alternative, Data, economics, electicity, energy, lighting, Uncategorized

Energy Poverty

I’ve come across a post by Bill Gates, and it sort of resonated with me. We play with our Lifx bulbs and hardly even think that someone might not be even able to switch on the light at night.

alternative, economics, electicity, energy, Solar

Tesla Powerwall Explained (mostly to myself)


This is a very subjective post. I was always very keen to know what Tesla Powerwall was, and never actually bothered to read or wiki or youtube about it. Musk made it equals ‘is cool’ means ‘heap’ stands for ‘someday maybe’ really deciphers into ‘not in this part of the world unless one is fabulously well off.’ Summoning my excited pessimism, I have rolled my sleeves up and typed ‘power wall’ in the search bar. Four days later I made it to my laptop again to see ten or twelve tabs all reading tesla power w… A weekend has passed and I made myself find time to read, watch and comprehend.

Then I sketched what I got from all of this (attached).

A) The Sun is needed and conventional grid works well too.

B) PV panels are required too to send DC current to a sleek looking like a model S P85D bonnet cabinet

C) Powerwall either stores or uses electricity.

D) Energy bill is affected: use an off-grid electricity supply from your very own Powerball during peak hours

Internet is a good source till comments start coming along. One is not enough some say. 3.3kW limits the number of appliances used simultaneously. You need to put several batteries together to get a decent household use, they add.

Hey, we might have forgotten: the first iPhone did not record videos too.

The first battery of the kind might be expensive and till date may not be the most practical yet it gives a chance to store your own energy. A user stops just buying a kilowatt that is instantaneously consumed. A user can keep her kilowatt, and if not used, sell it or exchange. This is an economy.



alternative, energy, lighting, renewable

Light Pushes Wind


It’s fascinating to watch colossal wind turbines along the shores of Denmark or fields of the Netherlands. They add sleek extraterrestrial grandeur to a pastoral landscape. A windmill could raise as high as the thirty-storey building and produce up to 3.5 MW of electrical power (enough to power about 430 houses).

Spectacular as the windmills are, the Dutch design practice Studio Roseegaarde, turned a wind farm at Sint Annaland in Zeeland into a light installation. Green (ha, green energy, right!) laser beams fired by a smart tracking device aim at a blade of the next windmill  The device predicts accurate position of the blade and thus a seamless movement is created.

The project WINDLICHT can easily be a Kinderdijk of our connected time.

Video courtesy of Studio Roseegaarde on Vimeo.

alternative, energy, Solar

The UAE Sand to Store Solar Energy

I have already posted about a massive solar plant Shams in the UAE. Today we write about a related news. Masdar Institute informed they have found the possibility to use sand as a medium to store the heat from the solar plant.

Sand can potentially replace synthetic oil and molten salts used in TES (thermal energy storage) systems. The higher working temperature leads to cost reduction of storing and transmitting the energy.

economics, electicity, energy, lighting

1,5 seconds earn you an hour of artificial light

I have stumbled upon an interesting stats while reading Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley. Lighting folks could make good use of it. Mind it was written in 2010!

Ridley poses a question how much artificial light one can earn with an hour work.

  • Sesame-oil lamp in 1750 BC: more than fifty hours of work
  • Tallow candle in eighteen hundreds: around 6 hours
  • Kerosene lamp in 1880: 15 minutes
  • Incandescent lamp in 1950: 8 seconds
  • Fluorescent lamp on the brink of the first decade of the new millennium: half a second

“From six hours to half a second – a 43,200-fold improvement – for an hour of lighting: that is how much better off you are than your ancestor was in 1800, using the currency that counts, your time,” says the author.

Kudos to Tim Ferriss and Naval Ravikant for a great reading tip.

alternative, dubai, energy, lighting, pavegen

Walk the watts

people on a busy crossroads in shibuya, tokyo, japan - not model released

Hundreds of thousands of footfalls = megawatts of energy

People-generated energy, and this is not a plot of Matrix franchise. in 2009 Lawrence Kemball-Cook, a graduate of Loughborough University, UK, has filed a patent and started up a company Pavegen. The company makes a 600mm x 450 mm tile, its surface of recycled tires. A typical footfall compresses the polymer surface by 5 mm and this motion generates electricity. According to the company’s data, each step could create up to 7W of 12V DC. Technology behind this invention is a guarded secret, but a quick sniff around the web hints it is of the similar nature to piezoelectric effect and induction.

Tiles are waterproof, certified according to British and EU electrical and safety standards. Generated electricity is then stored in a battery, and is activated at required intervals to light up a street, alley or a park. Pavegen stipulates that unlike solar and wind sources, there is no limitation to use a field of tiles within a city limits, and therefore efficiency of an installation is way optimal.

Installing a Pavegen field

Installing a Pavegen field

Paving a busy street in a bustling city is great, but what about the Middle East? Could this technology find its way here? 160 million legs marching through Dubai Mall yearly answer: yes, it could!

Images courtesy of and Pavegen

alternative, dubai, energy, friends, renewable

On the use of the Sun

A question that gets asked a lot around here: why solar power is not that spread across the UAE. It seems logical to ask: the Sun is in abundance in the Middle East, and yet this country only plans to diversify its energy sources and get up to 24% of it from clean sources*. Our old friend, one of the brightest people we know and the Sun expert, Anthony Bassil, shed some light on the solar power. He also sketched the schemes for this post.

Solar energy harvested via photovoltaic panels can be classified into two main schemes: off- and on-grid. Off-grid, or stand alone system needs a large battery bank to store the collected energy, charge controllers and inverters to change from direct current to alternative current (AC/DC, and we are not on about ‘Rock or bust‘ here)

Off-grid system on paper

Off-grid system on paper

Such system is bulky, takes a fair bit of space and demands extreme safety measures. Standards require the place where batteries are stored to be properly ventilated. As battery emits hydrogen, every schoolboy knows, it behaves funny when it meets with oxygen (yes, b-o-o-m!) This makes the off-grid solar installation costs go up and lead to longer return on invenstment (ROI) period.

However the costs even for the off-grid system is now shrinking. A decade ago, a user would pay about ten USD per kW, and now — only around five. Yet, on-grid installation offers even higher savings (2.4 USD/kW) and estimated 3-5 years ROI.

An example of a grid-tie system

An example of a grid-tie system

Recent changes in the energy policies in Dubai, allowed investors to look at the on-grid solutions. It is a leaner installation that needs no batteries, and its core advantage is in the ability of a user to sell the unused energy back to the grid. Say, your warehouse consumes a smaller amount of energy during the night, and therefore gives unused electricity back to the network.

A growing number of clients are expressing interest in locating the panels on the roofs of their buildings, both new and retrofit. Why not? We have probably 350 days of uninterrupted sunlight each year. New regulations allowed investors to look differently at this renewable source of energy. Other sources are limited by the climate: moderate winds and waves along the UAE coast would not allow to harvest sufficient amounts of energy. Off-shore wind turbines are possible, but then again you need to transport energy from far away in the sea.

This country is looking forward the having so called solar farms.

Shams means Sun

Shams means Sun

Concentrated solar plants would allow to collect and transform to electricity enormous amounts of sunlight. Thus, Abu Dhabi based Shams 1 launched in 2013 is the largest solar thermal power plant in the Middle East. It is built to generate 100MW of energy. Unlike photovoltaic principle (energy is created due to chemical reaction), solar thermal stations heat water and then convert it to electricity.

Engineers in the Middle East are working on the challenge of dust. It too is in abundance in our desert land. Where a manual labour could be used to rid of the dust on a parking ticket machine, you’d need a more serious machinery on the farm.

We will continue to monitor the Sun power situation. The weather is good for both us, the users, and investors (heard of Google spending 300 M USD on it? The search-masters bough a share in the US SolarCity plant, 377MW).

* State of Energy Report in the UAE 2015