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03.03.2008 :: partner

The sun and the wind

by Olga Apostolova :: Comments (0) :: (Read 4318 times)

According to a UN report by 2030 the planet will be relying on renewable energy for one quarter of its energy needs. Here's how to make this happen.
2008 is off to a flying start. I can’t complain. Two days into the new year I got my first solar gadget. It’s a PDA size solar charger that can be used for charging, well, PDAs, mobiles, digital cameras, mp3 players and the like. I felt strange using it for the first time. I have been writing about renewable energy for quite a while, but have never actually owned anything that plugs directly into the sun, the wind, or into some other source that does not end with petrol, gas or coal. I told everybody about this new gadget, wrote about it extensively, in Gorichka too, and was totally overwhelmed when the producer turned out to be… Bulgarian. So we are not that far behind, not if we can make photovoltaic cells that work and work well.

According to a UN report by 2030 the planet will be relying on renewable energy for one quarter of its energy needs. I always thought this was an optimistic report. But now that I am getting into photovoltaics, I am thinking, perhaps not.

Look at Spain for instance. Sevilla is the home of one of the largest solar stations in the world and definitely the largest in Europe. In fact this is the first solar station to be built in Europe at all. Andalucia is known for its sun and what better place to stage 700 photovoltaic panels to feed electricity to 6,000 homes (the equivalent of 11 MW) in the region. By 2013 the entire complex will be operational and at that point it will be supplying energy to the whole of Sevilla – population 600,000.

Two years earlier, in 2011, Masdar city in Abu Dhabi, the first purpose built green city in the world, will be housing 100,000 people who will rely on 100% green energy. It’s a good exit strategy for the petrol sheiks, jumping ship now that oil is running out. In fact a state funded institute has been working in Abu Dhabi in the field of renewable energy for a numbers of years now, calculating how best to transfer from one energy source to another without losing momentum… or cash. Showcasing the building of the first green city is not a bad way to announce this new image.

It saddens me to see the total lack of vision in Bulgaria in this (well, and in many others – but let’s not go there) areas. We are moving with the times I suppose – the new gas pipeline and Belene are a case in point – but not really ahead… which would be the basic definition of vision. Now that the EU has finally outlined its plans for a green future, Bulgaria is on the back foot again. What we, as always, refuse to see is that investment now – in renewable energy, energy efficiency and the like – will save us a great deal later. This ought to be the subject of strong politics at national level, but is in fact just the reaction to EU imposed obligations. And in this respect I am grateful to the EU. It will make us do what we would not have the vision or responsibility to undertake otherwise.

That’s why I say 2008 is off to a flying start. Personally, my next move will be to dig out a solar charger for my laptop. I would love to run that off grid. I would then move to bigger, more sizable things – things that would really impact the environment, like heating. And I would love to feel the support of the state in this. Is this too much to ask? Should I have to move countries just because this one doesn’t care enough?

CC Licence: Attribution - NonCommercial - No Derivative Works

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