Inflammation and stories on energy consumption

Botswana Unveils Electricity Payment App
Access to reliable electricity is necessary for life in the modern world, and countless studies have shown that increased availability of electricity leads to economic increases, longer life expectancies, and in general, a higher quality of life. While many developing countries are increasing their electrical infrastructures, millions across the world are still energy deficient.

Even with access to electrical grids, many do not have the funds to pay for power or are in such remote locations that payment becomes a burden. The African nation of Botswana faces these issues but has recently rolled out a solution.

A payment company called Botswana Post has just launched an electricity app for Android users that allows them to buy prepaid amounts of electricity for low costs and to pay existing balances. Eighty percent of mobile customers in Botswana use the Android mobile operating system.

The electricity app also allows for direct user contact with the Botswana Power Corporation for the purpose of repairs and electrical installment. Botswana Post also provides similar services for many of the major banks across the country, Western Union, Botswana Telecommunications, and hopes to add gas and broadband payment services soon.

The app is yet another marker of Africa’s rapid modernization and potential for progress. It comes at a time when energy is not only becoming more and more available, but is now easier to maintain, and cheaper to acquire.

The simplicity of obtaining and keeping electricity that the app presents will surely have a positive impact across the country and should correlate to greater economic output and incomes for citizens who had, in the past, been quite literally in the dark.

Joe Kitaj

Sources: Botswana Post, Footprint to Africa
Photo: Google Images

fuel_cells

The world today is producing more energy than ever before, but, unfortunately, the global energy usage is growing at an exponential rate as well. The rate of production is unable to keep up pace with the rate of consumption, especially in a way that is ecologically sustainable.

This widening gap between production and consumption has rendered many regions in the world unable to fulfill their energy needs. Many countries, especially in the developing world, face an energy crisis, which is crippling to the economy and debilitating for development.

Currently, the biggest source of electrical energy in the world is fossil fuels. This source of energy is cheap to produce and efficient in mass-production; however, it is a non-renewable resource and therefore not sustainable. Moreover, fossil fuel oxidation is one of the biggest producers of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming.

The scientific world is seemingly on a never-ending quest to find better, cheaper and more sustainable sources of electrical energy. The newest venture in this search is the development of fuel cells.

Fuel cells are basically electrochemical cells that use any hydrocarbon fuel; however, instead of burning fuel to utilize the heat energy, they use the chemical energy from the reduction-oxidation of the fuel itself. In doing so, they maximize the energy production by skipping the additional conversion of energy. Fuel cells can also utilize a multitude of fuel sources, aside from the traditional ones like petroleum byproducts, as long as the basic hydrocarbon structure is present. For instance, glycerol—a derivative of plant or animal fat—can be used to power a fuel cell.

Fuel cells can be of many kinds, depending on their source of energy, electrode materials and more. Solid oxide fuel cells, as the name suggests, are fuel cells that use a solid oxide or ceramic material as their electrolyte. Solid oxide fuel cells are desirable because their byproduct is water, generated in pure form and usable for drinking.

Another great advantage of solid oxide fuel cells over other methods of electricity production is that they are sustainable. The byproducts of the reaction serve as reactants for another step of the overall process and, therefore, keep getting recycled. For these reasons, these cells are used in hard to access areas where fuel supplies cannot be changed frequently.

Currently, the cells developed by researchers operate at very high temperatures. Due to this, they are usually used in sync with heat engines to reclaim energy rather than manufacture it. However, recent studies at intermediate temperatures have shown the cell to be 65 percent energy efficient. To put this into perspective, a car battery is only around 25 percent energy efficient.

The high energy efficiency of the fuel cell show its potential for use in developing countries especially. As of yet, the fuel cells are quite expensive; however, the overall mechanism for energy production is itself not only sustainable but potentially cost efficient as well. Researchers hope that in the future, the technical limitations could be minimized so the fuel cells can realize their potential of cheap, efficient energy provision.

– Atifah Safi

Sources: IEA, Science Mag, Wiley, Science Direct
Photo: GIGAOM

Solar Powered Classrooms Coming to Kenya
Kenya currently ranks 101st in the world in access to basic information, which includes literacy rates, primary and secondary school enrollments, and gender parity in secondary enrollment. In addition, only 39 percent of the population has internet access.

Safaricom Foundation, an African telco, is looking to change the current landscape by providing every student a school with a room full of computers to boost education in Kenya.

A 20-by-9-foot classroom can hold up to 40 students and be equipped with 11 desktop computers. Each classroom comes with monitors, a server, and a projector. The building is made from local materials to boost local revenues while providing a building with educational value.

Aleutia is a company which builds computers for schools and clinics that are powered by solar panels at a cost of about $20,000. They are currently building solar powered classrooms in 47 villages around Kenya. $10,000 goes toward structural costs and the other $10,000 goes toward the equipment. The solar panels come pre-installed in order to reduce costs.

Two classrooms can be preloaded onto a 40-foot flatbed truck.

Aleutia’s founder, Mike Rosenberg, wants to create local micro-grids that will power communities and allow the power to transfer as needed. So if the school has extra power available it can be transferred to a clinic building that is using more power.

Kenya has made significant progress since 1999 to ensure that more children are getting an education and becoming more literate. They spend on average 6.7 percent of their GNP on education, which is an increase from 5.4 percent in 1999. However, one million children are still not attending school.

Primary education in Kenya is free, but families do not have the money or resources to provide for their children to excel in school and compete globally. The classrooms from Aleutia and Safaricom can reduce the costs for families and help Kenyan children become more competitive on the global level by providing them with resources not available to other parts of the world.

An estimated 20,000 kids will benefit from the classrooms in 47 Kenyan counties that are gaining energy from the sun to provide internet access and learning resources to students.

Donald Gering

Sources: Fast Company, Good News Network, Social Progress Imperative, UNESCO
Photo: Google Images

Green GrowthBasic energy services are the cornerstone of any robust poverty reduction strategy. Providing power to the poor is a prerequisite for the improvement of many other indicators of development. For example, it is very difficult to study at night, run a hospital, or start a business without some basic access to electricity.

That is why power access is often the focus of international development policy. Currently, the Electrify Africa Act of 2015 has been introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives and is awaiting consideration. This piece of legislation directs the President to partner with aid recipients in Africa to develop their power resources.

However, while providing power is an important first step in relieving abject poverty in developing countries, it also can be an opportunity to sidestep further environmental damage. Growing concern with climate change is motivating large aid donors to turn their attention towards green growth and the development of renewable energy resources for their recipients. The logic behind this is that, with the help of already-industrialized nations, developing countries should not have to progress through dirtier energy resources, such as coal and oil, and instead can benefit from more efficient, earth-friendly technologies.

The World Bank, cognizant of both the threat of climate change and the lack of energy services for the poor, is adopting an overall strategy of “green growth.” Rachel Kyte, the World Bank’s climate change envoy, explains that “we have to keep economies growing to bring shared prosperity for all, but we also have to bring down greenhouse gas emissions.” Balancing growth with a reduction in emissions could involve encouraging developing economies to invest in renewables, emphasizing climate-friendly agriculture, or instituting some sort of carbon tax.

One tangible way in which the World Bank already encourages green growth is through issuing “green bonds,” development loans set aside for renewable energy projects. The value of issued green bonds currently amounts to about $8.4 billion total.

Green energy investments can take many different forms, depending on the unique needs and economic environment of the country in question, and do not always involve large infrastructure projects. In Malawi, for example, there is a large focus on providing small solar lights to some of the poorest communities, so that children can study at night, and people can make money by using their personal solar devices to charge mobile phones. SunnyMoney, a social enterprise backed by the UK’s aid agency, is working to distribute the technology in small villages in Malawi. The lights are paid for initially with donor support and sold to villagers on credit.

Even small solar devices can have a huge impact on quality of life. Acreo Kamera, the headmaster of St. Martin’s secondary school in Nambuma, is enthusiastic about the lights’ impact on education. “I would say the performance of the pupils will definitely improve enough to get people to pass exams. Now they can stay later at school and revise. Without light, pupils have had little chance to read or write. Everyone will save money on torches and batteries and reduce living costs, too,” he said.

Elsewhere, in countries such as Bangladesh and Morocco, government-supported green energy programs are providing jobs and basic energy services, not only improving quality of life for the poor but creating long-term economic investments. In rural Bangladesh, a government-run program has resulted in the installation of an estimated 3.5 million home solar systems, also creating thousands of jobs to service the new infrastructure. Similar developments are being undertaken in Morocco, with a special long-term emphasis on creating an energy grid suited to running off of sustainable energy sources such as wind and hydropower.

Providing basic energy services to the poor is one of the most direct ways of encouraging growth and development. Access to electricity, even if it is just enough to charge a phone or power a light, can enable those in developing countries to fully take advantage of their educational and economic opportunities. However, in a world where climate change is a growing threat, aid donors and aid recipients are forming strong partnerships to provide power services to the people that really need them.

Derek Marion

Sources: International Business Times, The Guardian
Photo: The Guardian

oil_and_gas
It’s no secret that two major resources that the world depends heavily upon are oil and gas, but in limited supply, they must be managed as work is put in to find more eco-friendly solutions. In the two-day conference, the Nigeria Oil and Gas Trade and Investment Forum organized by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment will welcome thousands of representatives from different energy corporations to network and do business as well as listen to top-tier speakers from different firms based in Nigeria.

This forum will offer its delegates the opportunity to study new products and solutions that will further their companies, speak with global executives, hear from Nigerian dignitaries, and discuss the relevance of the Free Trade Zone to investment possibilities.

Here is this year’s speaker lineup:

Thomas Sule

Chief information officer and chief corporate services officer of Oando PLC. Prior to this position, Sule was the chief operating officer of the Helios Tower in Nigeria. His background on Bloomburg Business indicates that “Mr. Sule was focusing on strengthening HTN’s position as a leader in the industry and providing direction and leadership toward the achievement of the organizations, mission, strategy, and its annual goals and objectives.” Sule also has backgrounds in re-engineering initiatives as well as business processes and practice.

Adeolu Olufemi Adeyemi

As representative of GM Capital Projects and Shell Petroleum Development Company, Adeyemi’s main focus is on how technology can be used differently to improve efficiency. With the rise in mobile connectivity throughout the world, many successful companies are developing and using technology to raise their bottom-line profits.

Augustine Igwegbe

As CEO and MD for Ingwetin Glo Ltd and Former Regional IT Business, Igwegbe joined Shell Upstream International in 1988. “As the Shell regional Technology Manager for EP Africa, Mr. Igwegbe led IT department that managed one of the biggest private communication networks in Africa.” With his 28 years of experience and a B.Sc in Computer Science along with a background in banking, manufacturing and consulting, he hopes to introduce new business requirements regarding the delivery of IT services.

Ademola Agboola

Agboola is head of IT at one of Nigeria’s leading exploration and product companies, Pan Ocean Oil Corporation. Established in 1973, this is a joint venture with the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC). “Pan Ocean is a trailblazer in the bid to achieve the gas flare out objective of the Federal Government. Since 1984, Pan Ocean went ahead with its initiative on gas utilization despite the challenges of an under developed Nigeria Gas Market.” The core values of Pan Ocean are Integrity, Resilience, Safety and Security, Fairness, Excellence, Team Spirit, and Appreciation.

Rufus Ehikioya

Ehikioya is applications Analyst from Chevron Nigeria. Chevron is an established corporation worldwide that’s working toward sustainable economic progress and worldwide human development. “In the months that followed the creation of ChevronTexaco, the new company found itself looking for resources in ever-more-difficult environments.” Chevron is currently working with several different academic institutions in pursuit of renewable energy technology which is becoming increasingly accepted in the developing world.

Adepeju Adekunle

Adekunle is head of IT Projects at limited liability company Nigeria NLG Limited, producers and exporters of Liquefied Natural Gas. One of the current objectives of Nigeria NLG as of late has been to eliminate gas flaring, and thus far has brought down the amount of flares from over 65 percent to less than 25 percent. This company is owned by Shell, the NNPC representing the Federal Government of Nigeria, total NLG and Eni.

Adesina Odukoya

Odukoya is the director of IT Operations for sub-Saharan Africa GE Oil and Gas. GE Oil and Gas has approximately 45,000 employees worldwide and seven global research centers. “Total global natural gas demand may have risen by approximately 2.7 percent since the year 2000 but global LNG demand has grown by 7.6 percent per year over the same period, indicating an almost threefold increase in demand for LNG.” And since around 85 percent of offshore rigs use GE’s drilling system, the rise in demand works for the benefit of bases around the globe. With so many employees dependent on this kind of demand, GE Oil and Gas seeks to continue to expand, and will even be providing new technologies for a Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project in the near future.

Anna Brailow

Sources: Bloomberg, Chevron, GE Oil and Gas, IT News Africa, Nigeria Oil and Gas Invest, Nigeria LNG Limited, Enterprise Mobility, Panocean Oil Nigeria, SMI
Photo: Global Village Extra

clean_energy
Bill Gates hasn’t spoken much about the global crisis with clean energy that could make poverty and disease even worse than it is today. Until now, that is.

In his most recent post on Gates Notes, his personal blog, Gates wrote about how, as he puts it, the world can “avoid the worst climate change scenarios while also lifting people out of poverty, growing food more efficiently and saving lives by reducing pollution.”

First, Gates suggests creating incentives to innovate. He discusses how, globally, billions of dollars are spent every year on research having to do with clean energy yet the total amount of money is not even close to the amount needed to get the world out of its current mess.

Specifically, he endorses the idea that governments should take the initiative and offer large sums of funding for basic research on clean energy.

His next point has to do with developing a clean energy market that mirrors reality. Current energy markets don’t take into account things like health costs and environmental damage when it comes to reflecting the full impact of carbon emissions.

According to Gates, if markets were to reflect such factors, the competitiveness of renewable energy would surge, leading to more innovators taking notice in the field.

Gates’ final proposal is for the world to treat poor countries fairly, as climate change will hit them the worst. He calls on countries that created the problem to take responsibility when it comes to helping poor countries adjust to a climate that is always changing.

As for the Gates Foundation, the billionaire said it would focus on small farmers, a group that makes up the majority of the poor in the world. Gates said the organization would help them adjust to more unpredictable weather by increasing agricultural productivity.

Matt Wotus

Sources: Business Insider, The Gates Notes
Photo: IB Times

wood stovesEach day, 3 billion people cook meals over a fire, producing air pollution that results in 4.3 million deaths a year. To reduce this number, wood stoves can be used as an alternative to open fires. Providing a safe wood-burning cook stove would be a three-fold win for the millions of people in the developing world because:

  1. It would directly improve their health by reducing smoke inhalation.
  2. It would aid the environment by reducing the amount of wood needed for fuel.
  3. It would reduce poverty by minimizing the amount of time spent gathering wood and cooking food each day.

Potential Energy is a nonprofit dedicated to making and adapting life-changing technologies to be used in the developing world. With this goal in mind, they created the Berkeley-Darfur Stoves to improve the lives of women and their families.

Potential Energy first designed the stove in the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The stoves are low-cost and high-efficiency. They reduce the amount of fuel used by 50 percent, saving the women and families time and money. In addition, they asked for input from Darfuri women to maximize usage.

Some of the modifications that arose from the Darfuri women’s suggestions were a tapered wind color to maintain efficiency in the windy Darfur environment. The stove itself has feet for stability and stakes in case additional stability is needed. Most importantly, there is a small firebox, which prevents the user from putting in more wood than is absolutely necessary.

Once the designing and production processes were set in place, Potential Energy opened up local workshops where they now produce about 100 stoves per day, creating jobs and local business. There are two facets to the business, sales and distribution, and both of these bring a steady income to the employees, all of who are from the area.

Potential Energy teams up with local community and women’s organizations to distribute the stoves to those most in need. As of 2014, 42,000 stoves have been distributed to areas in Sudan and Ethiopia.

Hannah Resnick

Sources: Cookstoves, Potential Energy, Smithsonian
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

clean energyThere is a strong case to be made for the hand-in-hand relationship between clean energy development and poverty reduction across the globe. Both causes deserve greater funding and attention because of the profound effects they will have on the future of the globe and generations to come. Economic incentive is important to ensuring that both causes move forward in strides.

Clean energy, or green energy, is providing populations with energy for heating, cooking, electronics and everything else that requires energy, but without polluting the atmosphere to aggravate more climate change or destroy environmental resources. Its importance will become increasingly more significant in the future as more environmental challenges arise. However, human foresight is often not the strength of political institutions, and there will likely be an abbreviated rush towards clean energy that ramps up exponentially in the future. In order to build up clean energy infrastructure and a clean energy supply, which most countries lack, a “new deal” will have to be enacted. Countries will need to invest heavily in the research and development of clean energy technologies while also putting into place clean energy infrastructure and facilities that will decrease dependence on oil.

The process of having many nations attempting switches to clean energy technologies in an effort to ease off of oil will have structural effects on the local and global economies. Currently, on the global scene, developed nations are responsible for about 80 percent of the world’s total energy usage. As developed nations begin to lean toward clean or green energies, they are focusing on strategies that could hurt developing nations. For example, carbon emission caps and some clean energy technologies that take up large patches of land have both been introduced by developed nations and criticized by developing nations. Many argue that large land grabs could have potentially poor consequences for agricultural workers pushed off the land and that carbon emission caps could stunt economic growth. But is there a silver lining to these possible downsides?

If developing nations are forced to confront the issue of green energy sooner rather than later, they may end up saving an incalculable sum of money by directly adopting cleaner energies instead of transitioning to oil and coal to meet growing energy demands, and then making another eventual switch to clean energies. Also, forcing developing nations to use clean energy could spur innovative manufacturing sectors. The switch to clean energies across the globe will prompt massive amounts of funding in new areas that will be able to revitalize economies across the world and create jobs for millions through construction, research and ripple effects.

Energy poverty is also an issue. The UN has goals of getting electricity to everyone by 2030. Right now, hundreds of millions of people go without energy like electricity, and a disproportionate number of them are women. Energy poverty is a problem that contributes to the vicious cycle of poverty because of the amount of labor and time that must go into collecting wood or other sources of energy for the family. Decreasing dependence on sources like oil and coal and adopting cleaner sources such as solar energy will help mitigate pressures on poor families that keep them poor, like energy poverty.

The impending growth of clean energies will be most beneficial to those in need possibly more than anyone else. There is enormous potential for leveraging the urgency and priority that both of these issues will take on in the future to create economic prosperity for many more countries and to slow down the catastrophic implications of climate change.

Martin Yim

Sources: European Commission, Forbes, National Geographic
Photo: Needpix.com

Energetica Supplies Energy Systems to Communities in Bolivia
According to a survey conducted by Energetica, a nonprofit organization located in Cochabamba, many citizens in Bolivia believe that the more energy they have, the better. Energetica is working to fight this misconception. Their mission is to provide equal energy to Bolivians and seek proactive ways to encourage a greater and more rational use of energy. To promote this, Energetica diversifies energy supply sources, provides efficient development for energy sources and utilizes renewable energy to contribute to environmental conservation.

Their vision is to improve the quality of life of disadvantaged Bolivians, increase productivity and preserve the environment. Some of their methods consist of training individuals for management and human resources roles, finding solutions through technology and innovation, and increasing access to energy for impoverished citizens.

Energetica was started on February 18, 1993 by now-Executive Director Miguel Fuentes Fernandez. The team is made up of a set of advisers, technicians and project managers who come together to create and implement projects throughout Bolivia.

They divide their work methods into four different programs. The first program focuses on developing access to energy to extend the coverage of energy services in rural and urban areas so that it can be used domestically and for community and productivity uses. They do so by looking at three different things: how energy is used in a household, how it is used in the community and how it can be utilized to create more energy.

They use municipal projects to gauge the average household’s energy consumption and then apply this information to help families obtain the access to the energy that they need to improve the quality of lighting, communication and cooking.

Project managers create projects to strengthen social infrastructure in order to improve health and education in rural areas. Lastly, to increase energy, Energetica promotes dedicating different energy sources—such as natural gases, biomass and solar energy—to productivity, harnessing it to optimize internal management mechanisms.

The second program focuses on sharing knowledge. To complete this project, they educate the residents of Bolivia through seminars, workshops and training sessions to teach them how to efficiently use and conserve energy. This ties into the third program, which involves meeting with citizens to become better informed about their demands. With this knowledge, they are able to help provide more energy and education where it is needed.

The fourth and final program involves strengthening institutions and companies. This program focuses on meeting with companies to train employers on energy-saving tactics, teaching them about the importance of sharing energy and evaluating their energy use. This helps keep companies and big organizations from overusing energy.

Right now, Energetica has projects happening all over Bolivia. In the last 15 years, they have successfully installed over 31,000 renewable energy components throughout the country. In addition, they have trained 70,000 citizens of Bolivia in energy conservation and knowledge sharing. The project will be continued until Bolivia is supplied with optimal energy.

Julia Hettiger

Sources: Energetica, Matador Network, Market Watch
Photo: Energetica

UK_Study_proposes_fuel_bill_Solution

“Fuel poverty” is generally defined as spending more than 10% of income on energy bills. The numbers don’t make it seem like a crisis, but for half the world’s population, it is. Fuel poverty affects the health of millions of people.

An answer to this problem, according to a study in the United Kingdom, lies in access to renewable energy and more efficient methods of cooking.

Some countries, like South Africa, heavily rely on coal and other fossil fuels while other countries like India rely on wood. Inefficient burning of these resources causes heavy indoor air pollution of carbon monoxide (CO) and respiratory suspended particulate matter. In the 21 most affected countries, this has caused a 5% death and disease rate.

U.N. Assistant Secretary General for Strategic Planning and Policy Coordination Robert Orr said, “Energy is central to everything we are trying to achieve on the development side of the equation. There are 1.3 billion people who don’t have access to [modern] energy. If you hook them up to the most polluting, damaging forms of energy you are doing significant damage to the planet.”

Indeed, through inefficiently burning solid forms of fuel, lasting damage is done to the planet and the overall health of millions worldwide. The United Nations crafted, within their Millennium Development Goals, an “agenda for action.” The plan for improved energy efficiency involves cleaner and more efficient methods of cooking.

In India, through support from nongovernmental local associations, BP Energy India developed the “Oorja Stove.” It’s designed with a built-in fan that provides oxygen and eliminates smoke. It’s also fueled by agricultural waste, so it’s cheaper and uses much less kerosene.

“Independent research has indicated that the stove reduces CO by 71% and lowers suspended particulate matter by 34%. Other reporting suggests that biomass use would drop from 1.5 to 2 tons to 0.4 to 0.6 per family per year.”

And to add to its benefits, the sale of these stoves has actually encouraged and convinced women to take on entrepreneurial roles.

The Netherland’s equivalent to the Oorja stove is the Philip’s Smokeless Cookstove, which can burn any biomass, and gasifies it before burning so it doesn’t produce any smoke. The saucer beneath the cookstove contains the same kind of fan found in the Oorja stove.

Sustainability initiatives such as these are a stepping stone toward eradicating energy and fuel poverty.

Anna Brailow

Sources: Optimist World, Scientific American
Sources: Daily Record