Information and stories on Energy and Electricity

Centers of Excellence
Egypt and the United States have recently become dependent on each other in order to assist in each other’s growth, developments and establishments, showing a strong partnership between the two countries. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has collaborated with Egypt to create three academic Centers of Excellence that will focus on research about agriculture, energy and water. In order to begin the process of these academic Centers of Excellence, universities in the United States and Egypt had to form partnerships to focus on each focal point.

Academic Center of Excellence in Agriculture

The United States’ Cornell University and Egypt’s Cairo University are partners for the Academic Center of Excellence in Agriculture (COEA). This is a $30 million dollar, five-year collaborative project that will enhance curricula and research in order to train and equip Egyptian students with the right tools to improve agricultural production in Egypt’s future.

There are three main components of this specific center. The first is the instructional innovation and curriculum development of the academic center. The partnership will establish a new interdisciplinary Master of Science program that will be work-force oriented. This center will also grant opportunities to youth, women and disadvantaged students. The second component is to engage in high quality applied research. The last component includes exchanges, training and scholarship programs.

Academic Center of Excellence in Energy

The next $30 million dollar, five-year collaborative partnership is between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Ain Shams University. This will be the Academic Center of Excellence in Energy (COEE). MIT and Ain Shams University will work to build research, education and entrepreneurial capacity to address Egypt’s most pressing energy-related issues.

This academic Center of Excellence has four major components to it. The first is the teaming up of Egyptian faculty and students with interdisciplinary researchers across MIT to develop renewable energy solutions. The next component is to advance and scale up sustainable projects. These universities will also use their partnership to facilitate connections between university researchers and key industrial players in the region to expand Egypt’s solar and wind usage, in addition to other forms of clean energy. Lastly, there will be an emphasis on involving Egyptian women and people with disabilities in the university and providing programs and education for them.

The Center of Excellence in Water

The Center of Excellence in Water (COEW) is a partnership between the American University in Cairo and Alexandria University. The COEW is also a $30 million dollar, five-year collaborative project. These universities are still developing their partnership.

The Centers of Excellence was designed by the USAID and the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific research with the goal of driving public and private sector innovation, modernization and competitiveness. This $90 million dollar investment will create partnerships between Egyptian public universities and U.S. universities, update university curricula and teaching methods, establish undergraduate and graduate level scholarships and implement exchange programs to foster cross-border learning. This is a breakthrough in education and the professional industry which will work to enhance Egypt as a whole.

– Lari’onna Green
Photo: Flickr

Energy Poverty in BangladeshBangladesh was recently promoted from a lower income country to a lower middle-income country as per the World Bank’s GDP per capita benchmark. Bangladesh’s economic growth rate remained around 6.5 percent in 2012 to 7.3 percent in 2017.

The demand for electricity rose, as a result, thrusting the government into focusing on eradicating energy poverty in Bangladesh. However, misuse and improper management of energy contributed to the shortage of electricity and load shedding became a daily phenomenon.

Here are some additional facts about energy poverty in the country:

Only around 59.60 percent of the people in Bangladesh have access to electricity with 180 kilowatt-hours of energy per capita in use, which is very low compared to other countries. Rural areas tend to suffer more as they face more load shedding than urban areas.

Bangladesh heavily relies on natural gas and furnace oil, followed by coal, for electricity generation. As of February 2017, the installed power capacity shows the reliance on natural gas is of 62 percent.

This raises concerns over energy security due to the increasing fuel imports and high dependence on coal and gas for electricity generation. Yet, the country has been failing to meet its electricity demand. Therefore, it is trying to focus on meeting its energy needs and providing access to electricity all over the country.

Progress in Eradicating Energy Poverty in Bangladesh

In September 2018, there was significant progress in eradicating energy poverty in Bangladesh when the country managed to meet its energy production target of 20,000 MW. Bangladesh also set a new target of generating 24,000 MW of electricity by 2021, 40,000 MW by 2030 and 60,000 MW by 2041.

As of 2018, the number of power plants amounted to 108, a significant increase from the 27 power plants in 2009. Bangladesh ranked 90th among 115 nations on the global Energy Transition Index (ETI) which benchmarks countries on how well they balance their energy security and access with environmental sustainability and affordability.

Bangladesh made progress due to a strong political commitment, a stable policy regime, the use of grid expansion and generation sources and an investment-friendly environment in the infrastructure sector.

Some Upcoming Projects for Eradicating Energy Poverty in Bangladesh

  • Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant – Bangladesh’s first nuclear power plant, the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) project, is being constructed in Rooppur, a remote village on the western side of Bangladesh in the Pabna District. The Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) implemented the project under the Ministry of Science & Technology. The project is apart of an intergovernmental agreement between Bangladesh and Russia. The nuclear power plant of 2,400 MW capacity, with two reactors of 1,200 MW each, is one of the major efforts in eradicating energy poverty in Bangladesh. The project’s expected completion is by 2024.
  • Matarbari Coal Power Plant – The 1,200 MW Matarbari coal-fired power plant project, implemented by the Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Ltd (CPGCBL) and assisted by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, will use imported coal to generate power. The plant will have two units, each having a production capacity of 600 MW. The project will also include a deep sea-port.
  • Rampal Thermal Power Plant – This 1,320 MW coal-fired power plant in Bagerhat district of Khulna is a joint venture between India’s National Thermal Power Corporation and Bangladesh Power Development Board. It is expected to be the country’s largest power plant.

Expansion of Renewable Energy

On March 1, 2019, the World Bank approved $185 million to add up to 310 MW renewable energy generation capacity and also to mobilize around $212 million from the private sector, commercial banks, and other sources to meet the increasing demand for electricity. The Scaling-up Renewable Energy Project in Bangladesh by the World Bank will build the first 50 MW segment of a large solar panel energy park in the Feni district. This project should provide better access to clean energy and cut emissions by an equivalent of 377,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

With the rapid economic growth in the country, Bangladesh has made some notable progress in addressing its growing electricity demand. Through increased diversification of its energy mix and more ambitious projects on the way, major accomplishments are expected in eradicating energy poverty in Bangladesh.

Farihah Tasneem
Photo: Creative Commons

Energy for GrowthEnergy for Growth Hub is a nonprofit that began last year that seeks to bring power to developing economies. The organization believes that one way to eradicate world poverty is through providing affordable access to electricity in order to increase economic development, focusing on the regions of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Energy for Growth Hub believes helping developing economies become strong will increase jobs, wealth and overall wellbeing, all of which are scarce when the economy is weak and lacking basic necessities, such as electricity.

Energy for Growth Hub’s Purpose

According to their site, Energy for Growth means “affordable reliable energy” to power all manner of businesses. The lack of energy in developing countries holds back the inhabitants from prosperity. It’s difficult for an economy to prosper when a hospital or school can’t be powered in order to use its equipment because it doesn’t have access to electricity.

It’s hard for those in first world countries to imagine a country where less than fifty percent of a population has access to electricity. In Chad, for example, fewer than 10 percent of residents in the sub-Saharan country had access to electricity in 2016. Chad is one area in sub-Saharan Africa that would be positively affected by widespread electricity.

Todd Moss, Executive Director of Energy for Growth and previous the chief operating officer at the Center for Global Development, believes the future of countries like Chad is tied to widespread electricity and not just electricity for use in households but also for businesses, farms, hospitals and schools.

Energy and Jobs

Job creation is just one positive result of powering a country that lacks affordable and widespread electricity. The nonprofit states that energy is the foundation with which modern economies thrive. Without electricity, there wouldn’t be power in homes, hospitals or schools. There wouldn’t be computers or medical equipment or even phone lines in order to call for emergencies. Vehicles would be sparse, as many gas-powered vehicles depend on a functioning battery to operate.

Batteries also power public transportation and improve agricultural practices, such as utilizing a basic farm tractor or timed irrigation equipment. The nonprofit believes all industries and energy sectors require or can benefit from electricity. In each of those industries, there are possibilities of employment. Power is the foundation of development.

Grid Modernization

Without a functional electrical grid, it would be difficult for a developing country to thrive. Energy for Growth Hub is interested in both off-grid and on-grid living. The nonprofit’s main focus is not on household energy, as most nonprofits. It focuses on reliability, cost, large-scale energy operations and working with the available resources of each country, such as untapped coal. Though the nonprofit believes sustainability is a wiser choice long-term, Energy for Growth Hub understands some countries could utilize cheaper solutions rather than the cleaner and more expensive counterparts, such as wind and solar power.

Focusing on households leads to small solutions, whereas a large-scale approach has a spillover effect since the grid will also move towards households. A strong economy, at its most basic level, has some form of an electrical grid. An affordable grid that is used not only for urban but also rural residents leads to further development and reduced poverty. This is another important goal for the organization.

In 1990, only 16 percent of residents in sub-Saharan Africa had access to electricity. In 2016, the number had increased to 42 percent. The Rockefeller Foundation, Chevron, General Electric, Pritzker Innovation Fund and others have funded Energy for Growth Hub and believe in its vision of helping “developing countries achieve the high-energy future they need to become prosperous and economically competitive.”

Lucas Schmidt

Photo: Flickr

Winch EnergySierra Leone is located on the West Coast of Africa with a population of more than 7 million people. About 60 percent of the population in Sierra Leone lives under the poverty line, and lack of electricity is a huge contributing factor. Sierra Leone is in dire need of electricity. Companies such as Winch Energy, a global energy developer, have decided to step in and bring power to Sierra Leone. Here is how Winch Energy is paving a way to a brighter future in Sierra Leone.

Effects of Lack of Electricity

Sierra Leone’s power sector has been experiencing “decades of underinvestment.” Public health facilities cannot offer quality healthcare due to the lack of electricity. It was reported that Sierra Leone could reduce the infant mortality rate by 40 percent if clinics in rural areas had better “lighting for night time births.” Without improved access to electricity, Sierra Leone will continue to remain in the dark.

In 2014, Sierra Leone, along with the rest of West Africa, had experienced one of the biggest Ebola outbreaks. It caused devastating effects to many communities, economies and public health systems across West Africa. Due to the Ebola outbreak, the quality of public health worsened in Sierra Leone, especially in the areas with high rates of poverty and lack of electricity.

Winch Energy

Winch Energy is a global energy developer that creates sustainable solutions for off-grid distributed power. Its goal is to improve power generation and eliminate unequal telecommunications access.  It works to improve electricity distribution to people all over the world, especially to those who don’t have access to running water, communications and electricity. The Ministry of Energy in Sierra Leone has signed a contract with Winch Energy in efforts to bring direct electricity access to 24 villages and towns in Sierra Leone through the installation of solar-mini grids.

Winch Energy has already begun the first phase of the project. It has installed 12 mini-grids in northern Sierra Leone, and the company hopes to make them operational by June 2019. This first phase of the project is said to benefit 6,000 people. During the second phase of the project, another 12 mini-grids will be installed by October 2019, which will benefit another 24,000 people.

The installation of mini-grids in Sierra Leone can make electricity easily accessible and even better the quality of life. Things such as printing, television, internet and refrigeration can become common in these towns and villages. Electricity will also help public health facilities improve the quality of service, which will help better the quality of life among the people of Sierra Leone.

This project could help increase income within the community and improve the current socio-economic status of Sierra Leone. Providing access to electricity has the potential to create jobs and better the quality of life in rural areas of the country. Development and access to electricity come hand in hand. This is how Winch Energy is paving the way to a brighter future in Sierra Leone.

Jocelyn Aguilar
Photo: Flickr

Energy Poverty
Eliminating global poverty will not be accomplished strictly through emerging opportunities and resources for the world’s most vulnerable people but will be done by redefining ideas about poverty. Instead of defining poverty by a purchasing power baseline, Rajiv Shah, the current Rockefeller Foundation President, thinks we should define and measure poverty in terms of power connectivity and electrification, in other words, energy poverty.

Rajiv Shah, former United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator, suggested this idea at the Affordable and Clean Energy for All event in Washington, D.C. Shah points to the idea that poverty is traditionally measured by a “basket of goods” stemming from a “total calories mindset.” Energy poverty defines poverty by the extent of the lack of access to modern energy.

Poverty Definitions Today

Currently, poverty is defined with a mere dollar amount. Extreme poverty is defined as a daily income of less than $1.90, and moderate poverty is living on less than $3.10 a day. The idea of moving from defining poverty from purchasing power to energy accessibility has some weight to it. For example, India in the 1970s defined poverty as the ability to purchase 2,100 to 2,400 calories of food per day depending on if the person was living in the city or in rural areas. In 2011, the Suresh Tendulkar Committee, a namesake for the late economist Suresh Tendulkar, defined living below the poverty line as spending between 27.2 and 33.3 Indian rupees (or between $0.38 and $0.46) per month on electricity, food, education and health.

This measure is thought to be far too conservative, but it does touch on the expanse of resources and services, specifically electricity, that factor into basic living standards. India is said to have 300 million people with little or no access to electricity. That is roughly 23 percent of its population. By taking energy poverty into consideration, a much clearer picture of global poverty rates can be analyzed.

Providing Energy to Areas In Need

Shah and the Rockefeller Foundation are not just providing mere lip service to the conversation on extreme poverty but also real energy service. The Rockefeller Foundation sponsors Smart Power for Rural Development, a $75 million program launched in 2015 that brings solar power to villages. This program has already powered 100 Indian villages with mini-grids that supply renewable energy to over 40,000 people.

Investments in mini-grids such as Smart Power for Rural Development or the $20 million raised from Husk Power Systems (the largest for an Indian mini-grid company) are thought to be the most efficient solutions for securing energy goals for sustainable development. Without reliable energy connectivity, almost half Of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 cannot be achieved. Two of such goals are “no poverty” and “affordable and clean energy.”

Energy is vital to attaining Development Goals such as health, education, inequality and food security. “Access to reliable electricity drives development and is essential for job creation, women’s empowerment and combating poverty,” says Gerth Svensson, chief executive at Swefund, a Swedish development finance institution that works to eliminate poverty by establishing sustainable businesses.

Metrics to Define Energy Poverty

Defining poverty through the proxy of energy poverty can leave vague perceptions. Yet, one metric illuminates the reality of what it means to be energy poor. Energy poverty is being quantified by the Multidimensional Energy Poverty Index (MEPI). The MEPI measures energy deprivation, as opposed to energy access. It is made up of five dimensions: cooking, lighting, services provided by means of household appliances, entertainment/education and communication.

Each dimension has one indicator to measure the importance of the activity, with an exception to cooking, which has two indicators. Each indicator has a binary threshold that indicates the presence or lack of a product or service. Energy poverty defined through the cooking dimension is measured by cooking with any fuel besides electricity, natural or biogas since it would leave a family vulnerable to indoor pollution. The lack of several other products or services complete the index—the lack of access to electricity (lighting), a refrigerator (household appliances), a radio or television (entertainment/education), and a landline or mobile phone (communication).

Measuring Poverty Through Energy

According to BRCK, a Kenyan organization that works to furnish internet connectivity to frontier markets, 18 of Africa’s 54 total nations have at least between 50 and 75 percent of their population without access to electricity, and 16 have more than 75 percent of their population lacking. On the measure of communication, only four of those nations have mobile-phones access for more than half their population, the highest being South Africa at 68 percent.

Using the current standard, roughly 736 million people worldwide are considered to be living in extreme poverty, yet 1.1 billion people were still living without access to electricity in 2017. The means for microeconomic power and poverty alleviation via education, healthcare, business and communication seem to be less about cash flow and more so concerning reliable energy flow, redefining poverty with the idea of energy poverty.

Thomas Benjamin
Photo: Flickr

Cryptocurrency provides access to energyAccess to energy is necessary for daily life in most countries in the world. Electricity allows for economic development and innovation as well as securing basic human rights such as health and security. However, there are more than 1 billion people living without access to energy.

Solar Power and Cryptocurrency

One negative effect of not having secure and affordable access to energy is the expenditure that goes into coal. This leads to impoverished people being forced to buy expensive coal which further leads to environmental and health problems.

As a response to the scarcity of energy, the International Energy Agency confirmed that decentralized energy systems such as solar power would be the lowest cost option for electrification across sub-Saharan Africa due to its geographical location as well as the accessibility and practicality of the solar panels. With solar power, impoverished communities could use the electricity from solar panels to improve education, healthcare and socioeconomic developments.

Crytoeconomy Fueling Solar Energy Initiatives

This is where The Sun Exchange, a solar micro-leasing marketplace, and Powerhive, a rural mini-grid solutions provider, are partnering up to use crypto-economy to create a fully decentralized, blockchain-based global economic system that could distribute the full potential of solar power to impoverished people.

Sun Exchange states its purpose as buying solar cells and leasing them to schools and businesses in areas with a lot of sunlight. Fortunately, this lines up perfectly with the sub-Saharan region of Africa. Powerhive states that its purpose is to develop off-grid utility solutions to create a future where everyone has access to energy.

“Together, we are working towards a world where no one is forced to cook with unsafe kerosene or wood-burning stoves, no child has to worry about how they will study after dark, and lack of energy access ceases to propel cycles of poverty,” said Abraham Cambridge, Founder and CEO of Sun Exchange. “Our partnership with Powerhive underscores the SUNEX token sale opportunity to support a crypto project geared directly towards reducing global inequality and climate impact.”

For example, the new joint initiative plans to fund up to 150 new Powerhive rural mini-grid projects which will provide access to energy for 175,000 people in Kenya.

“At the heart of our projects are the communities we serve,” said Christopher Hornor, Founder and CEO of Powerhive. “By providing the power platform first and then layering in productive use programmes, we create a virtuous cycle of economic and personal empowerment that provides steady profits for both our customers and our investors. Our partnership with Sun Exchange will now give almost anyone the opportunity to invest in innovative low-carbon development projects in Africa and beyond.”

This partnership allows for the international community members to help improve lives across the world and make a small profit. This is possible because through Sun Exchange, individuals across the globe are able to purchase and own remotely-located solar projects set up by Powerhive.

The buyer would now earn a return for the power generated by his or her solar asset while the energy would undeniably improve the life of whoever received that energy in rural Africa. Also, because the payments are done through cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, there are no complications that result from international transactions.

Hornor sums up this partnership as a positive step towards the future for renewable energy and universal access to energy. “The crypto-economy is the best tool we have to fight poverty, hands down. Our customers are hard-working people who have been excluded from the global economy. Now, we are able to bring them onto a platform of modern, clean power and to offer support for new businesses and opportunities for personal and intellectual enrichment.”

– Jenny S. Park
Photo: Flickr

Egypt's Energy NeedsEgypt, a nation once plagued by frequent power blackouts, may have found a remedy to its power needs. The discovery of the Noor natural gas field, the largest offshore field in the Mediterranean Sea, could prove a permanent solution to Egypt’s energy needs and put it on the road to self-sufficiency. This discovery could help Egypt become an exporter of natural gas as well as encourage more foreign investment.

To contextualize what kind of impact this discovery is, one need only compare the Zohr natural gas field, which had been Egypt’s largest natural gas field until 2015, and the Noor natural gas field. The Zohr field is approximately 60 square miles and contains around 30 trillion cubic feet of gas. Noor, on the other hand, is about three times the size of Zohr and could contain as much as 90 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Egypt’s Power Problem

The dual threat of ballooning demand and declining production have put a constant strain on the Egyptian energy sector. In 2014, when Egypt endured one of its most dire energy crises, parts of the country experienced six power cuts per day lasting about two hours at a time. Electricity demand was 20 percent greater than power stations could provide.

In large part, gas shortages were due to an uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Divisive political struggles deterred investors and tourists, which in turn caused foreign currency reserves to decline. In order to meet demand, Egypt was forced to sacrifice important gas exports.

Solution to Egypt’s Energy Needs

Noor is instrumental in reducing the gap between total gas consumption in Egypt (4.9 billion cubic feet per day in 2016) and total daily production in Egypt (4 billion cubic feet). In order to meet its energy needs and compensate for excessive consumption, Egypt has been forced to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) at high costs.

In 2015/2016, Egypt purchased 89 cargoes of liquefied natural gas at a staggering $2.2 billion. With the Zohr field, in addition to the newly discovered Noor field, Egypt could end these purchases by the end of next year, according to Egypt’s oil minister Tarek El-Molla. This will enable Egypt to become independent in their natural gas production and make them a net exporter.

How Does This Help

By satisfying local demand, Egypt can spend significantly less on energy. Using those savings, Egypt can invest in improved infrastructure, healthcare and education. By turning to grid-connected gas, Egypt can avoid the fuel subsidies associated with liquid petroleum gas (LPG) use. Fuel subsidies have accounted for anywhere from 18-20 percent of Egypt’s expenditure, an amount equal to 5-7 percent of GDP.

According to the World Bank’s Country Director for Egypt, Hartwig Schafer, “Conversion to piped natural gas will help give households a safer, more reliable and cheaper supply of gas.” As households make the transition from high-subsidized, imported LPG to locally-produced natural gas, the government will save $201 per household per year. 

The Noor gas field will not only facilitate Egypt’s transition from a net importer of natural gas to a net exporter, but it will provide the much-needed solution to Egypt’s energy needs by allowing Egyptians to have a reliable source of power at a much lower cost.

– McAfee Sheehan
Photo: Flickr

Global Infrastructure
One of the key challenges facing developing nations is the lack of available infrastructure. Proper infrastructure can help a country build itself up by improving health, transportation, energy, education and a myriad of other vital institutions. Global infrastructure initiatives are a vital form of potential aid that can improve the quality of life for developing nations.

How Energy Infrastructure Helps Emerging Countries

USAID currently works around the world to improve the infrastructure of developing nations. In Afghanistan, the organization helped develop a national electric company that reduced energy loss in the country from 60 percent to 35 percent. Likewise, in the Philippines, USAID was integral in providing energy to 13,000 rural households via solar and hydroelectric plants. Similar projects are taking place in countries such as Jordan, Vietnam and the Ukraine.

Infrastructure is important to a country’s development because without it growth becomes difficult. Without the energy to power development projects of their own, foreign aid ends up catalyzing a nation to empower itself. By providing clean water, countries can save on healthcare costs and invest in other issues. This makes infrastructure one of the most cost-effective ways to invest in the future of a country.

How It Can Be Improved

Unfortunately, there’s a gap between infrastructure development funding needs and its availability. Erecting fundamental structures and corruption are both costly and difficult projects for governments to overcome.

In order to combat these issues, some experts have suggested acquiring funding from the private sector so as to help aid some of USAID’s massive energy project proposals. The theory is that by selling projects to private contractors, governments can cut costs and prevent corruption. However, others such as W. Gyude Moore suggest that actions like these do not resolve the core issues. In either case, it will take a combination of private investors and foreign aid to solve the problem for good.

According to Moore, there are a few key things to keep in mind while thinking about global infrastructure.

Global Infrastructure

  1. Not Every Country is the Same: It seems obvious, and yet current global infrastructure planning could do a better job of differentiating between countries. The G20 Global Infrastructure Hub Pipeline aims to help alleviate this problem by providing investors with comprehensive data on each project. With unique and accurate information, investors will be able to better match their skills and resources with each project.
  2. Private Investment is too Risky in its Current Form: With imperfect information and little standardization, many investors stay away from global infrastructure initiatives unless they can be guaranteed a profit from governments; this issue is then also combated by the G20 Global Infrastructure Initiative. By providing comprehensive information, investors can better prepare for their jobs, thereby reducing costs for themselves and the governments they work with.
  3. Different Types of Infrastructure are More Profitable than Others: While energy infrastructure attracts a large number of investors, more fragile sectors like water and transportation do not. Part of USAID’s infrastructure initiative is to help build these important systems. In Jordan, these efforts supported a water treatment plant that now provides clean water to two million citizens.

While tough challenges do exist for foreign infrastructure in the future, progress can be made via a combination of foreign aid and private sector investment. USAID is currently working to help foreign governments establish infrastructure, and the G20 Global Infrastructure Hub Pipeline helps investors make informed decisions. While there is always more that can be done in regard to global infrastructure, this is a promising start.

– Jonathon Ayers
Photo: Flickr

Indian Village Powered by the Sun
The words “energy crisis” are more common and less panic-inducing than ever before. In life, days for most people end the same way they begin 
― by flipping the light-switch.

Solar Initiatives and Climate Change

The National Solar Initiative was a global contribution in one of many efforts to combat the slippery slope of climate change. The 2008 initiative was created by the United States government with several targets in mind, one of which included solar power.

According to the National Action Plan on Climate Change, “India is a tropical region where sun is available for longer hours per day with great intensity,” so India had seen a reason to establish responsible and smart change. Also, another global agreement for change include the Paris Agreement signed in 2016, which sought to curb rising global temperatures by 1.5 degrees Celsius. Since these action plans, India has taken strong global action in becoming one of the leaders in alternative energy sources.

History of Diu

The village of Diu, an island in western India, is quaint compared to its neighboring counterparts. With a population of 50,000 people, Diu is now known as the Indian village powered by the sun and provides electricity for some of India’s poorest populations.

Mostly known for its holiday tourism, Diu became a territory in 1987, and is one of seven Union territories located in India. While 60 percent of Indian poverty is located on the eastern side of the country, alternative energy sources will continue to aid economic growth in Diu. Data for Gujarat, India (just above Diu) indicates that although the state is heavily manufacture-based, the nation never managed to reach economic growth.

Energy Implications

Despite this status, strong new data suggests many positive implications regarding higher living standards. The first is increased local communication. Solar power in Diu has established communication and economic relations with its neighboring state, Gujarat, due to the fact that most night-time energy stems from this ally.

In 2017, Diu imported only 26 percent of its electricity from Gujarat; the other 73 percent came from their own solar power. Such communication and negotiation is useful for global trade advancements in the future.

Alternative energy has also provided education. Non-governmental organizations — such as The Barefoot College — train and educate solar engineers. The students go on to repair solar lighting and heat in an effort to increase electrification, which is especially helpful in rural areas similar to the Indian village powered by the sun.

Perhaps the most positive ramification to modernizing electricity is the exponential economic effect. According to The World Bank, global powerhouses would be able to focus more attention on alternative sources in places like Diu by ending fossil fuel subsidies. Furthermore, researchers would have more access to data regarding the benefits of solar energy alleviating poverty.

What Do the Panels Look like?

The answer to this question lies within the middle of India’s Eastern hills. The expansive panels cover almost 50 acres, and fuel all of the village’s daytime power needs. With a smaller population, 10.5 megawatts (MW) of energy are created but only 7 MW are used; thus, rapid population growth is a proven problem. Fortunately, though, generating greater resources allows the population to both increase and receive adequate power.

By 2019, the Indian village powered by the sun will welcome wind power to the island. The government will create 6.8 MW of wind power that will then be used for day and night energy.  

Change On the Horizon

With other alternative energy sources on the horizon, it’s safe to say that Diu will no longer be the only Indian village powered by the sun. Diu, and many other countries in 2019 will take on the needed role of environmental leaders with exciting new sources of energy.

– Logan Moore
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy Sector in India
In a deserted, rocky and barren land with temperatures up to 80 and 90 degrees Celsius, millions of silver-grey solar panels glimmer in the sun. This is a start of what is said to be the biggest solar power station in the world in Pavagada, a town located in southern India. This city is where a massive solar park is set to be built and is expected to produce 2,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 700,000 households. This is the start of a clean-energy revolution in the renewable energy sector in India.

The Renewable Energy Sector in India

The renewable energy sector in India is now the leader in creating a new revolution in solar energy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government aims to achieve 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar installations by 2022, of which 40 gigawatts is expected to come from rooftop installations. This emphasizes India’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and its strong will to push for solar energy generation in countries with huge potential.

Solar energy serves as a clean and affordable form of the renewable energy sector that would help India cut down its carbon emissions as well as reduce its dependency on the import of crude oil (at least to some extent).

Although India has committed to going solar, challenges still remain. Infrastructure development, technological know-how, attracting foreign investment, procuring raw materials for solar panels and a lack of access to existing storage technologies remain huge obstacles. Despite these concerns, India has taken an initiative to make solar energy the focus of clean energy.

Foreign Direct Investment in India’s Solar Power

The boom in the renewable energy sector in India has attracted investors from abroad. The ambitious target of 100 GW by 2022 is tough, and to achieve this mission, India solar sector requires investment from foreign countries.

In 2015, the solar sector had secured more than $278 million through various avenues. The international business consulting firm KPMG forecasts that the market share of solar power in India would be 5.7 percent (54 GW) and 12.5 percent (166 GW) in 2020 and 2025, respectively.

Several countries look at investing in the renewable energy sector in India. In 2016, the U.S. and India partnered to launch the U.S.-India Clean Energy Finance (USICEF), an initiative to help promising distributed solar projects develop into viable investment opportunities via essential early-stage project preparation support.

Job Creation Through Renewable Energy Sector

The massive push for solar energy opened up ways of employment with hopes to reduce the poverty rate in India. In fact, 22 percent of the population or 270 million people live below the poverty line in India. Clean-energy jobs are seen as a game changer in India’s rural and urban areas.

There are various positions of job profiles that have opened up due to India commitment to go solar. Jobs like installation, operations and maintenance, sales and more. Many of these jobs provide steady incomes, healthcare benefits and skill-building opportunities for unskilled and semi-skilled workers.

A report by World Resource Institute ‘Can Renewable Energy Jobs Help Reduce Poverty in India?’ states that in addition to improving energy security, enhancing energy access and mitigating climate change, renewable energy may be able to help reduce poverty by creating good jobs that poor people can perform.

The findings of WET report suggest that:

  • The majority of jobs in the sector are contractual and do not offer benefits or job stability.
  • Permanent jobs in the sector have the potential to reduce poverty, but they need strengthening before they become “good” jobs.
  • Most poor people face barriers to entry to training and the job market.
  • Few programs include features that help reduce poverty, such as capacity building, development of ownership opportunities or the inclusion of women.
  • The absence of data makes it difficult to establish connections between jobs in renewable energy and poverty reduction.

India depends heavily on fossil fuels. Energy production and consumption accounts for 58 percent of India’s greenhouse gas emissions and is projected to grow exponentially in the coming decades due to a rising energy demand associated with urbanization, better living standards and economic modernization. As a result, clean energy is the main focus for the government of India in the coming years.

Commitment to Positive Change

In order to meet the commitment under Paris Agreement, India must dramatically boost solar and wind power to light up millions of houses that still lack electricity. Due to the initiatives by the government of India, India is looking at renewable energy options and acts as a home for the  largest solar plants in the world.

The government schemes and policies have contributed in transitioning from fossil fuels to clean and green energy in India, and with solar tariffs falling to a record low, new government schemes to encourage rooftop installation has put India on the map in the renewable energy sector. Being a part of this renewable energy sector has the potential to create jobs, reduce poverty and propel India into the ways of the future.

– Preethi Ravi
Photo: Flickr