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Burn, diesel, burn 9 May, 2008

India’s booming cellphone market - with over 2 million new subscribers every week - has created an insatiable demand for diesel generators.

Livemint.com reports that mobile operators, who are just starting to see the rural opportunity, are struggling to find enough generators to expand their networks.

With this development, we may soon unfortunately have to revise our earlier estimate: that close to 2 billion litres of diesel fuel is needed every year just to power generator sets for Base Stations in India.

The environmental impacts, combined with predictions of oil prices rising up to $200 per barrel within 2 years, clearly underline the enormous need for clean and sustainable alternatives.

Seems like the time is right for WorldGSM™ »

Where are the charging stations? 2 May, 2008

Anders Perjons - VNL’s own verification & measurement guru - is an electric car advocate. He has three electric cars that he has reconditioned himself. The big challenge is to charge them.

Anders and his fellow electric car promoter Lars Magnusson drive their cars on a daily basis. Fully charged, the batteries last up to 70km. Then they have to be charged, and this is where charging stations are needed.

Anders and Lars most often charge their cars at home. Because in Stockholm, Sweden, there are only three official charging stations. To increase the usefulness of having an electric car, and to encourage others to get one, cities need to increase the number of charging stations.

But isn’t a normal electric socket enough? Anders says;

“We really just need an electric socket. But the fuse has to handle at least 10 ampere. And most fuses don’t, so it can be quite risky to take a chance.”

If Stockholm and other cities build granular charging station networks, both Anders and Lars think that the electric car will have a definite breakthrough.

There are many types of chargeable hybrid cars in the market with much longer action radius than 70km, and petrol or ethanol engines that enable longer trips.

Dual benefits

According to Lars’ calculations, the running cost of his electric car is between 1-2 SEK (0.20 - 0.40 USD) per 10km - less than 1/10th of a regular combustion engine-based car.

And electric cars contribute zero carbon dioxide emissions, if the electricity used to charge the batteries comes from renewable energy sources like wind or water.

We salute Anders for his initiative, and hope to see more electric cars, and charging stations, in the world’s cities . Hopefully sooner than later.

Read an interview with Anders & Lars: “Elbilar saknar kontakter” (in Swedish)

The end of impure water? 24 Apr, 2008

Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, is working on the Slingshot – a device which purifies water from any liquid source.

The Slingshort almost sounds too good to be true: a $1500 vapor compression distiller that produces up to 1000 liters of potable water per day from any liquid source – from ocean water to sewage.

There are other interesting devices for water purification that are proven to work. For example solar water distillers, where trapped solar energy both destroys pathogens and evaporates pure water which is collected in a trough. Solar water distillers are available from SolAqua – for example the $499 Rainmaker™ 550 Solar Distiller.

Water, just like oil, is not an infinitely available resource. Clean water is a basic requirement for human survival.

As Dean said in a recent video interview;

50% of all human disease on this planet today is a result of water-born pathogens

Dean is also working on a $3700 power generator, based on a Stirling engine, which will produce around 1 kW — enough to light up a small village.

So, will the Slingshot work? Time will tell. But we surely hope Dean succeeds in his endeavours!

Learn more in this article at redferret.net, at dvice.com or at wired.com.

The human chimney 14 Apr, 2008

China emits 1000 tonnes of CO2 every 9.2 seconds. Russia takes 22 seconds to emit the same amount. And the US is leading with 1000 tonnes every 5.4 seconds.

Every minute, these three countries combined emit approximately 20,360 tonnes of carbon dioxide. 20,360,000 kilograms. Which is the same weight as 290 fully loaded Boeing 737 jetplanes, 34,000 Tata Nano’s, or 254,300 average Finnish men. Every 60 seconds.

All this is calculated from a the carbon dioxide emissions simulation at breathingearth.net.

It’s not until we see visualisations of emission and consumption that we truly understand the scale of human impact on our planet. We’ve written about this before in posts like “Shocking images of unsustainability ” and “The world in numbers “.

Seems like the time is right for increased adoption of clean technology, don’t you think?

The burning question of biofuels 19 Mar, 2008

Biofuels are a hot topic. And rightfully so. Recent research has indicated that farmers prefer biofuels instead of edible crops because of the high yields – resulting in food shortages. But there’s more.

CNN recently reported that “energy crops destroy natural forests that actually store carbon and thus are a key tool in the fight to reduce global warming.”

Ecologist Joseph Fargione continued the same thread in a Scientific American article, saying that “Any biofuel that causes land clearing is likely to increase global warming.”

Wall Street Journal’s “Environmental Capital” blog notes that “Ethanol appears to come with a higher greenhouse-gas price tag than previously thought — higher, indeed, than fossil fuel.”

And there’s more reading, like “Climate Change and Energy - The True Cost of Biofuels” at nature.org, and “Land Clearing and the Biofuel Carbon Debt” + “Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land-Use Change” at sciencemag.org.

There’s seldom smoke without fire. We predict that the combustion engine will go bust sooner than later. Seems like our planet sure wouldn’t mind.

New initiative puts a sunny smile on Adelaide 14 Mar, 2008

The forward-thinking state government of South Australia released a new solar “feed-in” legislation last year which allows home-owners with solar panels to receive double-credit for the power they feed into the grid.

Essentially, the government will buy back any excess energy that private solar cells produce.

The new legislation has resulted in the Adelaide Solar City initiative, which encourages citizens to go green, or rather, yellow. And make an extra buck while lowering environmental impacts.

We salute this initiative, and hope others will follow!

In 20 years, solar power rules

Futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts that in 20 years, the world’s energy needs will be covered entirely by solar - saying that there is 10,000 times more sunlight than we need.

Currently, sustainable energy sources like wind and solar only address around 1 percent of our insatiable thirst for energy, but this is sure to change as new technology like nano-engineered materials for solar panels starts maturing.

VNL is already pioneering the field of solar applications with WorldGSM™ - the world’s first entirely solar-powered GSM network.

Learn more about solar energy: read the full article at livescience.com