An Off-Grid Renewable Energy Generator

by Alex Elder

Although solar energy is an appealing form of clean and renewable energy, not all areas of the world have the technology or the infrastructure to utilize it. Most modern solar panel installations require a connection to the existing energy grid in order to function properly. Many remote communities, however, do not have this grid infrastructure in place and thus cannot use modern solar technology at a large scale. SunEdison, a major player in the energy world, recently developed a new piece of technology called the Outdoor Microstation which aims to make renewable energy in rural and off-grid areas sustainable. The Microstation is a standalone power generator that can provide a renewable energy source to remote areas of the world. The unit includes photovoltaic solar panels to harness clean and renewable energy from the sun as well as a battery system to store unused energy. The 3,500-volt ampere model can power a rural community of 25 homes for 5 hours each night, including street lighting (SunEdison 2014). It is even scalable and modular, which provides consumers the ability to connect several systems. All Microstations are monitored remotely by SunEdision. The unit can also be installed quickly (in 4 to 6 hours) and is very low maintenance. The Microstation is also extremely durable and able to withstand extreme weather conditions, with a lifetime estimation of over 10 years. The low maintenance and durability aspects of the Microstation are just as important as its ability to generate power since a quick deterioration of the technology would ultimately fail to provide the promised energy source. Continue reading

Obama and Modi Negotiate Renewable Energy in India

by Melanie Paty

On January 25th, 2015, President Obama met with newly elected prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, primarily to discuss climate change. Ari Philips published an article for Think Progress that gives context for the negotiations and explains the climate conditions India is currently facing. The article cites staggering statistics about the urgency of pollution mitigation in India. Delhi is the most polluted city in the world with PM2.5 levels eight times higher than EPA approved levels and air pollution-related ailments contributing to 109,000 premature adult deaths per year. Delhi is not the only problem as India houses thirteen of the twenty most polluted cities. A chance to turn to a more sustainable path has opened with Modi taking office as he has increased India’s 2020 solar energy target by five times. The article sites Raymond Vickery who notes that this ambitious goal will be financially difficult for India as its new climate goals are estimated to require $100 billion in investments, much of which will need to come from private investors. Continue reading