December 26, 2010

Solar energy...

... where it really matters.

15 comments:

Lincolntf said...

Very cool. I want one for myself. To bring fishing, camping, wherever one might want to recharge a camcorder, phone, radio, etc.
I wonder if there's a Third World discount or if I can actually buy one for 80 bucks. Off to Amazon I go.

Lincolntf said...

Yup. You can get a similar setup for anywhere from $80-$300+.

Sunforce 22005 12-Volt MotoMaster Eliminator Folding Solar Panel

Kewl.

rhhardin said...

Galileo worked okay by candlelight.

AllenS said...

Africa could use all the help that they can get.

Mary Beth said...

A market for personal energy production, China's development of the product, the U.N. and large nations unwilling to fund supplies of this - it was all interesting but none of it was surprising.

Christy said...

While the article quotes NGOs and UN organizations, it makes clear that plain old capitalism is what's bringing a better life to these people. They sell a goat to get a system that is cheaper than the cost of kerosene. The side effect is more productive time in the home. Oh, dear! Will this disrupt their circadian rhythms?

rhhardin said...

What the world needs is a bicycle powered sump pump.

Lincolntf said...

If free (or ridiculously cheap) power improves the standard of living in Africa, won't that cancel out all the "gains" made by the Left in banning medicines and discouraging Western standards of living in order to contain the "population bomb"?

Michael said...

Splendid. Several years ago the also splendid idea of promulgating solar ovens took hold. It happens that the Africans who were provided with these splendid ovens did their cooking early in the morning before the sun came up. Useless technology unless they wanted to cook at noon, but then they were working at noon and not at home where the splendid solar ovens sat. Unused.

Michael said...

Oh, it appears that the per capita consumption in Kenya is about $215 per year. Since this number includes the richest Kenyans we can assume that the people featured in the article spend much much less than this annually. So, for a mere $80 you can charge your cell phone. Nice.

edutcher said...

Interesting charging the phone was the big impetus. More interesting the Gray Lady specifies the hookup is Red Chinese (we can thank a great many Democrats (and the unions) for sending those jobs overseas).

That they have electric light is a better thing than cell phones, but does the system provide enough energy to run the lights all day or just a few hours?

Michael said...

edutcher: No batteries no power unless the sun is shining.

Revenant said...

Excellent news.

Media Mentions said...

Speaking of solar, as it turns out... FINALLY! Some serious steps towards a commercially available solar energy plan. (http://www.pressdisplay.com/pressdisplay/showlink.aspx?bookmarkid=9DLNAOBPZMW2&preview=article&linkid=9b309ff2-b46a-4a76-ac89-ea5ea8f94f96&pdaffid=ZVFwBG5jk4Kvl9OaBJc5%2bg%3d%3d) Now I know this is but a baby step, but with our government, this might as well be a milestone. Progress, progress.

Ankur said...

One of my pet peeves about the renewable energy business in the US is that they don't focus on distributed generation, and thus, still have the same transmission losses as regular electricity.

Advantages of distributed generation:

1) reduced transmission losses (almost zero, since point of use is very close to point of consumption - except the bonus part that you sell back to the utility company)

2) A financial model I built, at standard home loan interest rates showed a payback period of 12 years on an average, after which anything you produce extra is a (small) profit - sounds like a long time to break even, but a lot of people buy their homes as long term investments of residences.

3)Security - because the production is distributed, your power network is much more resilient to failure (kind of like how on the internet, if one node fails, your traffic will just be routed through another). Also, security, because an accident or attack on a centralized power station could potentially darken a city, making it vulnerable.

4) The freedom to choose whatever local renewable (and in some cases, non renewable) mechanisms. Sunlight in Southern California. Wind in West Texas and North Dakota. Geothermal generation in Wyoming. Micro-Hydro Electricity in the Rockies and the Sierras. Offshore Wind and Tidal generation(neither of them are cost effective just yet, but economies of scale are catching up) in coastal states.

And yet, we still focus on massive solar and wind installations which are, by design, less efficient because of losses. Of course there is a place for massive power generation facilities, both the renewable and non renewable kind. Natural Gas in the rockies is a great alternative to coal. The problem with coal, aside from Carbon Dioxide, is the massive amounts of SO2 and NO2, both of which harm agricultural production by reducing the Ph of rainwater (acid rain). Desulphurization is expensive. SO2 capture is also very hard.

Anyway, if people and neighbourhoods were producing their own electricity, or buying electricity produced nearby, they would likely want cleaner sources than coal. The whole NIMBY attitude is what gives rise to such high cancer rates in parts of tennessee, and in Port Arthur, TX.