Tag Archives: greenhouse gas

Smart Power Grid

Smart Power Grid awareness will cause us to use our energy at the least expensive times of the day, thereby reducing energy costs and reducing the load on our power plants during the peak periods. At the same time we will reduce the CO2 in the atmosphere, positively affecting  our contribution to Greenhouse gases.

Smart Power Grid

Image retrieved from:  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/power-grid.html

PV Panels Efficiency

Retired academic and author Peter Little describes in a letter below how we can use green building products such as  PV panels and insulation between double brick construction to greatest efficacy by adopting Smart Power Grid  behaviour.

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Solar Cities: A Vision Taking Shape

Solar cities is a term describing carbon neutral or sustainable cities such as Masdar, Abu Dhabi, a city of 7 sq.km. which has been designed to house 50,000 people.

Solar Cities Masdar

Masdar Institute

Using the sun’s energy to source power for solar cities is an idea growing in popularity on a daily basis. In order to harness the energy of the sun, photovoltaic (‘PV’) technology is used. There is a plethora of benefits from using PV, starting with costs and finishing with health benefits.

Powering Solar Cities

The main benefits of solar energy are environmental and cost savings. Using rooftop solar pv panels to supply homes, offices, factories and entire regions with power, at a fraction of the cost of fossil-fuel based electricity is the way to produce solar cities. When sufficiently large arrays of solar panels are installed for a city, the demand for grid-based power is vastly reduced or almost eliminated.

At householder levels, solar panels commonly used for a solar water heater have a lifespan of up to 25 years and at a rate of US$4.30 or even less for 1 Watt of output, for a 50 watts panel costs are as low as $220. Of course as technologies improve, prices will reduce rapidly.

Moving Away From Reliance on the Grid

The main source of electricity in the world today is fossil fuel based, which means that countries need to spend a lot of money on buying non-renewable resources. Running huge electric grids and power plants is costly, and these costs are passed on to the consumer.

As solar cities use renewable solar power as their main source of electricity there is no need for huge power plants, no need for fossil fuel and definitely no need for transporting oil, coal and gas. The savings to the consumer and governments can be appropriated for other important projects, such as healthcare, technology and education.

Solar cities are currently in development and when time has shown how effective they are, more nations will be inclined to follow their path.

Third World Benefits

In third world countries many accidents happen due to the spilling of kerosene lamps. Using open fires for cooking also creates serious respiratory and burn problems.

Breathe Easier

Solar cities which rely on solar energy rather than fossil fuels will have cleaner air. Burning fossil fuels produces toxic fumes and allergens which accounts for many people’s respiratory problems.

In comparison to kerosene, which produces fumes equivalent to inhaling the equivalent of 2 packs of cigarettes per day, solar energy has practically zero emissions and it doesn’t also have any impact on the greenhouse effect.

Solar Cities for the Future

Cities in USA and around the world are introducing solar panels to generate energy to their built environment. This has a positive effect on our world by slowing the greenhouse gas effect. Solar cities reduce the pollution created by the use of fossil fuel and they present a cost-effective and health-effective way of providing power to the population. I have previously written on the idea of a solar empire which envisages a growing number of nations creating solar cities.

Guest author: Living Quarters, India

Image Trevor Patt

Greenhouse Gas | The Danger of Air Conditioners

Greenhouse Gas HFCs Produced by Air Conditioners

Air-conditioners while keeping us cool, release the potent Hydrofluorocarbons (‘HFCs’) greenhouse gas into the environment. Unfortunately HFC as a refrigerant replaced the ozone-damaging Chlorofluorocarbon (‘CFC’) greenhouse gas in the mid 1990s. At that time governments around the world acted stop the growth of the emerging holes in the ozone layer, the biggest hole being the hole over Antarctica. CFCs were not only damaging to the ozone layer, they were a potent greenhouse gas. Now we have to worry about HFCs.

Greenhouse gas from air conditioners

Greenhouse Gas Producers

photo credit :Flick’r  (c) by FLO

Unbridled Growth of Air-Conditioner Use

Flying in the face of Climate Change action and the quest to reduce greenhouse gas and carbon pollution in the environment, legislators are making it too easy for the average person to adopt air-conditioning.

Due to mass production in China air-conditioners are very cheap. In the last 30 years there has been an almost unhealthy alliance between air-conditioning manufacturers and governments throughout the western and developing worlds to promote the use of air conditioners.

The air-conditioning industry itself has mounted enormously successful advertising campaigns to convince people that their homes are somehow incomplete without an air-conditioner.

Even in Australia the energy efficiency measures in the Building Code of Australia and the rating tool ‘AccuRate’ assume that:

  • there is a heating and cooling device in the home
  • the efficiency of the structure is determined mainly by discomfort hours of the interior
  • how little the space heating/cooling equipment is used.

Achieving Natural Comfort Inside the Home

Any architect with experience of designing homes in temperate climates knows we simply do not need air conditioning when well-optimized passive solar principles are applied to the home design and the householder knows what to do to achieve natural comfort.

My wife and I are by no means economic battlers. Our home, the Housing Industry of Australia “GreenSmart Building of the Year” in 2005 in Western Australia, does not have air conditioning at all and only a small solid fuel fireplace that was used only on very cold winter nights. See pictures and details of  our solar passive home.

In 2006 our fireplace was not used at all.

Indoor temperatures stay comfortably between 18 degC (64.4F) and 28 degC (82.4F) at least 99% of the year.

When the temperature is 35 degC (95F) outside, we remain a comfortable 26 deg C (78.8F) in our living areas during the day and when the outside temperature goes up to +40 deg C (+104F) we still keep a bearable 28 deg C (82.4F).

Why are we, and many of my architectural and engineering colleagues, so passionate about having people in temperate climates experience the benefits of natural comfort by applying passive solar homes design principles and avoid air conditioning?

It is because we know what can be achieved by clever design and construction of a home and using simple centuries-old management practices. Also we are aware how damaging wholesale air conditioning  is on air pollution!

In the 1970s many of the world’s building science experts demonstrated very well that homes in temperate climates did not need air conditioning for cooling in summer. Even in sub-tropical and hot desert areas it can be greatly reduced.

However the ‘dumbing down’ of regulations to suit the ignorance of the average person and the builders supplying homes to them, as well as the large home-appliance stores making large profits from convincing people that they needed cheap air conditioners, really prevented any common sense and self-discipline from prevailing.

Of course bureaucrats and government authorities simply took the easy way out and avoided any backlash from the public.

Greenhouse Gas | 400,000 tons Released

In teaching the “MSc In Environmental Architecture” course since 2006, I emphasize this aspect in the hope that a new generation of scientifically-trained architects will bring some common sense to building regulations in the future. It simply has to happen, preferably earlier rather than later.

The Premier of Western Australia, Mr Colin Barnett, was unfairly attacked by many members of the public in 2010 for having the courage to suggest that in a temperate climate like Perth, Western Australia, there is no need for air conditioning. He stated he did not have air conditioning in his own house. Unfortunately the public has been brained-washed into believing they need to create comfort by flicking an electrical switch.

The consequence of taking this undisciplined approach is that 400,000 tons of greenhouse gas is now being released into the atmosphere each year and is growing by 10% annually.

In most affluent suburbs in Western Australia the peak load on power demand has grown at 10% each year. There is a double whammy of leaking HFC greenhouse gas from air-conditioners and the need for additional coal fired power stations to supply the electricity for their use.

Minimize Air-Conditioning

Air Conditioner Photo © by rockriver

Clearly a Plan B is needed. Intelligent people can avoid this “status symbol.” Nobody is suggesting that air conditioning is not a modern technological miracle of the 20th century. Over the last 20 years it has become twice as efficient as when it was first introduced.

By alleviating uncomfortable working conditions in the hot and tropical areas of the world, the use of air-conditioning has increased productivity and added economic prosperity to much of Asia.

In modern office environments and hotels in temperate climates the density of people and the heat loading from lights and appliances such as computers, makes it necessary to have some air conditioning. However, much can be done to reduce energy dependence and the leaking of HFC greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. To suggest that we all need air conditioning in the residential sector in temperate climates is nonsense. Obviously powerful lobby groups have created this illusion.

One would think that the engineering profession and academia would be leading the way in minimizing the use of air conditioning. Simple action like opening windows at night and closing them during the day, using natural heavy weight materials inside for thermal inertia, will do the job all but for 5 days a year in Perth.

Reduce Greenhouse Gas Reduce Energy Dependence

The reality is climate change and something needs to be done and fast!
I believe that we cannot allow laziness to undo much of the great work in reducing energy dependence in the built environment.

Refer to David Fogarty’s articles for Planet Ark on the effects of carbon pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Read more about solar energy homes and greenhouse gas reduction solutions.

To keep abreast of important changes in renewable energy please sign up to receive our newsletter on the  solar-e.com home page: Solar Energy Facts


How Important is Solar Energy?

Garry Baverstock
Co-Founder & Director, solar-e.com
Email: g.baverstock@solar-e.com

solar energy

Since 1969 I have recognized that the use of solar energy is the ecological salvation for planet earth.

In the 1960’s it became obvious to most scientists involved in energy science and engineering that fossil fuel sources had limited life in the long term. In spite of the growing awareness of pollution of cities, politicians and oil companies at the time had scant regard of the pleas of eminent scientists. Even though the “Greenhouse Effect” was known since 1958, most governments in the world were just too concerned about maintaining their economic position at the time to act. Celestia sun, solar energy

The warnings now have much greater credence with a growing proportion of the world’s population. This has resulted in a rise of use of solar energy. Of course all forms of energy are related or derived from solar energy. However, it is the applications that avoid releasing CO2 into the atmosphere or lock up CO2 in the process (such as bio-mass) that have relevance for the 21st Century.

solar-e.com has been formulated to assist in this critical technological and social change, which simply must become mainstream. If not, the current changes in the earth’s climate will be insignificant to the catastrophes and human misery that lay ahead if substantial changes do not occur soon!

Apart from the environmental benefit of the “Big Switch” to solar energy, there will be socio-economic benefits, yet not fully appreciated by most scientists, the business community and most governments. It is time for a greater focus, and delivery of real, not perceived, outcomes.

In 2001, the photovoltaic industry was growing at a rate of 30% p.a., which shows the “solar energy age” has well and truly started. Most people always recognized that solar energy was the energy source of the future. Although the last 30 years of the twentieth century can be seen as an evolutionary process, the speed of development has been slow in relation to the growth of production of greenhouse gases.

Communication, networking, education, dissemination of ideas and information, can help to quicken the pace of development of all forms of solar energy, not only increasing use in the developed world, but ensure the developing world does not make the same errors of judgement in the past and leapfrog the outdated 19th Century forms of energy generation.

I believe this process will take about 50 years, but this early part of the 21st century is the most critical time in human evolution and survival of planet earth’s ecology and environment, as we know it. The equilibrium of greenhouse gases must be restored as soon as possible. If 25% of all energy sources were to be provided by solar and renewable sources and pollution from commuter traffic significantly reduced, the danger of catastrophic effects could be averted. This target must be met by all countries within the next twenty years. Ask the Gurus!

solar-e.com is here to facilitate the process and put genuine seekers of the truth of what is happening and what can be done with those who can deliver the outcomes. We see the large fossil fuel producers as important strategic partners as this important step of evolution occurs.

It is going to take remarkable cooperation and collaboration but it can be done. It must!

Name- Celestia sun
Source- http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Celestia_sun.jpg
Image has been released into the public domain

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