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Good news isn’t always easy to come by when it comes to issues related to health, the economy, or the environment in developing nations. However, there are a host of new technologies trying to ensure that changes. Here are nine green tech projects, the big and the small, taking place in the developing world, doing their part to make this world a better place.

Stripped Down Tech Innovations

A Windmill Made of Junk Powers Small Malawi Village

William Kamkwamba couldn’t afford his $80 school tuition, but that wasn’t going to stop him from learning. While other 14 year olds might look for ways to ditch class, Kamkwamba was doing quite the opposite, and sneaking in. Despite his noble intentions, a teacher eventually caught him and kicked him out. This led him to do something even more out of teenage character, seek refuge in a library.

While there, he came across a book on windmills titled Using Energy. The book described how windmills could be used to generate electricity. Because only two percent of Malawians have electricity, he became determined to power his village by building his very own windmill. Kamkwamba scoured through junkyards for bicycle parts, garbage-slime-clogged plastic pipes, tractor fans and car batteries. For the tower, he collected wood from blue-gum trees. Though people initially made fun of him, upon completing his first windmill (which powered four lights and two radios in his family home) Kamkwamaba successfully went on to construct five windmills, including one at a local school that teaches classes on windmill-building.

Subsequently, members of the TED community got together to help him improve his system (by incorporating solar energy). Other projects on the agenda will include: clean water, malaria prevention, solar power and lighting for the six homes in his family compound; a deep-water well with a solar-powered pump for clean water; and a drip irrigation system.

Watch his TED talk

Harnessing the Airwaves

Yet another story to come out of Malawi is that of 21-year-old, Gabriel Kondesi, who built his own radio station, harnessing airwaves using three small transistor radios, car batteries, TV aerials, wires, and a radio cassette player. In order to ensure proper sound insulation and reduce echoes, he built the structure out of brick. To aid transmission, he made sure to have a relatively high foundation, covered by a grass roof.

The station was named Pachikweza, which, in the local Chichewa language, means “something very high”. Pachikweza broadcast at 105.1 FM and he answered listeners’ calls via his Nokia cell phone. Even though his village of Soza has no electricity, Kondesi would dutifully walk to an out-of-town barbershop to recharge the station’s cell phone and the car battery that powered the whole station. With a staff of 10 volunteers, working in 3 hour intervals, the station would broadcast news from neighboring villages and provide its listeners with amusing stories and jokes.

Unfortunately, when police heard the broadcast, they shut it down and arrested Kondesi on the basis that he was operating without a license. Kondesi tried applying for a license for two years, to no avail. Censorship and political interference choke what could be of potential influence, even something as small scale as a local radio station.  Kondesi was subject to penalty, either pay 50,000 kwacha (approximately US$350 an extremely high amount in Malawi), or go to prison for 10 months. The story made national headlines and he spent only a night in prison before family, neighbors, friends and fans of his radio station pooled their limited resources to pay the fine.

Though his radio station remains closed, Kondesi says: “The people of the village expect me to continue broadcasting to them because I used to give them the opportunity to express themselves. Everybody’s expecting a lot from me so I will continue to be a radio broadcaster”.

Good Thinking!

Aquaduct Mobile Filtration Vehicle

With over 1.1 billion of the world’s population lacking access to clean drinking water, a group of inventors from the U.S. created this funny looking tricycle which uses pedal power to both transport and filter clean drinking water. Women are most often responsible for water gathering duties, and it can sometimes be miles before the nearest water source.
The Aquaduct Mobile Filtration Vehicle cuts travel time, and ensures clean, filtered drinking water. It comprises a 20 gallon storage tank fitted on the back, a built-in filter, a belt drive, a clutch connected to an idler pulley, and a peristaltic pump.

Cooking with Clean Burning Stoves

A large majority of households in Africa, Asia as well as in Latin America rely on traditional biomass fuels for cooking, such as wood, dung, coal, charcoal and agricultural residues. Not only are these fuels inefficient energy carriers, their heat is difficult to control, they produce dangerous emissions, and their current rate of extraction is not sustainable for forests. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that toxic emissions from cooking stoves are responsible for causing 1.6 million premature deaths a year, half of them among children under five years old.

Responding to the dire need to create more efficient and less hazardous clean burning stoves, there are now a host of organizations, such as GlobalResolve, Envirofit and ProWorld Service Corps addressing the problem with higher efficiency stoves. The ProWorld stoves for instance, are made entirely from ceramic and assembled with fresh mud,  making them easy to maintain and repair. The stoves cost $15 and greatly reduce indoor smoke inhalation as well as reduce fuel consumption by 20-60 percent.

What’s the Big Idea?

Here are FIVE

Solar Photovoltaic Farms- Portugal

Portugal produces 1/3 of its energy from renewable sources. In having to quickly respond to a shortage of oil, coal and gas, Portugal is now an  EU leader in the clean tech revolution. In less than three years, Portugal has trebled its hydropower capacity, quadrupled its wind power, and is investing in more photovoltaic plants. What is to be the world’s largest solar photovoltaic farm is taking shape near Moura, generating electricity straight from sunlight . It is expected to supply 45MW of electricity each year, enough to power 30,000 homes.

Mexico City’s Urban Bus System

This innovative bus system has dramatically reduced traffic congestion and pollution in Mexico City. Metrobús has reduced carbon dioxide emissions from Mexico City traffic by an estimated 80,000 tons a year. The new buses, which operate on clean-burning ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel, make more than 450,000 trips per day.

Geothermal Energy- Philippines

The Philippines is the largest consumer of electricity through geothermal energy, and second only to the U.S. for geothermal energy production in the world. Geothermal energy is the heat energy from within the earth. Hot springs, geysers and steam inside the earth’s crust can be used to produce electricity, heat buildings and as long as rain falls, it is a completely renewable resource.

Ethanol Fuel- Brazil

Brazil has the largest sugar cane crop in the world, and is the largest exporter of ethanol in the world. With the 1973 oil crisis, the Brazilian government initiated, in 1975, the Pró-Álcool program. The Pró-Álcool or Programa Nacional do Álcool (National Alcohol Program) was a nation-wide program financed by the government to phase out all automobile fuels derived from fossil fuels in favour of ethanol. The program successfully reduced by 10 million, the number of cars running on gasoline, ultimately reducing the country’s dependence on oil imports.

Wind Farms- India

India relies heavily on coal, so in order to reduce their dependence on this polluting fossil fuel, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is aiming to have 6,000 MW of additional wind power capacity installed by 2012. Moreover, companies as well as individuals will get tax breaks for investing in green energy, especially wind farms.

The development of wind power in India began in the 1990’s and has significantly increased in the last few years. India is home to one of the world’s largest wind power company’s, Suzlon Energy. Suzlon is the largest wind turbine manufacturer in Asia (5th worldwide) and operates a 584 MW wind park in the Western Ghats-Tamil Nadu- the state with the most wind generating capacity and the largest wind park in the world.

Despite the fact that wind power accounts for 6 percent of India’s total installed power capacity it only generates 1.6 percent of the country’s power. For this reason, the government is considering the addition of incentives for ongoing operation of installed wind power plants.

12 comments

Posted by Arijit Das at 2:04 pm at 1. December 2009

Nicely Written Post…… These Technological Projects are needed for the development of a place!

Posted by wparena at 3:44 pm at 1. December 2009

excellent research

Posted by wparena at 3:48 pm at 1. December 2009

I don’t think for development…these are traps for invasion

Posted by Patricia Skinner at 11:42 pm at 1. December 2009

Great post. It is heartening to see how hard some people work to find solutions. Especially while we, in the West, tend towards whining in favor of doing anything else. I hardly think any of these solutions is a guise for ‘invasion,’ though. Great research–really inspiring stories.

Posted by Ashish Kalmegh at 12:58 pm at 2. December 2009

world is getting somewhat closer any away from destruction

Posted by Miles Edwards at 3:20 am at 4. December 2009

Awesome Algae plant in Arizona. Scaled up could produce all the energy needs of the US in a clean efficient way! Chack it out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7eRI2JqO8M

Posted by Tassimo Brewbot at 4:36 am at 5. January 2011

Thanks for this very interesting information.

Posted by ka'shera robertson at 9:17 am at 17. February 2011

i dont think so i think this is soooo boring that it just makes me want to throw up from the flow up. That;s what i think.

Posted by ka'shera robertson at 9:20 am at 17. February 2011

if i would have to give ot a grade i would say a six because i think its kinda ture but i would say u need to give out more info.

Posted by Ece at 11:11 pm at 18. September 2012

I am a international sentdut, and this is the second draft for my final essay in English class.It’s a compare/contrast essay, please fix my grammar errors, word choice, verb tense and enhance the conclusion paragraph. Thank you! Green Roofs or Solar Roofs ? You want to contribute to our earth but have no idea? Everyone knows Global warming and unban heat island effect are making inroads into the places where you and your family live. We all know that is a serious issue, and also have positive attitude toward it.Suppose that you are not a boss of an enterprise, therefore, you are powerless to decide how to emission air pollution or recycle resources. Don’t be discouraged! You still have a way that is to develop the idea of green design to protect our earth. Green design is an internationaltheme that has been discussing for many years, and was promoted in “Leaders Summit Meeting” in Brazil in 1992. It is called Ecological Building in Japan and Sustainable Building in Europe. How to put the idea in use? Home Green Design is an affordable way for everyone. I am going to introduce two ways to save energy. They are green roof and a roof covered by solar panels. This essay will show their advantages and disadvantages of the following: 1. Expense; 2. Workingrequirement; 3.Function. Despite the fact that everyone knows the benefit of solar panels, I will argue that green roof is worth than solar panels. First, you do really care about the expense that green roof and solar panels might cost. For a100 sq foot, you need about $25,000 to install solar panels on your rooftop. The system works at least 25 years. On the other hand, it will cost you $1,000 per year. Is that worth? Itdepends on your personal utility rate of electricity. You would save a small amount of money if you are living with a big family. But a fact that you have to consider is one dollar tomorrow probably won’t have same value as today. Otherwise, you still need to pay the upkeep of the system every year and the charge of basic power for keeping it working. It is priced $1,500 for the same area as 100 sq foot, and the maintenance will not be the problem. Basically then, all you need is a waterproof rooftop, a layer of soil and a bag of seeds. The idea of Green Roof is much cheaper obviously and has lower maintenance than solar panels by comparison. Next is the working conditions that for each one. Before you choose one of them, you might need to consider that the area you live is sunnier or cloudier. Solar panels that as the name hints, is a system that has to be solarized under sunshine. In addition to sunshine, theGreen Roof also needs adequate raining to support them growing. If we simply consider that the best environments for them, solar panels need less conditions than green roof. Actually, solar panels will still work on a cloudy day. Of course, no one expects that the system can maintain same efficiency as it used to be on a sunny day. However, that is probably enough for keeping a lamp plus a computer working for one day. Unfortunately, solar panels do not fit in a winded area, because the panels might be damaged by blown stuff. In this stage, they are almost in a tie. Taking that green roof is working 24 hours a day into account, I guess that green roof is a little bit better than solar panels. Lastly I will compare the most important part which is the function of them. In theory, solar panels can basically reduce your energy consumption. What would be powered with solar electricity are the things such as the refrigerator, the computers, the TVs and the airconditioning, etc. Sounds great! But something you do not know is solar panels efficiency averages only 20% to 40%. Solar panels catch sunlight and convert to another type of power that we usually use for home electronic appliances. The system loses much energy during theconversion process. You can’t make appliances working unless you get enough energy from sunlight. So how about green roof and its benefits? It not only filters rains and air pollutants, but also keeps the house warmer in winter and emissions heat in summer. Sometimes it caneven provide a habitat for birds and some small animals. To choose solar panels or green roof is a fascinating question. It is a tough choice for either, I will personally choose green roof anyway. Solar panels are still an immature technology somehow, especially in converting energies. In addition, price is also a point to be considered. I believe that to protect living environments is important for individuals, but it is unacceptable ifno one can solve the problems that I mentioned before.

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