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Is it time to look at Renewable Energy sources again?
January 24, 2006 4:29 PM   Subscribe

Aurore, a renewable energy (RE) service provider in South India has been designing and developing RE products like solar lanterns and street lights, arranging for microfinance to support installation in remote villages and winning prestigious awards for their work. Cleaner, safer and cheaper than fossil fuels, their business philosophy is grounded in a greater vision than mere profit.
posted by infini (15 comments total)

 
“The biggest motivation for me to get involved in promoting renewable energy is not only just good ecological and scientific reasons for doing so but that there are deep spiritual reasons for changing our energy use. The Mother pointed out that the present form of energy, which is drawn from beneath the Earth, is not an elevated form of energy, and that the future lies in drawing energy from above. This remains my guiding belief.”

Hemant Lamba, head of Aurore, after receiving the Ashden Award from Prince Charles.
posted by infini at 4:31 PM on January 24, 2006


The biggest motivation for me to get involved in promoting renewable energy is not only just good ecological and scientific reasons for doing so but that there are deep spiritual reasons for changing our energy use.

Which is precisely why the West won't get it.
posted by sourwookie at 4:38 PM on January 24, 2006


Which is precisely why the West won't get it.

Oh, we're going to get it all right.
posted by jperkins at 5:06 PM on January 24, 2006


Hopefully, maybe we'll get it after we get it.
posted by loquacious at 5:20 PM on January 24, 2006


"The Mother pointed out that the present form of energy, which is drawn from beneath the Earth, is not an elevated form of energy, and that the future lies in drawing energy from above."

I'm an earth god type m'self, though it goes against most human history to not bow down to those sky gods.
posted by stirfry at 6:12 PM on January 24, 2006


I'm an earth god type m'self,

Wasn't there a giant or demigod from Greek mythology who, as long as he touched the earth, was invincible?

Which is precisely why the West won't get it.

Weston doesn't, anyway, at least not from a spiritual standpoint. It seems to me that the problem isn't really spiritual overtones of terrestrial vs. celestial energy sources, but general practice of good stewardship when it comes to either.

Though good stewardship is often good spirituality, and vice versa.
posted by weston at 6:36 PM on January 24, 2006


Your orientalization of the concept of renewable engergy is nauseating. If this is a successful business model, it will be duplicable anywhere, especially the West. If it is dependent on some sort of self-sacrificing "spirituality", well, we have that: it's called Christianity. Read Tocqueville if you need a primer on how that can work in a Western country.
The fact that some people in the west "don't get it" does not make this an essential characteristic of the West, nor does the fact that a few people have succesfully done "gotten it" elsewhere mean that they're going to suddenly succeed more than we are.
When you simply reverse the old hierarchy of Occident over Orient you are committing a grievous error, and one that does not make sense in either a factual or a symbolic sense. Why always a comparison? It's dumb and annoying.
posted by austin5000 at 7:03 PM on January 24, 2006


This is a nice idea, but the reason the west doesn't do this isn't because they are somehow bereft of spirituality. It's simply not practical. Solar powered appliances and generators are nice in rural low tech areas that don't use that much electricity, but they aren't so effective when you're dealing with high usage zones in the west. I'm not talking about people wasting huge amounts of energy, either. Everyday things like central heating, cooking, and reading mefi use power, and it all adds up, particularly if you're poor and barely able to pay the electric bill. Solar power seems clean. But it's pretty expensive on a per voltage basis. It's also not so great for pollution on a long term basis, as most solar batteries tend to be pretty toxic, making disposal often problematic. Don't misunderstand me. I think that this is a great idea, and I think it will work well in the situation that Aurore is using it. But I think that if we want to use renewable sources in the West, we have to look at different solutions, like geothermal and tide generated power, and do a lot more research. Saying that the west is using non-renewables simply because they're not spiritual enough is silly, and won't solve anying.
posted by unreason at 7:13 PM on January 24, 2006


"Tell me, Mr Gandhi, what do you think of western civilisation?"
"I think it would be a good idea ..."
posted by scruss at 7:30 PM on January 24, 2006


Wasn't there a giant or demigod from Greek mythology who, as long as he touched the earth, was invincible?

It's the reason why western cultures following the Greco-Roman tradition never developed the flying roundhouse kick to the enemy's head but some eastern cultures did.
posted by vbfg at 3:10 AM on January 25, 2006


If this is a successful business model, it will be duplicable anywhere, especially the West.

That isn't as straightforward an assumption as might be thought. It is entirely possible that some business models can thrive in the institutional set-up of one country (that might even stretch to culture - but it would be a stretch) but not in another. There are a number of examples just within the field of renewable energy. One example is problems with financing in the UK due to the lack of institutions lending in the particular range needed to finance windfarm projects, making it difficult to replicate the successful models for development practiced in Denmark and Germany. See National Innovation Systems for a deeper explanation of why this happens.


Wasn't there a giant or demigod from Greek mythology who, as long as he touched the earth, was invincible?

Antaeus, Son of Poseidon?
posted by biffa at 3:38 AM on January 25, 2006


A group of college students run this business after college hours. They charge the lanterns using solar panels during the daytime (while they are in college) and distribute the lanterns to hawkers in the evening. The lanterns are collected at night and the discharged lanterns reconnected to the solar panels for charging the next day. The lanterns are rented out for Rs.15-25 per day, lower than the running cost of a petromax lantern and minus the fumes, heat and fire hazard that this usual alternative poses.

That's USD +- 0.50 a day. It seems that lanter technology isn't taken lightly in India.
posted by elpapacito at 6:54 AM on January 25, 2006


solar power isn't renewable. it's just abundant.
posted by 3.2.3 at 2:50 PM on January 25, 2006


At no stage was my intention to say that spirituality had anything to do with it. My point was to demonstrate the initiatives in renewable energy, be they spiritual or not, vis a vis the lack of news, mind you, not the lack of research, on renewable resources in developed nations. they seem to be more intent in finding reasons for 'capturing' fossil fuel sources than investing those trillions in tide power, alternative energy sources or what have you.

And as for quoting his spirituality, it just impressed me that he was doing it for more than just the profits. and that The Mother is extremely respected in the region.

Unreason on the other hand has a far more valid point for the reason that these products may not work in those countries with higher power consumption. But then again, perhaps research should also go towards developing products that achieve the same results with less fuel usage? Must 30% of the world's population use 70% of the world's resources?
posted by infini at 8:40 PM on January 25, 2006


solar power isn't renewable. it's just abundant.

It's quite difficult to come up with a working definition of what renewable energy is, generally the default is just to agree on a list of what technologies are in and what aren't. Wikipedia says one common definition is that 'renewable energy is from an energy resource that is replaced rapidly by a natural process' which tends to include solar, but it's pretty easy to argue for or against various technologies. For example, it can be argued that geothermal isn't renewable on this basis as it is quite possible to exhaust a geothermal energy source in a specific location. There have also been attempts to have nuclear classified as renewable. For practical purposes such as government funding a list is usually provided.
posted by biffa at 3:30 AM on January 26, 2006


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