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Hybrid bicycle ‘Free Electric’ to provide free and clean electricity

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source: nationalgeographic

Manoj Bhargava, 62-year-old NRI billionaire and philanthropist, on Friday, revealed the ‘Free Electric’– a hybrid bicycle which generates electricity. It is the main item constituting his clean and affordable energy project.

Priced between Rs 12,000 and Rs 15,000 per unit, the bicycle, which takes human mechanical energy and transforms it into electricity, can provide up to a full day’s worth of electricity with just an hour of peddling. As an affordable and clean energy producer, the device would be a welcome initiative in rural areas and other economically weak sections of the society.

“You won’t have to pay the electricity bill and the only side-effect is that you get fitter,” said Bhargava to Business Standard. 

The device has a simple design and anyone with some basic tools can make repairs if necessary. Bhargava believes that the ‘Free Electric’ is set apart from alternatives such as solar cells due to its robustness. The device was designed and developed in the US, but will soon be produced in India by companies picked by Bhargava.

Bhargava aims to distribute the item all across India, though he didn’t share a timeline for this nationwide launch. For now, it is to be launched in Uttarakhand first. Bhargava has not approached the Indian government yet but any help from the authorities is welcomed.

‘Free Electric’ is lined up for distribution by March, 2016. Bhargava believes that once the benefits of the device are adjudged by the people, demands for it will grow by hundreds and thousands.

“There are approximately 1.3 billion people around the world who do not have access to electricity,” said Bhargava, commenting on the main reason behind his initiative.

“The ‘Free Electric’ hybrid stationary bicycle was conceived as a product to provide electricity to this population. I am confident that this innovation will have meaningful and permanent impact on millions of lives in India,” he added.

Living Essentials, Bhargava’s consumer products company achieved success in 2004 with the introduction of an energy drink, ‘5-Hour ENERGY’. He started the ‘Billions in Change’ initiative as a means to finance and commercialize technology based projects which would help combat poverty.

Bhargava’s team is working at ‘Stage 2 Innovations’, a US-based innovation lab, on inventions which aim to provide affordable and clean energy, portable water and health care. It was after two years of hard work at the lab that ‘Free Electric’ came up as a viable product.

Other products under the scanner are ‘Rain Maker’, a water purification system, and ‘Limitless Energy’, a clean energy project.

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Highlighting the need for India-Austria collaboration in Clean Energy: Read Here!

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Clean Energy (representative image), Wikimedia

New Delhi, May 11, 2017: Highlighting the need for India-Austria collaboration in clean energy, Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal said a policy directive on quality of modules will soon be in place, according to a statement here on Thursday.

Goyal was speaking at the India-Austria Business Forum organised by the Ficci in collaboration with the Embassy of India in Vienna and Austrian Economic Chambers (Wirtschaftskammer A-sterreich WKO).

“India needs to put entire solar value chain under quality direction… The government will have a policy directive in place on quality of modules (by end of May),” the minister said, according to the industry lobby statement.

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The other policies to follow it would be on solar cells, which would be in the next six-seven months and on wafers and polysilicon in the next two years, it added.

Goyal said the two nations could leverage each other’s strengths to benefit both economies. India can offer better pricing for Austrian products while providing low-cost manufacturing base.

He underlined affordability was a paramount imperative to be able to change India’s energy mix.

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He also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a new dimension to renewable energy.

The latest solar tariff of four cents was a case in point for Modi’s vision of scaling up rapidly giving good returns in more ways than one.

Highlighting that within six months of his visit to Finland, there have been multiple exchanges facilitated by Ficci, Goyal said that India could fast track with Austria what it has done with Finland.

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A high-level business delegation accompanied the minister, who went to Vienna for the two-day business forum.

Noting that an estimated $160 billion is required to meet India’s ambitious clean energy goals between now and 2022, Ficci President Pankaj Patel highlighted the immense potential of green bonds for channelling debt capital funds towards clean energy financing in both the countries. (IANS)

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With increasing Demand of Cleaner Energy and Tighter Restrictions on Carbon Emissions, Coal is Giving Way to Greener Energy in US

U.S. energy firms are responding to growing demand for cleaner energy and tighter restrictions on carbon emissions

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In 2011, Duke Energy shuttered its coal-fired power plant, at rear, and opened a new plant that runs on natural gas. Its water-treatment facility appears, in foreground, in Rowan County, North Carolina. (N. Yaqub/VOA)

Ravens fly over a sprawling, abandoned brick building with tall chimneys that once billowed plumes of smoke day and night.

In its heyday, the coal-fired plant continuously produced 370 megawatts of electricity, with each megawatt able to power a thousand households. But its last coal-fired units were shut down a few years ago. Piles of coal are long gone.

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Duke Energy plans to phase out most of its U.S. coal plants in next few decades. Click To Tweet

Across the compound here in the center of this mid-Atlantic state, three noisy turbines churn at a new natural gas-fired plant that produces 620 megawatts. The Buck Combined Cycle power station stands at the edge of the Yadkin River—and amid a wave of change in the energy industry.

Both plants are owned by Duke Energy, a company with holdings in the United States and Latin America.

Growing demand

Like other U.S. energy firms, it is responding to growing demand for cleaner energy and tighter restrictions on carbon emissions. American firms are being compelled to reduce their dependence on coal in favor of much cleaner fuel sources.

Bill Wilson, senior engineer at the Buck Combined Station, said Duke has retired about half of its coal-fired facilities in recent years and replaced them with natural gas facilities like this.

“Due to the current price of natural gas, it is much cheaper,” he explained. “So on a megawatt basis, it is cheaper to run natural gas than coal.”

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It costs between $15.30 and $17.30 per megawatt hour (MWh) for natural gas, while coal costs about $28 per MWh, Duke Energy spokeswoman Tammie McGee said. “So, in today’s markets, our natural gas generation does provide lower costs and savings to our customers,” she added.

Duke Energy plans to phase out most of its U.S. coal plants in next few decades.

American Electric Power converted its Clinch River Plant in Virginia from coal to natural gas, idling the conveyor belt that once carried coal up into the plant. (N. Yaqub/VOA)
American Electric Power converted its Clinch River Plant in Virginia from coal to natural gas, idling the conveyor belt that once carried coal up into the plant. (N. Yaqub/VOA)

Switching over

The shift also is evident in other energy companies across the country.

For decades, coal was the main fuel source for generating power in the United States. Last year, natural gas matched it, with each producing a third of the nation’s electricity, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration figures. The other third came from hydropower, nuclear and renewable energy sources.

The administration had predicted that natural gas would overtake coal as the country’s biggest source of electricity this year, though this week it posted a storyheadlined, “Coal may surpass natural gas as most common electricity generation fuel this winter.”

Generating changes

About 200 miles northwest of Salisbury, in mountainous Russell County, Virginia, a couple of trucks and a bulldozer in July removed the last few tons of black coal from a field outside the Clinch River Coal Plant.

The plant’s three coal-fired units once produced up to 705 megawatts of electricity. But early this year, plant owner American Electric Power converted two of the units to gas and retired the third.

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The new units are not only cleaner, they are more efficient, plant manager Ricky Chaffin said. Now, the plant can produce 484 megawatts of electricity—averaging 242 megawatts per unit, up from the previous 235 each. And running it requires less labor.

“You don’t have to handle the coal,” Chaffin said. “You don’t have to move the coal from the pile to the plant.”

Also, natural gas is delivered via pipeline. “We have got a lot less equipment,” Chaffin added. “So it’s a whole lot less manpower required to run a gas plant.”

Workers are installing solar panels at a Duke Energy solar farm in Union County, North Carolina. The mid-Atlantic state ranks second, nationally, in solar capacity. (N. Yaqub/VOA)
Workers are installing solar panels at a Duke Energy solar farm in Union County, North Carolina. The mid-Atlantic state ranks second, nationally, in solar capacity. (N. Yaqub/VOA)

Workforce impact

The shift in energy production has also brought change to the workforce. For instance, when American Electric Power switched from coal to gas, the number of people needed to run the plant dropped from 182 to 46.

But there’s been employment growth in renewable energy. The National Solar Jobs Census reported the solar energy workforce grew by more than 20 percent in 2015.

In North Carolina’s Union County, Duke Energy has hired roughly 500 people to construct a solar field spreading over 156 hectares of farmland that used to grow corn and soybeans. Workers are installing 663,800 solar panels on the solar farm, expected to produce 60 megawatts of electricity when it becomes operational next year.

North Carolina, with more than 1.9 gigawatts worth of installed solar capacity, ranks second among U.S. states, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

“We have customers who are demanding renewable energy, and we do have energy policies that we are working toward complying with,” said McGee. She said the company has more than 50 solar projects in operation nationwide, and 19 wind-powered projects generating electricity. One more wind site is expected to come online in December.

Renewable energy

Renewable energy sources supplied roughly 13 percent of U.S. energy produced last year, according to the Energy Information Administration. Of that, 6 percent was from hydropower, 5 percent wind, 2 percent biomass and 1 percent solar.

While big energy companies are phasing out coal, their environmental challenges are far from over.

Last month, Duke Energy reached an agreement to clean up coal ash from its Buck Steam Station. (VOA)

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Solar power to ward off energy tariff fluctuations in West Bengal

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Solar energy is the most equipped and organized available source of energy. It does not belong to any single individual but for every living creature. It is also one of the most important non-conventional sources of energy because of its non-polluting element, which also helps in reducing the greenhouse effect. Hence, it is the best form of energy, which can be used when the power tariff is touching the roof.

A government housing complex towering over Dhakuria Lake, Kolkata, is showing the way to have immunity against power tariff fluctuations, as a resident named Avijit Ghosh has decided to fix the problem of high and inconsistent power bills himself.

Ghosh is an energy technologist with Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute (CGCRI), who conceived the plan and installed the solar power plant fighting against many odds on the rooftop of a housing apartment meant for the scientists of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

After a year of observation, he was so jubilant with his successful experiment that now he wants to emulate and install it on every rooftop of the city.

Professor Indranil Manna, director IIT-Kanpur, who as the director of CGCRI encouraged Ghosh out of his way, said, “The tariff of power generated from the fossil fuel like coal and petroleum products is bound to go up with the steady depletion of the reserve, which might last another five decades. So, rooftop solar power plant is no more a fancy of a few eccentrics.”  The current director of CGCRI, Kamal Dasgupta, is equally glad by the outcome of the plant.

The authorities are constantly aiming to create the amount of power required by the city. The total estimated power produced by the plant in Kolkata was considered to be around 45,000 KWh in a year, but actual total generation was 52,269 KWh in past one year.  Almost 50,000 units from the total solar power generation were utilized in-campus and additional 2,165 units were sold to the Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC) at the prevailing rate of the month. The sale and purchase of the power is accorded within the parameters of power purchase agreement, entered into between CSIR-CGCRI & CESC for 25 years.

Development is essential, but the thing that really matters the most is the positive environmental impact that is related to the performance of the plant. Kolkata plant’s contribution to greenhouse gas emission reduction — CO2 emission avoided at Thermal Power Plant’s Generation — is around 86 M.T., which is really impressive.

The water saved at Thermal Power Plant is around 575 Kilolitres. “This is a huge environmental benefit that a solar power plant can engineer,” said Susapta Ghosh, superintendent engineer and Sujoy Roy, an electrical engineer, who also toiled a lot for plant’s fantastic performance.

The main concern over solar power is the initial investment of installing the panels. Yet the cost savings on electrical bills and the positive effect on the environment make it an increasingly attractive alternative for homes and businesses alike.