Envirofit Cookstoves According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “more than three billion people worldwide rely on polluting energy sources such as wood, dung and charcoal for cooking.” These practices are most common in impoverished areas within developing countries and come with severe health consequences. As women are usually tasked with the cooking responsibilities, the indoor air pollution caused by cooking with these traditional fuels disproportionately impacts women as well as children in the household. A social enterprise called Envirofit International aims to make clean cookstoves more accessible and affordable for families living in developing nations.

Polluting Fuels and Gender Inequality

Cooking with polluting energy sources not only leads to serious health repercussions but also contributes to economic gender inequality. Girls and women are the main gatherers of these polluting energy sources, which require more than twice as much time to gather in comparison to clean fuels. Girls from households that use polluting fuels spend roughly 18 hours per week collecting fuel in contrast to five hours a week for those from households that utilize clean energy sources. This time could go toward more productive activities such as learning and paid work. As a result, girls and women fall behind in education and economic advancement.

Health and Economic Repercussions of Indoor Air Pollution

According to the WHO, annually, almost four million people die prematurely as a result of household air pollution caused by “inefficient cooking practices using polluting stoves paired with solid fuels and kerosene.” Indoor air pollution can cause ischaemic heart disease, strokes, lung cancer and pulmonary disease. Indoor pollution increases the risk of pneumonia in children by 50% and “is responsible for 45% of all pneumonia deaths in children” younger than 5. Gathering traditional fuels, a task typically performed by women and children can lead to musculoskeletal damage due to the arduous nature of this task.

Envirofit Cookstoves

Envirofit International works to replace dangerous and harmful traditional cooking methods with clean biomass cookstoves that are efficient, durable and inexpensive. The enterprise is headquartered in Fort Collins, Colorado. Since its incorporation in 2003, Envirofit has manufactured and commercialized smart stoves that cook faster, use less fuel and produce less smoke and toxic emissions. Envirofit cookstoves reduce “fuel use, fuel cost and cooking time by up to 60%” and decrease smoke and harmful emissions by up to 80%. These fuel savings alone can increase household income by up to 15% a year.

Using a market-based approach, Envirofit has helped more than five million people in 45 nations around the world save money and time while also reducing their carbon footprint. Envirofits’s clean, pollution-free technology has saved lives by reducing preventable deaths due to pollution. Envirofit cookstoves feature efficient combustion chambers to decrease emissions and utilize biomass fuel, which is accessible for people in rural communities.

With regional headquarters and production sites in East Africa, West Africa, Asia and Latin America, Envirofit can deliver local solutions tailored to each region’s specific needs. Each regional headquarter also contributes to the local economy by providing new employment and business opportunities. Besides creating jobs and making cooking safer, more convenient and affordable, Envirofit promotes sales by conducting local awareness campaigns about the effects of air pollution on health.

Overall, Envirofit cookstoves contribute to the health and well-being of millions of impoverished people across the world, saving lives, time and money.

Carolina Cadena
Photo: Flickr

offshore wind farmSouth Korea’s government announced plans to construct an 8.2 gigawatt “offshore wind facility by 2030.” Once completed, the project will stand as “the world’s largest single offshore development.” The project comes with economic and environmental advantages for South Korea. In order to help the economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the offshore wind farm will increase revenue and energy production. The plan forms part of President Moon Jae-in’s Green New Deal project. The Green New Deal began in 2020 and will help Asia’s fourth-largest economy reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.

Offshore Wind Farm Funding and Benefits

The offshore wind facility project has already garnered significant funding. Several companies have contributed $42.4 billion to the project and the government will cover $802 million of the cost. In addition to generating renewable energy, the offshore wind project will create 5,600 jobs in the area. It will also extend South Korea’s “existing 1.67GW wind power capacity to 16.5GW by 2030.”

South Korean officials state that the wind energy facility “will produce energy equivalent to the output of six nuclear reactors.” The project has garnered significant support around the country due to its many benefits. A signing ceremony recently occurred for the new wind project in Sinan, a coastal town in the southwest region of the country. The offshore wind farm project is predicted to make an impressive impact on the country’s economy due to citizen, government and fiscal support.

Economic Impact of COVID-19 on South Korea

South Korea’s early response to the COVID-19 pandemic was successful as early testing and containment of the virus limited spread. However, the virus caused an economic recession due to halted business operations, closed borders and restricted mobility. For the first time since 2003, South Korea fell into a “technical recession.” In the first quarter of 2020, South Korea’s GDP declined by 1.3% followed by a second quarter decline of 3.3%.

The recession was caused greatly by a lack of demand for South Korean exports. Exports make up about 40% of the country’s GDP, so without the typically high supply and demand for products, South Korea’s economy was hard-hit. The economic decline also led to job losses across multiple sectors such as services, travel, hospitality, retail and manufacturing. As a consequence, South Koreans experienced harsh economic impacts, especially those already in poverty.

How Wind Power Improves Poverty

Despite South Korea’s status as a large world economy with high rankings in terms of education and healthcare, it still has a high poverty rate. The OECD ranked South Korea fifth among 33 countries for relative income poverty, with a rate of 16.7%. Relative income poverty is defined as “the ratio of the number of people whose income falls below half of the national median household income.”

Renewable energy sources such as wind power can help reduce poverty by decreasing a country’s reliance on fossil fuels. Fossil fuel prices can fluctuate drastically, causing instability in the economy. Wind turbines can replace the use of fossil fuels. The renewable energy sector also creates jobs and allows for energy security. With the power to use clean energy and bring economic prosperity to South Korean citizens, offshore wind farms provide a solution to poverty reduction.

The Future of Wind Farms

Overall, South Korean offshore wind farms could help South Korea bounce back economically after the COVID-19 pandemic. Wind energy is a sustainable resource as it is readily available. In comparison to fossil fuels, wind energy is more consistent and less expensive to harness. The boost in wind power could also place South Korea on the leaderboard for renewable energy.

Future prosperity and poverty reduction in South Korea will come from inclusive economic growth. With the use of renewable energy sources, sustainability and economic success are possible. Increasing accessibility to energy will thus help South Korea win the fight against poverty.

– Courtney Roe
Photo: Flickr

Self-sufficient Energy Production in OdanthuraiOdanthurai, a small village in Tamil Nadu, India, is the first in its region to incorporate wind, solar and biogas energy into its community. India is running out of the resources normally used to receive electricity. Since imports are expensive, using solar energy will boost the economy in the long term. Using solar energy will also help many villages, such as Odanthurai, to gain access to clean electricity. Self-sufficient energy production in Odanthurai will help many villagers gain access to clean electricity and, as a result, alleviate poverty.

Why Odanthurai Converted to Self Sufficiency Energy

When farmer Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam was elected council president of Odanthurai, he became invested in the development of the community and village as a whole. Shanmugam fought for access to cleaner water, as well as better sanitation and roads. He then began realizing that implementing these additions, such as the installations of street lights, drinking water plants and filtering points, was increasing the village’s electricity bills. In an India Climate Dialogue interview, Shanmugam admitted that “the electricity bill was only INR 2,000 (USD $30) when I joined, and it increased to INR 150,000 (USD $2,220) in just two years.”

Shanmugam realized that change was necessary in order to sustain Odanthurai without causing extensive electricity bills. In the long run, clean energy would allow for a reduction in power bills. Electricity bills were making up 60% of the council’s expenses. This was a hindrance that prevented them from implementing any other developmental changes. Shanmugam began looking into alternative means of energy.

Implementing Clean Energy in Odanthurai

The first change Shanmugam made in Odanthurai was to replace the electricity-run water pump with a biomass gasifier. The resulting cost showed a reduction from the previous cost by almost 70%. This was a significant cutback from the state of the village’s electricity beforehand. Additionally, Shanmugam established two solar lights in Odanthurai. This was a step toward renewable energy that saved the village a total of 5000 INR.

The success of biogas and solar energy bolstered interest in exploring alternatives for electricity. Eventually, the council bought a windmill. The resulting energy that the windmill created was enough to sell to the state as well as pay off the local villages’ bank loans. Shanmugam’s statement on the self-sufficient energy production that he helped to effectuate was simply, “[The village councils] in India should take steps to address development on their own. If this can be done in Odanthurai, it can be done anywhere in India.”

Clean Energy’s Role in Poverty Reduction

While clean energy such as biogas, solar and wind energy is important for the environment, it also has a strong link to poverty reduction. The cost of installing electricity in the village was infringing on their budget for developmental changes. Using clean energy, which reduces power bills, can help alleviate poverty by allowing impoverished communities to focus on other necessary improvements such as hygiene and education.

According to a 2015 report by Synapse Energy, harnessing renewable energy allowed the state of California to save more than $15 million in the first six months. This can be similarly applied to other regions in the world, as the long-term costs are proven to significantly decline over time. As a result, villages can focus on areas that need further development without spending a majority of their budget on electricity bills.

Organizations Providing Assistance

While Shanmugam and the village council were able to implement self-sufficient energy production in Odanthurai, other activists and organizations are also taking action toward advocating for clean energy. Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) is a non-governmental organization that provides solar energy to underprivileged regions around the world. SELF points out that 14% of the global population lacks energy access, which is a whopping 0.9 billion people. Since 1996, SELF has conducted its projects in about 25 countries around the world. Some of their notable projects include providing excess energy from solar vaccine refrigerators to power medical equipment. It also has been improving online learning in South America and powering telemedicine in the Amazon rainforest.

Self-sufficient energy production in Odanthurai acts as a powerful example to the rest of the world. Clean energy has the power to change the world and alleviate poverty. It is time for other communities and countries to look toward self-sufficient energy options and see how they can improve the lives of their people.

– Esha Kelkar
Photo: Unsplash

Renewable energy in TanzaniaIn 2018, 29% of the population in Tanzania had access to electricity. For rural populations, that number was 10% and for poor households, it was 7%. About 66.2% of Tanzania’s population lives in rural areas, according to data from 2018. This means that most of the population that needs electricity lives in off-grid regions. The Tanzanian government and other organizations seek to meet this need through innovative renewable energy solutions.

Renewable Energy in Tanzania

Renewable energy in Tanzania has great potential. Tanzania’s renewable energy resources include hydropower, solar, wind and biomass. A study completed by the Institute for Sustainable Futures from the University of Technology Sydney, the Climate Action Network Tanzania, Bread for the World and the World Future Council found that by 2020, Tanzania’s portion of renewable energy generation was thought to reach 53%. By 2030, that number could increase to 75%. The study also discovered that it is 30% cheaper for Tanzania to use renewable energy than energy from fossil fuels. Thus, the study recommends implementing 100% renewable energy in Tanzania so that the country can substantially decrease poverty levels.

Importance of Renewable Energy Access for Poverty Reduction

Energy access is crucial in the fight to end poverty. Renewable energy is valuable for poverty reduction because it can provide power to more schools. Furthermore, it can increase health services and hygiene and provide clean water in rural areas. In fact, the World Bank cites increased electricity access as one of the reasons poverty rates have decreased in Tanzania.

According to the World Future Council, due to the increase in energy access, people in rural areas have been able to focus on “efforts to improve their socio-economic welfare.” Women, in particular, have benefited greatly from energy access. They can spend more time working on other tasks rather than working in the home and in the field.

Projects and Initiatives

Renewable energy in Tanzania has increased over the past decade because the government and other organizations have been working on renewable energy projects. These initiatives include installing off-grid and grid power systems and advocacy work.

Lighting Rural Tanzania installed solar lanterns and solar home systems to mostly low-income households. The goal of the project was “to enable access to cleaner and safer off-grid lighting and energy for 6.5 million people in Tanzania by [the] end [of] 2019.” Overall, the project helped provide energy access to 1.2 million people as of 2018.

The Tanzania Renewable Energy Association (TAREA) is a membership organization dedicated to improving renewable energy technologies and increasing access to renewable energy in Tanzania. The organization provides ten distinct services with advocacy and awareness work, community access programs and renewable energy policy initiatives.

Last is the Rural Electrification Expansion Program for Tanzania (TREEP). Beginning in 2013 and ending in 2022, TREEP’s goal is to provide both grid and off-grid energy to 1.3 million rural households and businesses. The project focuses on solar energy, specifically photovoltaic systems. As of 2021, The World Bank has labeled TREEP as “moderately satisfactory.”

Looking Forward

While less than half of Tanzanians have access to electricity, governmental initiatives and dedicated organizations are succeeding in increasing energy access. According to the International Energy Agency, Tanzania hopes to ensure that 70% of the population has access to electricity by 2030, with 50% of that originating from renewable energy resources.

– Sophie Shippe
Photo: Flickr

Exporting Clean EnergyCongressman Mike Thompson introduced H.R. 848: GREEN Act of 2021 on February 4, 2021. It is an amendment to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, serving to provide incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Renewable energy can serve as a means of ending poverty as access to energy can improve healthcare, education and economic opportunity. There also lies an opportunity of possibly exporting clean energy.

The GREEN Act of 2021

Congressman Thompson’s GREEN Act of 2021 seeks to increase the incentives for U.S. citizens to use renewable energy. Congressman Thompson is a vocal advocate for clean energy, believing this change will help not only the United States but also the world at large. Thompson’s vigor in promoting clean energy comes from a desire to cut reduce emissions and create millions of jobs worldwide. Congressman Thompson has voiced renewable energy as priority in Congress by cosponsoring the Green New Deal in February 2019 and sponsoring legislation to provide tax incentives for those using clean energy. Congressman Thompson acknowledges the U.S.’s responsibility to aid other countries. One sees this through his commitments to improve education globally. In combining these two efforts, the U.S. could tackle two of the world’s most important issues.

Clean Energy at Work

In the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the elimination of poverty is as imperative as clean, renewable energy. Robert Freling, executive director of the Solar Electric Light Fund, believes energy is a key weapon in fighting against global poverty. To Freling, access to electricity is a basic human right that is not available to many impoverished nations. Without access to energy, developing countries’ attempts to improve people’s lives comes to a standstill.

The World Bank reports that 840 million people do not have access to electricity and 650 million people will still not have electricity in 2030. According to the World Bank, those lower-income families living in rural areas will need to use solar home systems, mini-grids and solar lighting to combat poverty.

Various countries have proven the effectiveness of renewable energy in fighting poverty. For example, in China introducing solar energy led to more than 800,000 families in poverty having access to power. In some areas, solar installations provided families with an additional yearly income of more than $400.

Exporting Clean Energy

This emphasis on the Unites States promoting clean energy across the world has been noticed by other members of Congress as well. Rep. John Curtis believes the U.S. should set an example by exporting renewable energy to foreign countries. Rep. Curtis introduced multiple bills with the main goal of exporting clean energy. One piece of legislation Rep. Curtis introduced is the Worldwide Wind Turbine Act, which would give the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) the power to accept old wind turbines as donations and share these turbines with developing nations who could benefit from wind energy.

By exporting clean energy, the U.S. can lead the way to transition to renewable energy while improving the global economy. Renewable and clean energy efforts are vital because global poverty cannot truly be resolved unless energy poverty is addressed.

Solomon Simpson
Photo: Flickr

Economic Growth in Madagascar
Despite Madagascar’s 74 percent poverty rate in 2019, the small African country has one of the fastest growth rates in the world. GDP growth hovered around 5 percent in 2018 and 2019 and projections determine that it will remain at that rate in 2020 and 2021. Public and private investments in infrastructure, mining, energy and tourism helped drive the country’s recent economic growth. However, poverty still remains high, especially in the more than 60 percent of the total population that works in agriculture. Increased economic growth in Madagascar is drawing international investors to open businesses in the country, creating jobs and stimulating further growth in the developing nation.

Current State of Business

The main industry in Madagascar is agriculture. About 80 percent of Malagasy work in agriculture and approximately 86 percent of that number are in poverty. In addition, the country relies heavily on vanilla exports. The African nation is the world’s largest vanilla producer. Transitioning out of agriculture and diversifying the economy could help spur development. In 2017, the Economic Development Board of Madagascar helped reform the business climate to encourage outside investors to expand to the country. This also entailed fighting against corruption and money laundering. With Madagascar improving the business environment, international businesses may see potential in expanding to the island nation.

International Mining

Mining is yet another area driving economic growth in Madagascar. Madagascar is rich in natural resources such as oil, gas and ilmenite. There are more than one million jobs related to mining in the country. Additionally, 30 percent of export revenue comes from mining. Madagascar is abundant in ilmenite, zirsill and monazite. Rio Tinto, an Anglo-Australian company, is one of the large-scale mining companies. About 90 percent of Rio Tinto’s employees in 2018 was Malagasy. Although mining tends to be part of land degradation, Rio Tinto agreed to restore wetlands and biodiversity to its previous state after it completes mining.

Tourism Growth Resulting in Hotel Developments

Tourism remains an important industry that helped increase economic growth in Madagascar. More than 250,000 people visit the country annually to bring in $748 million in tourism revenue. The tourism industry grew by 20 percent in 2016 alone. Hotel development is one growing sub-category that could potentially add jobs to locals, particularly those seeking higher pay than they receive in the agriculture industry. The Economic Development Board of Madagascar stated that 11 percent of total employment is related to tourism.

More than 70 percent of visitors to the country stay for two weeks or more, expressing the value these visitors place on the economy. International hotel chains took notice of the increased demand for hotels in Madagascar. Radisson Hotel Group planned two hotels and one apartment complex in the country in 2019. All three buildings should open in 2020. Marriott International is opening hotels in many African countries, and one country on its list is Madagascar. Hotel and tourism growth could promise more jobs to Malagasy.

Clean Energy for the Future

The energy sector has even greater importance than tourism. Only 15 percent have access to electricity, which is one main impediment to economic growth in Madagascar. This holds back the country due to energy being one foundation to a developed economy. Schools, hospitals and other buildings require power to function at their maximum potential. As a result, the government of Madagascar set its goal high with the challenge of attaining 70 percent of electricity access by 2030. The country is already making progress to reach this goal. The country’s largest employer, Groupe Filatex, is building four solar power plants that will generate 50 MW.

As of 2019, Madagascar’s total capacity was 500 MW. Groupe Filatex employs more than 15,000 people and will add more jobs in the future to meet the high demand. Lantoniaina Rasoloelison, Minister of Energy and Hydrocarbons, explained that the country’s energy policy for 2015-2030 supports the transition to the energy mix for electricity and lighting. This will include 80 percent of renewable resources.

Growth Ongoing

International investors such as Radisson Hotel Group and Marriott International took notice of economic growth in Madagascar within the last two years. Three sectors seeing growth in the country are tourism, mining and energy. Additionally, the government’s goal of increasing electrification is a good next step to growing the country into a developed economy with less poverty and increased livelihoods. The addition of more jobs to these industries could reduce poverty.

Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

With the goal of becoming a middle-income country by 2025, Ethiopia is making major strides in promoting clean energy and sustainability. As part of its Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), the Ethiopian government is working on a variety of clean energy projects and initiatives to build and expand its clean energy production. Ethiopia‘s main source of clean energy is hydropower, but the country is also working to expand its thermal, solar and wind energy. Here are the top five facts about clean energy in Ethiopia.

Top Five Facts About Clean Energy in Ethiopia

  1. A Geothermal Energy Plan: Power developer Reykjavik Geothermal developed plans for a $4.4 billion project that will bring geothermal energy to Ethiopia. Starting in September 2019, the power developer is exploration drilling for two geothermal energy plants in the cities of Tulu Moye and Corbetti. Both plants would provide 500 megawatts (MW) of geothermal energy after completion, amounting to a combined 1000 MW of geothermal energy.
  2. Eliminating its Energy Deficit: The Ethiopian government is working with Scaling Solar to build solar energy plants and infrastructure. Scaling Solar is a World Bank-sponsored program that provides financial aid for emerging countries to invest in solar energy. By partnering with Scaling Solar, the plan is to build photovoltaic plants that would produce 500 MW of solar energy, which would be enough to completely eliminate the country’s energy deficit.
  3. A Climate-Resilient Green Economy Strategy: The Ethiopian government developed a strategy for building a green economy that fosters growth and sustainable development. Known as the climate-resilient green economy, or CRGE, the initiative includes expanding energy production from clean renewable sources, protecting forests and developing modern and efficient infrastructure in transportation, buildings and the industrial sector. CRGE is also working to improve farming practices and food security while reducing emissions. A green economy and better water and air quality will improve food security, public health and foster rural economic development.
  4. Hydropower Production: According to the International Hydropower Association (IHA), Ethiopia is the first producer of hydropower in Africa, having an installed hydropower capacity of 3,822 MW. In addition, Ethiopia is currently developing projects that will further increase its hydropower production. This includes the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, or GERD, which will generate a whopping 6,450 MW of hydropower energy once completed, nearly double the country’s current capacity.
  5. Wind Energy: The Ethiopian government is making strides in expanding wind energy. In 2013, Ethiopia opened one of Africa’s largest wind farms, the 120 MW Ashedoga plant, and continued the trend with the 153 MW producing Adama II in 2015. Currently, the Ethiopian government is working on a $300 million dollar project that involves building at least five more wind power plants. These plants would significantly increase Ethiopia’s output of wind power from 324 MW to 5,200 MW.

By focusing on clean energy generation projects, Ethiopia is working toward improving access to reliable sources of energy. Overall, only 40 percent of Ethiopians currently have access to electricity. 85 perfect of Ethiopians have access to electricity in urban areas but only 29 percent have access in rural areas. These top five facts about clean energy in Ethiopia demonstrate the country’s perseverance in fostering clean energy and expanding access to electricity. Access to clean energy will also foster economic growth, which is vital to Ethiopia achieving its goal of becoming a middle-income country by 2025.

Nicholas Bykov
Photo: Flickr

Clean Fuel Solutions

Today, 40 percent of the world lacks access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking. As a result, traditional wood, charcoal and kerosene fuels cause indoor air pollution claiming around 1.5 million lives per year. Fortunately, a number of organizations are taking up the mantle to introduce clean fuel solutions for the world’s poor. Keep reading to learn more about these top innovative clean fuel solutions.

4 Innovative Clean Fuel Solutions

  • KOKO: KOKO is a small portable stove that uses bioethanol. The business model relies on mobile banking which enables users to buy a KOKO and clean fuel by paying for it in installments. KOKO partners with fuel majors so its model requires significantly lower upfront capital expenditures compared to other clean cooking fuels. As a result of its decentralized sales points and mobile/cloud technology, its model delivers bioethanol fuel closer to customers. When taking imported ethanol and taxes into account, it is also the cheaper option at 85 cents per liter.
  • BBOXX: BBOXX is similar to KOKO in that it uses mobile technology and installment payments. BBOXX engages in the same process as KOKO but also has BBOXX Pulse. The BBOXX Pulse device collects data and insights letting the company provide its services to previously unreachable populations. BBOXX also detects when fuel is depleted letting the user know the fuel cost and replenishing the fuel supply. It currently operates in 12 countries and has been sold in more than 35. BBOXX received a $15 million investment from a number of companies most recently Oikocredit. With this investment, the company experienced a rapid scale-up of its business model allowing BBOXX to reach key regions in Rwanda and Kenya.
  • Biogas device – Omer Badokhon: Omer Badokhon invented a small-scale biogas system that converts waste into clean fuel. The device is created from plastic or fiberglass and works by using specially designed fermenting chambers. This device then takes food scraps and converts them into biogas. Badokhon won the “Young Champions of the Earth” award from the U.N. Environment Programme and is building the first group of units with the prize money. The units have been piloted in 1,500 rural homes in Shabwa, Sanaa, Hadramout, Ibb, Taiz and Aden. Badokhon also received $10,000 from the Yemeni oil company PetroMasila to complete his research. Not only does the biogas device create clean fuel, reducing pollution, respiratory illness and death, but it also has the potential to reduce cholera rates. By recycling, waste should not be as big of a problem as it is a major contributor to cholera.
  • HomeBioGas: Another clean fuel solution is HomeBioGas. HomeBioGas is an invention that uses bacteria rather than electricity, naturally breaking down organic matter to turn it into either cooking gas or fertilizer. HomeBioGas performs bacterial anaerobic digestion of organic waste, for example, food scraps or animal manure. It also has two filters, a bio-filter that reduces odors as well as a chlorine filter that eliminates pathogens. The device itself is an easy-to-assemble kit, making it a perfect fit for villages in places like Palestine and Uganda. There are an estimated 70 different countries that are interested in having their own HomeBioGas devices and are willing to distribute them throughout their respective countries. An Indiegogo campaign raised 200 percent of the company’s $100,000 target, thus it is now launching globally.

– Nyssa Jordan
Photo: Flickr

Ending Energy PovertyLarge portions of the developing world do not have access to electricity. Instead, they have to rely on energy sources that are inefficient, toxic and expensive. Financing universal energy access is urgent. Ending energy poverty is therefore in everyone’s best interest.

Here Are Five Reasons to Care About Ending Energy Poverty:

  1. Energy poverty is one of the developing world’s greatest struggles.
    Approximately one billion people around the world live in energy poverty. An additional one billion people have unreliable access to electricity. Of those living without electricity, 84 percent live in rural areas where resources are scarce. Nearly all individuals suffering from energy poverty, which is over 95 percent, live in sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia. In fact, only 14 percent of people living in rural sub-Saharan Africa have access to electricity.
  2. Energy poverty causes serious health problems.
    Much of the developing world lives in energy poverty. Billions of individuals each day are ingesting dangerous amounts of toxic chemicals from their cooking appliances. For instance, biomass-fueled stoves release pollutants in the air that can have serious health consequences. Women and children are the most exposed to these harmful pollutants. If the developed world provided energy access to all, they would be able to lower the premature death toll by 1.8 million people per year.
  3. The burden of energy poverty falls disproportionately on women.
    Currently, many women in the developing world rely on biomass-fueled stoves in order to cook their meals. As a result, these women spend, on average, 1.4 hours each day collecting firewood and then several more hours inefficiently cooking on their biomass stoves. Due to the amount of effort it takes to simply cook a meal, many women do not have the time to go to school or obtain a job to become financially independent. In that sense, energy poverty fosters gender inequality. If the developed world invested in universal energy access so that impoverished women could use efficient and cost-effective cooking appliances, women would have significantly more time and money to invest in their futures.
  4. Renewable energy can end energy poverty.
    The price of renewable energy continues to decrease, making renewable energy an optimal investment from both a financial and sustainable perspective. Currently, much of the developing world relies on kerosene and candles. This is because these energy sources do not require installation costs. However, kerosene and candles are not cost-effective, long-term. In fact, they are quite expensive. If the developed world invested in the installation costs for the developing world, more people have access to electricity. Furthermore, people would pay less on energy than they currently do. Thus, financing renewable energy projects is a worthwhile investment because renewable energy reduces costs in the long-term. As a result, it creates opportunities for economic growth in the future.
  5. Ending energy poverty can lead to job growth.
    Financing renewable energy development would provide a new market in the developing world that would provide many new jobs for workers with undeveloped skills. These jobs would provide not only steady incomes and safe working conditions but also skill-building opportunities. India, for example, is working toward creating 330,000 jobs in the renewable energy market by 2022. India is doing this to provide electricity and jobs to its poor, rural communities while simultaneously combating climate change. By promoting job growth through the renewable energy market, the world can achieve its goal of economic and environmental sustainability. Furthermore, the sustainable economic development of the developing world would promote the global economy, serving everyone.

Looking Ahead

Although the UN has pledged to provide universal energy access by 2030, the current initiatives the UN has in place to promote this goal is insufficient. In order to achieve its goal of ending energy poverty, the UN would have to invest a total of $52 billion per year. The UN has failed to match even half of this goal in a given year. The importance of financing this mission, however, is essential for the long-term benefits of renewable energy projects in the developing world. By investing in universal energy access through global renewable energy development, women’s rights, world health, clean energy and economic development can all be better promoted. All of this can create a more sustainable world.

– Ariana Howard
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in Africa
Africa is a goldmine of resources, yet reliable electricity is only available to 30 percent of its population. For many Africans, expensive diesel generators are the only solution to the constant blackouts, costing some countries up to five percent of their GDP.

Increasing Renewable Energy Resources

Without a steady source of electricity, students have a difficult time studying at night, businesses are restricted by the cost of generators, and countries face economic stress. As of 2016, 80 percent of South African energy came from coal, but Africa has developed numerous renewable energy projects as the nation works towards improving accessibility.

The Blue Energy Group-led Nzema Solar Power Station, for example, will raise Ghana’s generating capacity by 6 percent. By its completion, it is expected to supply 20 percent of the government’s energy goal. The Taiba Ndiaye Wind Project in Senegal builds a 158-megawatt wind farm to provide an affordable energy source for the 40 percent of the population still left without electricity.

African countries are aiming to increase their renewable energy usage; Morocco, for instance, hopes to derive 40 percent of its energy from renewable resources. South Africa partnered with 27 renewable energy producers to generate electricity for its people. Accomplishments like these have been made throughout the continent, allowing renewable energy in Africa to slowly gain a foothold.

The International Renewable Energy Agency

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA) recorded 61,000 jobs created by the renewable energy sector in 2017 alone. Thousands of Africans are being employed in technology installation, sales and construction.

According to IREA, the renewable energy industry creates more jobs than the coal industry. Solar PV itself “creates more than twice the number of jobs per unit of electricity generation compared with coal or natural gas.” Employment is an important benefit of renewable energy, considering African unemployment rates reach up to 46 percent.

Other Energy Sources in Africa

Yet, coal and natural gas discoveries are still being made. Around 30 percent of the world’s gas and oil discoveries between 2010 and 2014 were made in Sub-Saharan Africa. And while these discoveries do help towards improving energy accessibility, their long-term effects on climate change may be harmful, especially for poorer populations.

Decreased crop yields may cause a 12 percent increase in food prices by 2030, a haunting statistic with Africa’s undernourishment rates being one of the highest in the world.

Decreased water accessibility, increased risk of malaria and diarrhea and increased natural disasters may all arise from climate change. Flooding and desertification are already becoming prevalent in certain parts of southern and west Africa, demonstrating the importance of renewable energy in Africa.

Renewable Energy in Africa

Renewable energy in Africa has high potential, especially with the amount of constant sunlight it receives. A report by GSMA stated that solar energy has a potential of 656,700 TWh.

With this mass of resources, Africa would be able to independently source its energy rather than rely on other countries to do so. New and existing renewable energy projects push Africa in a sustainable direction while encouraging economic development.

Renewable energy also aids the impoverished through increased jobs and improved electricity access. All in all, Africa’s energy movement is a success story in the making.

– Massarath Fatima
Photo: Flickr