsiCo . Heavy metals such as lead and cadmium are among the offending toxins. India’s Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) instructed the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Heath (AIIH&PH), based in Kolkata, to conduct the study. AIIH&PH found lead, antimony, cadmium, DEHP, and chromium in Pepsi, Coca Cola, Sprite, Mountain Dew, and 7UP. Coca Cola owns Sprite, and PepsiCo owns Mountain Dew and 7UP. The sugary drinks were all packaged in polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, bottles. Even worse, the researchers found as temperatures rose around the bottles, more toxins leached into the drinks. Related: Big Soda goes to war against proposed Soda Tax in San Francisco For their data, the researchers drew from four 600 milliliter bottles of each brand. In a Pepsi bottle, for example, they found 0.029 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of antimony, 0.011 mg/L of lead, 0.002 mg/L of cadmium, 0.017 mg/L of chromium, and 0.028 mg/L of DEHP. The Indian Express reached out to Coca Cola India, which did not provide an answer, and PepsiCo India for comment. A PepsiCo spokesperson said all their products “conform to Food Safety and Standards Regulations” and they wished to “emphatically reiterate” their products complied “with the permissible limits for heavy metals as laid down by these regulations.” There’s a problem with that – according to The Indian Express, “there are no permissible limits for heavy metals in cold drinks.” Indian government officials reportedly acknowledged India lacks standards for “safe plastic packaging” as some countries have. Exposure to heavy metals can lead to major health problems. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cadmium and lead are two of 10 chemicals of ” major public health concern .” The other three offending toxins also can result in negative side effects. AIIH&PH conducted another study last year that found heavy metals in medicines contained inside PET bottles. Via The Indian Express Images via eddie welker on Flickr and PublicDomainPictures.net

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