Renewable Energy in El SalvadorWorld Bank statistics indicate that, in 1999, only about 79% of people in El Salvador had access to electricity. By 2009, the percentage increased to about 91%, and in 2019, 100% of the population of El Salvador had access to electricity. The significant improvement in electricity access in just two decades is primarily due to the government’s investments in renewable energy in El Salvador and the work of companies in providing electricity to rural communities.

Poverty in El Salvador

The government’s success in providing universal electricity access within El Salvador comes at a time when much of the population still lives in poverty. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a fall in economic output and a decline in poverty reduction rates. Consequently, COVID-19 jeopardized the country’s recent successes in decreasing poverty and inequality. The World Bank predicted that El Salvador’s GDP would contract by 4.3% in 2020. As a result, it expected the poverty rate to rise by 4%, bringing the total percentage of the population living in poverty to a possible 30%.

Development of Renewable Energy in El Salvador

As the smallest country in Central America, El Salvador lacks natural coal, oil and natural gas. Therefore, El Salvador has historically relied entirely on imports of fossil fuels from other countries “to meet domestic demand.” In the mid-1990s, the government began promoting renewable energy sources to reduce dependence on imports.

In 2010, the government implemented the National Energy Policy, which further pushed for increased renewable energy sources. The policy, which runs till 2024, has seen success so far. El Salvador has not built any additional fossil-fuel-powered generators since the year 2013. By 2019, renewable energy “had reached 64.3% of the country’s total installed capacity of 2.2 gigawatts (GW).” Renewable sources in El Salvador consist of solar power, hydropower and geothermal power. In El Salvador, oil generates only 32.36% of electricity. Renewable sources are responsible for creating the rest of the electricity used by the population.

Economic and Social Benefits of Renewable Energy

Renewable energy in El Salvador has helped stabilize electricity prices. Consequently, renewable energy has led to a more stabilized economy. This economic advancement through renewable development has helped pull people out of poverty and reduce the negative effects of decades of violence and emigration. The ever-growing renewable energy sector provides jobs for many individuals in El Salvador, especially women.

This helps to close the economic and social gap, consequently creating a more gender-balanced workforce while providing a way for women to support their families. LaGeo is a Salvadoran state geothermal energy company that generates close to a quarter of the total energy created in the nation. At LaGeo, 30% of the employees are female. LaGeo is responsible for producing 27% of El Salvador’s electricity and commits to empowering local women and backing reforestation and conservation programs near its plants.

Health Benefits of Renewable Energy in El Salvador

The growth of geothermal power, hydropower and solar energy provide alternatives to biomass for those living in poverty. Though biomass is a renewable energy source, the U.N. considers high biomass usage to be a sign of energy poverty. Regular practices of burning firewood and other biomass materials can cause a number of health and environmental problems.

The World Health Organization reports that more than one million households in El Salvador rely on unclean fuel for cooking. Continuing to replace biomass with cleaner, safer alternatives will improve the lives of those living in poverty in El Salvador.

In 2016, AES El Salvador, a power company, provided photovoltaic kits to more than 70 individuals living in poverty in rural areas. These kits offer a way to harness and store solar power. Furthermore, the beneficiaries also received turbo cookers to reduce biomass consumption. For more than 15 years, “AES El Salvador has brought electricity to more than 70,000 Salvadoran families with rural electrification projects.”

Overall, El Salvador has made great strides in reducing poverty, boosting the economy and providing electricity access through the growth of the country’s renewable energy sector. Universal electricity access has undoubtedly improved the quality of life for many families living in poverty.

Julia Welp
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

Renewable energy in New ZealandNew Zealand, an island country located in the South Pacific Ocean, has an economy propelled by agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and geothermal energy resources. The government sees renewable energy as the future, and in accordance, it has taken major steps to expand renewable energy in New Zealand.

5 Facts About Renewable Energy in New Zealand

  1. New Zealand has a history of being innovators in energy. The first hydroelectric power plant in the Southern Hemisphere was built in New Zealand in 1885. Since then, the country has been a leader in renewable energy and was the second country to ever use geothermal energy for hydrogen production.
  2. Roughly 84% of the electricity in New Zealand is produced from renewable sources. This large amount of renewable energy production ranks the country second in the world for energy security. Hydro, geothermal, wind and bioenergy are among the largest producers of electricity. New Zealand’s volcanic and tectonic features give the country the ability to utilize geothermal energy. For this reason, geothermal energy represents more than half of the renewable energy in New Zealand. An estimated one in five people living in New Zealand has to sacrifice powering their homes in order to pay for other essentials because of the expensive energy bill that comes from non-renewable energy sources. When the power grid in a country comes increasingly from renewable energy, those living in poverty are placed in a more favorable situation because the high cost of fossil fuels no longer burdens people.
  3. Renewable energy will play a part in the country’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan. The Labour Party-led government in New Zealand sees the pandemic as an opportunity to invest in more renewables in order to create more jobs. The Labour Party plans to develop more high-skill jobs that it believes will immediately boost the economy and also help the country prepare for the future. It is estimated that renewable energy could create almost NZ$165 trillion in global GDP gains by 2050. Such a large economic comeback would significantly benefit those living in poverty, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic hurts the impoverished the most.
  4. The government is spending NZ$30 million on investigating pumped hydro storage. This investment expects to bolster New Zealand’s broader renewable energy goals as well as create thousands of skilled and semi-skilled jobs. The result of the investigation will potentially create a more affordable solution to the problem of hydropower storage during dry years when hydro lakes are low. This large investment signals the country’s dedication to renewable energy with plans to mitigate much of the risk of supply and demand.
  5. New Zealand’s goal is to have 100% renewable energy by 2030. Additionally, the country hopes to have net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The proponents of the plan believe this will cause a massive increase in job growth and reduce electricity bills, which will benefit New Zealanders living in poverty.

Overall, New Zealand is making significant strides in its renewable energy sector in order to address the issue of energy poverty that impacts the most vulnerable people in the country.

Stephen Illes
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in Thailand
Championed as a success of development in the region, Thailand has achieved upper-middle-income country status due to a steadily increasing economy and substantial reductions in poverty. Thailand’s energy consumption has grown rapidly in line with this development. It has seen an 18% increase in energy consumption in the last decade. The industrial and transport sectors account for the majority of national energy consumption. Furthermore, Thailand strives to meet its energy demands through the use of emergent renewable energy technologies. 

A Burgeoning Industry

The country has increasingly relied on renewable energy sources to ensure that its steady development is sustainable. Renewable energy accounts for a whopping 10% of the country’s energy usage. This number is comparable to the U.S. rate of 12% of total energy consumption from renewable sources. Thailand is on track to surpass the U.S. in just 10 years. Renewable energy in Thailand comes from diverse sources, relying equally on hydropower, solar, biomass and wind-generated power.

Thailand imports much of its renewable energy technology from overseas. However, future emphasis on domestic manufacturing of these technologies would create jobs. This emphasis will eventually position Thailand as a world leader in the use of renewable energy. The biofuel industry alone employs more than 102,000 people in Thailand, making Thailand the fifth largest employer in the liquid biofuels industry internationally. Thailand’s unemployment rate is meager at just 1%, but a large portion of these jobs are low-paying. Renewable energy jobs have the potential to create higher earners and address Thailand’s 10% poverty rate.

How Energy Access Alleviates Poverty

In addition to the thousands of jobs in the renewable energy sector, renewables are becoming more cost-effective than other sources like natural gas, so that more people have access to cheaper electricity than ever before. In fact, the World Bank states that nearly 100% of Thailand’s population has access to electricity, up from 82% in 2000.

However, this universal access to electricity comes at a cost: energy consumption makes up 10% of household spending per month, which qualifies Thailand as energy-poor. Paired with the fact that the cost of natural gas has been increasing recently, renewables are the affordable choice for decreasing the financial burden of energy on individual households.

Electricity access is vital when it comes to improving the living conditions of those in poverty. Electricity can enhance quality of life by providing refrigeration of food and increasing educational outcomes due to lighting at night, among other benefits.

The Future of Renewable Energy in Thailand

As Thailand’s demand for energy increases, it is essential that its development stems from a sustainable core. The Thai Ministry of Energy set a goal to reach 30% reliance on renewable energy by 2036. This would save an estimated $8 billion annually when considering the environmental and health costs of fossil fuel consumption.

Thailand must keep in mind the needs of its low-income citizens as it continues to integrate sustainable energy into its power grid. Further, renewable energy in Thailand should not be the only focus of sustainability initiatives. The focus should also be on reducing pollution and carbon emissions. With these accomplishments, Thailand is in an excellent position to secure a better economic future for its citizens.

– Helen Spyropoulos
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in IndiaThe development of sustainable energy has many benefits for citizens in India. In addition to economic growth, it also creates new job opportunities which can lower poverty rates. In 2017, 10.3 million renewable energy jobs were available globally. Renewable energy in India has the potential to significantly boost the country’s economic standing and lift many out of poverty.

Renewable Energy in India

With the implementation of 160 gigawatts (GW) of solar and wind energy, India projects to create more than 330,000 new jobs by 2022. In 2017, the solar and wind energy sectors of renewable energy have already employed 151,000 people. People living in poverty in rural areas will benefit from job creation and increased energy will provide children with more time to work on their education after dark, increased productivity for families and increased health benefits.

Types of Renewable Energy in India

  • Solar Energy: The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (NSM) was created by the Government of India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to develop 100 gigawatts of solar power from grid-connected and off-grid solar energy by 2022. NSM’s implementation of photovoltaic (PV) cells has created more jobs per unit of energy than any other energy source, making it an important factor in lowering unemployment rates in India. Solar energy is most commonly sourced from PV cells that can be installed on rooftops of houses or commercial buildings and absorb sunlight throughout the day.
  • Wind Energy: One of the largest sectors of renewable energy in India is wind energy. India is the fifth-largest wind energy producer and has the potential to grow even larger with a target of 60 gigawatts by 2022. Further expansion in the wind energy industry can be a major source of jobs for both unskilled and skilled workers in India. Wind energy is created in India through the development of wind farms, created through the installation of wind energy generators in rural areas that have ample amount of land. The installation of wind farms in rural areas creates job opportunities for rural citizens living in poverty.
  • Biomass Energy: Biomass has the potential to become a large source of renewable energy in India. Biomass is sourced from municipal waste, solid material and liquid material. India is rich in biomass resources. One of the most successful sources of biomass comes from sugar cane in agriculture and manure from livestock. Farms stand to benefit largely from the implementation of biomass energy development, in turn, benefiting rural people living in poverty.

Continued Development

Though large strides have been made in renewable energy in India, further development could bring significant benefits. India plans to quintuple current wind and solar energy capacity and could potentially become the world’s third-largest economy by 2030.

Renewable energy has improved the lives of many citizens living in India, however, more than 600 million people still use firewood for cooking and many have unreliable energy sources. Expanding renewable energy across India will further improve the quality of lives of citizens and bring many out of poverty through the creation of jobs in renewable energy sectors and increased opportunities for education and training in the sector.

Simone Riggins
Photo: Flickr

3 Renewable Energy Initiatives that Empower WomenProviding women with access to clean energy is crucial in the fight against poverty and gender inequality. Women experience energy poverty at higher rates than men and are more likely to die from indoor air pollution caused by nonrenewable household energy solutions. When women have access to electricity, they have greater opportunities to pursue an education, find employment and become civically involved. This article examines three renewable energy initiatives that empower women to create change within their communities and lives.

The Importance of Including Women in the Renewable Energy Sector

The renewable energy sector has ample employment opportunities, with a projected 29 million job opportunities by 2050. While this creates room for women within the workforce, 68% of hires are men. The World Economic Forum (WEF) explains that empowering women in the industry and in their communities “will strengthen economic and social progress and support governments to deliver gender-balanced, sustainable energy for all.”

Including women also has a positive impact on the energy sector. When women run energy enterprises, work in energy and create energy policies, the policies are more efficient. The utilities earn more revenue and sell more energy commodities. Thus, including women in the industry can help improve efficiency and generate profit.

As WEF explained, empowering women in their communities can be transformative. When given the opportunity, one woman can power 50 homes in her community. This is because women “hold strong social capital in communities, [so] they are better able to reach out to other women to generate awareness about clean energy solutions and its positive impacts on their lives.” It is clear that working to empower women with renewable energy opportunities benefits both the industry and communities.

3 Projects that Empower Women with Renewable Energy

Despite the fact that women are underrepresented in the renewable energy sector, there are many organizations that empower women with renewable energy initiatives.

  1. Solar Sister: The U.N. describes Solar Sister as “an award-winning social enterprise advancing women’s entrepreneurship to bring off-grid electricity and clean cooking solutions to underserved communities across sub-Saharan Africa.” Solar Sister trains women in entrepreneurship and equips them with the services and goods they will need for their sustainable businesses. These women, in turn, provide renewable energy to those in need in rural communities in African countries. Currently, Solar Sister works in Nigeria and Tanzania and has previously worked in Uganda. The organization hopes to be actively working in five countries by 2022. As of 2020, Solar Sister has trained more than 5,000 entrepreneurs who have provided electricity to almost two million people.
  2. Barefoot College: Barefoot College is an organization in India that trains women to be entrepreneurs, solar engineers and teachers so that they can bring electricity and education to their communities. Barefoot College works in more than 2,000 villages and 93 countries. The organization provides solar energy education, training, empowerment programs, clean water initiatives, education for children and healthcare programs.
  3. ENVenture: The ENVenture program, sponsored by New Energy Nexus, supports Community Based Organizations (CBOs) in villages in Uganda so that these CBOs can establish clean energy businesses. After a year, the CBOs that perform the best receive more financial support. ENVenture has helped provide energy access to 95,000 people. It has created 600 jobs, 70% of which are filled by women.

Moving Forward

These three projects show how renewable energy initiatives can empower women and benefit communities. Whether through financial support or education, these organizations are empowering women with renewable energy solutions to expand their horizons. Moving forward, it is essential that more organizations make renewable energy and women’s empowerment a priority.

– Sophie Shippe
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in BarbadosBarbados is quickly becoming a leader in renewable energy. A former English colony, Barbados is a small island in the Caribbean known for its scenic beaches and tropical ecosystem. Natural disasters in the past and the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the need for a more diverse economy in Barbados. Renewable energy is a promising solution moving forward. Barbados is investing in renewable energy to reduce poverty and ensure sustainability.

4 Facts About Renewable Energy in Barbados

  1. Investing in the Future – Barbados may be a small island but it has taken large steps to transition to renewable energy. By 2030, Barbados plans to have 100% of its energy consumption come from renewable sources. Although this goal may be ambitious, Barbados put its words into action by securing loans, including a $30 million loan in 2019 from the Inter-American Development Bank. The focus is on building solar photovoltaics for both residential and commercial purposes. Barbados is also interested in growing wind, waste, biomass and ocean and wave energy in order to modernize its energy grid while cutting costs for energy imports and creating jobs.
  2. Geographic Advantages for Wind and Solar Energy – The political feasibility of renewable energy in Barbados is unique because it does not have large petroleum reserves that would cause competing interests. This is a problem that is characteristic of countries in other regions such as North America and the Middle East. The tropical climate in Barbados makes it ideal for wind and solar energy. Barbados averages 8.3 hours of sunshine per day and 5.6 kilowatts of solar irradiation per square meter. Additionally, the annual wind speed averages 5.5 meters per second. These averages make Barbados well-positioned to utilize wind and solar energy compared to the rest of the world. Barbados also has the ability to use the ocean not only for energy produced by water but for installing offshore wind turbines. The ocean provides stronger wind regimes. Since there is very little space to build large wind turbines onshore, this feature will become increasingly valuable.
  3. Renewable Energy Cuts Costs – Barbados experiences very high electricity costs due to its reliance on crude oil. The high electricity bills for an individual household or business and the economic burden of purchasing oil from other countries caused the need to transition to renewable energy. Fuel reflects an average of 15% of its import costs and about half of this is used just for generating electricity. Cutting down the cost of fossil fuel spending and having a more sustainable and efficient energy source would cut costs for citizens and improve the overall economy.
  4. Economic Vulnerability – Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy of Barbados has suffered a major setback. With 40% of its GDP and 30% of the workforce in the tourism industry, many are without an income. About 90% of the industry, including hotels, had to close or reduce their normal operating levels because of the pandemic. In addition, Barbados has a hurricane season every year. Hurricanes damage infrastructure, harm the health of beaches and prevent tourists from coming to the island. Hurricane Dorian cost the country an estimated $3.4 billion or a quarter of its GDP when it hit the island in 2019. In the United States and around the world, renewable energy jobs are some of the fastest-growing occupations. Barbados would greatly benefit from being a part of the trend.

Moving Forward

Barbados is planning ahead for its future and moving forward with renewable energy to ensure economic stability and lessen the effects of natural disasters. The country stands as a strong model for other nations in approaching renewable energy and preparing for the future.

Stephen Illes
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in Venezuela
While poverty rates continue to rise in Venezuela, the country regularly experiences nationwide electricity blackouts. However, utilizing renewable energy in Venezuela would alleviate rising poverty rates in the country by creating job opportunities and reducing the presence of negative health impacts due to pollution. It would also ease the energy burden on the Guri dam, likely reducing the number of national electricity blackouts.

An Energy Crisis

In addition to having some of the largest oil reserves in the world, Venezuela also has an impressive national renewable energy infrastructure. The only problem: the government has all but abandoned the projects. For example, the administration of former President Hugo Chávez abandoned the government program Fundelec (Foundation for the Development of the Electricity Service) following the fall in oil prices in 2008 and 2014. Due to the atrophied Venezuelan energy infrastructure, between April and September 2020, there were roughly 84,000 electricity blackouts nationwide. Excessive energy dependence on the Guri dam continues to exacerbate the issue.

Nirida Sanchez, a resident of Machiques de Perijá in the state of Zulia, told Jeanfreddy Gutiérrez, a reporter for Dialogo Chino, that the blackouts have made her “a slave, because at any time when there is a downturn [she] has to run out and turn everything off so that [she doesn’t] damage another appliance.” Sanchez also told Gutiérrez that the blackouts have damaged both her microwave and her washing machine.

The Push for Renewable Energy in Venezuela

At the moment, Venezuela’s energy infrastructure depends on hydroelectric power that sites like the Guri dam generate, which is located on the Caroní River. Most estimates place the percentage of Venezuela’s electricity at the Guri dam at over 50%, while some sources claim that as much as 70% or even 85% of the country’s power comes from the Guri dam.

To counteract this heavy reliance on hydroelectric power — an energy source that, despite being renewable, can still have negative environmental and social consequences — the government began a push for a transition to other kinds of renewable energy in Venezuela roughly two decades ago. In the early 2000s, the government of former President Hugo Chávez established a program called “Sembrando Luz,” with the intention of using “micro-networks of hybrid solar-wind systems” to harness the renewable energy potential of Venezuela’s northwestern states.

However, the government abandoned the renewable energy projects following the fall in oil prices in 2008 and 2014. As a result, Venezuela renewed its dependence on the Guri dam for electricity and abandoned its hopes for a renewable energy future. That is until a 2016 report by the Scientific Institute Francisco de Miranda emphasized the “technical possibilities and the low cost of photovoltaic energy in the country.”

Despite a phase of fits and starts, harnessing electricity via solar panels and storing it in batteries is a practice that is picking up speed in Venezuela. Engineers familiar with the issue emphasize that a need exists for state involvement and investment in the technology, but, despite that financial hiccup, moving the Venezuelan power grid towards a reliance on photovoltaic power would be a definite boon to citizens like Nirida Sanchez.

Health Benefits of Renewable Energy Use

The benefits of adopting renewable energy sources like solar or wind power are numerous. One benefit is the positive health impact of a transition away from fossil fuels: renewable energy sources are safer for both individuals and entire communities.

To begin with, renewable energy sources like solar panels and wind turbines produce little to no global warming emissions. They also lead to little to no air pollution. As the Union of Concerned Scientists clarifies, the air and water pollution that coal and natural gas plants emit has a link to “breathing problems, neurological damage, heart attacks, cancer, premature death and a host of other serious problems.” These health impacts make it more difficult for impoverished citizens to survive their harsh living conditions.

Economic Benefits of Renewable Energy Use

There are economic benefits to a transition to renewable energy sources as well. The Union of Concerned Scientists states that “on average, more jobs are created for each unit of electricity generated from renewable sources than from fossil fuels.” This is because the renewable energy industry, in comparison with the fossil fuel industry, is relatively labor-intensive rather than capital-intensive. That means cleaner air, more jobs and less poverty — all thanks to renewable energy sources like solar panels and wind farms.

For a country like Venezuela, which was suffering from economic and health crises even before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the creation of new jobs is vital to economic recovery. Although some experts suggest that the economic troubles in Venezuela, and the resulting rising poverty rates, are due to hyperinflation, the creation of additional jobs in the renewable energy sector would undoubtedly help ameliorate rising poverty rates in the country.

Looking Ahead

It will not be easy to transition to renewable energy in Venezuela, but it will help alleviate rising poverty rates in the country by creating job opportunities and reducing the presence of negative health impacts associated with pollution. Although the Venezuelan government at this time is not working to implement any new renewable energy projects, Venezuelan scientists and NGOs like the Committee of People Affected by Power Outages, an NGO that monitors the impacts of the Venezuelan electricity crisis, continue to push for renewable energy in Venezuela.

By fighting for a renewable future, Venezuelan citizens and scientists are nudging their government in a healthier and safer direction. However, it requires funding and international support from countries like the United States or organizations like the United Nations in order to reach full realization.

– Thomas McCall
Photo: Flickr

Energy Distribution in Madagascar
Groupe Filatex is an energy company in Madagascar that has the goals of renewal, energy distribution and modernization through infrastructure development. The company works in the real estate, duty-free zone, energy and service sectors. Through its innovative projects, Groupe Filatex promotes job creation as Madagascar’s largest employer. It also promotes sustainable growth not only in Madagascar but also across the African continent. The company’s work has made Madagascar Africa’s leading economy in renewable energy.

Projects to Aid Energy Distribution in Madagascar

Approximately 15% of the population has access to electricity with a country-wide generation capacity of 500 megawatts. The company is working to build solar power plants that will provide electricity to four cities with a combined capacity of 50 megawatts. It installed plants in Antsiranana, Mahajanga, Toamasina and Toliara. Groupe Filatex collaborated with DERA Energy, a Canadian power producer focused in Africa and Canadian Solar Inc. to supply the plants.

Along with power producer company Akuo, Groupe Filatex has also announced the first installation of Akuo’s Solar GEM mobile and portable solar units in Tulear. This project falls under the two companies’ collaborative initiative called Enelec. By 2022, expectations have determined that Enelec will have completed projects that would provide an additional 170 megawatts in Madagascar and 110 megawatts in Africa and Europe.

Expanding Energy Distribution Across Africa

Groupe Filatex announced multiple projects that will expand its services to other African countries including Côte D’Ivoire, Guinea and Ghana. The organization planned most projects before COVID-19. This means the projects are still in the works without too many obstacles that may have manifested with the pandemic. The main factor that would delay the projects is the travel restrictions for pandemic precautions. Plans for energy distribution in Guinea and Ghana are currently experiencing delay, although the Guinea project should still start in September 2021.

However, the project in Côte D’Ivoire should begin as soon as May 2021. Groupe Filatex’s project will recompense some of the 8% increase in domestic electricity demand as 1.8 million Ivorian households are without power. Contributing to the national plan to install 424 megawatts of solar power by 2030, Groupe Filatex will provide 66 megawatts of solar power in Côte D’Ivoire.

Other Social Development Initiatives

In addition to its main focus on energy distribution, Groupe Filatex is also a dedicated advocate for social development. The company shows its commitment to better the quality of living in Madagascar by supporting three developmental areas: childhood education, social community and the environment.

  • Childhood Education: Groupe Filatex promotes access to education by working with Malagasy schools to improve educational resources and tools. The company offers assistance in upgrading equipment and training in the classroom to modernize the learning environment. Over 1,300 children currently have enrollment in a renovated school. By providing the necessary support, Groupe Filatex’s efforts help cultivate professional development among young Malagasy.
  • Social Community: The company has started projects for essential living conditions. The projects create and renovate roads, install lighting and bus shelters, facilitate sanitation systems and increase access to drinking water. Groupe Filatex successfully carries out these initiatives with the help of private and public partnerships.
  • Environment: Groupe Filatex has shown commitment to preserving Madagascar’s unique flora and fauna. As described by the company as “natural wealth,” the protection of Madagascar’s ecological heritage makes the company’s development checklist. So far, the company has reported the preservation of 9,895 square meters of green landscape.

Although Madagascar has had limited access to energy in the past, Group Filatex’s efforts to provide the country with renewable energy are proving successful. Moreover, it is having an effect on the country’s communities even beyond improving energy distribution in Madagascar. In fact, it is helping increase children’s access to education and aiding in the building of infrastructure.

Malala Raharisoa Lin
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in Palestine
The Palestinian territories are in the midst of a devastating energy crisis, leaving millions of people without stable access to electricity. However, the natural features of this region may hold the key to solving this crisis and improve the livelihoods of millions. Unlocking the potential of renewable energy in Palestine will help alleviate the growing carbon footprint of areas like Gaza, as well as fill holes in the already strained power grids that support Gaza and the West Bank.

Energy in Palestine

Palestine has a significant dependence on Israel and neighboring Jordan and Egypt for the majority of its energy demands. However, this system is not viable as a long-term solution. Political instability, population booms, rapid industrialization and increasing demand for higher living standards have put tremendous stress on Palestine’s energy supply. In fact, the cost of energy in Palestine is the highest in the region and the scarcity that growing demand has caused has had a devastating effect on the quality of life and poverty levels in the territories.

Rolling blackouts are now commonplace in both Gaza and the West Bank, denying residents access to essential household appliances, like electric stoves and air conditioning. It also hinders access to means of modernization, such as telecommunications and the internet. According to the United Nations, the average citizen of Gaza has, at best, access to electricity for 12 hours per day when the grid is at its most stable, but political instability can diminish access down to only two hours per day. During the summer and winter, when the strain is higher, residents often experience only three to four hours of electricity per day.

As the population of Palestine grows, especially in dense urban zones along the Gaza strip, the Palestinian authorities will need to find new ways to satisfy rising energy demands. The environment around the Palestinian territories could potentially hold the key to mitigating the existing energy crisis, as well as reduce Palestine’s energy dependency on its neighbors and bolstering the economic viability of Palestine as a more self-sufficient nation. The options for renewable energy in Palestine are plentiful and readily available on the domestic level.

Solar and Geothermal Energy

The two most viable options for renewable energy in Palestine are solar and geothermal energy. With over 300 days of steady sunshine a year, residents of Gaza and the West Bank have increasingly turned towards solar energy as a way to power small, everyday appliances, such as electric fans and other forms of air conditioning. This is especially important during the summer months when temperatures soar. Even relatively simple installations of small solar panels have had an extraordinary effect on living conditions, as residents of Gaza often endure roaming blackouts and inconsistent power access. According to an interview conducted in 2018 by the Reuters news source, one resident of the Nusseirat refugee camp in Gaza reported having no access to electricity in her family’s home until installing solar panels. Now her family is able to keep the air cool in their home with electric fans that solar energy powers.

Organizations and NGOs Helping Provide Solar Energy in Palestine

Several groups and NGOs have already paved the way for the broader use of solar energy in Palestine. Sunshine4Palestine is a great example of how a group can utilize solar energy to help alleviate symptoms of poverty. The project designed and installed a modular plant that provides solar energy to the Jenin Hospital in Gaza, upping its hours of operation from four to 17 hours per day. Sunshine4Palestine has also spearheaded the Tree of Light project, using solar-powered “trees” to harness clean energy and turn it into a way to illuminate public spaces at night, creating safer streets in Gaza.

Comet ME is an Israeli NGO that has been providing solar panels to villages in the West Bank. The village of Shaeb al-Buttim is one such village where panels that Comet installed have supplied electricity to 34 families, who, otherwise, would have no means of accessing the power grid. Such efforts, as in this instance, have revitalized otherwise dying villages, granting them access to television and other forms of media, offering villages such as Shaeb al-Buttim a chance to feel connected to the international community.

Other groups, such as PENGON, Ma’an Development Sector and the Palestinian Hydrology Group have supplied solar panels to over 650 farms and homes in Gaza. They have also helped educate members of the community on ways to participate in creating a sustainable Palestine.

Geothermal Energy

Other methods of harvesting renewable energy in Palestine are also on the horizon. In the last decade, geothermal energy has come to represent an innovative solution for saving on the energy costs of heating homes in the winter and cooling homes in the summer. This method relies on harnessing the natural difference between ground and air temperatures that occur in the summer and winter months.

Despite the conflict and struggles that those advocating for a more energy-independent and sustainable Palestine face, both public and private sectors are actively implementing solutions for the region. The players involved have the determination to push past political boundaries to deliver a more stable Palestine for future populations.

– Jack Thayer
Photo: Flickr