Renewable Energy in the Marshall IslandsThe Government of the Marshall Islands has acquired additional funding for furthering its goal of shifting to renewable energy in the Marshall Islands. The Republic of the Marshall Islands plans to lead the way to a low-carbon energy future and encourages other countries to adopt similar objectives. Creating a renewable energy system will make it easier for the most impoverished in the nation to rise above the poverty line.

Increased Foreign Aid

In December 2021, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of the Marshall Islands (RMI) signed agreements for a $7 million grant to aid in the development of renewable energy in the Marshall Islands. The grant comes after an initial $12.7 million was approved in 2018 as a part of the Energy Security Project.

The funding will support the Marshalls Energy Company (MEC) efforts to strengthen the country’s energy network and ready it for the shift to renewables. ADB Principal Energy Specialist Len George stated that “The additional financing…will allow the Government of the Marshall Islands and the MEC to strengthen efforts to implement an agreed multiyear action plan to support MEC’s performance.”

The goals of the Energy Security Project include:

  • Reduce the safety and environmental risks that come with the handling and storage of refined petroleum products.
  • Ensure the safe, reliable and continuous operation of the existing fuel tank farm.
  • Continue to supply fuel to power generation facilities across the country.
  • Transform diesel-based power systems into sustainable renewable energy generation sources.
  • Improve energy security and disaster reduction for the general population.
  • Train MEC customers on distribution code and connection requirements.
  • Modernize the country’s energy generation sources.

MEC’s Fuel Storage Tanks

The primary goal of the Energy Security Project is to revitalize the entire Marshalls Energy Company tank farm. The farmhouses have eight fuel storage tanks that hold 750,000 gallons each. At the time of the initial agreement in 2018, the farm was using only three of the tanks for fuel. An assessment of the farm concluded that at least seven of the eight tanks underwent enough deterioration to require repairs and one may even require replacing.

The MEC can successfully avoid leaks or catastrophic tank failure by using the increased grant funding to renovate the tank farm. Completing the goals of the project will be key to avoiding economic and environmental failure for the people of the Marshall Islands.

The Marshall Islands Electricity Roadmap

The Republic of the Marshall Islands introduced a roadmap in 2018 outlining a pathway to a low-carbon energy future. It was one of the first countries to submit a long-term decarbonization plan to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change under the Paris Agreement.

Minister-in-Assistance to the President and Environment Minister, Honorable Dave Paul, stated that in order for the country to meet its goals, it needs to have more than half of the country’s electricity coming from renewable sources by 2025. The Government of the Marshall Islands encourages ambitious action from all countries to adopt similar goals of sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making the switch to renewable energy.

Renewable Energy to Fight Poverty

About 30% of residents in the two urban areas of the Marshall Islands live below the basic needs poverty line with double that percentage living in poverty in all of the outer rural areas. The Energy Security Project will help lessen the amount of poverty in the country by bringing in more renewable energy.

Access to clean, affordable energy is a prerequisite to ending poverty. Building and maintaining renewable energy in the Marshall Islands will help create jobs and improve the health of the population. Renewable energy systems will allow for more affordable and safer access to electricity. This will lead to the development of more institutions, such as health centers and schools that will further help the most impoverished of the population thrive.

Melissa Hood
Photo: Flickr

Green Trade
Following the impacts of COVID-19, many developing countries are attempting to rebuild their economies and alleviate the financial hardships of the people facing these impacts. Prior to the pandemic, the International Energy Agency predicted that renewable energy would expand by 50% between 2019 and 2024. As of 2022, it seems many nations are more focused on economic advancement rather than avoiding environmentally dangerous actions. Many world organizations are advocating for “greening trade” as a new growth strategy that could protect the environment and benefit nations with high poverty levels as a consequence of the onset of COVID-19. Green trade has the potential to transform developing countries.

What Does Greening Trade Mean?

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), greening trade involves promoting sustainable measures to engage in trade that do not pollute land or water. The process focuses mainly on engaging in trade with renewable energy and energy efficiency markets. Greening trade helps the environment while maintaining trade relations for economic prosperity.

Evidence of Success in Greening Trade

In 2019, Palgrave Communications reported that the green trading industry generated $1.3 trillion in the United States economy alone. The industry has created 9.5 million full-time jobs in the U.S. In China, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that a mix of carbon taxes and green investment could have the potential to increase China’s GDP by 0.7% and create more than 12 million jobs by 2027. It is clear that green trade has created success in major economies globally.

How Can Greening Trade Reduce Poverty?

The World Trade Organization (WTO) released a study in January 2022 suggesting that more trade in green technologies could help developing nations transition to a low carbon economy. This is an advantage for nations with impoverished populations because new guidelines by WTO may require green practices in the future. In consideration, implementing green policies could prepare developing countries for future trading markets while preventing the countries from lagging behind.

Greening Trade Begins in Developing Countries

In September 2021, the Brookings Africa Growth Initiative hosted an event to explore opportunities for green trade with Europe’s new Green Deal. The event occurred in hopes of encouraging the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to do the same. The AfCFTA is projected to bring 30 million Africans out of poverty simply by means of trade and would benefit from engaging in green trade to maintain trade relations with the United Nations. The recent African Green Recovery Action Plan states that “for the COVID-19 recovery to be sustainable, it must link a green recovery with an inclusive recovery.” The plan insinuates that marginalized groups and those in poverty can benefit from green plans.

The World Bank states that Vietnam should use its resources to promote green trade to maintain a competitive edge in international markets and generate new, innovative jobs for the unemployed to combat pandemic-induced poverty levels. Green recovery is crucial in the post-COVID-19 era to improve the conditions of those in poverty, specifically in developing countries that have the opportunity to rebuild.

Ways to Green Trade

UNEP suggests four ways that governments can actively engage in greening trade:

  1. Enforce strong environmental laws and regulations both at a national and international level.
  2. Have governments create trade rules and agreements that promote environmental awareness.
  3. Promote intergovernmental cooperation on green trade through improved monitoring, green trade finance and sustainability impact assessments.
  4. Identify stakeholder initiatives to green trade and supply chains to craft policy that complements such efforts.

Green trading is a relatively new industry and its full economic potential has not yet come to fruition. If developing countries take advantage of engaging in green trade now, these nations could be setting themselves up for the future of trade in general while benefiting their economies.

 

Rachel Reardon
Photo: Flickr

Jeremiah Thoronka
The night of November 10, 2021, marked an inspiring day for renewable energy innovations. Jeremiah Thoronka, a 21-year-old student from Sierra Leone, won the Global Student Prize at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. His invention, Optim Energy, utilizes kinetic energy from pedestrian and street traffic vibrations to produce clean, renewable energy. With $100,000 in prize money, he hopes to expand his responsible consumption practices and reach 100,000 people by 2030.

The Innovative 17-Year-Old

Jeremiah Thoronka was born into the chaos of the Sierra Leone war and his single mother raised him in a refugee camp. Firewood and coal, which produce photochemical smog, were the only energy sources available to his community, negatively impacting health and education. These adversities prompted his advocacy and creativity for renewable energy. He was only 17 when he first created Optim Energy, creating a unique kind of renewable energy because it does not rely on a battery or weather conditions, like wind and solar power. With a passion for renewable energy and robotics, Thoronka began to change the world.

His achievements continue to add to his already impressive list, exemplifying his incredible drive and hard work. Thoronka’s impact traces back to his studies at the Durham University and the African Leadership University where he pursued an honors “degree in Global Challenge with a focus on Energy and Sustainable Development.” He also took the position of Secretary-General of ALU Student Representative Council (2019-2020) and is the founder of the Sierra Leone Student Conservation Organization (SLSCO).

In Rwanda, Thoronka aided the Agahozo Youth Village in providing education and skills to orphans and vulnerable youth. The young innovator volunteers to teach children in his community how to pass the National Primary School Examination. He presents his research papers and workshops at world-renowned conventions, like the World Youth Forum or IRENA Innovation Week, as an author. In his writing, Thoronka focuses on the environment, renewability, youth leadership and entrepreneurship. He dedicates his work to building stronger communities and opportunities for those without them.

The Challenges of Energy Poverty in Sierra Leone

Energy poverty in Sierra Leone is severe, with only 6% of rural populations having access to electricity. The lack of power leads to a reliance on firewood and kerosene generators, both of which cause significant issues. Firewood leads to the destruction of forests, which puts Sierra Leone in danger of severe weather consequences from floods or landslides. Frequent house fires are common due to the use of cheap kerosene generators. The replacement of these energy sources would be beneficial for energy access and fire hazards, the environment and health. “By replacing the use of kerosene, it reduces the risk of fires from the combustible fuel source, reduces the negative impacts on health, increases productivity and can offset around 370kg of CO2 per year.”

Optim Energy

Today, Optim Energy is making strides toward improvements and expansion. It has generated power for 150 households and 15 schools, free of charge. Optim Energy has also grown into “a larger initiative aiming to shrink greenhouse gas emissions, educate citizens about energy efficiency and build a sustainable energy sector in Sierra Leone.” In 2019, there was a 5% improvement in energy access in “the local community grid in the rural area where [Thoronka] operates.” That is 3% above the average for Sierra Leone, which has risen by 65% since the early 2000s. The problem with this increase is how underdeveloped the nation’s energy systems are in meeting the population’s demand. Overall, in Sierra Leone, more than “89% of the population live without electricity and nearly 96% rely on traditional solid biomass for cooking.” Improvements that inventors like Jeremiah Thoronka create will aid the energy poverty in Sierra Leone.

Looking Ahead

Energy poverty is complex, and a solution will take years, yet innovations and creators make strides daily. Communities receiving an education that will spark leadership and ingenuity will create a new generation of out-of-the-box thinkers. Companies that are creating clean, renewable energy are expanding and improving. The future of energy access is bright. It will take collaboration to fight energy inequality. Until then, Jeremiah Thoronka will continue impressing the world and those he inspires will follow in his steps.

– Anna Montgomery
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in PortugalPortugal is taking advantage of its Atlantic coast by investing in offshore wind farms. These developments occur in an effort to reverse the negative economic effects of COVID-19 and downsize energy poverty in the country. The expansion of renewable energy in Portugal has the potential to reduce the country’s expensive dependency on imports while simultaneously creating new local jobs and domestic industries.

The Issue of Energy Poverty

The United Nations defines energy poverty as a lack of “access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy.” Compared to other countries in the European Union, Portugal endures some of the highest rates of energy poverty, with nearly 20% of the country’s population reporting that they were unable to properly heat and cool their homes in 2018. Compared to the EU’s average of 6.9%, Portugal has a notably high rate. Energy-inefficient homes result in extremely high energy bills for citizens when temperatures fluctuate, especially in the winter. Recent studies show that 75% of the buildings in Portugal fail to meet the required guidelines for heating. This is an issue that has devastating impacts on the overall health of residents.

The Portuguese government does provide discounts on gas and electricity for households that meet certain socioeconomic criteria, and in 2020, nearly 753,000 households in Portugal received the electricity social tariff. Additionally, approximately 35,000 received the natural gas social tariff. However, the development of renewable energy and the subsequent reduction of overall energy costs could eliminate the need for these social tariffs altogether.

The Economic Effects of COVID-19

Like many countries, Portugal’s economy has faced huge setbacks as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its GDP decreased by 8.4% in 2020, “the largest annual decline since 1936.” In order to combat this decline, the country is making strides to expand its renewable energy sector.

The hope is that it can transition from the expensive task of importing fossil fuels to finding innovative ways to generate its own clean energy. Renewable energy in Portugal has expanded greatly in recent years, providing more than 50% of the country’s electricity needs in 2019, with hopes to reach 80% by 2030.

Innovations in Wind Energy

One area of renewable energy in which Portugal has become a leading European country is the development of wind energy. In 2019, Portugal’s Atlantic coast became home to the second floating wind farm in Europe, an alternative to onshore turbines which can disrupt tourism and generate noise complaints. Previously, offshore wind farms were limited to shallow waters, preventing countries like Portugal from taking advantage of the industry due to its deep Atlantic waters.

However, incredible innovation by the WindFloat Atlantic project produced three wind turbines located 20 km offshore from the port city Viana Do Castelo, minimizing disruption to the local fishing industry and taking advantage of more powerful winds and deep water storms. These three turbines alone possess an installed capacity of 25 megawatts. This is “roughly equivalent to the energy consumed by 60,000 homes in one year.” The cutting-edge feat of the Windfloat Atlantic Project has captured the attention of many other coastal countries who hope to develop similar technology and presents great potential for a resurgence in Portugal’s economy.

Renewable Energy and Economic Growth

COVID-19 caused unemployment in Portugal to skyrocket by 36.2% between May 2019 and May 2020. Throughout the pandemic, workers without a higher education degree were most affected, with an average increase in registered unemployment of 38.3% between the same dates. However, the expansion of offshore wind energy is creating new job opportunities for this demographic which do not require higher education.

Wind energy in Portugal currently gives employment to approximately 22,000 people, and the WindFloat Atlantic project, which Ocean Winds implemented in 2011, has created 1,500 jobs for local citizens. Increased dependence on renewable energy in Portugal will also decrease electricity bills for residents and become a pivotal agent in combating energy poverty. Many expect that the pioneer project will grow in the coming years. Portugal is in the perfect position to capitalize on that growth, improving the lives of its citizens and revitalizing its economy in an earth-friendly way.

Like many countries, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were detrimental to Portugal’s economy. However, the success of the WindFloat Atlantic project has resulted in more job opportunities for those who became unemployed during the pandemic, a decreased dependence on energy imports and the downsizing of energy poverty due to the more affordable prices that renewable energy sources are able to offer. The cutting-edge technology of Portugal’s offshore wind farm has sparked excitement in many other European nations who hope to develop similar projects along their coastlines. As a new leader in the development of renewable wind energy, Portugal will continue to innovate and pave the way for cleaner, more affordable energy for all.

– Hannah Gage
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in Russia
Russia is the world’s second-largest producer of natural gas and the third-largest producer of oil. These are powerful sources of energy that are not renewable. However, there is great potential to convert to renewable energy in Russia. Further, if Russia follows the trends in the United States, there is also potential for Russia’s poverty rates to decline by expanding renewable energy industries and the jobs they could bring.

Russian Oil and Natural Gas Industries

The oil and natural gas industries accounted for about 36% of Russia’s federal budget revenues in 2016. In 2020, Russia produced an average of 10.7 million barrels of oil a day.  With this sort of abundance, Europe depends on Russia’s oil production as a chief energy source. In fact, in 2016, Russia provided more than one-third of the oil that European countries imported. As for natural gas, in 2020, the Russian company Gazprom produced more than 431 billion cubic meters of natural gas.

Though as an energy source, oil and natural gas can damage the environment, there is a major benefit to maintaining these industries: they provide so much revenue and so many jobs. Russia’s unemployment rate is low at about 4.5% in 2021. It seems to follow then that without the oil and natural gas industry, the Russian economy could crash. More broadly, arguments have stated that countries that depend on their nonrenewable energy sources could risk increased poverty if they convert to renewables.

Russian Wind and Hydropower Potential

Though they are much less prevalent than their nonrenewable counterparts, there are sources of renewable energy in Russia. Scientists say that renewable resources have even distribution throughout Russia’s large territory. Also, because Russia is so large and has a variety of climates and terrains, it is ripe for the development of renewable energy sources (RES).

Scientists believe that the two RES with the most potential in Russia are wind and hydropower. The electricity that these sources produce would not only provide enough power for Russia but also allow Russia to be able to export to European countries. Unoccupied land in Russia is ideal for new wind and hydropower plants.

This fall Russia began a two-stage solicitation for clean energy projects. It aims to build capacity for up to 6.7 gigawatts (GW) in solar, wind and hydropower. In particular, with 4.7 GW for wind power, this would increase Russia’s wind capacity severalfold from its current 1.4 GW.

Renewable Energy Job Potential

One of the most promising effects of Russia’s transition to renewable energy is the jobs it could bring. To understand that potential, it makes sense to look at what’s happened in the United States. A recent Clean Jobs America report noted that there were more than 3.3 million workers in clean energy in the U.S. which is more than three times that of the number of workers in the fossil fuel industries. Further, the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects that through 2026, the two fastest-growing occupations will be solar installer and wind technician.

The oil and gas industries currently dominate the Russian economy and job market. However, the recent push for renewable energy in Russia could be very beneficial in terms of environmental improvements and also through job creation.

– Andra Fofuca
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in Vietnam
On February 22, 2021, Vietnam released the national power development plan (PDP 8) for the 2021-2030 draft for public comment. This plan highlighted the commitment of Vietnam in the transition away from fossil fuels and to renewable energy. Until 2020, Vietnam’s effort to continuously divest its energy sources and focus on renewable energy projects has put it in a good position to become Asia’s next clean energy powerhouse. This article will provide an understanding of renewable energy in Vietnam as well as lessons for other countries transitioning away from fossil fuels.

Vietnam’s Economic Growth and Renewable Energy Investments

Researchers and experts have pointed out that one of the critical factors in Vietnam’s explosive renewable energy growth is its economic growth. According to the Asian Development Bank, the country has seen its economy grow by 6% annually since 2014, and 7% since 2018. Coupled with the country’s population increase, Vietnam’s swift economic growth drives up energy consumption at an extraordinary rate. Consumption of electricity has increased by more than 11% a year, growing faster than the GDP of Vietnam. According to the International Energy Agency report, Vietnam is Southeast Asia’s second-largest electricity consumer. The statistics affirm that if Vietnam wants to continue growing its economy and attracting foreign investors, it needs to move away from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy.

Vietnam’s Green Energy Potential

Another important reason why Vietnam has gradually moved away from fossil fuels is its green energy potential capacity. A report from the World Bank pointed out that Vietnam has one of the highest numbers of installed solar panels in Southeast Asia. Recently, renewable energy in Vietnam has seen massive solar outputs of electricity and energy, with the country producing 16,500 MW at the end of 2020. According to the statistics from a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Vietnam is among the top 10 countries with the highest capacity of solar energy panels as of 2020. Vietnam has an estimated 311 GWs of wind energy, one of the best resources in the region. Accompanied by the government’s commitment to investing in renewable energy, Vietnam is in a strong position to become a leader in the world in renewable energy development and innovative energy solutions.

The Need for Green Energy Projects

The second most important element of Vietnam’s recent renewable growth is its public commitment. A by-product of Vietnam’s economic boom was its massive carbon footprint and environmental pollution. Recent severe air and water pollution incidents in major cities have created public pressure that opposes any new development of coal power plants. Vietnamese people living in urban areas have been wearing their protective facemasks long before the COVID-19 pandemic; however, the increasing number of cars and motorbikes on public streets has created a hazardous environment.

Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi have seen pollution levels four times higher than what the World Health Organization (WHO) considers acceptable. Recent Vietnamese governmental reports said that local governments refuse new power projects because of their environmental implications. As a result, urban planners and the Vietnamese government are reshaping their energy market to incorporate more solar and wind energy in order to reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels. Experts believe that Vietnam can become a study case for renewable energy financiers and investors, thanks to its vast solar and wind energy potential.

Vietnam’s Accomplishments in Renewable Energy

From the beginning of 2014 through 2015, the country only produced 4 MW of installed solar energy for power generation. Renewable energy in Vietnam is only 0.32% of the total electricity that the country generates. Yet, as the statistics have pointed out, in just over five years, Vietnam has produced over 7.4 GW of rooftop solar power. Its renewable energy share boasts 10% of the country’s total electricity generated.

Researchers have estimated that Vietnam would produce more than 16.5 GW of solar energy, and 11.8 GW of wind energy. The government has already prepared for more onshore and offshore wind projects by 2025, which should produce 12 GW of energy capacity. These projects include wind farms in Binh Thuan and Ninh Thuan, which projections have determined will produce about 170 million kilowatt-hours of green energy per year, along with Bac Lieu offshore wind projects. Along with these projects, the government’s effort and policies show precisely why Vietnam is on track to become Asia’s next renewable energy powerhouse.

The Impact of Vietnam’s Growth in Renewable Energy

Vietnam’s recent accomplishments in renewable energy have contributed to combating extreme poverty both nationally and globally. With the help of a booming green energy market, the country’s yearly poverty rate has been declining gradually. Vietnam has gone from a country with a rural electrification rate of 2.5%to being able to connect millions of rural families to the national grid, and the country is on track to provide more green energy to rural areas. According to a report from the Asian Development Bank, these transitions will experience enhancement, thanks to renewable energy. In urban areas, renewable energy can help combat economic inequalities by providing a cleaner environment and stable energy prices. As the country has a commitment to transforming its energy, its economy will likely benefit and reduce extreme poverty.

These factors have contributed to the fast and efficient transformation of renewable energy in Vietnam. From a country that heavily relied on fossil fuels, Vietnam has become one of the leading countries in green energy. This transition helps the country combat weather changes while also uplifting the nation’s economy and providing solutions for eradicating poverty.

– Tri Truong
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in HaitiRecognized as one of the most impoverished nations in the world, Haiti has experienced a lot of turmoil over the last several decades. The challenges that political and natural disasters have brought have affected hundreds of thousands of people who now live in poverty and without access to electricity. Today, Haiti’s government is exploring new alternatives so that more people have the means to power their homes. Renewable energy in Haiti hopes to decrease poverty and increase access to electricity.

The Present Situation

As it currently stands, only about 45% of Haiti’s residents have access to electricity. Right now, 80% of the electricity in Haiti comes from imported fossil fuels and those who live in rural areas find themselves relying on dirty energy solutions like wood and charcoal. These resources can potentially lead to environmental issues such as deforestation and carbon emission while also negatively impacting the health of Haiti’s inhabitants. For these reasons, Haiti’s government is committed to investing in new means of energy that are both clean and cost-efficient.

Hydroelectricity

Although imported fossil fuels are Haiti’s primary source of electricity, there are several other options available that hold significant potential to transform Haiti if the country was well-optimized for these alternative sources. These resources are not only safe but are also renewable, meaning that they are unlikely to deplete or ever run out.

One alternative that Haiti is trying to integrate into its systems is hydroelectricity, which is power that water generates. Of all the renewable options available, hydropower has contributed the most to Haiti’s energy supply. It has improved conditions for those who live near areas where water flows, such as Haiti’s Artibonite River, where the Péligre Dam is based. Despite its prevalence in many communities, hydropower is still underutilized and it takes a lot of time and effort to incorporate such systems countrywide. With that said, the developments that Haiti’s government has made are promising and speak volumes about the future of Haiti. The Péligre Dam, which used to run at less than 60% capacity, is now generating 54 megawatts of power after more than a decade and will continue to provide sustainable energy for the next 40 years.

Solar Power

Solar power is another form of renewable energy in Haiti, which has a lot of potential due to the country’s warm and tropical location. In rural areas that do not receive electricity, such as Haiti’s South department, people depend on the energy that generators produce. Generators run on diesel, kerosene and other dirty solutions. These expensive generators, however, are not fully effective and only provide enough power to fulfill basic needs. The installation of mini-grids and solar panels in these areas could alleviate such problems and provide enough electricity for homes and businesses to receive power every day. Schools, hospitals and agricultural institutions are among those that can benefit from solar energy. Today, Haiti’s rural southwest has implemented grid systems to provide electricity for 8,000 people across 1,600 households.

Project Phoenix

While hydropower and solar power are at the focus of Haiti’s developments, other solutions are also available and can address additional issues the country faces. One example of this is waste-powered energy, which appeared as the subject of an initiative titled Project Phoenix. This proposal, which called for the collection of 1,600 tons of garbage every day, anticipated the generation of at least 30 megawatts of electricity per hour. The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) published a final review of the project in 2014, highlighting the strategic recommendations and steps necessary to proceed as planned. Introducing a waste-to-energy method in Haiti would benefit cities such as Port-au-Prince, where garbage is overabundant and illegal dumping is a serious problem.

Wind Energy

Wind energy is another option Haiti has considered, though it is not as viable since it depends on seasonal variability and location. Additionally, Haiti does not have any wind farms, which makes this alternative appear less effective. However, Haiti does have measurement systems to record data on the capabilities of wind power. Estimates suggest that wind power can deliver electricity at 30-50% of the cost of solar energy in windier areas. Though there are no plans to build wind farms in Haiti, the construction of a power plant did begin in 2017. Not only will the plant optimize wind but it will also be the first to utilize a mixture of wind, solar and diesel energy. The power plant will be able to produce up to 160 kilowatts of electricity.

How Renewable Energy Reduces Poverty

While these renewable energy sources are capable of substituting imported fossil fuels, they also play a significant role in alleviating poverty. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians rely on generators, which are expensive and can only provide electricity for a limited time. By implementing renewable energy substitutes, impoverished Haitians can save money that would otherwise go toward paying for diesel-powered electricity, enabling them to afford other basic essentials such as food, water and shelter.

About 10Power

Over and above the fundamental benefits of renewable energy, the renewable energy sector has the potential to create job opportunities for Haitians. With the demand for low-cost electricity being so high in Haiti, businesses are starting to emerge and are combating the frequent problems residents endure. One company, known as 10Power, is a solar startup partnering with locals to install and provide financing for solar energy projects in Haiti’s rural areas. It was responsible for installing solar arrays at two of Haiti’s water purification centers, which provide water to local communities and support more than 600 microbusinesses. Women lead many of these microbusinesses.

The company also worked on the array installation at Haiti’s UNICEF headquarters, which was the largest solar installation on any UNICEF base in the world. The startup 10Power has grown dramatically since its founding in 2016 and is now working with a sales pipeline of projects worth more than $100 million. Today, it is collaborating with the Solar Electric Light Fund and Haiti Tec to provide field experience for student technicians and create jobs for many of Haiti’s men as women. Implementing renewable energy methods in Haiti is significant because doing so will positively impact the nation’s economy.

Haiti continues to explore various renewable energy options available in the hopes of making a positive difference in many of its cities and regions. If Haiti optimizes these alternatives correctly, the government will bring power not just to people’s homes but to their lives as well.

– Eshaan Gandhi
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Renewable Energy in BangladeshAccess to electricity addresses symptoms of world poverty. The World Bank describes access to electricity as at the “heart of development” and the United Nations recognizes access to reliable and clean electricity as a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). For Bangladesh, achieving full energy accessibility by 2022 is a major goal. However, the specific source of energy production influences the effectiveness of energy development. As a result, the implementation of renewable energy in Bangladesh could help the country reach its goal.

Bangladesh significantly increased access to electricity by utilizing non-renewable sources of energy. However, working toward Bangladesh’s energy accessibility goal through non-renewable sources alleviates certain symptoms of poverty and exacerbates others. These circumstances leave room for the growth of renewable energy in Bangladesh. Renewable energy in Bangladesh can address poverty along with the unintended consequences of non-renewable sources of energy.

The Paradox of Energy in Bangladesh

Citizens are receiving the power they need while their neighborhoods suffer from harmful pollution. Government policy allowed for substantial increases in Bangladesh’s access to reliable energy. Between 2000 and 2019, access to electricity in Bangladesh rose from 32% of its population to 92.2%. Regardless, Bangladesh’s government invested in non-renewable power stations to power its most populous settings. This means those in urban settings are gaining energy access while sacrificing their health.

Natural gas has been leading Bangladesh’s surge in energy production. Other non-renewable sources of energy in Bangladesh such as coal and diesel are responsible for producing the majority of Bangladesh’s pollutive energy. Both release harmful pollutants that can cause various health problems. These consequences disproportionately affect those living in poverty. Impoverished citizens in Bangladesh who face pollution are more subject to illness and are less likely to receive treatment for it.

Bangladesh has recently rejected coal plant plans. The move is evidence that the Bangladesh government understands the health and environmental implications of certain forms of energy. According to a 2009 report, Bangladesh could save an estimated 10,000 lives per year if it reduces air pollution in four of its largest cities. In the decade following, Bangladesh increased its energy production through pollutive means. This means energy production, a contributor to such air pollution, is responsible for the deaths of Bangladeshi citizens. Renewable energy in Bangladesh presents an opportunity for Bangladesh to address this issue.

Energy in Comparison

Investing in renewable energy in Bangladesh is a matter of scale. Despite having the world’s largest rural solar installment and investing in wind power, renewable energy in Bangladesh only accounts for 3.3% of the total energy that the country generates. Renewable energy in Bangladesh has the potential to address the remaining energy needs without the pollution of non-renewable energy. This is a major advantage of renewable energy in Bangladesh. Improvements are occurring through more than one main source of renewable energy in Bangladesh: solar and wind.

Nearly 62% of Bangladeshis live in rural areas. This is where the Bangladesh government is working to provide more energy. Solar and wind are increasing the renewable share of Bangladesh’s energy market. Starting in 2003, the Bangladeshi government began the world’s largest rural solar installment. Today, the installment provides clean and reliable power to more than 20 million rural Bangladeshi citizens. Bangladesh also approved the country’s first major wind installment in 2020. Both provide alternatives to Bangladesh’s non-renewable grid.

Solar has a major advantage over other forms of renewable energy in Bangladesh. Solar can be easier to install than fossil-fueled power plants and wind power, especially in rural areas where Bangladesh’s lack of energy currently concentrates. Natural-gas-fueled power plants require significant investment in both finances and physical location and wind installments require similar investments. One can install solar nearly anywhere. This means solar energy in Bangladesh can be effective in its rural areas where large power plants are infeasible. For these reasons, small-scale renewables are growing in popularity.

Alleviating Poverty Through Renewables in Bangladesh

Communities that have access to electricity do better. Small-scale solar installments in similar rural areas to Bangladesh, such as villages in India, give households access to other necessities. Solar energy can more reliably and safely fuel pumps that provide potable water to villages. Bangladesh’s solar installment reduced the consumption of kerosene by 4.4 million liters. In addition, the installment of small-scale solar can provide energy for refrigeration and cooking. This means providing solar energy to remote villages can be effective for the Bangladesh government to ensure electricity is provided for every citizen. The installment of small-scale renewable energy in Bangladesh can mediate two crises: poverty and energy accessibility.

Bangladesh has significantly increased its electricity access. However, past development largely left renewables out. This means renewable energy in Bangladesh can address the remaining accessibility gaps in the electric grid. Future investments in renewables provide a viable pathway for Bangladesh to sustainably develop its most impoverished communities.

– Harrison Vogt
Photo: Flickr

Renewable energy in SpainIn 2018, Spain announced its goals of deriving 75% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030, and by 2050, increasing this renewable energy reliance to 100%. Within two years, Spain rethought its entire energy consumption pattern and transitioned to generating 43.6% of its energy renewably by 2020. Along with producing more sustainable and efficient energy, renewable energy in Spain also helps reduce poverty throughout the country.

5 Ways Renewable Energy in Spain Reduces Poverty

  1. Providing Clean Energy Jobs. In 2018, Spain made its first step toward renewable energy by closing coal mines and redirecting mining employees to clean energy jobs. Former coal mine employees were re-trained for jobs focusing on solar and wind power. The construction of renewable plants is providing jobs as well. By 2019, the switch to renewable energy in Spain created approximately 90,000 jobs in the sector. Enel Green Power’s Totana Solar Plant gave preference for employment to locals and provided training for the unemployed. The shutdown of coal mines did not bring about hardship to the country as new jobs were created through the transition to renewable energy, benefiting the entire nation.
  2. Lowering Energy Prices. Typically, renewable energy is more costly than conventional energy because it involves far less production. However, with the increased demand for renewable energy in Spain, renewable energy prices are dropping. Renewable energy also saves money in the long term due to its efficiency and sustainability. Experts estimate that the switch to renewable energy will save the average household €210 per year.
  3. Renewable Energy Tax Reform. Spain also uses taxes as an incentive to push renewable energy. Specifically, in 2019, Spain dropped its “sun tax,” which charged for self-consumption of solar energy and sharing of solar power. The sun tax made sustainable energy more expensive, essentially serving as a barrier in the renewable energy transition.
  4. Helping Economic Growth. As with the rest of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic hurt Spain’s economy considerably. Spain’s economy contracted by 11% in 2020, “the biggest contraction since the days of the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s.” Furthermore, the unemployment rate reached 16.1%, affecting tourism-dependent industries the most. In the wake of the economic consequences of COVID-19, renewable energy provides a way to stimulate the economy. In September 2020, Spain allocated €181 million to renewable energy in order to increase jobs, investment and affordable electricity access. As such, renewable energy is part of COVID-19 relief in Spain and will help repair the economy.
  5. Reducing Energy Poverty. Overall, energy poverty impacts “between 3.5 and 8.1 million citizens” in Spain. The definition of energy poverty is a lack of “access to affordable, safe, sustainable and modern energy.” Energy poverty can occur because of the inability to afford energy or because of the lack of energy availability in certain areas. With renewable energy replacing conventional energy, however, energy is not only becoming more affordable but the efficiency of renewable power makes it more widely available.

Looking to the Future

Spain’s new energy plan has greatly contributed to the decrease in both carbon emissions and poverty. Currently, the country is inching closer to the 50% mark of renewable energy reliance. The Spanish nation is following its plan closely and is set to achieve zero emissions by 2050.

– Maddie Rhodes
Photo: Flickr

solar panels in SenegalIn Senegal, close to a quarter of the total population lacks access to electricity, with rural communities enduring the least access. In May 2021, two new photovoltaic solar plants opened in Kael and Kahone, two towns located in Western Senegal. The plants will provide electricity for 540,000 citizens at a low cost. The addition of the solar power plants form part of the World Bank Group’s Scaling Solar program and are funded by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), European Investment Bank and Proparco. The project estimates that more than 400 jobs in the towns benefit from the existence of the new solar power plants in Senegal. Because Senegal mainly relies on imported oil for electricity, solar power plants offer a more reliable and sustainable green energy source that costs less. Access to electricity is critical for the economy and businesses, improving people’s daily lives in several ways.

Poverty in Senegal

With roughly half of the total population living above the poverty line, significant improvements are needed to lift more people out of poverty. Roughly 75% of the Senegalese population depends on agriculture as their income source. Another primary industry in Senegal is mining. Senegal’s economy rises and falls, following global trends of prices. When export prices fall, farmers suffer the adverse effects since their incomes decrease. Many Senegalese people lack access to education, healthcare and other essential services. As a result of economic hardships, many people migrate from Senegal in hopes of finding better work.

Electricity in Senegal

Access to electricity plays an important role in the economy and contributes to reducing poverty. Senegal relies heavily on oil imports for fuel. Roughly 80% of Senegal’s energy is “oil-based.” The prices of imported oil fluctuate, and recently, prices have been high. The combination of no access to electricity, power cuts and limited electricity infrastructure takes a toll on the economy, especially businesses. Individuals also face hardships in their homes with a lack of lighting and energy to power appliances.

The Solar Power Plants

The solar power plants are located in Kael and Kahone, two small towns that rely on agriculture and have high poverty rates. Lack of electricity access is higher in rural areas similar to Kael and Kahone in comparison to urban areas. The new solar plants in Senegal bring opportunities for employment, improved conditions in workspaces and homes and affordable electricity costs.

Solar power plants in Senegal form part of the strategy for increasing access to electricity, focusing on regenerative sources. Senegal’s government wants to become an emerging economy by 2035 and the energy sector is one of the major components of Senegal’s growth. Rural areas remain the most challenging areas to install power grids. However, with low incomes, rural people struggle to afford the high costs of electricity. Solar energy from the new plants costs less than four euro cents per kilowatt-hour, making the energy more affordable than oil-based electricity and more accessible to rural areas with high poverty rates.

Attracting Investment and Igniting Economic Growth

These renewable energy projects attract potential investors to Senegal, giving the country even more opportunities to increase sustainable energy, including hydro, wind, thermal and off-shore natural gas. Senegal is also home to “the largest solar farm in West Africa,” with many private home-installed solar power systems. More micro-financing options and interest in infrastructure improves economic growth and increases access to electricity for those in low-income areas.

Although poverty rates are high in much of rural Senegal, one solution is growing the energy sector, which will improve the economy. The inability to access electricity puts a major constraint on economic growth. Solar power plants in Senegal bring people much-needed electricity at a low cost. Renewable energy sources are critical as the world is depleting its oil reserves. Bringing sustainable energy solutions to people living in poverty positively affects development indicators such as “health, education, food security, gender equality, livelihoods and poverty reduction.” Senegal is on its way to success as more and more countries switch to earth-friendly energy.

– Madeleine Proffer
Photo: Unsplash