The Cutting Edge

India will farm wasteland for biodiesel

Photo bt Cwulmer (flickr)

The state government of Uttar Pradesh, a populous northern region, plans to turn 40 percent of the state’s wasteland into biodiesel farms of jatropha, a poisonous plant that produces oil-dense seeds. This initiative is expected to contribute to India’s plan to be energy independent by 2012. The country is notably lacking in indigenous energy sources, which is why it has historically relied mostly on coal (to its citizens’ respiratory distress) and nuclear power.

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Sam’s Club shoppers consider solar rooftops

Discounts and deals on residential solar installations are now being touted by nine outlets of Sam’s Club, the Wal-Mart-owned bulk retail chain, CNET reports. Several of its Southern California stores have installed info kiosks that offer solar deals through two companies, Borrego Solar and BP Solar. These kiosks are part of larger home-efficiency centers that Sam’s Club is rolling out to help its thrifty shoppers save money on their electricity bills. They include efficient lightbulbs and water-conserving toilets.

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Carbon-counting software takes off

An Australian IT company and IBM are partnering in a pilot project in Sydney to test the appeal of Supply Chain Consulting’s CarbonView software. The enterprise software company hopes that its player in the increasingly crowded field of carbon-counting software programs, Carbonview, will win over corporations seeking to understand and upgrade the most energy-intensive and highest-emitting divisions of their businesses. As the Wall Street Journal reports, some of these green IT start-ups may not survive a market downturn – especially given the several hundred thousand dollar price tag of some programs – but for now it’s an open playing field as companies await legislation and true carbon accountability.

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Led lighting poised to take on CFLs this fall

Photo by Chris Hendricks

Sharp Corp., the Japanese tech giant, will begin selling energy-saving lighting products based on light-emitting diode technology this fall, the company announced this week.

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Cheap solar telephony for rural villages

A 4-year-old tech company came out of stealth mode last month to announce its new, affordable method of bringing mobile networks to rural regions of the world.

The most challenging component in expanding mobile telephony to poorer areas is finding a way to cover the cost of installing mobile transmission towers, or base stations. VNL, an Indian company that calls itself a microtelecom equipment maker, has designed base stations that cost about $3,500 each, rather than the minimum of $10,000 per base station seen for conventional systems. They have signed an agreement to begin testing their systems in northern India.

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