Category: Featured

The Green Opus quiz witnessed a very enthusiastic participation yesterday, on the 31st of January, with the audience also pitching in with a lot of answers.

The results were:
1st: Rajputs
2nd: Mauryans
3rd: Marathas
4th: Mughals

Cheers to the winners! Keep looking at this space for future results.

Green Opus 2012-13

Group for Environment and Energy Engineering (GE3) is back with Green Opus, the Inter-hall sustainability championship, this time with more charm to it. This time it accounts for 12% (total points:1200) in the General Championship and the stakes are even higher. Green Opus has always been known as the event which can turn tables in the General Championship and this phase will decide the final winner of Green Opus 2012-13. The second and final phase shall include:

Electricity Usage Reduction (Weightage in Green Opus: 600 pts)

  • Base months: September 2011, January 2012
  • Judging months: September 2012, January 2013
  • Percentage reduction in per capita energy usage from “Base Months” to “Judging Months” will be calculated.

Food Wastage Reduction (Weightage in Green Opus: 360 pts)

  • Judging Month: January 2013
  • Average per capita food wastage will be calculated for each pool during the judging month.
  • The average per capita food wastage will be compared across all the pools and based on that rankings will be decided.

Poster Design (Weightage in Green Opus: 50 pts)

  • Topic: Water Wastage on Campus
  • Details can be found here.

Case Study Competition (Weightage in Green Opus: 70 pts)

  • Topic: Electricity wastage in the Academic Area
  • Details can be found here.

Video Making (Weightage in Green Opus: 70 pts)

  • Topic: Steps Taken by your Pool to Reduce Wastage of Resources
  • Event details can be found here

Environment Quiz (Weightage in Green Opus: 50 pts)

  • Will be held on 31st January, 2013.

Now is the time to become more responsible and contribute to the  environment. It can’t get better than this. An environment friendly lifestyle will not only help save the planet, it will also help your pool win.

“Be Responsible,
Help Your Pool Win!”

Submit all your entries at: by 31st January 2013.

For any queries, you may contact:
Avish Rana:
Shashank Shekhar:
Sahil Bhandari:

Green Opus 2011-12 Results

Mughals comprising Hall 5 & Hall 8 have been declared the overall winners of Green opus 2011-12. Congratulations! Detailed report can be found here

Group for Environment & Energy Engineering (GE3) presents Green Opus 2011-12, IIT Kanpur’s Inter-Hall Sustainability Championship. This year, it gets bigger and better with the inclusion of the ‘Mess Food Wastage Reduction’ challenge along with the erstwhile challenge of reducing electricity consumption. The main motive of Green opus is to exploit students’ spirit of teamwork and competition for inculcating sustainable and green practices in institute’s culture. So be a part of the movement, contribute to the environment that you are a part of.

“Be Responsible,


Help Your Pool Win!”

This year, Green Opus will be conducted in two phases, one in each semester as described below:

Phase I: Electricity Consumption Reduction Month (1st-30th Sept, 2011)

An Overview:

First phase of Green Opus 2011-12 kicks off on Sept 1st, 2011. It carries 60% weightage in Green opus 2011-12. Electricity usage readings for Sept 2011, from Halls Of Residence I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VII, IX, X and GH, will be monitored by GE3 members and authenticated by the Institute Works Department (IWD). Reduction in electricity consumption will be measured as a percentage change from the electricity usage during Sept 2010. So, junta! Stop wasting electricity, we will be watching you.

Judging Criteria:

  • Percentage reduction in per capita electricity consumption during Sept 2011 from that in Sept 2010 will be the primary judging criterion.
  • To take into account the limited scope of reduction for halls with low per capita consumption, a Hall Scaling Factor (HSF), based on the hall’s per capita consumption relative to average per capita consumption of all the halls, will be included in judging criteria.
  • Pools will get ranks on the basis of their percentage reduction in per capita consumption scaled by HSFs.
  • Hall 1, being mentor hall, will not be considered for judging.

Phase II: Mess Food Wastage Reduction Month

Weightage in Green Opus 2011-2012       :     40%

Tentative Competition Month                    :      January 2012

Details will be uploaded at appropriate time.

For any queries contact:

Divakar Naidu


Kapil Singh


Final Standings



1. Pool A 3.38 Points

2. Pool B 3.04 Points

3. Pool C 2.19 Points

4. Pool D 1.39 Points

Key Facts

1. Highest consumption of energy takes place in January and least in December.

2. All halls except Hall 3 showed a net power reduction.

  • On an average the (total sum) consumption of a student in IIT Kanpur reduced by approximately 50 units from October 2010 to January 2011 this year when compared to the same period in the previous year 2010.

Key Suggestions

  • Pareto’s law states that 80% of our problems are are caused by 20 % of our problems. We can see that during the four months we consume the most (~40%) in January. Thus we should concentrate our efforts in limiting energy usage in January.
  • Similarly energy usage in Hall 6 (GH2) should be reassessed to make the energy consumption more efficient there. Other halls that can be concentrated upon are Hall 7 and Hall 8.
Speaker:  Dr. S.P. Viswanathan (Bio Data)
Date:      19th October, 2010, Tuesday
Time:      5:05 PM to 6:00 PM
Location:  L-13 in Lecture Hall Complex
The presentation will describe the principles of the linear Fresnel system of concentrating sun’s
energy, development of the various components involved, and the experimental results obtained. A
video of the saturated steam gushing out of the exit will be shown. Also another video will show
production of direct superheated steam at 33 bar and 260 C. Perhaps thisis the first time it has been
accomplished in India.  The need for the selective absorber coating on the receiver tubes that maximizes
absorptivity and minimizes emissivity will be emphasized.

Using solar energy-generated steam KG Design Services is also engaged in desalination by multiple
effect distillation instead of the conventional reverse-osmosis method. A solar desalination plant
built before October 2011 will deliver 6000 litres / hour of desalinated water to the people of
Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu.  There are also efforts underway to build India’s first solar-biomass
 hybrid power plant and to carry out research in algae cultivation for the sake of producing biofuel
and biomass.


This is a long article.So here is the index for the article.

  1. Abstract
  2. Introduction
  3. Factors affecting the cost of nuclear power
  4. Levelised cost of electricity of Kaiga I and II
  5. Economic analysis of a coal power plant
  6. Ultra Mega power projects and the Carbon credits
  7. Hydro power
  8. Comparison
  9. Conclusion
  10. References

  11. 1.Abstract

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    This article discusses the economic aspects of nuclear power generation in the Indian context and is based on a presentation made on this topic on October 18, 2008 at IIT Kanpur at the NPE-2008 symposium conducted by the Indian Nuclear Society. Data from various sources has been collected and compiled to compare nuclear power generation cost with a coal fired power plant and hydroelectric power plant.


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    India depends upon various sources for her power requirements. The break up of the power is as given below

    Total installed nuclear power generation capacity is 4120 MW (source: NPCIL) combining the seven plants located in various parts of the country and is small compared to the coal based plants and hydel plants. India’s power deficit stood at 73,050 million units in 2007-08, during this period 653,172 million units were supplied against a demand of 726,222 million units (source: Deccan Herald, Aug 2008). According to the planning commission of India the optimistic nuclear power scenario is summarised in the following table:

    Items 2006 2016* 2021*
    Total Installed Capacity in GW 134.7 303 425-488
    Nuclear Capacity in GW 4.12 15 30
    Nuclear as a % of total 3.06% 4.95% 6.74%

    * denotes predicted value.
    (Source: Integrated Energy Policy, Planning Commission, August, 2006)

    Current location of power plants is summarised in the following sketch (not to scale) :

    Source: Government of India, Department of Atomic Energy

    We can see that the nuclear power plants are strategically located at a distance greater than 800 km from the coal fields this has been done to make the nuclear power competitive with thermal power in the area it is located.

    3. Factors affecting the cost of nuclear power

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    Parameters (that we have considered) involved in the economics of nuclear power plant or in general any plant.

    1. Capital costs (Overnight Capital cost)
    2. O & M costs
    3. Fuel cost
    4. Construction time
    5. Levelized cost of generation (assessment parameter)
    6. Economic life time of the project.
    7. Discount Rate
    8. Decommissioning costs

    4. Levelised cost of electricity of Kaiga I and II

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    The approach of levelised cost of electricity is one of the most popular approaches to compare the cost of power.First the present value of the plant is calculated by discounting all the future expenses to the present and then deciding at what price of electricity one can recover all the expenses that will be incurred during the construction, operation and decommissioning periods.

    Present value is calculated by using the following mathematical expression

    C1 = capital cost in year 1.
    M = total number of years of construction before reactor becomes
    i = real discount rate.
    N = number of years in operation
    Ok = O and M costs in Kth year of operation.
    Fk = fuel cost in year K of operation
    Wj = waste disposal cost in year j
    P = cooling time for spent fuel
    Dq = decommissioning cost.
    T = time difference in stopping of reactor function and decommissioning.

    Where Ce is the levelised cost of electricity and Ek are the units of electricity sold in year k, i is the real discount rate.Thus we can calculate the LCOE of the plant by equating both the expressions. The values of the symbols for Kaiga I and II are as follows:

    Field Units
    Sum of annual construction costs Rs 1816 Crore
    (Without IDC)
    Capacity 440 MW
    Auxiliary consumption 12 %
    Economic lifetime 40 years
    Uranium fuel price Rs 16450 /kg
    Initial Uranium loading 111.6 tonnes
    Uranium consumption 2.05E-05 kg/kwh
    Heavy water price Rs 24880 / kg
    Initial heavy water loading 420 tonnes
    Heavy water losses 14000 kg/ year
    Transport of spent fuel 878 Rs/ kg
    Decommissioning cost 10% of capital cost
    Operation and Maintenance 2% of the capital cost

    Source Ramanna, D’Sa, Reddy, 2005

    Using the discount rate as 1% and power production to run at 80% of sanctioned capacity we get LCOE for Kaiga I and II= Rs 1.18 /kWh.Plant life was assumed to be 40 years.

    5. Economic analysis of a coal power plant

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    Similar to the nuclear power plant the factors that affect the coal power plant are nearly the same.

    Factors affecting the cost of production
    1. Capital cost
    2. Fuel cost
    3. O & M
    4. Waste disposal
    5. Economic lifetime of power plant

    Field Units
    Sum of Capital Cost during Construction Rs 491.3 Crore
    Capacity 210 MW
    In plant consumption rate 8.5 %
    Economic lifetime 30 years
    Coal cost ( domestic ) Rs 1412 per tonne
    Coal consumption 0.63 kg/kWh
    Heat Rate 2,362.5 kCal/kWh
    Ash disposal cost Rs 174 per tonne
    Furnace oil consumption 2 mL/kWh
    Furnace oil cost Rs 18 per litre
    O & M 2 % of the capital

    Source: et al Ramanna 2005

    We can calculate the LCOE is 1.33 Rs. Economic life of 30 years for a thermal power plant has been assumed.

    We can compare our results now.

    Kaiga I & II RTPS VII(D)
    Capacity cost (including O&M) Rs/kWh 0.65 0.27
    Heavy Water make-up cost Rs/net kWh 0.13 0.00
    Fuel cost Rs/net kWh 0.38 1.01
    LCOE Rs /kWh 1.18 1.33

    The results for different values of discount rate are given below-

    Discount Rate Percentage Kaiga I & II RTPS VII Rs/kWh
    1 1.18 1.33
    2 1.32 1.36
    3 1.48 1.39
    4 1.66 1.42
    5 1.87 1.45
    6 2.10 1.49

    Clearly nuclear power becomes cheaper for realistic values of discount rates greater than 5%. Considering 6% discount rate for 2007 at 5% inflation we get LCOE for Kaiga I and II as 2.68 Rs/kWh and for RTPS VII as 1.90 Rs/kWh.It is to be noted that distance of this nuclear power plant is greater than 1200 km from the coal fields but we find that the cost still fail to compete with that of the coal power plant. Also the waste disposal expenses have not been considered, which are going to be substantial, and are nascent at present. On the other hand ash waste disposal in coal plants is cheaper as establishments are ready to buy it against the assumption that the plant pays for it.

    It is thus impressed that in spite of favorable assumptions nuclear power is found to trail behind the coal fired power at present.

    6. Ultra Mega power projects and the Carbon credits

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    With the UMPP’s on the scene it is expected that certain coal power plants will achieve significant economy of scale which can gain significant carbon credits if implemented. The following figure shows the effect of CER price on the LCOE of the generated electricity. It can be seen that there is a significant economic advantage that these coals fired power plants can expect to get in near future.

    Source: UMPP risk analysis British High Commission

    7. Hydro power

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    Due to less data available the subject has been chosen to be the Nungleiban H.E. Project in the Bishnupur district of Manipur.

    Following is the projected data on this plant which will be constructed in near future-

    Sum of Initial cost of constrction without IDC Rs 841.99 crore
    Capacity 105 MW
    Economic Life 35-40 years

    Assuming the O and M costs to be 2.5 % of the inisital cost we get the LCOE as 3.37 Rs/kWh. However such high LCOE is certainly due to the fact of the hilly and tough terrain on which the plant is to be constructed and because there is no economy of scale. As there is no fuel cost there are quite a few examples which impress the fact that hydro power is one of the cleanest options whish is cheap and economic.

    8. Comparison

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    Certainly the prices calculated are indicative and can not be very accurate due to lack of data un the public domain, but they certainly indicate that nuclear power seems to be more expensive than coal fired plant. This might also be due to the fact that the economy of scale that exists in coal fired domain is still not there in the nuclear fired power plant. Following is a comparison between average tariff charged for nuclear power and all India average rate of purchase of electricity by State Electricity Boards.

    Source: Thakur et al 2005

    This is clearly indicative of the fact that the current trend indicates that on an average nuclear power is more expensive than other options.Following are the average tariffs of the nuclear power plants in India.

    Tarapur I and II 0.93 Rs/kWh
    Madras I and II 1.81 Rs/kWh
    Narora I and II 1.91 Rs/kWh
    Kakrapar I and II 2.04 Rs/kWh
    Tarapur 3 and IV 2.65 Rs/kWh/td>
    Kaiga I and II 2.79 Rs/kWh
    Rajasthan II, III and IV 2.79 Rs/kWh

    Considering this and that they have been established for quite some time we can compare them with the prices that have been offered by the various UMPP projects that have been awarded recently the tariffs are as follows:

    • Tata Mundra UMPP: 2.26 Rs/kWh
    • RPL Sasan UMPP :1.20 Rs/kWh
    • RPL Krisnapatnam :UMPP 2.33 Rs/kWh

    9. Conclusion

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    It is difficult to estimate exact prices but it is for certain that at present nuclear power is more expensive than traditional sources. Furthermore it is difficult to forecast the situation of the future as the geopolitical issues that are associated with nuclear fuel are  quite complex and sensitive.There are other issues related to the mining of nuclear fuel and there has been quite an unrest in areas in Meghalaya where mining is proposed which seems quite justified if conditions of Jaduguda mines in Andhra Pradesh are considered an example.The disposal of nuclear waste is another issue that needs to be looked upon. Until we close the nuclear fuel cycle in practice, some way of disposing the spent fuel has to be thought of as there are serious security issues related to this. This problem is bound to get bigger as there are a large number of power plants that are about to come up.


    back to index

    • MV Ramanna. Economics of Nuclear energy from heavy water reactors
    • British Council UMPP- risk analysis report
    • National Hydropower Corporation
    • Ministry of Coal
    • Department of Atomic Energy
    • Ministry of Power
    • Central Electric Authority
    • Solar Energy Centre
    • International Energy Agency, Projected Cost of Electricity 2005 update.
    • Winds of Change MS Srinivasan, RB Grover, Sb Bhardwaj
    • University of Chicago, Economic future of Nuclear Energy
    • Levelized Cost of electricity version 2.0, Lazard
    • September 2, 2007 People’s Democracy, Prabir Purkayastha
    • MV Ramanna, Economics of Nuclear Power subsidies and competitiveness.

    Author:Anand Vardhan Mishra

Art of Household Refrigeration

The refrigerator is perhaps the highest electricity consuming device in our homes. A major portion of our electricity bills is due to this and considering the number of refrigerators in India at present it can be easily be inferred that refrigerators are eating up a very high percentage of electricity of the country.
We therefore need to look up to how we can maintain our refrigerators and thus save energy by implementing some simple ideas into practice.

1. Open the refrigerator door sparingly, as every time it is opened cold air inside is replaced by the hot air outside which needs to be cooled. This results in compressor doing more work and thus adds to the electricity consumption significantly.

2. Hot items should be first cooled to room temperature before putting them in the refrigerator. This helps minimising compressor work.

3. Condenser coils behind or beneath the refrigerator should be cleaned once or twice a year as dust and grime insulates it from the surroundings and lowers the refrigerator efficiency.

4. Check door for door gasket air leaks. This can be done by putting a flashlight into the refrigerator and looking for light leaks. It is worth mentioning that door gasket air leaks account for a third of regular heat load of the refrigerators, and thus any defective door gaskets must be replaced immediately.

5. Avoid unnecessarily low temperature settings. Ideal temperature setting for the freezer is -18oC and that for the refrigerator is 30oC. Not adhering to this limit can increase electricity consumption by more than 25% !!

6. Avoid excessive ice build up in the interiors of the evaporator, ice insulates the interiors from the refrigerant and thus decreases efficiency. One should go for a frost free refrigerator if buying a new one.

7. Use the power-saver switch that controls the heating coils and prevents condensation on the outside surfaces in humid environments. The low wattage heaters are used to raise the temperature of the outer surfaces of the
refrigerator at critical locations above the dew point in order to avoid water droplets forming on the surfaces and sliding down. Condensation is most likely to occur in summer in hot and humid climates in homes without air-conditioning. The moisture formation on the surfaces is undesirable since it may cause the painted finish of the outer surface to deteriorate and it may wet the kitchen floor. About 10 percent of the total energy consumed by the refrigerator can be saved by turning this heater off and keeping it off unless there is visible condensation on the outer surfaces.

8. Give the refrigerator some place to breathe!! Blocking air flow to the refrigerator hampers the performance of the condenser and thus decreases efficiency.

1. Thermodynamics-An Engineering Approach, Cengel and Boles.

Technology is application of knowledge to practical requirements. Green technologies encompass various aspects of technology which help us reduce the human impact on the environment and create ways of sustainable development. Social equitability, economic feasibility and sustainability are the key parameters for green technologies. Today the environment is racing towards the tipping point at which we would have done permanent irreversible damage to the planet earth. Studies done by the Inter Governmental Panel on climate change indicate that it is not necessary that the climate would change continuously, once we reach the tipping point entire atmospheric cycles can just flip and within next four decades earth might start becoming totally inhabitable due to unimaginable climate situations. Our current actions are pulling the world towards an ecological landslide which if happens would make destruction simply inevitable. Green technologies are an approach towards saving earth and are necessary if we want to live on earth beyond two centuries. Green technologies are our way out of destruction, but nothing is perfect, everything has its downsides also. Thus both its positives and negatives need to be investigated.

Benefits of using green technologies are many. One of the most sought after goals of major world economies is to reduce carbon emissions and control temperature rise, which can be addressed by the use of green technologies such as sustainable manufacturing, green buildings, fuel efficient transportation, paperless offices, energy efficiency measures, waste recycling etc.

Since Green technology requires more involvement it also empowers people. It (green technologies) helps people as it can be diffused much more easily in remote areas due to its discretized nature. It would be productive to list all the benefits of green technologies in a point wise manner with examples.

Corporate Benefits: One of the basic aims of any corporation is to reduce the cost incurred at the input side. Green technologies like green buildings, energy efficiency measures, green manufacturing etc have qualified as energy and resource savers. Usage of efficient lighting, air-conditioning etc. not only saves money at the consumer’s end but it also results in significant savings at the power production end. One unit of electricity saved at user’s end results in about 4.5 units saved at the production end. This not only helps the corporations to slash their input costs but also serves as an avenue for them to fulfil their social responsibilities. Many corporations have already put these measures in practice, e.g. GE has doubled its research and development budget to $1.5 billion to reduce energy consumption and waste products. The return on the company’s investment appears is also high; GE’s “Ecomagination” line of products generated $10 billion in revenues in 2005, and is on track to eclipse $20 billion by 2010. Furthermore, ICT reports indicate that programs in Holland have found that employing green ICT measures can reduce average space required by an corporate employee by more than 50% from 25m^2 thus reducing required infrastructure and cutting down on emissions and capital investment.

Manufacturing firms can also achieve significant benefits by green manufacturing. In manufacturing, green technologies emphasise on “cradle to cradle” design thereby ending the “cradle to grave” cycle of manufactured products, and thus creating products that can be fully reclaimed or re-used. This includes reducing waste and pollution by changing patterns of production and consumption. This not only reduces the environmental footprint of a product but it also makes production an environmentally sustainable and economically cheaper activity as inputs from source are reduced by design. Further as global concerns about the environment rise manufacturers will be bound to use green manufacturing processes to be competitive in the global market.

Using lesser resources and recycling at the source itself entail lesser pollution and a cleaner environment in addition to the large economic savings that are bound to come by.

National benefits for Energy Generation: Power generation is another sector where green technology might create wonders. Distributed generation technologies e.g. solar PV, biogas production, wind power etc. have practically proven that they can provide more employment opportunities to people and can be applied to provide energy solutions to communities in remote areas successfully. In India distributed generation holds a lot of promise. Small scale hydro-electric power and the PV sector have already achieved significant private sector involvement which is a major indicator of growth. Companies like Moserbaer, TATA BP solar, and Signet Solar have dived into the PV market by making huge investments. Clearly the distributed generation market is bound to jump start soon which will create a large job pool and thus provide service and raise the standard of living of the people with minimum environmental impact. The fact is that all the green technologies take into account the needs of the people and environment, thus it is no wonder that an achievement in one area trickles down to other areas also. Distributed generation also takes the load off the national electricity grid as people become empowered to put up their own power sources and installation of large plants are avoided which further increase efficient usage as power is consumed on the site thus reducing the transmission and distribution losses. Live examples exist in India where people have used alternative green power generation technologies and have not only fulfilled their own energy needs but have also sold their energy to the grid thereby making significant income. Same is in countries like Germany, where people sell the electricity generated by their household Photovoltaic panels to the national grid and in rare cases may end up charging money from the utility instead of paying! In this way a person not only helps himself or herself but also helps the nation by actually contributing to the national power generation and thus proves to be an asset rather than a liability to the society.

Benefits to the Rural Areas: Green technologies involve humans in a much bigger way than conventional technologies and thereby empower them by giving them responsibilities and avenues to gain, learn and progress. Green technologies have had great impact on communities of the areas where they have been implemented. Provision of bio-gas plants to rural households has empowered communities and has increased their productivity. Same has been the case with distribution of solar lanterns through certain programs e.g. TERI’s Lighting a Billion Lives Campaign. It is clear that people have benefited from it by not only using the outputs personally but also by trading it! Initiatives such as the barefoot college in Rajasthan empower villagers by teaching them how to use eco-friendly technologies like solar cookers, mud refrigerators, and sustainable farming practices. Villagers have built their own water storage and rainwater harvesting techniques and are not dependent on outside help. This has raised the standard of living in the participating villages. Some programs have gone a step further and are envisioning to trade carbon credits for such rural technologies in the near future thereby creating a possibility of positive cash flow towards rural economies which will further generate employment and will encourage usage of such technologies further.

Benefit to the urban areas: Taking into account the current chaotic situation of the cities of the world one can easily argue that they need to take urgent environment improvement measures. Cities which actively pursued their environmental concerns in the last ten years are showing a marked improvement in their environment quality parameters. For example Delhi launched CNG fuelled public transport in a phased manner and in December 2002, the last diesel bus was flagged off. This was done as a measure to improve air quality of Delhi where the toxic gas levels were off the charts, some times exceeding 5-12 times the normal values. Since then Delhi has shown steady improvement in the air quality. The annual average level of restorable suspended particulate matter (RSPM or PM10) in residential areas was 143 microgram per cubic metre. It dropped to 115 microgram per cubic metre by 2005.

The following figure shows the Carbon mono-oxide levels in Delhi since 1996.

It can be clearly seen that CO levels have decreased significantly since 1996 clearly underlining the effects of application of green technology.

Creation of avenues: Green technologies have the potential to give birth to sectors which were previously not thought of. Particularly at the time of global economic slowdown and environmental crisis we need to create paths which can improve the economy and the environment. Green Technology gives us an opportunity to combine the two. We can see a very relevant example that of waste disposal. Earlier waste management was only limited to waste dumping; today waste management is a $25 billion industry in south Asia alone. It consists of 3 R’s viz. reduction at source, recycling and reusing. Thus resulting in cleaning up of environment, employment generation, reduction in toxic and green house gas emission and thus has multiple benefits. This industry increases choices for a person which is one of the primary requirements to human development. On an average people in a cleaner environment have better efficiencies and a healthier and empowered life than people in opposite circumstances.

The above graph shows a direct correlation between income and waste mass generation of an average Indian household, clearly indicating that as the economy grows we will waste more and more and the waste management sector will continue to grow.

Another interesting example can be taken of carbon auditing companies which have sprung up. Due to a cap on carbon emission and enforcing of environmental friendly trade practices ventures like carbon auditing have come up in a big way and many start-ups have been found to do this activity, this has clearly expanded the employment opportunities for people and has created a completely new portal of wealth generation, whereby cash flow from developed countries to developing countries has opened up; another upside of green technologies.

Green Farming: Green approaches to farming have been proven to be not only healthier for humans but also productive for the soil. It leads to higher productivity over sustained periods of time contrary to the inorganic farming practices which lead to decrease in yield after a certain period of time. Inorganic farming methods have had a very bad environmental impact and have resulted in degradation of aquatic life of surface water bodies; it has also stripped the earth of the various insects and worms which in fact helped in crop production. Fortunately the effects of inorganic farming are yet to be seen in a big way but they are inevitable. Places where organic (Green) farming is practised are already showing that it is a better approach in the long run.

Green Buildings: Green construction technologies are also coming up and are being encouraged in a big way. They have high initial investment but have minimal environmental impact and are energy efficient. Considering the fact that office and residential buildings consume a large share of the energy pie of any country they are certain to have significant benefits in the future over conventional buildings. Since they reduce energy consumption and wastage; these buildings can recover their cost over an acceptable time frame. Such constructions prove economical and eco-friendly in the long run and thus are beneficial to the individual and the society as a whole.

Thus we can see that there are many upsides of using green technologies. Since they create a full circle of usage they ensure sustainable development and will not help in sustaining the beauty of the earth as we know it. Employment generation, human empowerment, rural development, environmental improvement, energy security, health improvement, decrease in resource depletion are only a few benefits of green technologies, many more will manifest themselves as time passes.

Green technologies have been applied in many sectors however they have not been still put into full fledged use e.g. in the energy sector they are still “alternate sources of energy”. Since we have not seen them in usage full time we can not really observe what are their downsides. However certain concerns have been already raised, these are related to the reliability of these technologies, convenience of their usage, investment required, their hypocritical use, ethical and social issues etc. We will discuss these issues one by one.

Economic Downside: So far it has been discussed how good green technologies can be to the economy of a country however nothing is perfect and there are conspicuous downsides to this too. Viz. in India upper limit of installation cost of a 1 MW photovoltaic solar power plant is roughly Rs 300-350 million (discounting the government grants). On the other hand the installation cost of subcritical coal power plant (Ultra mega power plant 4000MW) is roughly Rs 184,736 million. i.e. Rs 46.184 million per MW. The difference is clearly extremely large and quite unaffordable for many developing countries; large investments in green technologies by government would effectively slowdown the cash flow in other important sectors e.g. health care and infrastructure.

Most of the green technologies e.g. green buildings, photovoltaics, energy efficiency measures etc. are expensive and need to be subsidised to promote usage, however this would put extra pressure on the already wounded economies. Thus use of green technology is reduced to an altruistic or enforced option; in both cases it seems to lose economic viability.

Technical Downside: To be popular any technology has to be reliable. Some green technologies have severe drawbacks in this area. E.g. solar PV power plants work fine on a sunny day but their performance becomes dismal the moment solar radiation on the surface drops, this can not be afforded in today’s competitive world. Similarly solar air conditioning fails in the rainy season when there is a lot of humidity and low solar radiation. These drawbacks push a person to actually install conventional technologies for his/her usage. We can hope that these flaws will be removed once these technologies mature with time. Power savers meant to improve the efficiencies of tube lights etc. themselves fail very early giving the use little incentive to actually use them. This causes significant operational discomfort to the user.

Social downside: Socially green technologies are still to become popular. This is more connected to the ergonomics and incentives of usage. The social downsides are extremely area specific. I will discuss one case each of rural area and urban area. In rural India millions of bio-gas plants were installed, however only a small portion is in operation today. This is because of many factors e.g. people did not find their usage comfortable enough, lack of serviceability in remote areas, defects during construction due to lack of skilled labour etc. Some people simply did not accept the technology as they still thought that burning dung cakes was easier. In some cases the problem was that people sold their cows and could not feed the bio-gas unit and it failed. These problems though area specific are quite generic in nature and present themselves differently during implementation of almost all the green technologies. Similarly in urban India use of solar cookers and solar heating equipment is yet to take roots in a big way. The solar heating equipment heats water during the day, however people mostly need hot water in the morning when there is very little or no solar insolation. Also most requirement of hot water is concentrated in winters when solar heaters are almost unused due to low solar insolation. Further because of low usage during the summer season the surfaces of the heater are corroded and the system fails. Thus the purpose of the heater is defeated and people prefer to buy electric heaters. In case of solar cookers also, ease of the use makes LPG and microwaves much better options. It also has other drawbacks such as low heating rate; glare etc. which make the cooking experience very unpleasant.

Ethical Downside: Today the world is in a very complicated state where ethics have started clashing, many a times environmental ethics clash with general human ethics. A very relevant example is when USA started to use corn to make ethanol for bio-diesel. How ethical is it to use food to create fuel for cars when millions are hungry no matter how environment friendly the technology is? This argument effectively stalled this project. Green buildings, solar power plants all are currently very expensive; how justified is their implementation when it is more necessary to feed a hungry population? Can a poor person be forced to purchase new fuel efficient kitchen equipment when he barely makes his ends meet? There are umpteen ethical issues that spring up and are mostly related to cost versus survival questions. Prices of green technologies will go down in the future, but the basic problem is that their prices will go down once we make the initial investment but doing the initial investment is definitely not easy. This is a vicious circle and is perhaps the biggest difficulty in implementation of green technologies.

Other possible negative effects of green technologies: Today the world has become a very complicated intertwined structure; a small change somewhere can induce an extremely large change somewhere else. Today solar panels are being manufactured at a prolific rate, however it is not certain what will happen to the panels once they finish their life cycle. The disposal of solar panels is still in the R&D stage. Many solar panels contain toxic matter which can be dangerous; this problem will surface after two decades if we are not prepared by then. The biogas plants also can create a problem as till now they have limited usage but as their use increases people might start using specific chemicals (congaing heavy metals) known to enhance the output of the plant. Since the slurry from the plant is used as manure, it can end up in degrading the soil. Bio- mass gasifier is another such technology which uses wood to produce producer gas; it effectively burns wood at high efficiency with minimum harmful emissions; but since it consumes wood at a high rate, rapid spread of such a technology can cause deforestation. Similarly if bio-diesel is used extensively people might stop producing crops and start growing producing fuel crops (e.g. Jetropha) instead, effectively starving the world in the process.

We might end up seeing many effects that we can not think as of now because we still have not experienced green technologies in a big way. We can not say for certain that green technologies will be good for us in all ways in distant future, but one thing is for certain that we will be risking the fate of the mankind if we do not adopt them in the present. Today green technologies are the need of the hour without any doubt as they are most appropriate to our current world needs. Having discussed green technologies in depth we can now discuss the issue of appropriate technologies (of which green technologies form a part) and issues on responsibility of humans to use them.

Appropriate technology is technology that is appropriate to the environmental, cultural and economic situation it is intended for. It usually describes technologies which are suitable for use in the developing nations however the term is equally applicable to developed nations. Appropriate technology works from the bottom up; it is not just an overlay to the situation; it is a genuine grassroot solution to economic needs. The definition of “Appropriate Technology” changes with each situation. What’s appropriate in a large urban location is very different from what’s appropriate in a remote, isolated environment. As sensible human beings it is but logical to use appropriate technologies to our advantage. Appropriate technologies aim at sustainable development. It is a way of fulfilling our duty as humans which is to take care of what we have and pass on what is the best to our posterity. Nature has bestowed us with intelligence but with this power come responsibility. We need to develop to move forward and for that we need to consume natural resources, but our quest for prosperity must be backed by an unflinching commitment to sustainability and the principle of precaution, we need to ensure pro-active protection of the environment and careful management of its diversity. Our acts should reflect our duties and we should contribute in a positive way to the betterment of the world with an understanding that smallest of contributions count. As a responsible citizen of the planet my contribution should be “to proactively encourage, develop and create and apply appropriate technologies that will add to the wellness of humanity in general. I should personally contribute by doing what I know is right, and applying the technologies which I know are good for myself, the society and humanity. I should use the right technology in the right place which by definition is the appropriate technology.

Appropriate technology may not always be “low-tech’ but it is always the best way out. In today’s world it might not be always the easiest way out but that is where my effort comes in.

My message to the society should be to take whatever we have inherited from our past and analyse that. Whatever we find is sustainable, helpful to individual and society in particular and humanity in general should be continued and improved. We should innovate and invent in the interest of all, for everything is connected ultimately and we can not describe anybody’s loss as our gain not at least in the environmental regime. We all are the part of the same ecosystem. Wrong practices carried by anyone will affect everyone in the long run. To prove this point we just need to see the effects of climate change. We should use and do what is appropriate to our locality with the global effect in mind. In today’s world it is almost impossible to have everything created in the locality but we should try to minimise our impact on other parts of the world. Thus we should use appropriate technologies which are concentrated on using and creating goods and following practises that are appropriate to the local needs and on using local resources to fulfil them. In this way we can better measure and control our effect on the environment and in consequence its effect on us.
Society should spend time on thinking about what is the best practice for itself and all and should not unquestioningly follow prevalent or most popular practices. What might be appropriate technology for a particular situation might not be so in the other situations.

To the humanity in general my message should be that we need to encourage all societies to collaborate and develop technologies that create minimum impact on the environment but ensure maximum development since a good environment should be the outcome of development. Balanced development should be the goal. We should not race blindly to achieve maximum economic and technological development while destroying the environment because at the finish line of such a race is only suffering. Humanity should function as a team to achieve the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Only in that case can we ensure that everyone has access to clean water, air and food. We need to understand that our needs are really simple and nature has been kind enough to endow us with enough resources and intellect that we can be address most of them locally. We just need to develop and use the appropriate technology that suits our needs and conditions. E.g. in hot areas one idea is to blindly install an air conditioner and make the surrounding area hotter. The other idea is to use a passive solar chimney to keep the temperature of the building low. Another example is pot in a pot refrigerator that was invented in Africa, it is proven to increase shelf life of the food kept in it. Made from just clay and sand, I feel it is a terrific invention which is appropriate to the needs of the people and solves it in a very effective way. It has been a hit among homeless people in Africa who need to keep their vegetables cool. For corporate persons located in different parts of a country video conferencing might turn out to be the appropriate technology instead of high speed rail travel which might cost more and also spends a lot of fuel. Plastic money and paperless offices and colleges can be appropriate alternatives to paper. Thousands of examples can be put up to show that appropriate technologies actually make life better. It might take some effort initially but it gives good results in the long run. If we are to survive we will have to use them ultimately, why not we start using them now? To the posterity my message should be to understand and assess the state of affairs before it and cultivate those practices which are not just sustainable but also appropriate to their situation. Appropriate technologies can always be innovated upon. The clay refrigerator might be replaced by another invention that might be more efficient or tele-conferencing might be replaced by energy efficient teleportation! There are infinite possibilities in the future. We should strive to take the best way out and not the easiest, as that is what will pay us in the long run. This is what is guaranteed by appropriate technologies and the posterity should know this.

Thus it can be concluded that all of us need to understand and apply the concept of appropriate technologies to reduce overall human footprint on the environment. Appropriate technologies hold multiple benefits for us and call for the spirit of enquiry, innovation and invention. Green technologies have upsides and downsides but they are a necessary approach towards human survival. In the long run they have been proven to be beneficial to the society but their true effects can be observed only in the future which we can safely hope to be good for the society.

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