Perspective on political and economic impact for the adaptation of green technologies.
With energy prices soaring worldwide and global climate change accelerating, the importance of green technologies like solar and wind energy has never been greater. However, at this early stage, there are more questions than answers in green tech. What are the opportunities and challenges in green tech investing? What role will government policy and incentives play in driving investment and innovation? What will drive technological advances in developed and developing countries? Can solar, wind and other green technologies solve the global energy crisis?
Almost all the rainwater gets wasted and leads to water clogging during the rainy season. It has two main negative effects. First erodes the upper layer of good soil, second it leads to silting of river beds by carrying the catchment area water. Thus the rivers bed widens and leads to flooding frequently in areas where the cross-section of river is unable to carry the increased eater flow especially during rainy season. If only this water could be saved in reservoirs and put to use during the dry months. Wont life be much better!!?? Even if each household could re-direct the water falling on their terrace into the gardens or underground storage tanks, it would be better than letting all that water go unused into the drainage.
Our water bed level especially in urban areas is reducing every day by an alarming rate. Due to large migration of population to cities this problem is further aggravated and rain water harvesting is a great opportunity to redeem this situation.
The harnessing of solar Photovoltaic and the concentrated solar for heating and power generation is also a big opportunity. India is fortunate to have on an average about 300 sunny days annually. In many states such as Rajasthan the average solar radio has the potential of generating 6-7 kWh of power per sq. meter every day.
In the recent years there is recognition of solar power potential. Besides favorable government policies, private sector has also taken serious steps and invested in tapping such potential.
Recycle and Reuse
This should be preferred over Use and Throw. The traditional thinking of our grandparents where one radio probably lasted a household two or three decades before a new one was bought, was a lot more ecologically sensible than having five different radio sets which get replaced every time something goes wrong with them. Wonder what happened to the scores of repair shops in strategic locations of our old bazaars? Indian society has always been a lot more ecologically sensitive than its western counterparts. In a land where Kabaddi wallas and second hand bookshops are a common feature, recycling and reuse will never prove to be an alien concept. We just have to be proud of them instead of looking down upon them.
We also need to start using materials that can be reused or recycled either through mechanical or chemical means. Bio degradable materials should be preferred to plastics. The later has a long cycle time of decomposition and needs lots of energy. Hence it produces a bigger carbon footprint. We in India have been using paper and cloth bags since ages for all of our domestic needs but these have been replaced in a last few decades by cheap plastics that use unhygenic chemical colours. Time has come to go back to our ancient roots that was far more environment friendly and healthy.
We need to look at waste with a fresh outlook. Waste should no longer be seen as the ‘end’ of a cycle or a process. It should be made a part of another process if it has become redundant in the existing scenario. We have already filled too many landfill sites with things that could have possibly been used in other processes. It’s time we stopped calling waste a waste, and start calling it a bi-product.
We need recycling and waste management policies. The awareness to the common masses has to be increased many folds through our education system and media
Go Local Vs Go Global
Most of us are forever running after foreign brands that are manufactured at the opposite end of the globe and then transported (read : unnecessary energy spent) to our end. The cost of transportation at time supersedes the cost of manufacturing. While it may be essential in certain cases such as medicines, defense supplies and special support systems but for most of the food items, construction material we should switch to use the local materials as much as possible. This would reduce the supply chain cost, increase local business and job opportunities. We should support and encourage local craftsmen and businesses to flourish and contribute to our respective country’s economy.
Hybrid Options and Optimization
At times one particular power solution e.g. diesel generator may not be the most optimum solution but when integrated with hybrid options such as wind solar or wind solar diesel can lead to a much better economy. Even by running the system at an optimum operational efficiency level by correct sizing and system integration can lead to a big saving potential.
Leeds Rating System and Green Architecture
Recently there has been a much more focus on choosing the right material and technology while constructing big building. Leads rating system has been evolved to evaluate the effective use of material and technology to improve efficiency in building construction. The correct usage of natural light and ventilation to reduce the load on power consumption, using recycled material and technology again for a similar cause are a few ways to optimization.
Reduced Carbon Footprint
So far we have been talking about waste management, recycling, using technology etc but while doing all the above we need to ensure that we consume least energy possible. We use natural and organic material that is biodegradable in order to reduce the energy to convert it back to reusable material. From Incandescent lamps to CFLs, from Plastic materials to paper and cloth carry bags, from Chemicals to natural organic fertilizers are a few of these options.
Each process should be socially appropriate for the region in which it takes place. Building an ice-rink in a desert would not really be socially sustainable. A building that stems out from the socio-political and economic conditions of the region would always have a longer life than a building which doesn’t relate well with its site. The building needs to be relevant even 50 years from now. If we are to compare costs and environmental impact of building a new building on the same site every 10 years versus a building that continues to be socially relevant even after 50 years, the half a century old building will win hands down.
We need to keep in mind again the local availability of goods and services that can easily be sustained when we design the social and commercial models in reach regions. For example using jute, coconuts and sea food for coastal regions can help promote not only the local grown material but would also be sustainable and suitable from the climatic perspective.
Social Awareness and Responsibility
It all begins with a thought. If we are to bring about positive change in our world, we need to begin with changing people’s attitudes towards the looming crisis. We need to pro-actively participate in all ways possible to increase people’s awareness on these issues. We only have one planet and it is our utmost duty to take care of it. We need to stop pointing fingers at the authorities and start looking for opportunities to contribute positively.
Starting from the basic education level could be an idea way of a good start. Sustaining this through all secondary and tertiary levels should be the way forward. Globally now many the big supply chains and the corporate have started investing in such awareness and development of renewable energy systems and technology as a part of their social commitment.
Energy and Cost Saving
Energy saved is Money saved and Energy generated.
So switch off that fan when you are not in the room. Draw open the curtains. Let the sun light up your homes instead of wasting electricity lighting up your house during day hours. Invest in a solar water heater, instead of relying on the electric geysers. It also becomes the architect’s big responsibility to design the building in such a way that it does not have to depend on artificial lights during the day and artificial cooling during windy days. Remember: Every time u turn off a light, you are being gentle on your wallet!
Advancement of Technology
This is a big opportunity for many ways. In fact we need to urgently upgrade some of our old systems and appliance to new technologically advanced systems. From old refrigerators and air conditioners to new 5 star rated equipment that are more energy efficient than their conventional counterparts. From old fuels to more environment friendly hi tech fuels can also mean lesser carbon footprint and higher efficiency. This has to be an ongoing process and continuous research and development efforts have to be done in order to maintain this momentum. Private sector participation in funding such projects is the way. To develop energy efficient products should be the single most important motive.
While we have talked of several things above, we need to ensure that we maintain a balance in our ecological system. When we use bio-mass as a source of power, we must ensure that we are increasing the green cover to maintain a balance. While we are using various natural resources, we must ensure that we are alternatively replenishing these reserves too. In India we are heading towards a drinking water crisis very soon due to our reducing water bed levels. Unless we take serious steps like reducing the losses, water harvesting and intelligent use of recycled water, we may have serious situation in very near future.
There is a positive side to the story too. Our per capita water consumption as compared to the western world is a fraction. Hence by taking good remedial measures through investment, awareness and policy enforcements there is hope of a brighter future ahead.