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Go Solar: The new mantra

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By Ila Garg

Opting for renewable energy is fast becoming the new trend. Every other household is finally seeing the benefits of solar energy: a source of electricity that is renewable, off-the-grid, clean, distributed and most importantly, affordable.

India can be most benefited from this renewable energy as more than half of the population still lives in rural areas where the grid cannot reach. These remote areas have therefore never seen electricity. They are lurking in the darkness as the world progresses each day. Now, India can finally move out of the darkness and into light, with at least 55 cities being developed as solar cities.

Taking a step towards solarising India, on Thursday, Delhi Power Minister Satyendra Jain released a Delhi Solar Energy Policy 2015 draft. This Policy aims at generating 1,000 MW of solar power in the next five years. This will help in resolving power cut worries quite easily.

SolarPanels

At an event at the secretariat, Satyendra Jain remarked, “To promote solar energy, solar panels will be installed on the roof-tops of every government building and we’ll start with the Delhi Secretariat.”

The minister also revealed that a tender for 5MW solar power generation has been floated. “We have a target to generate 1,000 MW of solar power in the next five years and 2,000 MW by 2025,” he said.

He further added, “This solar policy will promote a rapid growth of solar power, especially from the roof-top source, via a combination of generation targets, regulations, mandate and incentives. This will also promote net-metering and grid connectivity for all solar plants.”

If all goes well, very soon, every household in Delhi will not only have access to an uninterrupted power supply but also save on the electricity bills.

Earlier, the Rajasthan government had approved of an investment of Rs. 1.56 lakh crore in the solar power sector. Sighting the benefits of solar power, the world’s first 12 MW solar power plant was inaugurated by Kerala’s chief minister at the Kochi airport. No wonder the newest metro line added to Delhi metro is NCR’s first solar equipped metro line.

Overseas, China too has already started building its largest solar plant to meet its voluptuous power needs. That’s not all. The enormous usage of this clean, green energy will leave you astonished; the first solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse 2, made its first successful flight on 3 July, 2015.

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The initial installation cost is a little on the higher side. However, since the cost can be recovered in a span of a few years, it remains a lucrative deal. Also, the enormous benefits cannot be ignored. What makes solar power the talk of the town is the fact that it is 100% eco-friendly and can reach the areas where the grid cannot.

Does that mean we will see a solar world soon?

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Women of America Are Stepping Up As Nuclear Energy Advocates

Nuclear power is clean, safe and better for the environment than some alternative energy sources

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Nuclear Energy
Engineering manager Kristin Zaitz and her co-worker Heather Matteson, a reactor operator, started Mothers for Nuclear. VOA
  • The availability of cheap natural gas and greater energy efficiency has reduced demand for nuclear energy in recent years
  • Nuclear power is clean, safe and better for the environment than some alternative energy sources
  • Industry experts say that women who work in nuclear power can be powerful advocates for nuclear

San Francisco, August 26, 2017: Kristin Zaitz is confident that her nuclear power plant is safe.

Zaitz, an engineering manager, was at Diablo Canyon Power Plant during both her pregnancies and has scuba dived to inspect the plant, which hugs the California coast. Zaitz wears a pendant with a tiny bit of uranium inside, an item that tends to invite questions.

“We all have our perceptions of nuclear,” Zaitz said.

In a few years, Diablo Canyon will close, part of a trend nationwide. The availability of cheap natural gas and greater energy efficiency has reduced demand for nuclear energy in recent years. Add to that ongoing concerns about public safety, such as those raised by memories of disasters at nuclear power plants in Fukushima, Japan, Chernobyl in Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union) and Three Mile Island in the United States.

Nuclear is ‘cleaner’ than fossil fuels

Supporters of nuclear energy say that when a reactor-based generating station closes, not enough wind and solar power is available to make up the difference. They lament that energy companies tend to turn instead to fossil fuels — coal and natural gas — which produce environmentally harmful emissions.

Zaitz and her co-worker Heather Matteson, a reactor operator, started Mothers for Nuclear, their effort to get the word out that nuclear power is clean, safe and better for the environment than some alternative energy sources.

“I went into the plant very skeptical of nuclear and being scared of it,” said Matteson. “It took me six to seven years to really feel like this is something good for the environment. I don’t want people to take six to seven years to make that decision. We don’t have that long.”

Matteson, too, wears the uranium necklace as a conversation starter. “Nuclear is fun,” she said. Is there any radiation emitted by the pendant? “There’s slightly more than from a banana,” she conceded.

Also Read: Indian nuclear industry growing fast, says former Atomic Energy Commission chief

Women seen as powerful advocates

Industry experts say that women who work in nuclear power can be powerful advocates for nuclear. They can help change attitudes of other women who tend to be more skeptical than men about nuclear energy’s benefits.

At the recent U.S. Women in Nuclear conference in San Francisco, women working in the industry talked about how more should be done to make nuclear power’s case to the public, and how they may be the best suited to do it.

“As mothers, I think we also have an important role to play in letting the public know that we support nuclear for the future, for our children,” said Matteson. “And we don’t know other mothers supporting nuclear power in a vocal way. We thought there was a gap to fill.”

Young women say they look at careers in this industry because they are socially minded.

‘Do something good for the world’

“I went into this wanting to do something good for the world,” Lenka Kollar, business strategy director at NuScale, a firm in Oregon that designs and markets small modular reactors. “Wanting to bring power to people. There are still more than a billion people in the world who don’t have electricity.”

Critics of nuclear energy say it doesn’t matter who is promoting it.

“Using mothers’ voices to argue for a technology that is fundamentally dangerous and that has been demonstrated by disasters like Fukushima to be not safe for the communities that surround the power plants or even cities that are hundreds of miles away is disingenuous,” said Kendra Klein, a staff scientist with Friends of the Earth, an environmental group.

While the future of nuclear power in the United States may be uncertain, the women here say they have a positive story to tell. (VOA)

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Solar-Powered Smart Windows Can Help you Save Energy Costs: Researchers

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Solar energy
Solar-Powered Smart Windows Can Help you Save Energy Costs. Pixabay
  • The new self-powered version promises to be inexpensive and easy to apply to existing windows
  • The smart window controls the transmission of visible light and infrared heat into the building
  • The researchers chose the material because its chemical structure could be modified to absorb a narrow range of wavelengths

New York, July 2, 2017: By applying a new solar cell technology, researchers have developed a self-powered version of smart windows that could help save energy costs. Smart windows equipped with controllable glazing can augment lighting, cooling and heating systems by varying their tint, saving up to 40 percent in an average building’s energy costs. But these conventional smart windows require power for operation, so they are relatively complicated to install in existing buildings.

The new self-powered version promises to be inexpensive and easy to apply to existing windows, the researchers said.

This system features solar cells that selectively absorb near-ultraviolet (near-UV) light, so the new windows are completely self-powered.

“Sunlight is a mixture of electromagnetic radiation made up of near-UV rays, visible light, and infrared energy, or heat,” said Yueh-Lin (Lynn) Loo, Professor at Princeton University, New Jersey, US.

“We wanted the smart window to dynamically control the amount of natural light and heat that can come inside, saving on energy cost and making the space more comfortable,” she added.

ALSO READ: Wind, Solar Projects Give Boost to Employment Opportunities Up to Three Lakh

The smart window controls the transmission of visible light and infrared heat into the building, while the new type of solar cell uses near-UV light to power the system.

“This new technology is actually smart management of the entire spectrum of sunlight,” Loo said.

In the paper published in Nature Energy, the researchers described how they used organic semiconductors — contorted hexabenzocoronene (cHBC) derivatives — for constructing the solar cells.

The researchers chose the material because its chemical structure could be modified to absorb a narrow range of wavelengths — in this case, near-UV light.

“Using near-UV light to power these windows means that the solar cells can be transparent and occupy the same footprint of the window without competing for the same spectral range or imposing aesthetic and design constraints,” Loo added.

The researchers explained that the near-UV solar cell technology can also power internet-of-things sensors and other low-power consumer products.

“It does not generate enough power for a car, but it can provide auxiliary power for smaller devices, for example, a fan to cool the car while it’s parked in the hot sun,” Loo said. (IANS)

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Green initiative? Indian Railways to produce 1,000 MW Solar energy

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Indian Railway. Pixabay

New Delhi, March 9, 2017: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said on Thursday that the Railways had taken several green initiatives and would produce 1,000 MW solar energy.

Addressing a function to mark signing of Letters of Intent by Railway Ministry with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to formalise joint cooperation in environmental conservation, he said the priority of Railways was to reduce carbon footprints.

“Railway is already taking several green initiatives and is going to produce 1,000 MW solar energy. This joint co-operation will help Indian Railways in its green objectives,” he said.

Representatives of Indian Railways and UNEP signed and exchanged Letters of Intent.

UNEP Executive Director Erik Solheim said that the focus of the partnership was on three main areas – waste management, reduction in water consumption and sustainable public procurement.

Officials said that Indian Railways, which carries 23 million passengers every day, has taken a number of steps towards water management, energy conservation, solid waste management and green buildings. (IANS)