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Indian solar predictions typify BRIC innovation

BRIC nations – Brazil, Russia, India and China – are fast becoming some of the most serious players in the global renewable energy market. Alex Blackburne explores the latest predictions for the Indian solar sector.

India could have as much as 33.4 gigawatts (GW) of solar power installed in the country by 2022 – a figure that dwarfs the governmental target of 20GW – according to an independent report.



BRIC nations – Brazil, Russia, India and China – are fast becoming some of the most serious players in the global renewable energy market. Alex Blackburne explores the latest predictions for the Indian solar sector.

India could have as much as 33.4 gigawatts (GW) of solar power installed in the country by 2022 – a figure that dwarfs the governmental target of 20GW – according to an independent report.

In its latest India Solar Handbook, strategic consulting company, Bridge to India, reveals the country’s solar industry is flourishing and that the initial state targets were neither ambitious nor accurate.

The report states that nearly half of the projected total will be realised by 2018, when grid parity will also be achieved.

It’s a massive opportunity. The Asian country has 1.2 billion inhabitants, nearly half of whom aren’t connected to the national grid.

40% of [India’s] population does not have access to the grid”, Kadampat Punnan Philip, manager of the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), said.

But even the villages connected to the grid can benefit from solar power because the Indian grid is so unreliable.”

The reason for the projected surge is down to lower costs. Bridge to India’s study cites decreases within the sector of as much as 20% in the past two years – and it’s likely to continue falling.

The renewables industry of another member of BRIC, China, is, like India’s, flourishing. Although the country is now the world’s biggest carbon dioxide polluter, its presence on the clean technology scene is firm and undeniable, though it’s never short of a bit of controversy that attempts to nullify its progressive innovation.

China makes over £40 billion a year through cleantech and the industry is continuing to grow at an alarmingly positive rate. It increases by 77% every year in fact.

South Africa is evidently not a member of BRIC, but is in fact part of BRICS – a political engine consisting of the four BRIC nations and the newly-added South Africans, who had originally been deemed to be too small an economy to be part of the grouping.

Following 2011’s COP17 talks which were held in Durban, it was announced that it would join the other four to form a standalone group.

BRIC, a group which was first coined in 2001 by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill, in a paper entitled The World Needs Better Economic BRICs.

And it’s not the only one of its kind either. As well as BRICS, there is IBSA, BASICs, ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), the Shanghai Cooperation, and of course, the G20.

The make-up of each group can be seen in the following diagram, as found in a 2010 Economist article.

The five BRIC nations announced in December that they were to club together to develop alternative energy sources.

Facing the prospects of running out of fossil energy and the related environmental issues, developing new energy is an inevitable choice“, Bu Xiaolin, vice governor of China’s Inner Mongolia region, told delegates at the first BRICS Friendship Cities and Local Governments Cooperation Forum in December.

We are very willing to cooperate with BRICS countries on new energy innovations, promotion and market development.”

The collaboration between the five countries is potentially ground-breaking. Think about it: five climbing economies joining forces to innovate renewable technologies.

It’s the perfect scenario for them and the planet.

For a country with such a venerably traditional past, India’s emergence as a serious renewable energy player is both heartening and exciting.

Continued investment in renewable energy in the UK will propel it amongst the frontrunners within the sector. You can help to do this. Ask your financial adviser about investing in renewable technology. Or let us find you a specialist ethical one by filling in our online form. Either way, your money can make a massive difference.

Picture source: Hiroo Yamagata


Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?



self-driving cars for green environment
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Zapp2Photo |

Technologists, engineers, lawmakers, and the general public have been excitedly debating about the merits of self-driving cars for the past several years, as companies like Waymo and Uber race to get the first fully autonomous vehicles on the market. Largely, the concerns have been about safety and ethics; is a self-driving car really capable of eliminating the human errors responsible for the majority of vehicular accidents? And if so, who’s responsible for programming life-or-death decisions, and who’s held liable in the event of an accident?

But while these questions continue being debated, protecting people on an individual level, it’s worth posing a different question: how will self-driving cars impact the environment?

The Big Picture

The Department of Energy attempted to answer this question in clear terms, using scientific research and existing data sets to project the short-term and long-term environmental impact that self-driving vehicles could have. Its findings? The emergence of self-driving vehicles could essentially go either way; it could reduce energy consumption in transportation by as much as 90 percent, or increase it by more than 200 percent.

That’s a margin of error so wide it might as well be a total guess, but there are too many unknown variables to form a solid conclusion. There are many ways autonomous vehicles could influence our energy consumption and environmental impact, and they could go well or poorly, depending on how they’re adopted.

Driver Reduction?

One of the big selling points of autonomous vehicles is their capacity to reduce the total number of vehicles—and human drivers—on the road. If you’re able to carpool to work in a self-driving vehicle, or rely on autonomous public transportation, you’ll spend far less time, money, and energy on your own car. The convenience and efficiency of autonomous vehicles would therefore reduce the total miles driven, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

There’s a flip side to this argument, however. If autonomous vehicles are far more convenient and less expensive than previous means of travel, it could be an incentive for people to travel more frequently, or drive to more destinations they’d otherwise avoid. In this case, the total miles driven could actually increase with the rise of self-driving cars.

As an added consideration, the increase or decrease in drivers on the road could result in more or fewer vehicle collisions, respectively—especially in the early days of autonomous vehicle adoption, when so many human drivers are still on the road. Car accident injury cases, therefore, would become far more complicated, and the roads could be temporarily less safe.


Deadheading is a term used in trucking and ridesharing to refer to miles driven with an empty load. Assume for a moment that there’s a fleet of self-driving vehicles available to pick people up and carry them to their destinations. It’s a convenient service, but by necessity, these vehicles will spend at least some of their time driving without passengers, whether it’s spent waiting to pick someone up or en route to their location. The increase in miles from deadheading could nullify the potential benefits of people driving fewer total miles, or add to the damage done by their increased mileage.

Make and Model of Car

Much will also depend on the types of cars equipped to be self-driving. For example, Waymo recently launched a wave of self-driving hybrid minivans, capable of getting far better mileage than a gas-only vehicle. If the majority of self-driving cars are electric or hybrids, the environmental impact will be much lower than if they’re converted from existing vehicles. Good emissions ratings are also important here.

On the other hand, the increased demand for autonomous vehicles could put more pressure on factory production, and make older cars obsolete. In that case, the gas mileage savings could be counteracted by the increased environmental impact of factory production.

The Bottom Line

Right now, there are too many unanswered questions to make a confident determination whether self-driving vehicles will help or harm the environment. Will we start driving more, or less? How will they handle dead time? What kind of models are going to be on the road?

Engineers and the general public are in complete control of how this develops in the near future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see all the safety benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road, but without any of the extra environmental impact to deal with.

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Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family



Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace --

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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