Category Archives: energía

Reflections on building my own solar panels

Over the last decade solar energy has gone from the hobby of oddball engineers and rich eccentrics to a viable way of generating energy for millions of people. Unfortunately, I live in Bolivia, a country where almost nobody uses solar electricity and it is difficult and expensive to import solar panels. Out of curiosity, I wondered whether I could get solar energy by building my own solar panels. I spent a couple weeks investigating how to make my own solar panels online and I would like to share what I found with anyone else who is thinking of building do-it-yourself (DIY) panels.

The idea of being able to generate my own carbon-free energy is very enticing. I live in a country where solar energy only comprises 0.25% of the national grid’s electrical capacity and bad public policy is currently deepening the country’s dependence on fossil fuels. Perhaps my desire to build a solar panel are born out of my sense of frustration at the powerless I feel to change the dirty development and environmentally-destructive policies being promulgated by the Bolivian government. I feel like I have to do something, however small it may be, to resist the relentless march toward the destruction of the planet and humanity’s role in that destruction. In this context, the idea of being able to build my own solar panels and participate in the democratization of energy is very empowering. Continue reading

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Bolivia invierte menos en energía renovable que otros países sudamericanos

Bolivia ha invertido menos en las energías renovables que los otros países sudamericanos en la última década, a pesar de que el articulo 379 de la constitución boliviana especifica que “el Estado desarrollará y promoverá la investigación y el uso de nuevas formas de producción de energías alternativas, compatibles con la conservación del ambiente.”

La gran mayoría de la electricidad de Bolivia viene de la quema de gas natural en termoeléctricas y este porcentaje ha crecido rápidamente durante la administración del MAS. La capacidad de las termoeléctricas bolivianas ha crecido de 958.39 megavatios al final del año 2006 a aproximadamente 1999 megavatios al final del 2016 (todavía no tenemos datos oficiales del Ministerio de Energía para el año pasado).  La administración del MAS sólo ha agregado 13 MW de energía solar, 27 MW de energía eólica,  60 MW de bioenergía y 12 MW de energía hidroeléctrica en la última década. En total, 112 MW de energía renovable fueron agradados en comparación a 1040 MW de energía sucia de combustibles fósiles. Continue reading

Questioning the rosy predictions about the transition to autonomous electric vehicles

The Stanford economist Tony Seba and tech investor James Arbib just released a report entitled “Rethinking Transportation,” which makes an number of predictions about the impact that autonomous electric vehicles will have on the demand for vehicles and petroleum. Many of these predictions are based on faulty assumptions about human behavior and a misunderstanding of the auto supply chain.
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La problemática de las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero en Bolivia

Estoy escribiendo un libro con el titulo preliminar “La problemática de las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero en Bolivia”, que presenta datos acerca del las emisiones de Bolivia y la pólitica del Estado. El borrador del libro esta disponible para descargar:
ProblematicaGEIBolivia.odt (para editar en OpenOffice/LibreOffice)
ProblematicaGEIBolivia.pdf (para leer en Adobe Acrobat)

Gracias por cualquier tipo de comentario u observación acerca del libro.

The Mexican gasolinazo prefigures the future of Bolivia

Recent news is filled with the protests over the Mexican gasolinazo. The Bolivian newspapers have a few brief headlines about the Mexican crisis, and these articles often draw reference to the gasolinazo experienced by Bolivia a couple years ago. However, there seems to be little recognition within Bolivia that its future will be dominated by gasolinazos which are far worse than the current one in Mexico.

In Bolivia, gasoline and diesel is sold at a price of 3.7 bolivianos per liter, whereas it costs between 8 and 10 bolivianos per liter outside the country, meaning that 50% to 60% of the price is subsidized. Over the last decade, and the percent of Bolivian electricity coming from burning fossil fuels has risen from 60% to 78%, because the government mandates that thermoelectric plants can buy a thousand cubic feet of natural gas at a subsidized price of $1.90, whereas Bolivia exports that same gas at a price of between $5 and $10. In 2014, Bolivia spent over $800 million of its annual budget subsidizing fossil fuels, which is much more than Mexico per capita, when you consider that the population of Mexico is 10 times bigger. If you look at the difference between the price of fuels inside Bolivia and the price of the fuels that Bolivia exports, I calculate that Bolivia lost $3.4 billion in 2014 due to the subsidies. These amounts have dropped in recent years due to the falling prices of oil and gas in international markets, but the recent rises in prices indicates that Bolivia will probably have to spend as much on subsidized fuel in the future as it did in 2014.

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Declaración contra la fractura hidráulica (fracking) en Bolivia

Esta declaración en contra de fracking en bolivia contiene algunos números que he calculado:


La fractura hidráulica o “fracking” en inglés es una técnica de extracción hidrocarburífera altamente riesgosa y contaminante, que consiste en inyectar agua y químicos a alta presión para fracturar la roca de esquisto y permitir extraer el gas natural atrapado en las formaciones de roca.

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James Hansen’s proposals to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Dr. James Hansen gave a speech entitled “Combating the Climate Crisis: The Path from Science to Action” at MIT on April 15, 2014, about what needs to be done to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid dangerous climate change.

I have been an avid reader of Hansen’s work over the last 5 years ever since he published Storms of my Grandchildren. He is a much better writer than public speaker. Watching him stumble through this speech, you would never guess how clear and well-argued his scientific papers are. He really needs others to amplify his idea in the public sphere, because his message is so important if we are going to save the planet.
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