Having a stable power supply is something that I have always taken for granted in Australia. But not so in India, where dealing with load shedding and power cuts is part of daily life. So much so that most hospitals, large apartment complexes and hotels have alternate power supply and backup generators to deal with the inconvenience.
But last week was somewhat different, as India experienced the world’s largest power cut, far surpassing any regular scheduled cuts. A grid failure of the north, eastern and north eastern grids took out the nation’s capital, New Delhi and affected over 600 million people. If you consider the fact that is almost twice the entire population of the USA, one gets a sense of the sheer scale of the impact. Trains were left stranded on the tracks, metros were closed and traffic chaos ensued. One Wall Street Journal reporter wrote this satirical take on the issue – 1.2 Billion Indians hit by leadership outage, highlighting the lack of national leadership at a time of crisis.
As someone who is very passionate about architecture, and its role in fashioning the future we want for ourselves, I am always curious to hear about urban renewal and eco-city projects and how they can help us to address climate change, food security and water management issues.
Tianjin Eco-City in China is one of many such projects around the world. A number of new technologies are being tested here, including electric driverless cars, rubbish bins that empty themselves into an underground network and a process for cleaning up industrial pollutants.
An unusual article in The Hindu newspaper caught my eye this morning. This solar vehicle was designed and built by a local Bangalore businessman.
Inspired by the design of auto-rickshaws, it was handmade from local materials, many sourced from scrap metal yards. It cost about AUD$1800 to build and is soon to be driven on a 2000km road trip from Bangalore to New Delhi, as a show of support for anti-corruption activist, Anna Hazare. The vehicle’s maximum daily range is 100km, travelling on battery backup, and the maximum speed is 30km/h.