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Las Vegas To Go Green With Solar-Kinetic Street Lights

10 Mar

Las Vegas are making waves in the renewable energy market as they plan to install the world’s first solar-kinetic street lights at Boulder Plaza in the city of Las Vegas. Around the world today, there are more than 300 million street lights, many of which are powered by electricity generated from high carbon sources such as coal. Now, Las Vegas isn’t new to the renewable energy game, they recently installed a massive new solar plant in the Nevada desert. The Crescent Dunes concentrated solar power project is providing power to Sin City around the clock.

Around 40% of the energy used is wasted through poor lighting efficiency; contributing to another environmental problem, light pollution. Now, light pollution is not something to be ignored, it can lead to a change in the migration and reproductive activities of some animals and boost air pollution through light’s interaction with certain chemicals. Light doesn’t respect boundaries, it can spread for miles from the source and blurs the distinction between town and country. Light spilling up into the night sky is also a waste of energy and money. In the UK local authorities were estimated to spend £616 million on street lighting in 2013-14, and the lights can account for between 15-30% of a council’s carbon emissions. Efficient solar powered lighting can provide a solution to some of these issues.

EnGoPlanet is set to install the solar-kinetic lights at Boulder Plaza, which it claims will be the first ever installation in the world of the technology. They are powered by combining energy harvested from pedestrian’s footsteps and the sun. In short, when a pedestrian steps on a kinetic tile situated near the base of the light, energy is created that then charges a battery. 180 watts or 360 watts of high-efficiency solar cells are placed on top of each LED street light, along with motion sensors that allow for light on demand.

The product does more than just provide light. As Petar Microvic (CEO of EnGoPlanet) went on to say, “If you look at traditional street light poles, you will see that they are useless. They simply hold the lighting,” He added, ” With our solution, we’ve changed that by incorporating useful features into the pole and transforming it into a free service spot where people can rest, charge their portable devices, or connect to WiFi.”

The lights will also have smart sensors that observe air quality and traffic as well as video surveillance. The LED lights can change colours for special occasions and there is a wireless charging and WiFi hot spot for smart devices, along with two USB ports.

“Currently, street lights in the world release more than 100 million tons of CO2 per year. Our generation has the moral responsibility to transform our energy system. EnGoPlanet’s Street Light will revolutionise the way we illuminate streets. It will reduce CO2 emission, lower maintenance bills and with many new features, it will make cities smarter,” Petar Mirovic said in a statement.

Solar lighting isn’t just green – it can save money. EnGoPlanet mentions the example of Odessa College in Odessa, Texas, which installed solar lights and saved around 20 percent of the cost of a conventional system due to the avoidance of wiring and trenching works. The College is now saving more than £5600 per year.

Solar Kinetic Light

India Plans To Rent Rooftops In A Bid To Install More Solar Panels

17 Feb

When it comes to solar power, India is in one of the most perfect locations for the technology due to its extraordinary sun coverage and the high levels of unmet demand for electricity. There are very few countries in the world where solar power has a greater potential than India. With a huge landmass and an average of 300 sunny days a year, India theoretically provides five trillion kilowatt-hours of clean and renewable solar power available every year across its length and breadth, enough to electrify the nation dozens of times over. At times throughout the warmest months of the year major cities for example Delhi suffer from regular power outages due to the increasing demand for power.

To capitalise on the opportunity Indian electricity companies are advising potential customers to rent out their rooftops in a bid to host solar panels. Such a push could see a huge expansion for the country’s solar power capabilities.

The main targets are large industrial and commercial energy consumers. Not only do these companies that host the panels end up with a significant discount on their power bill, but the developers also save money on the most expensive aspect of solar development, which is the cost of purchasing large amounts of land to host their renewable energy projects.

Government buildings such as hospitals, schools and office buildings are potential targets for hosting the technology. Other potential landmarks include industrial complexes, commercial buildings and malls are the target for these operators who would set up solar rooftops for free and sell you power at rates that are cheaper than the local utilities.

“Around 240 sq mt of rooftop space is good enough for setting up a rooftop solar power plant that can viably sell power to the building and earn some decent profits,” said Sunil Jain, chief executive of Hero Future Energies. “In fact, some five-six companies including Hero Future Energy have already entered the fray and are on the lookout for large rooftop space in industrial complexes, commercial buildings, malls and gated communities,” he said.

Although a positive plan, a major disadvantage of the idea is that the cost of generating power differs in different places due to difference of the sunlight’s intensity. For example, the sun is the strongest in Rajasthan and the intensity reduces as it moves towards east. Another issue is with the rental model itself as there is no set of standard model agreements, and therefore the power companies don’t yet have a way to make the contracts legally binding. It means that while customers may rent out their roofs for lengthy periods of time, up to 25 years, they might be able to unexpectedly back out of an agreement questioning its reliability.




In France All New Commercial Buildings Must Install Green Roofs or Solar Panels

26 Jun

France has introduced a new building requirement in its commercial zones. It calls for all roofs to be partially covered in either solar panels or plants. This is just a recent green headline to come from France following the Eiffel Tower wind turbines and the tree shaped wind turbines that are being installed in the capital.

Green roofs have been around for centuries in different corners of the world. We have seen an increase in green roof interest due to growing concerns surrounding climate change, carbon footprints and sustainability. It is not only roof’s that can be covered; walls can also have a green makeover. They offer many advantages to the public and private sectors ranging from waste diversion to energy efficiency.

A further benefit of a green roof is its isolating effect which allows buildings to better retain their heat during the winter months while reflecting and absorbing solar radiation during the summer months, allowing buildings to remain cooler.

They can help reduce the distribution of dust and particle matter through cities to combat the smog issue. They play a huge role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and help adapt urban areas to predicted future climates with warmer summers.

Green roofs also have the ability to reduce sound from outside by up to 40 decibels. They have excellent noise reduction, especially for low frequency sounds.

Originally, French environmental activists had asked for all rooftops to be 100% green. The Socialist government convinced activists to limit the scope of the law to just commercial buildings.

By giving businesses the option to install solar panels rather than green roofs, France could catch up some with its neighbours when it comes to solar energy.

Germany currently has the highest installed capacity of solar and shows no signs of slowing down. Think Progress recently reported that France had only five gigawatts of photovoltaics implemented as of last summer, accounting for only one percent of all energy production.

Since 2009, Toronto Canada has had a similar mandatory green roof law in place, requiring green roofs on new buildings. Preliminary studies suggested that the city could save hundreds of millions of dollars in energy costs. France is making an investment in energy independence, efficiency, and stability.

Maybe we should all be looking at green roofs in our cities?



Indian Railway Tests Solar Powered Trains To Help Cut Fuel Bills And Pollution

16 Jun

India has one of the largest railway networks in the world carrying an estimated 23 million passengers daily on approximately 12,000 trains. In a huge move Indian Railways could soon be running its trains via solar power which would be a momentous move for the countries environmental conservation. The railway also transports around 3 million tonnes of freight daily which requires an enormous amount of energy.

At the forefront of the operation, Indian Railways plans to tackle the railways current fuel bill which currently constitutes as the second largest part of its expenditure, the first being its employee salaries. In 2012, Indian Railways consumed nearly 3 million kilolitres of diesel oil and about 14 billion kilowatt hours of electricity.

Diesel alone is costing Rs30,000 crore (£3.02 billion) and overtime has been chomping away at the bank balance for Indian Railways.

The potential for solar energy in India is massive. Harnessing it will not only control diesel consumption (by up to 90,000 litres per year) and reduce carbon dioxide emissions (by over 200 tonnes), but also prove extremely cost-effective.

A prototype of a solar powered non air conditioned coach is currently undertaking trials, and soon the entire train will be fitted with solar panels, officials have said. At present, nearly 17 units of electricity are being generated from the solar powered coach. The cost of installing the panels on each coach, according to the Economic Times, is about Rs3.9 lakh (£3,905), and these are expected to result in savings of Rs1.24 lakh (£1,241) per year.

By 2020, Indian Railways plans for renewable energy to create at least 10% of its total energy consumption. The primary action is to implement solar-powered lighting via panels mounted on the roofs of trains.

As per the plan, the train would be pulled by conventional diesel-run engines while solar panels will provide all the internal electricity needs for lights and fans on both air conditioned and no air conditioned coaches.

The solar panelled coach will be tested in an assortment of conditions in the upcoming weeks by the Indian Institute of Science and the coach makers themselves, Integral Coach Factory.

Indian Railways also propose to harness solar energy in their train stations by implementing solar panels to the buildings roofs. The rail network plans 1,000 megawatts of solar-power projects in the next five years, Minister Suresh Prabhu said in parliament. Developers can use the railway land and buildings to set up solar panels.  The solar power will be used to light up stations and office buildings.

Our top 7 reasons why LED lighting is a winner!

2 Apr

When it comes to lighting one of the fastest developments has been the light emitting diode (LED). It’s a special kind of diode that glows when electricity passes through it. Most LEDs are made from a semi-conducting material called gallium arsenide phosphide. They are known for their energy efficient properties and at one time were considered to be very expensive. Since 2008, the cost of LED bulbs has fallen more than 85%.

Here are our seven reasons why you should invest in LED lighting:

  1. Did you know that mosquitoes and other bugs don’t ‘buzz’ around LEDs? We all remember those summer months in the wilderness with a light, a swarm of creatures, screams and wafting. Well, it might excite you to know LED’s do not attract the insect population because the bulbs do not emit wavelengths in the UV spectrum. Have you ever seen the old bug ‘zappers’ with the blue lights? Wallah.
  1. LED’s have been around for much longer than you think. The first LEDs were infrared and were developed in 1955. White light LEDs were not developed till around 1995. The regular light bulb was invented in the 19th century.
  1. For all you food lovers – did you know LED’s help keep food fresher for longer? LED lights do not emit ultraviolet rays and that is why they are a better option for supermarkets, restaurants, and kitchen lighting. With traditional incandescent light bulbs 90% of the energy used was given off as heat which would spoil food. Not only a waste of food, but also a waste of money. LED lights do not give off heat, keeping food fresher for longer. Perfect.
  1. LED’s mimic natural light as they operate in the colour temperature range we call “Pure White” (5800 to 6200 Kelvin) providing full spectrum light – the closest thing to natural sunlight without the harmful UV rays. Just imagine how many selfies you could take with the perfect lighting!
  1. An amazing advantage of LED lights is their ability to help babies’ combat jaundice. Light is well known for its therapeutic and healing capabilities. For the first time doctors and healthcare workers are now able to offer babies LED light therapy without concern of the associated infrared radiation or drastic increases in temperature. NASA has also been studying the effects of LEDs for healing wounds incurred in space.
  1. LED lamps are very reliable and require virtually no maintenance. The average expected life expectancy of an LED lamp is over 40,000 operating hours. This benefit is highly desirable for any consumer whether residential or commercial because this means less time changing faulty lights.
  1. Finally LED lighting is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to save money on energy costs. LEDs use between 50% – 80% less electricity which means more money in your pocket!

The UK’s largest solar farm is switched online

9 Jan

The largest solar farm in the UK has been turned on capable of powering up to 14,000 homes. The farm in Landmead has been connected to the national grid in Oxfordshire. The solar farm sports an impressive 46-megawatt capacity and has been implemented on land which is currently being used to graze sheep. The sheep will remain on the site along with new wildflowers to be planted as part of efforts to improve the site’s biodiversity.

The land also provides habitat for bee’s which has been encouraged by the UK’s environment secretary, Liz Truss. Although, the Landmead solar farm faced disapproval from Truss who claimed that solar projects obstruct food production amongst UK farms. It was also announced that farmers would lose agricultural subsidies if they allowed solar panels on their farmland.

Landmead Solar Farm

The Department of Energy and Climate Change plan to bring forward the end of the current subsidy regime for large solar farms, with ministers saying they wanted to see more solar on building rooftops and less mounted on the ground.

Landmead with First Solar is co-owned by Beletric whose chief executive has announced that the changes would not affect them. Toddlington Harper went on to say;

 “I think the changes to the subsidy scheme have certainly made life more difficult. Having said that, though they have changed the ROC scheme [Renewable Obligation Certificates, the subsidies being phased out], within the Contracts for Difference [the new subsidy scheme], there is still an opportunity to deliver projects like this for the UK,”

In part of Harpers defence he pointed to a Department of Energy and climate change survey which showed the popularity of solar with the general public. Around 200 people were employed during the construction phase of the project.

Belectric currently have 10 solar farms established in the UK with enough potential to power 40,000 homes per year. They have a further ten smaller projects in the pipeline.

Landmead has a grade three ranking on a scale of 1-5 when it comes to the quality of the soil. It has been argued the land has a history of not draining well and thus is not very effective for growing crops.

Landmead won’t be the largest solar farm in the UK for much longer: a new farm is planned at an old RAF site in Norfolk and will generate 49.9 megawatts. Construction will begin this year.

Landmead Solar Farm



The many benefits Green Roofs can have on local communities

28 Nov

A green roof is a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. They offer many advantages to the public and private sectors ranging from waste diversion to energy efficiency.

Green roofs have been around for centuries in different corners of the world. We have seen an increase in green roof interest due to growing concerns surrounding climate change, carbon footprints and sustainability. It is not only roof’s that can be covered; walls can also have a green makeover.

There are two types of green roof. The first are intensive roofs, which are thicker, with a minimum depth of 12.8 cm, and can support a wider variety of plants but are heavier and require more maintenance. Secondly we have extensive roofs, which are shallow, ranging in depth from 2 cm to 12.7 cm, lighter than intensive green roofs, and require minimal maintenance.

Green roofs offer great aesthetic improvement for local communities. Urban greening has long been promoted as an easy and effective strategy for beautifying the built environment and increasing investment opportunity.

Another big advantage is that they can actually contribute to landfill diversion by way of:

  • Prolonging the life of waterproofing membranes, reducing associated waste
  • The use of recycled materials in the growing medium
  • Prolonging the service life of heating and ventilation systems through decreased use

Recently we have witnessed in the media extreme cases of smog pollution in China and France. The beauty of green roofs is that they can help reduce the distribution of dust and particle matter through cities to combat the smog issue. They play a huge role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and help adapt urban areas to predicted future climates with warmer summers.

The advantage above can also help improve air quality in cities around the world as the plants on the roofs can capture airborne pollutants. Green roofs can help decrease the amount of CO2 and other polluting by-products released into the atmosphere by power plants. They also have the amazing ability to filter noxious gases.

If you are living in a noisy city you will love this one. Green roofs have the ability to reduce sound from outside by up to 40 decibels. They have excellent noise reduction, especially for low frequency sounds. No more earplugs required.

A really cool ideology of green roofs is that they can sustain a variety of plants and invertebrates, and provide a habitat for various bird species. By acting as a stepping stone habitat for migrating species they can link species together that would otherwise be fragmented. If not for anything else, think of the birds!

At Eco People we are really interested in what green roofs have to offer as you can read the many benefits above, but they are also very energy efficient. They offer great insulation and can reduce the amount of energy needed to moderate the temperature of a building. By improving the thermal performance of a roof, green roofing allows buildings to better retain their heat during the winter months while reflecting and absorbing solar radiation during the summer months, allowing buildings to remain cooler. What’s not to love?

Here are some cool examples of Green Roofs from around the world…enjoy!


Wood and turf church at Hof


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