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Solar Energy in the Developing World Part 1: The Problem

I originally posted this post on Mosaic’s Clean Energy blog.

More than a quarter of the world’s population, 2.5 billion people, lives without reliable electricity. This stymies financial, educational and developmental growth in the developing world. To fend of darkness, people in developing countries depend on kerosene lamps to light their homes at night. Kerosene causes myriad health dangers. The fumes released when kerosene is burned produce toxic fumes that are dangerously carcinogenic. They pollute household air with substances like formaldehyde, nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide. Accidental ingestions of kerosene by children are often fatal and tragically widespread (up to 40% of poisonings in developing countries) because kerosene is often stored in water bottles that children mistakenly drink. (Photo courtesy U.C. Berkeley)

There’s also an enormous fire risk. Kerosene lamps are prone to accidents, making burns and fires common. Moreover, kerosene lamps are terrible for the environment; they produce an estimated 200 million tons of CO2 each year. They also emit black carbon, which is a dangerous climate change forcer. Further, kerosene lamps are financial burden. Many families spend 10-30% of their income on gas and candles to light their homes. When there’s a dearth of income, many poor families are left without light.

Providing reliable light and electricity produces a slew of benefits. Children can study after dark; a World Bank study indicates that school pass rates could double if students were able to spend their evening studying.This also means teachers can spend more time preparing lessons for their students and providing educational feedback. Farmers and store owners demonstrate 30-50% greater income from an extended workday. Carcinogens are removed from household air and the threat of ingestion of kerosene or burning is also removed. Millions of tons of CO2 emissions are averted. Offsetting kerosene costs pay off for consumers within a few months, reducing living expenses in impoverished areas; the U.N. estimates that the benefits of providing electricity to a rural household is $80-$150 per month. Collectively, these benefits can spur enormous business and growth in developing countries.

Check out Part 2 of this series: The Solutions.

(Photo courtesy FromConcentrate)

7 New Solar Innovations That Could Change The World

(I originally published this on the Mosaic blog)

It’s a tough time for solar innovation. Heightened global solar PV production, especially in China where production has multiplied 17 times over the last few years, has created such an oversupply of panels that prices have dropped 80% in the last four years. Plummeting prices is exciting news for the distribution of solar energy, but threatens to stymie innovation of new clean energy products. Solar technology startups that are attempting to break into the PV market are finding it challenging to make even the most innovative products cost effective when the cost of traditional solar panels is so low. The disappointing buyout of MiaSole and crash of Solyndra are cacophonous illustrations of the difficulty of this new landscape. But fret not, Mosaic is here to remind you that there are still opportunities for innovative new technologies to transform our clean energyfuture. Here are seven.

Continue reading

California’s Top 15 Solar Schools – Mosaic

Originally posted on Mosaic’s Blog, by me! Enjoy.

Many colleges and universities have made the smart move to go solar. Solar arrays on California’s colleges and universities are saving millions of dollars in energy costs and preventing millions of tons of harmful greenhouse gases from entering our atmosphere. Solar projects also serve as valuable tools that can educate a new generation of clean energy leaders. Here are 15 California schools that are leading the charge. Continue reading

Bay Area for the Summer


“It seemed like a matter of minutes when we began rolling in the foothills before Oakland and suddenly reached a height and saw stretched out ahead of us the fabulous white city of San Francisco on her eleven mystic hills with the blue Pacific and its advancing wall of potato-patch fog beyond, and smoke and goldenness of the late afternoon of time.”
– Jack Kerouac, On the Road Continue reading

Scuba diving in an Octopus’s Garden MAUI- video


This is a video of my sister, father and me scuba diving in Maui, Hawaii! It features a large and friendly octopus and some fish. The videos were taken by Luke Gartland, our guide who was from Minnesota and lived in Bloomington incidentally. More photos/stories to come.

Writing/ Video workshop at New Haven Academy

New Haven Academy Future Project students come to Yaakov and Ryan Kline's writing workshop

New Haven Academy Future Project students come to Yaakov and Ryan Kline’s writing workshop

Yesterday I released a music video project that I worked on with Ryan Kline.

The dancers in the video are New Haven teens who are involved in an incredible group called The Future Project. A program that empowers high schoolers to undertake projects related to the things they are most passionate about. Laura, who is the head of the program at New Haven Academy, a local magnet school, is the one who initially put us in touch with the dancers and brought us in this afternoon to show the video, do some Q + A, and do a workshop with the kids.

This is the fourth or fifth workshop I’ve done with high schoolers this year, and I’m ALWAYS blown away by how talented they are. Beyond any writing prompts/advice/ or feedback I give to the kids, I’m always inspired for my own work. Ryan also did a workshop  with students that were interested in doing video work.

It was an invigorating escape from the grind of school. Well needed during finals period.