Author Archive

What’s it mean for “solar power to provide safe water in Maoist areas?”

Friday, August 24th, 2012

The Indian government plans to install 10,000 solar power based water systems to supply safe drinking water to the people in 78 “Maoist-affected areas” (more precisely naxal-affected areas referring to various militants in parts of India). This water project is an expansion of successes in other regions of India. India’s National Rural Drinking Water Programme and the National Clean Energy Fund are funding the programs – targeting communities of ~200 people.

What’s interesting is the organic technology developed to support this program. This project will use horsepower submersible pumps powered by solar panels. The water will be installed on existing high-yielding bore wells and pumped during the day into 5,000 liter storage tanks.

It is not surprising solar based water pump systems are being developed in India. There is a market with an ever growing demand. Only 35 percent of rual households in India have piped water. The goal is the dramatically increase this by 2022, which will not happen without the power to pump, purify, and pipe the water. India’ Rs +500 crore “investment”  will provide larger scale validation of the reliability and  maintainability of solar based water pumps systems.

India’s investment into this sort of technology is not new. As see summarized in Solar Water Purification in India, focused research and investment has been producing results. What is of great surprise is the apparent vibrant Indian solar water pump market. Just check a few of these links – all Indian – all focused on the needs of the Indian market:

Looking through some of the solutions demonstrates intimate knowledge of the market and environment for which these systems are installed. It also indicates there is a local support foundation to repair the systems once installed.

The advise for anyone looking to “help India” with clean water needs to consult with these companies who focus on this “market.” Their market insight would prove invaluable to finding new ways to meet’s India’s 2022 goal – 90% of rural household with running tap water.






Watching the slow steady success of tidal power …

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

 While reading “Rising tide: Company unveils plans for cutting-edge turbine to be deployed next spring” it spurred some interest on how tidal power continues to slowly move forward. Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) offered an open house to everyone in the Eastport Maine community(1). ORPC’s open house was on their 35-ton research vessel Energy Tide 2 (see video Beta TidGen™ Power System Project). Energy Tide 2 allows ORPC to test the sites for the viability of tidal power. ORPC is preparing for a large scale operation deployment trial 96-feet-long and 18 ton turbine to be installed in the seabed at Cobscook Bay.

ORPC is one of many “tidal power evaluations” which are not moving to production phases. Hyundai Heavy Industries has deployed a 500 kW tidal current power system at Uldolmok Passage in Jeollanam-do, southwest Korea using the Gorlov turbine based system (similar to the ORPC system) (2). Production test phases are a core engineering milestone. It take many of the assumptions for how the mechanic and electrical systems will operation and put them under long term production stress.  These lessons will be used for later production phases, continuously improving the systems.

Bottom line, tidal power will be a reality. We moving from the “hope and hype” to “engineering and experience.” With engineering and experience, we will then have the data to validate the long term economic viability of tidal power (i.e. does it make economic sense).


(1) Building good will in the community is a nice lesson learned. Some of these projects will have changes to the water line and add an “industrial” view. The open house helps.

(2) Gorlov’s turbine, inspired by the Darrieus rotor of 1931, extracts up to 35% of the kinetic energy of moving water, even with a flow rate of as little as 1.5 metres per second and in only a metre of water. Compare that with the energy yield of only a little over 20% achieved by the most efficient models to date. The Gorlov Helical Turbine is also independent of dams – it can be sited in any suitable underwater location.

Testing a Thirty-Year-Old Photovoltaic Module

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Very hearting to those of us who continue with PV investments …

Energy Islands, “News”?

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

1472219769_ae8a795babIn a recent article in EnergyBiz Magazine, Salvatore Salamone pointed out a interesting “energy island” concept promoted by KEMA. The original 2007 proposal would “comprised of a ring of dikes surrounding a 50 meter deep reservoir,” pumping sea water into the reservoir during times of excess power, using that sea water generate power during intervals of low wind. While this not really “news,” it is an interesting concept which several groups have been looking into. As see in the slide show below, we have many groups and architects exploring the over all principle of using off shore “real estate” to have multi-function energy product. We see these ideas range from wind & solar (obvious) to OTEC & wave power. While old (proposed in 2007), KEMA’s proposal has an interesting, and unexplored angle. Combining the “large-scale electricity storage” with environmental conservation, fisheries, and aquaculture.  The additional “shoreline,” areas for wild life, potential for artificial “estuaries,” and a “sheltered” sea water lake which could house aquaculture would “add to” the incentive to building a prototype.

Artificial islands are not new. In fact, we know how to build industrial strength islands which can withstand the onslaught of the oceans and mother nature. We done this from factories i Alaska, to airports in Asia, to facilities in the Gulf of Mexico, to the residence off Dubai. The principle is sound, it is now a factor to see if the economics work.