Amit Paranjape’s Blog

Germany sets new solar power record

Posted in Current Affairs, Science & Technology by Amit Paranjape on May 27, 2012

Germany is the world leader in Solar Power.

Solar Farm in Germany (Image Credits: Wikipedia)

Came across this interesting article from Reuters about Germany’s Solar Power Record: “Germany sets new solar power record, institute says”

This Friday and Saturday, when sunlight was quite good, Germany generated 22 GW (1 GW or Giga Watt = 1,000 Mega Watt) of solar power for a few hours in the afternoon! That is nearly 50% of its power requirements (note requirements on weekends are less, since factories and offices are closed). Still this is quite a milestone!  For comparison, the biggest power consuming state in India, Maharashtra consumes about 15 GW of power.

Came across quite a few interesting data points from the article:

- Germany generates about 4% of its total electricity needs annually via solar power.

- Total renewable energy generation is 20% of its total needs.

- Total installed capacity of Solar Power in Germany is nearly half of the installed capacity in the whole world.

- Germany added 7.5 GW of installed power generation capacity in 2012 and 1.8 GW more in the first quarter for a total of 26 GW capacity.

- Germany has a total installed solar power capacity of 24 GW

- From the article: “Utilities and consumer groups have complained the FIT for solar power adds about 2 cents per kilowatt/hour on top of electricity prices in Germany that are already among the highest in the world with consumers paying about 23 cents per kw/h.”

- But the solar power costs might come down as photo-voltaics become cheaper each year.

Do read the full article here and also visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_Germany for more details.

Some quick implications for India

India has lot more hours and months of sun as compared to Germany. Cost of photo-voltaics is coming down, making solar power more competitive. Solar power seems a lot more attractive renewable energy option, as compared to wind. Gujarat has taken the lead in installing solar power. Maharashtra, Karnataka and other states are also setting up solar fields, but the progress is slow.

India needs more policy focus and better execution to make solar power a successful reality.

Currently, China is the world’s major exporter of photo-voltaic cells. India needs to expand production of photo-voltaics. Similarly, other new related areas such as concentrated photo-voltaics (CPV) should also explored.

It is worth noting that Solar Power (or for that matter, any renewable energy source) is not a panacea for energy requirements… at least definitely not in the coming decade. Even in Germany today, Solar Power contributes single digit percentages annually of the total energy requirements. Thus, India will still need to expand its electricity production from conventional and nuclear power sources. Still, in an energy starved India, 10% renewable solar power in a decade, with no dependence on foreign fuel, would be a great step.

Incentives for Preserving and ‘Recreating’ Heritage Architecture In New Buildings

Posted in Current Affairs, History, Pune by Amit Paranjape on May 16, 2012

It is really sad to see the crazy expansion of concrete, steel and glass in Pune, with completely haphazard architecture standards. It is the same state in all major cities in India. In many cases, there is an attempt to emulate foreign architecture concepts that don’t blend in here very well. This extends to those ridiculous sounding names in English (and French, Italian, Spanish)!

I think it is the responsibility of local civic authorities (as is done in many cities, in the developed world), to enforce some kind of consistency standards in architecture of buildings, landscapes and ideally, even the names!

Just as there are green building requirements and certification standards, civic authorities need to enforce such standards for basic architecture. There have been many discussions on this topic, but doubt if any Indian city has done any progress in this area. I am going to take this requirement one step further. Not only should basic architecture standards be enforced, but heritage architecture should be provided with incentives (I am not asking for enforcement here… but some positive reinforcement).

For example, if a building (or more specifically, a private bungalow) tries to use the old Pune ‘Wada’ type architecture, or the early 20th century ‘Stone’ construction, they should be offered some benefits. We have to encourage new development that respects, preserves and recreates our heritage.

Similar small token incentives should be given to using local and Indian names. Instead of the often horrible (supposedly ‘aspirational’) sounding western names that we see everywhere today, we should encourage the use of local/regional names. Pune was the city of gardens (‘Baugs’) during the Peshwe Era. We had great gardens such as Hirabaug, Sarasbaug, Tulshibaug, and many others. Today, it would be great to see some apartment complexes named as ‘XYZ-Baug’.

In addition to local authorities (like PMC) providing incentives; NGOs and other organizations who are working in the area of heritage preservation (e.g. Janwani in Pune) should also institute prizes and awards for buildings that go out of their way to preserve and replicate the heritage.

Would like to hear the readers thoughts on this topic. Has something like this been done effectively in any Indian city? Note, I agree that ‘incentives’ are a small step, amongst many others to preserve our rich (but poorly maintained and fast dwindling) heritage.

‘Lokmanya Tilak – A Biography’ by A.K. Bhagwat and G.P. Pradhan

Posted in History by Amit Paranjape on November 19, 2010
Lokmanya Tilak

Lokmanya Tilak

Just completed reading a good book ‘Lokmanya Tilak – A Biography’ by A.K. Bhagwat and G.P. Pradhan. This book was written in 1956, to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of Tilak. The book’s foreword is written by Dr. S Radhakrishnan. This biography presents an in-depth, detailed discussion of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s life. It provides the reader with a very good insight into the life of the great man.

The book starts with Tilak’s early life and formative years in Pune, and delves into a discussion around how his ideals and thought process were getting crystallized in College. The book covers at great length his friendship and differences of opinions with Agarkar. The first few chapters of this book provide mini-biographies of Agarkar and Justice Ranade. This is followed by a description of formation of Deccan Education Society, Fergusson College and establishment of Kesari and Maratha newspapers.

The subsequent chapters get into Tilak’s political life as he became the key figure in the Indian freedom struggle for the next three decades. Tilak’s prominent role in the early days of the Indian National Congress is very well described. The difference of opinion between the moderates and nationalists, that led to the ‘split’ at the Surat session is well highlighted and discussed.

That Tilak was an excellent lawyer is well known; but it was still great reading through the details of his legal arguments, especially the famous 1908 trial in Bombay High Court. His life at Mandalay and his struggle with diabetes are also discussed. Was interesting to note how he studied German, French and Pali, while in prison…his desire for knowledge was strong as ever in his late 50s.

This book also enables the reader to get a better picture of the surroundings in Pune and in other parts of India in that period. These surroundings, along with the global situation in the late 19th century/early 20th century had an important influence on Tilak. It was quite interesting to read how Tilak closely followed the various global geo-political developments in Europe, Russia, America, China and Japan.

The book offers good insights into the thought process of Lokmanya Tilak and his personality. His conviction, his forthrightness, his courage, his intellect and his other qualities are presented with plenty of examples.   The book is very well researched with detailed references and sources provided for various points. Many extracts from Tilak’s own writings in Kesari are also presented. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Indian History.

NOTE – Another excellent source of information about Lokmanya Tilak is the Tilak Museum at Kesari Wada in Pune.

Very Very Special Laxman Delivers An Incredible Indian Win Against Australia

Posted in Cricket by Amit Paranjape on October 5, 2010

Statistics don’t tell the whole story. Vangipurappu Venkata Sai (VVS) Laxman scored less runs in this match, compared to Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. But I don’t think there is an iota of doubt in anyone’s mind today about the real match winner. And that’s a back to back match winning performance (after his crucial role in the victory against Sri Lanka in August).

What an amazing innings this was! Talent, Temperament, Class, Concentration. Playing with a bad back, he still delivered his range of signature wristy shots. They were a treat to watch. He was well supported by Ishant Sharma. Indeed, the two injured players carried the day for India. Laxman seems to particularly bring out his best against Australia. Ever since that epic 281 against Steve Waugh’s side in Kolkata in 2001, he has been quite possibly the toughest opposing player for the Aussies. Peter Roebuck summarizes that well in his column title today: “Very Very Special Laxman again thorn in Australia’s side”.

This Test had five days of intense competition between two well-balanced slides. Fortunes changed every session. There were great individual performances by Watson, Zaheer Khan and Tendulkar in the first innings. In the second innings, Indian bowling attack restricted Australia and had a very realistic chance to win. However early wickets on day 4 and day 5 made it very difficult. And with over 90 runs to score with only 2 wickets remaining – Aussies look all set for a comfortable win. And how things changed in the next hour!

The drama and excitement went up one notch when Ishant got out with 11 runs still remaining. Aussies could have won the game on the penultimate ball when a close lbw decision went against them and they also missed a run out chance, that resulted in 4 over-throws.

Overall this game was a fine victory for Test Cricket. With the shorter versions of the games increasing in popularity everyday, it was extremely pleasing to see the classic version deliver such great excitement. Bodes well for the future of the longer version on the game in the years to come.  Going forward, I do hope though that BCCI organizes Test Matches in Tier 1 Cities. The Mohali ground is great, but the crowd attendance for such a great match could have been a lot better.

 

Bharat Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal – A Great Institution Of Maharashtra & India History

Posted in Current Affairs, History, Pune by Amit Paranjape on July 7, 2010

     

Bharat Itihaas Sanshodhak Mandal

  

Bharat Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal (Devnagari: भारत इतिहास संशोधक मंडळ ), Pune is one of the great institutions of Maharashtra and Indian History. It was founded this day, 100 years ago by the great historian Rajwade.    

As the institute celebrates 100 years, it is important to note the historical information treasures that it maintains. These include historical documents (some dating back over 700 years), coins (some as old as 200 B.C.) , artifacts, maps, paintings, rare books and early Marathi newspapers. Some of the institution collection is open for public viewing, while the rest is made available to research scholars. The Mandal (institution) organizes special exhibitions from time to time, where a lot of the collection is on display. This collection has helped many history scholars and researchers over the past 100 years in their research. The Mandal also organizes many training workshops around old launguages/scripts (e.g. the old Modi ‘मोडी’ script).    

Bharat Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal is located in Sadashiv Peth Pune (next to Bharat Natya Mandir). It houses:    

Rajwade and Potdar Halls.    

Painting Gallery – Collection of over 1500 paintings (130 on display), including a good collection from the Peshwa Era.    

Khare Museum – Collection of various artifacts across different dynasties: Furniture, Weapons, Canon Balls, etc.    

Library & Archives – These contain a collection of over 800.000 documents in Sanskrit, Marathi, Kannada, Persian and other languages.    

The Mandal has multiple plans in place to expand and better preserve its great collection and is looking for support. For more information, you can contact the Mandal directly at their Pune Office: 1321 Sadashiv Peth, Pune 411 030. Phone: 020-2447 2581    

References:    

1. Bharat Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal Centenary Year Brochure    

2. Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bharat_Itihas_Sanshodhak_Mandal    

 

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