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The investments in wind farms in Scotland at Great Glen and Kilbaur are with very well managed organizations operated by Energy4All.   Wind was poor in 2010 and returns were just below 7% but have picked up in 2011 to over 10% a very reasonable rate of return by UK standards. India is a sadder story.

The great advantage from an environmental point of view is that any new Indian Turbines paid for increases the total Renewable Energy produced rather than competes with other capital searching for the limited number of Turbine sites with planning permission in the UK.  However the purchase of a Wind Turbine has to be economic and our Turbine in Jaisalmer operated by Suslon is not meeting expectations.  Return in 2011, a good year for wind, is down to 8.1% from a conservatively projected 14.4%.    Negotiations are in place with Suslon as to how they will rectify the situation.

Solar PV

Our UK installation under the FIT scheme is working extremely well and up to expectations.   Earnings will be over 10% which is index linked.   The generated summer power is being used for swimming pool heating through the heat pump and immersion heater and significant electricity bill reduction has taken place.  The renewable credits were given to Green  Motor Sport for their successful participation in The Wave driving an electric Nissan Leaf from London to Prague and back.  Solar PV in India is hard to enter but panels on the roof are driving pumps for the Solar Thermal.

Solar Thermal

200 sq ft of evacuated tubes have been installed in UK and the water will be passed through after the Heat Pump.   In the offices in India 50 sq ft of solar PV panels have been placed by the swimming pool and tests have shown they give an increase of pool temperature of 0.4 degC  per day.  A further 50 sq ft are on the roof used to heat top up water.  The circulation is made using a 12V Rule yacht bilge pump powered by a 85W Sharpe solar panel.    This means as the sun goes down and electricity reduces the circulation stops. 


Research continues in India with the “improved cooker” using much less wood than the old open fire cooker.   This compliments the solar cooker.   In the UK we have planted 200 more trees to provide fuel for the Wood gasifier we hope to install shortly for the house central heating.

Solar Quadricycle

For the SolaRola Adventure we built a solar quadricycle based on the Brox 4 wheel chassis with very light and efficient panels on the roof.   This vehicle will make a major contribution to Sustainable Transport as it is road legal and applauded by all who see it.

Click to enlarge image

The Brox quadricycle

In designing road legal solar vehicles a decision has to made between converting a low efficiency road legal heavy vehicle or using the bicycle regulations which limit the power to 250 Watts which is equivalent to 2 to 3 cyclists power.   With this low energy demand the vehicle has to be very light and efficient.  The Brox quadricycle, alas no longer in production, weighs only 50 kgs including the Heinzmann hub motor in the left rear wheel.  The right rear wheel is driven by pedal power through an efficient gear system.

To add conventional solar PV panels would have made the vehicle over weight and reduced stability so specially made panels were sourced from Germany having an efficiency of 22% and weighing including the backing less than 1 Kg.   We are most grateful to Herr Hans Gochermann for making these super efficient ultra light panels.

Early tests have shown that a fat unfit pensioner might in theory get from London to Somerset on a good sunny day and the vehicle is superb for local trips especially shopping. 

The Solar Quadricycle was driven by Malcolm Moss and Bill Southcombe a distance of 110 miles in a day whilst preparing the route for the SolaRola Adventure.    


Speech at Hoares Bank by Malcolm Moss at the Launch of the SolaRola Adventure

Solar Boat "The Julia Moss"

Julia Moss played a very important part in the solar project as it was she who when Malcolm returned enthused by Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar to build a solar boat found the relevant contacts in the Electric Boat Association that made the design and building possible.

In her memory, Julia & Malcolm Moss's sons James and Simon have raised funds from 78 contributors to build a new solar boat called "The Julia Moss", it is hoped the project will be finished in 2010 having had several setbacks due to location. Various electric outboards have been under test for 2 years.   Experience has shown that we need a pod motor due to the high temperatures and the power requirement is a minimum of 2 HP.

Data Logging and Long term Testing of Solar Vehicle

The Solar Rickshaw has been built to test performance, efficiency and compatibility to Indian roads.

The front wheel is powered by a Briggs and Stratton Lynch pancake motor that drives a chain.  Gearing is such that max speed is limited to 50 kph and as these motors are most efficient at high revs the consumption is almost linear the greater efficiency compensating for the higher air and rolling resistance.  The power requirements for a driver and two passengers are :-

        Speed kph      Amps     Watts

        20                 22         800

        25                 28         1000

        30                 44         1320

        40                 70         2800

The solar power from the three 85 Watt solar panels is stored in three 78 Amp/hr batteries and the range is 25 kilometers from the solar and 30 kilometers from the batteries.   A 36V inverter is installed to give grid quality 240V AC current that is used as an Uninterruptible Power Supply and also for charging the solar railway and the ebike.  The ebike is a road legal vehicle for which no registration is required as the engine is less than 250 Watts.  Testing will show how this low powered ebike will perform and see how power source can be included in the next experimental 3 wheelers.

Wind Turbine 

A 600 KW wind turbine in Jaisalmer has been purchased to provide funding for Moss Energy (Pvt) Ltd. 10% of whose profits will go to Renewable Energy Research and Development projects.  India is encouraging renewable energy projects giving very good tax advantages which are not available for new companies or foreign funded organizations.  The wind turbine gives an IRR of 10 to 13% with potential for higher returns if electricity prices increase.   Only a small fraction of the annual profits come from Carbon Credits and the argument by some anti wind campaigners that wind turbines are not economic is spurious.  India is the only place that wind turbines are available to individuals on a turnkey basis.

Kerala Solar Boats Project

Although the waterways of Kerala are havens of tranquility the peace is disturbed by the noise and pollution of outboard engines.   There are at present only 2 solar boats operating and 2 exciting new developments.
Kerala Boat
Kerala Boat
Kerala Boat
Click to enlarge images
current propulsion
current propulsion

We are teaming up with a group to convert a day boat and a houseboat to solar power as a demonstration project to allow others to follow.

The boats are perfect for conversion as their design has been developed over hundreds of years with poling being the main means of propulsion.   The boats are therefore efficient at low speeds requiring little power and low speeds are encouraged to allow tourists to discover the beauty and peace of the backwaters. 

Solar Houseboat
Solar Houseboat

Click to enlarge image
S B Collinda
S B Collinda

An engineer has visited the UK to test the S B COLLINDA and we have great confidence in their ability to build and operate the boats.  We are considering a financing scheme where donors are given a number of weeks use of the boats in return for their funding.

This method has the great advantage that at little cost the boats are regularly checked and we do not fall in to the trap that funded projects get forgotten.

Kerala Solar Project update May 2007

Trustee Yvers Lancaster and Malcolm Moss visited the Kumarakon Resort in Kerala in March to check on feasibility of converting a day boat.   We took a Minn Kota 65T electric outboard from The Moss Solar Trust and Kumarakon provided the solar panels, 2 large truck batteries and a solar controller.  To our surprise we found that many of the rice boats which sleep from 2 to 8 guests had solar panels on the roof which were used for lighting and the A/C and to obtain a Green Palm Certificate these had to be installed together with pump out sewage tanks.   So the great news is solar is common place and there is a real desire to be eco friendly.

Although no one has tried to use solar for the transport power they were very quick to understand the concept and soon had a 6 passenger day boat fitted out with 6 x 70 Watt solar panels and a charge controller connecting to 2 large 12 Volt truck batteries.  We added the Electric outboard and set sail.  These boats are extremely heavy with solid timber construction with perhaps a weight of 3.5 tons so it took a good 30 seconds to get up to full speed but this was in silence without the noise and fumes of the petrol outboards which are all stamped as 9.5 HP but are Yamaha 14 HP models re-branded to reduce customs duty.   We travelled down the lake and up one of the small waterways in such silence it was hard to believe we were under mechanical power and many boats came over with cries of “Eco friendly”.   The power consumption was :-

Power and speed from a Minn Kota 65 trolling motor


Throttle setting


Speed mph

Outward journey
















Return trip

















The trial boat dimensions are:



12.75 metres



2.10 metres

Beam inside


1.75 metres

Water level to gunwale


0.48 metres

Floor to gunwale


 0.6 metres

Canopy to gunwale


0.9 metres

Canopy to floor


1.7 metres

Potential canopy space for PV panels 


1.6 x 4.4 metres

The trials at the Kumarakon Resort were so successful that we left the motor with them for further testing and we gather the boat is now in regular use.  We are arranging for a 2.0 HP motor to be tested by them on the houseboats and we hope to convert them to solar power.   The back waters are close to the sea and bad weather can be an issue.  It is likely that when the 2.0 HP motors are installed we will leave the present outboards to supplement in windy conditions and possibly for the crossing of the lake.  It is hoped the next visit will be in August.   Our objective is to change all the boats over to solar electric so we will be looking to persuade agencies to give grants and any private finance initiatives will be welcomed.

Kerala Solar Boat Update April 2009

We were contacted by Sandith Thandasherry of Navgathi Marine Design & Constructions Pvt Ltd concerning their new solar catamaran they designed and built for Team Sustain.


We were very impressed by the design capabilities of Navgathi and though a prototype the finish and looks of their boat are very good.   She is powered by 2 Torqeedo 2HP electric outboards one on each hull.  The design criteria was to run at min 10 kph which was obtained on our brief trials which were carried out under far from ideal conditions.  In particular it was difficult to steer a steady course as no rudders were fitted and there was debris in the canal.  The boat is similar to the S B COLLINDA which has only one 2HP motor but it is accepted that the motor(s) are better protected from river debris when positioned behind a hull.

The results were :-

                   Upstream                                    Downstream




Sp kph






Sp kph





































































































Our principal suggestions were :-

1               to fit a rudder(s)

2               move driving position to rear to help visibility of passengers

3               Add extra panel at front on slight angle to show it is solar

4               Consider a hybrid with 1 diesel outboard engine for emergencies

5               Persuade clients that 8 kph is ideal cruising speed

6               Offer as flat pack for export


Biodiesel is a sustainable fuel and interest has been shown in Jatropha which grows wild in India.  Governments in Europe are legislating to include 5% of biodiesel in all diesel which will give rise to a huge demand which cannot be satisfied by the rape oil grown in Europe which will result in massive imports.  Much of this will be satisfied by palm oil but the problem is that the extra supplies will come from trees grown in areas of the rain forest, which is an important carbon reservoir, that will be destroyed and replaced with relatively small trees that soak up much less carbon creating severe global warming problems.

Jatropha Plant
Jatropha plant

Click to enlarge image
Jatropha root
Jatropha root

It is therefore our duty to see if we can encourage the production of oils from areas that are not presently cultivated and so taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and fixing it as wood.  According to many adverts and internet sites Jatropha is the answer as it grows in arid regions of India where there are plenty of uncultivated areas.  Our research indicates there are reservations about establishing plants in arid regions.   Trees grown at our research station under a watering regime have shown spectacular growth producing seeds within 2 years though 6 month transplants put in to unwatered ground have not been very successful and will not be economic.

However it is highly desirable to plant in arid areas rather than cultivated land where it would replace food crops needed by the indigenous population.  We are continuing our research and looking at a subsidy scheme to ensure arid areas are planted which would fit in with carbon set off for air travel etc.

Research is being considered in to the running of Lister diesel water pumps and  generators with filtered Jatropha Oil.  When you walk in the Aravelli hills around Udaipur you come across frequent dirty oil patches where diesel has been spilt from the water pumps used for irrigation.   This diesel has been carried on buses and then by hand long journeys up in to the hill villages.  It would be so much more efficient to teach the hill farmers how to grow and refine Jatropha also giving them some electricity at a lower cost than solar PV.

Update on Jatropha April 2009

Sadly we have to report that yields have been very poor this year in spite of a reasonable monsoon.  Local comment says there has been more leaf than seed.  After 4 years our plants are up to 2 mts and have in watered areas produced 2 crops with unwatered plants becoming established at 1 meter and bearing some fruit. There has been more picking in hill villages with in good areas the chance of picking 10 kilos in a day though not for many days.  Value is Rs 14 per kilo giving a value before transport etc of Rs 140  approx GBP 2.    This is acceptable but does not leave much room for planting etc and there was the comment that harvest time is when they are busy in their own fields.   We do not despair but do not think Jatropha will solve the World’s Biodiesel problem.

Boat Building Academy for the Deaf

This excellent organisation run by Peter Jacobs teaches boat making skills to deaf people and builds a variety of boats that are displayed on their web site.  Of particular interest is their Electric Diesel Hybrid Whisper which is the ideal boat to add solar panels and make it a sustainable boat.  The Moss Solar Trust have supplied some advice and rather than send funds through India to South Africa we invite donors to send funding directly to WBBA.  

Click to enlarge image

Any donations are welcome and £2,000 will cover the conversion of basic Whisper.  There will then be another location operating solar boats and others will follow their fine example.





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