A Liter of Light, lighting up lives!

Ever thought of what you would normally do to a plastic bottle after drinking out of it? Ever thought of what happens to a bottle, once you throw it away? Or how you could use the bottle in any other way, than disposing it? Well here is one solution that has caught the world’s attention. This revolutionizing, new solar lighting movement is called, ‘Liter of Light’.

A Brazilian mechanic and inventor, Alfredo Moser, invented a unique and simple alternative to illumination, when a power outage affected his workshop. With little materials around him, he used everyday items to build a daylight solution. Inspired by the simplicity of this invention, Illac Diaz, founder of MyShelter Foundation, decided to spread the invention in his energy hungry, cyclonic affected parts of his native country, the Philippines. The ‘Liter of Light’ movement started since then; Opening 53 chapters across nations like India, Philippines, United States, Pakistan, among other, since 2011.

So what is so unique about this solar based solution? How is it different from other solar based solutions out there? Why is it attracting so much attention worldwide? The answer lies in the innovation itself. This unique solution uses minimum resources – a plastic bottle, a little amount of bleach, a small aluminium sheet, resin and basic tools.  This bottle is now ready to be fitted on an aluminium rooftop. On a sunny day, sunlight refracts through the bleached water, illuminating the room below.  It is estimated to have an effect, equivalent to a 50 Watt bulb[1]. All this, at a cost of less than $2[2]! Since the success of Liter of Light’s daylight solution, the foundation has started work on a night light solution as well. The night solution is modular and integrates with the daylight solution using a few LED bulbs and a compact solar panel. Though the cost of the night light solution is presently around $15-20[3], Liter of Light is committed to innovate further, to reduce cost below $10, noting that the minimum cost for a one light bulb system is $10, which is yet marginally high for most regions that fall under extreme poverty.

According to a World Bank[4] report on energy, 1.1 billion people are yet without access to electricity. Globally, an estimated 250 to 500 million households still rely on fuel-based lamps to supply their basic lighting needs. Kerosene being the most predominant fuel. Users of kerosene lamps pay 20-30%[5] of their annual family’s income for the fuel. However a bigger price is paid for their well-being, in the form of injuries from burns, insufficient illumination for education of children, and the significant health impacts from indoor household air pollution (UNEP). An estimated 4.3 million deaths every year from lung cancer, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute lower respiratory disease, and ischaemic heart disease are attributable to HAP emissions[6]. More than three quarters of those deaths (3.31 million) occur in South East Asia and the Western Pacific[7]. Kerosene is also a major emitter of Black Carbon[8], a major contributor to climate change along with the CO2 released from burning of Kerosene[9] . Solar based solutions like the Liter of Light daylight and night lights are helping people to switch to a safer source of light and an inexpensive solution.

Among the regions Liter of Light has penetrated, the most impressive utility of the product are in war-affected, human displaced and catastrophic climatic zones. For instance, the northern belt of Pakistan, Philippines and the east coast of India. Around 35 kilometres southeast of Peshawar, lies one of Pakistan’s largest refugee camps – Jalozai IDP refugee camp. Its home to an estimated 36,000 refugees. Access to basic amenities like electricity, roads and water are very scarce. Maternity wards have very little or no light to run emergency operations. The camp has no lighting along the streets and public washrooms. Vaqas Butt, Founder of ‘Liter of Light – Pakistan’ in collaboration with Pepsi Co Pakistan initiated “Lighting up Lives”. This programme has lit up public restrooms, streets and hospital labor wards. Refugees from the camp express their feeling of having light at night as ‘a blessing’ to their hardship they face.

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Similarly, in the far south East Asia region of the Philippines, a country constantly ravaged by cyclonic storms, Liter of Light installed up to 200,000 daylight and nightlight solutions (pepsico). ‘Liter of Light Bangalore’, recently helped light three hamlets, near coast of Vizag. This included installation of streetlights and hut rooftop night light solutions in areas where electricity had never been reached. A huge impact has been in the employment of rural men and women, to earn a living by maintaining the solution.

Many critics to the Liter of Light movement raise one very important question. How is the use of waste bottles sustainable? What happens to the bottles after its lifespan is over? Use of the bottles for lighting helps in reducing the otherwise disposed bottles which usually land up in landfills and take years to decompose. The estimated lifespan of a Liter of Light bottle and the bleach mixture has been recorded to be around an average of 3 years, though, different regions and different conditions could extend or shorten the time. Liter of Light is considering a plan of action with regard to the disposal of the bottles post its usage stage.

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Energy for all is going to be the single most important priority for all developed and developing economies in the coming decades. As their economies grow, so does their need for energy. Sustainable energy solutions like renewable energy will be a crucial factor, as economies are looking to curb their impact on the environment as they grow. Sustainable low cost energy solutions like the Liter of Light initiative will play a crucial role in providing energy requirements to regions that would yet need distributed power.

 

 

Joseph Varun

 

[1] “Liter of Light’s solar-powered, DIY lamp made from a plastic …” 2015. 11 Jun. 2015 <http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/liter-of-lights-solarpowered-diy-lamp-made-from-a-plastic-bottle-is-transforming-lives-9993728.html>

[2] “Liter of Light | Global Brands Magazine.” 2014. 11 Jun. 2015 <http://www.globalbrandsmagazine.com/liter-of-light/>

[3] “Bottling Solar Energy for All by Illac Diaz — The G Project.” 2013. 11 Jun. 2015 <http://www.thisisyourplanet.com/ideas/community/412>

[4] “Energy Overview – World Bank.” 2013. 11 Jun. 2015 <http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/energy/overview>

[5] “Solar Power Off the Grid: Energy Access for World’s Poor by …” 2012. 10 Jun. 2015 <http://e360.yale.edu/feature/solar_power_off_the_grid_energy_access_for_worlds_poor/2480/>

[6] “WHO | Household air pollution and health.” 2005. 10 Jun. 2015 <http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs292/en/>

[7] “Kerosene Lamps are an Important Target for Reducing …” 2014. 10 Jun. 2015 <http://www.unep.org/ccac/Media/PressReleases/KeroseneLampsImportantTargetforReducingPollu/tabid/794525/Default.aspx>

[8]Black carbon (BC) is the most strongly light-absorbing component of particulate matter (PM), and is formed by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels, and biomass. BC is emitted directly into the atmosphere in the form of fine particles (PM2.5). BC is the most effective form of PM, by mass, at absorbing solar energy: per unit of mass in the atmosphere, BC can absorb a million times more energy than carbon dioxide (CO2). BC is a major component of “soot”, a complex light-absorbing mixture that also contains some organic carbon (OC).

[9] “The kerosene lamp and black carbon – warming the planet …” 2013. 10 Jun. 2015 <http://solar-aid.org/black-carbon-and-the-kerosene-lamp/>

Adaptation, mitigation activities can control climate change – I.P.C.C. report

Climate change irreversible impacts to increase, however, there are options to adapt to climate change and stringent mitigation activities to manage it, finds new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

The Synthesis Report, which sums and integrates the findings of the I.P.C.C. Fifth Assessment Report produced by 800 scientists (see related story), is the most comprehensive assessment of climate change.

“Our assessment finds that the atmosphere and oceans have warmed, the amount of snow and ice has diminished, sea level has risen and the concentration of carbon dioxide has increased to a level unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years,” said Thomas Stocker, co-chair of I.P.C.C. Working Group I.

The document reports with great certainty than in previous assessment the fact that emissions of greenhouse gases and other man-made drivers have been the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-20th century.

According to the report, the more human activity disrupts the climate, the greater the risks. Continued GHG emissions will further warm and create long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of widespread and profound impacts affecting all levels of society.

“Adaptation can play a key role in decreasing these risks. Adaptation is so important because it can be integrated with the pursuit of development, and can help prepare for the risks to which we are already committed by past emissions and existing infrastructure,” said Vicente Barros, co-chair of I.P.C.C. Working Group II.

But adaptation alone is not enough. Substantial and sustained reductions of GHG emissions are at the core of limiting the risks of climate change, as it will not only reduce the rate and magnitude of warming, but also increase the time available for adaptation.

According to experts, there are multiple mitigation pathways to achieve the substantial emissions reductions over the next few decades that will limit the warming to 2 degrees Celsius. But delaying mitigation to 2030 will severely increase the challenges associated with limiting the warming.

“It is technically feasible to transition to a low-carbon economy. But what is lacking are appropriate policies and institutions. The longer we wait to take action, the more it will cost to adapt and mitigate climate change,” said Youba Sokona, co-chair of I.P.C.C. Working Group III. – EcoSeed Staff

Source: Ecoseed

Now, sell solar power to discoms to reduce electricity bill

NEW DELHI: Delhi took a huge leap in renewable energy generation on Tuesday. Power watchdog Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) announced regulations for net metering of renewable energy, giving Delhiites a chance to become renewable energy suppliers. The regulations outline how people can generate renewable energy in their premises, and then reduce their electricity bills by the amount of power they supply to the grid. The regulations are expected to be enforced within a week.

While the net metering regulations apply to all forms of renewable energy like solar, hydro and wind, in Delhi only solar generation is feasible. Many households and organizations already generate solar power for their own consumption, but the new regulations will allow them to supply to the grid and receive energy credits or adjust the units supplied against their electricity bills.

DERC chairperson P D Sudhakar said, “With this, consumers can set up their own solar panels and either supply directly to the grid or use it partially. Whatever you supply to the grid, you can draw back whenever you need it”. How much power a person supplies and draws back from the grid will be metered. If they draw more than they supply, the difference will be billed to them. If they draw less, they will be given energy credits in the next billing cycle.

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To become a renewable energy generator, a person will have to apply to their area’s discom for a connection to the renewable energy system. The discom will then allow the connection after analyzing transformer-level capacity. “The capacity of renewable energy system to be installed at any premises shall be subject to the feasibility of interconnection with the grid, the available capacity of the service line connection of the consumers of the premises, and the sanctioned load of the consumer. Minimum capacity for the renewable energy system should not be less than 1kW peak,” said an official on Tuesday.

Two meters will be installed in the consumer’s premises — a renewable energy meter to measure total renewable energy generated, and a net meter to measure the difference between the power drawn and contributed to the grid. Check meters can be installed by either party at their own cost. “Charges for the testing and installation of net meters will be borne by the consumer, and those for the renewable energy meter by the distribution licensee,” the regulations state.

Many large-scale power consumers like malls, hospitals, schools and government buildings already generate solar power. “The MoEF building in Jor Bagh generates up to 1MW power which it is unable to use. Now it can supply its excess power to the grid and get adjustments in its power bills. We also hope households will opt for renewable energy generation,” said a DERC official. For discoms, the advantage is that any renewable energy they source in this way will count towards their renewable power obligations that they have not been able to meet.

 

Source: TOI, New Delhi

German MPs adopt cuts for green energy subsidies

Berlin (AFP) – German lawmakers adopted a law on Friday to reduce renewable energy subsidies as the government seeks to keep its green “energy transformation” on track, curb rising prices and fight nagging criticism.

The reform of the “Energiewende” is one of the first big projects of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s third term, together with a national minimum wage, and has been a political hot potato both in Germany and with the European Commission.

The reform of the “Energiewende” is one of the first big projects of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s third term © AFP/File Frank Zeller

The reform of the “Energiewende” is one of the first big projects of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s third term
© AFP/File Frank Zeller

The law, overwhelmingly approved in the Bundestag lower house of parliament, aims to provide new impetus to the energy shift under which Europe’s top economy plans to meet 80 percent of its energy needs with renewables by 2050.

“We’re reducing the costs and that is also urgently needed,” Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel told MPs.

Merkel acknowledged this week that Germany was facing a “herculean” task, while Gabriel, who is also her vice-chancellor, said the energy transformation was increasingly being viewed with scepticism by the rest of the world.

Germany introduced a generous system of subsidies for green energies in the late 1990s, a move which has borne fruit — 27 percent of the electricity used in the first quarter of this year came from renewable sources — but is costly.

The subsidies are funded by a tax levied on customers’ electricity bills, which has driven up energy prices in Germany to count among Europe’s highest.

Under the new law, the subsidies will be substantially reduced from August 1, while producers of green energy will also gradually have to sell competitively on the market rather than enjoying priority treatment with guaranteed prices.

Merkel took the surprise decision in 2011 to gradually scrap nuclear power for renewables in the wake of the Fukushima disaster but has faced pressure over how to pay for the clean energy drive.

To offset the phasing out of nuclear energy and the time needed to build up renewable sources, Germany has also increased consumption of cheaper fossil fuels such as coal which has hit its image for environmental protection.

“A first step in the right direction,” cheered the BDEW federation, which represents conventional energy producers, while the reform is criticised by the ecologist Greens party, clean energy associations and environmentalists.

“Sigmar Gabriel is the wrecking ball which is damaging renewable energy here in this country,” Greens lawmaker Oliver Krischer said.

Berlin is also likely to face opposition from the EU Commission, which argues that a tax levied by Germany on imported electricity, including green forms, is, effectively, a barrier to free trade.

© AFP

Source: Magazine GoodPlanet Info

Minimum CO2 price of $32 needed to curb warming, study shows

Paris (AFP) – A global carbon price of at least $32 (24 euros) per tonne is needed by 2015 to apply an effective brake on global warming — almost five times today’s European market rate, a study said Monday.

Co-authored by British economist Nicholas Stern, an authority on the costs of climate change, the report reviewed a widely-used model for assessing risk and found it led to a “gross underassessment” of danger.

Emissions spew out of a large stack at the coal fired Morgantown Generating Station, on May 29, 2014 in Newburg, Maryland © Getty/AFP Mark Wilson

Emissions spew out of a large stack at the coal fired Morgantown Generating Station, on May 29, 2014 in Newburg, Maryland
© Getty/AFP Mark Wilson

This beefs up the case for strong cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, helped by a carbon price “in the range of $32-103 per tonne of CO2 (tCO2) in 2015″, said the study carried by The Economic Journal.

“Within two decades, the carbon price should rise in real terms to $82-260/tCO2,” it added.

Such a price should limit the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to 425-500 particles per million, the level required to contain global warming to 1.5-2.0 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), said the report.

The study was co-authored by Stern’s colleague, Simon Dietz, at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

It was released a day after the close of UN talks in Bonn on concluding a deal to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The pact is expected to be signed in Paris in December 2015.

In April, the UN’s expert Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the world can still limit global warming to relatively safe levels, provided annual emissions are cut by 40-70 percent by 2050.

The panel listed a global carbon price as one option for tackling the challenge. It warned temperatures could rise by up to 4.8 Celsius this century and sea levels by 26-82 centimetres (10-32 inches) on present emissions trends.

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank have also this year called for the introduction of a universal price on carbon — the most common greenhouse gas blamed for climate change.

For the moment, carbon prices are determined by national or regional systems — either as a tax on emissions or as a cap-and-trade scheme that allows companies to sell unused allotments.

The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), the most ambitious cap-and-trade system in the world, has seen prices drop drastically from a peak of about 30 euros per tonne eight years ago to $7.7 (5.7 euros) today — partly due to countries issuing too many allowances.

The Stern-Dietz report said the standard DICE model used to calculate economic risks from climate change, also by studies included in the IPCC’s latest report, used unrealistic values and underestimated the potential damage.

The updated model, “strengthens the case for strong cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases,” Dietz said in a statement.

© AFP

Source: Magazine GoodPlanet Info

Japan ‘plans carbon offset scheme with India’

Tokyo (AFP) – Japan is set to offer India a carbon offset scheme that would see Tokyo’s environmental technology used by the rising Asian giant to help reduce its emissions, a report said.

The scheme would see Japanese firms earn carbon credits in return for helping developing countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, the Nikkei newspaper said in its Monday evening edition, adding India was a likely early partner.

Farmworkers prepare a flooded field for rice-growing as the chimneys of the Kolaghat Thermal Power Plant loom the background in Mecheda, around 85 kms south-west of Kolkata, eastern India on July 26, 2011 © AFP/File Dibyangshu Sarkar

Farmworkers prepare a flooded field for rice-growing as the chimneys of the Kolaghat Thermal Power Plant loom the background in Mecheda, around 85 kms south-west of Kolkata, eastern India on July 26, 2011
© AFP/File Dibyangshu Sarkar

The joint crediting mechanism (JCM) would encourage Japanese firms to participate by allowing them to promote technologies such as energy-efficient furnaces and air-conditioning systems, in developing countries with huge market potential such as India.

The Nikkei report comes as Japan struggles to further cut its greenhouse gas emissions, with businesses claiming many factories, vehicles and household appliances are already fitted with energy-efficient technologies.

It also comes as the latest energy white paper showed Japan is increasingly dependent on imported fossil fuels for power generation, with the public still unwilling to allow nuclear reactors to be switched back after the huge 2011 quake-tsunami disaster that crippled the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Under the mooted joint crediting mechanism (JCM), participating firms would be allowed to count the carbon credits as reductions in their own greenhouse gas emissions or could sell them to the government, the Nikkei said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, who will visit Tokyo next month, will agree to speed up talks on the matter, the newspaper reported.

Japan has already signed JCM agreements with 11 developing countries, including Indonesia, Mongolia and Kenya.

Tokyo hopes carbon credits from the scheme could be used to come closer to its target of reducing Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions by 3.8 percent against the 2005 level.

Japan, which had relied on nuclear for over a quarter of its power, jacked up imports of fossil fuels to keep the lights on after the quake-tsunami disaster forced a shutdown of the country’s reactors.

About 88 percent of Japan’s energy came from fossil fuels in the past fiscal year to March, according to the white paper released Tuesday.

© AFP

Source: Magazine Goodplanet Info