Renewable Energy in Bosnia and HerzegovinaBosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is a developing country in the Western Balkans. Since the 1992-1995 Bosnian War, it has faced substantial economic setbacks, with at least 16.9% of its population living in poverty as of 2015. However, renewable energy in Bosnia and Herzegovina could offer valuable opportunities for reducing poverty and boosting the economy.

A Step Toward Greener Energy

Currently, Bosnia and Herzegovina is the only country in the Western Balkans that is a net exporter of power. Electricity, which accounts for about 20% of the national GDP, is its most profitable export. In 2021, hydropower accounted for 37% of the electricity produced in the country, which has also begun to introduce solar and wind power plants in recent years.

According to the International Trade Administration, Bosnia and Herzegovina has the potential to further grow and benefit from renewable energy production. Given the country’s extensive river networks, sunny summers and windy mountain ranges, government officials are not ignoring that potential. In March 2022, BiH’s government announced plans to allocate 3.6 billion marka (about $2 billion) to enhance the country’s output of clean, renewable energy in the upcoming five years.

Significantly, such funding could have a substantial economic impact while helping to improve the well-being of the country’s most vulnerable. For instance, a 2015 UNICEF report highlighted that 73.8% of children in BiH between 5 and 15 years of age are deprived of material resources in at least one way, and 71.8% of children between 0 and 4 years of age are nutrition-deprived. A 2017 Sustainable Development Goals Fund Case Study showed that investment in increasing renewable energy production could help create jobs, lower household energy costs, improve health and sanitation and provide new opportunities to break the cycle of poverty and deprivation.

Wind Power Potential Blowing Investors Away

There are already three operational wind farms in BiH. As of 2019, one farm in Podveležje was producing 126 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electrical power yearly — enough to power about 40,000 homes. This sector expects to see further growth. For example, the German company wpd GmbH has invested $1.5 billion in a two-part project to build four wind farms in the towns of Glamoc, Bosansko Grahovo and Livno.

A Brighter Future in Solar Power 

Additionally, the southern regions of BiH benefit from strong Mediterranean sunshine, which some overseas investors are eager to help harness. The Norwegian renewable energy company Greenstat, for one, is beginning construction of the first large-scale solar farm in the town of Grude. The plant will have the capacity to capture some 65 GWh of power per year.  

At the local level, the government is also encouraging citizens to install solar panels through a state-funded initiative. The scheme is expected to alleviate some of the consequences of the current energy crisis in Europe, thus leaving people with more income and resources to enrich their quality of life.

Harnessing Hydropower

Although hydropower already accounts for a substantial portion of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s renewable energy, the country’s rivers hold much untapped potential. Recent data indicate that BiH is only deriving about 41% of its domestic energy from hydropower. This indicates that this lucrative sector has room to expand while paving the way toward a greener and brighter future within the country itself.

Using Renewable Energy in Bosnia and Herzegovina for Good

Although Bosnia and Herzegovina’s developing renewable energy industry has met with some controversy, there is a clear route to increasing the country’s renewable energy production, instituting appropriate regulations and helping to alleviate poverty. Channeling and storing BiH’s abundant wind, solar and hydro-power resources would go a long way in heightening its energy export potential while ensuring positive impacts on both poverty reduction and the environment.

Annabel Kartal-Allen
Photo: Pixabay

Renewable Energy in Mozambique
The Southern African country of Mozambique holds great potential for renewable energy. “At 187 gigawatts, Mozambique has the largest power generation potential in Southern Africa from untapped coal, hydro, gas, wind and solar resources,” USAID notes. Mozambique is already equipped with an impressive existing hydro infrastructure, the Cahora Bassa hydro dam being the most notable. Despite this great potential, however, only 34% of Mozambique’s population has access to reliable electricity. Furthermore, in 2022, 60% of the nation’s people live in conditions of poverty.

Renewable Energy in Mozambique Brings Benefits

Recent research undertaken by The Rockefeller Foundation found that investing in renewable energy could create 25 million direct jobs in the energy sector across Asia and Africa by 2030. Furthermore, the improvements that reliable energy access would provide through renewable energy could create close to 500 million new jobs in sectors such as health care, education, agriculture and entrepreneurship. A quarter of these jobs would form in sub-Saharan Africa.

Indeed, with Mozambique’s established wealth of natural green energy sources, the nation would likely be one of the major beneficiaries of these new jobs, which would help to alleviate poverty. The transition to renewable energy holds the benefit of job creation, a positive benefit for a country with an unemployment rate of 3.9% in 2021. With a GDP per capita of approximately $491, in 2021, Mozamibique’s economy could benefit from an increasingly productive workforce.

Instances of investing in renewable energy in Mozambique have already created jobs, with the construction of the Mocuba solar plant employing more than 1,050 Mozambicans at peak construction and now producing 79 GWh per year. For context, that is the “equivalent of the electricity consumption of more than 170,000 households in Mozambique,” according to the Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries. The Mocuba solar plant opened as recently as August 2019. Solar power already helps to power 700 schools and 800 other public buildings in Mozambique.

Mozambique is already a net exporter of energy in the Southern African region. This is mostly due to its developed hydro infrastructure. With large solar projects underway, the value of these established trade relationships could significantly increase. Via an effective distribution and transmission network, Mozambique would also be able to export energy to new customers. This would bring significant GDP growth which, if distributed effectively, could benefit the population at large.

Mozambique’s Power Company Sets Targets

Electricidade de Mocambique (EDM), Mozambique’s state-owned energy company, has put in place a policy to increase installed energy capacity to more than 6,000 MW by 2030 and aims for 20% integration of renewable energy in the country’s power grid. EDM believes that this policy will attract more private investment to Mozambique’s energy sector and ensure the development of a sustainable workforce. Indeed, as the world aligns with net-zero targets and the topic of going green remains prominent, these jobs are likely to remain relevant in the future.

Accelerating Renewable Energy in Mozambique

In January 2023, power development company Ncondezi Energy signed a land agreement with the Government of Mozambique for a 300 MW hybrid solar project, which will help contribute to the government’s goal of achieving universal access to electricity by 2030. Additionally, in 2021, the European Development Fund committed €15 million to the development of renewable energy in Mozambique by investing in entrepreneurs and companies. This will help to reduce the concentration of energy poverty in rural areas.

Looking Ahead

Investment in renewable energy has seen great success in several countries, such as China. It has created jobs, increased reliable access to energy and raised GDP, ultimately reducing poverty. Through similar initiatives, this process can be emulated in Mozambique. By investing in renewable energy to help a country with an abundance of natural green energy sources, more people in Mozambique may see a future free from poverty.

– Saul Gunn
Photo: Flickr

Macadamia Shell BriquettesMacadamia nuts, a popular food that people enjoy all over the world, contain shells that often end up as waste. However, there are initiatives aiming to transform these shells into eco-friendly briquettes that drive sustainability and also advance efforts to alleviate poverty in many developing countries.

What Are Macadamia Shell Briquettes

As biomass waste products, macadamia nut shells can serve as a renewable energy source. By drying and pressing the shells into variously sized compact fuel blocks, the resulting briquettes can fuel cooking and heating systems or power boilers.

The Benefits of Macadamia Shell Briquettes

  1. Environmentally sustainable: As macadamia shells serve no other purpose, their reuse in the form of briquettes reduces the amount of waste in the environment. Also, this prevents deforestation and lowers carbon emissions by providing an alternative to traditional wood-and charcoal-burning methods. The burgeoning industry has seen success in South Africa, the world’s largest macadamia nut producer, with many shells to spare. Shisa Eco-briquettes is just one of the companies working to counteract the more than 2 billion tons of annual carbon dioxide emissions from forest degradation. Additionally, the organization is working to preserve natural resources for future generations with its macadamia shell briquette business.
  2. Income generation: With new industries, come new opportunities for employment and income for families living in poverty. Michael Duncan of Shisa Eco-briquettes works alongside four fully trained employees and documents the strong relationship between his company and their local community. “We try to uplift them in every way we can,” he said. Eyoh Alder Ventures, a company run by Muthoni Ndung’u in Kenya, also sells macadamia shell briquettes. Its aim is to “reduce hunger and poverty among rural farmers who are mainly women.” Ndung’u is just one of over 200 women empowered by The Charcoal Project, a nonprofit organization that supports “clean burning technologies.”
  3. Cost-effective and energy-efficient: Macadamia shell briquettes also save money for consumers. The shells are more affordable for people living in poverty. It allows people to save more and allocate their income to other needs. Ziwa Hillington of Ugandan company, Green Bio Energy noted that eco-friendly briquettes can be between 20% and 40% cheaper than other cooking fuels like charcoal. Macadamia shell briquettes also burn just as well as charcoal, in terms of both duration and temperature. This dispels any concerns about cost and energy efficiency.
  4. Health benefits: In 2022, the World Health Organization reported that almost 2.5 billion people worldwide lacked access to clean cooking material. Women and children in low-income and middle-income countries often succumb to diseases such as cancer, stroke and chronic lung disease. Charcoal and kerosene cooking materials were significant contributors to this crisis. Eco-waste briquettes are healthier alternatives, as the shells do not produce smoke or soot. Healthier families are more likely to be able to stay in education or employment and save what money would otherwise be spent on health care or treatment, and this strengthens both familial and local economies.

Positive Change

The growing success of macadamia shell briquettes shows how new innovations can help communities in a variety of interconnected ways. From health care to employment and sustainable local poverty reduction to environmental preservation, with far-reaching global benefits, the use of briquettes holds the potential for positive change and can potentially help nations fight poverty.
– Helene Schlichter
Photo: Pixabay
Renewable energy in FinlandRenewable energy in Finland is one of the biggest success stories of sustainable resources and development in the world. With Finland’s goal of being carbon-neutral by 2035 and focusing on decreased fossil fuel usage, the country may become one of the foremost experts in renewable energy production in the coming years. In turn, the development of renewable resources can potentially help to alleviate the effects of poverty throughout the country.

Finland’s Energy Sources

The predominance of renewable energy in Finland has its roots in the country’s lack of available fossil fuels. Of the energy sources used in 2021, coal made up just 6.2% of Finland’s energy consumption and 4.5% of its electricity production. By contrast, Finland had 19.5% of its electricity production in bioenergy while wood-based fuels accounted for 29.7% of the country’s consumption.

Finland also has an extensive reserve of nuclear energy, which provides 32.9% of the country’s electricity production. This led to Finland having a total renewable energy consumption of 45.76% in 2019. This percentage for Finland is impressive when compared to the 10.42% for the U.S. in the same year.

Finland’s national climate policy aims to reduce the national usage of carbon fuels and make the country carbon-neutral by 2035, with emission reduction targets planned well into 2050. Though Finland has had energy relations with Russia for a long time, the war in Ukraine has forced Finland to consider other alternatives and invest in renewable energy sources such as wind power.

Increasing Energy Efficiency in Finland

As of 2020, 733 million people across the world did not have electricity, and 2.4 billion still use cooking systems that contribute to environmental pollution. The lack of modern energy affordability, noted as energy poverty by the U.N.’s 7th Sustainable Development Goal, affects many low-income countries. Though Finland has an energy poverty rate of 1.9%, and an energy surplus initiated a drop in the price of electricity by 75% in April, the issue of energy poverty is one Finland has taken the initiative to combat. One such recent movement is the Finnish Energy Observatory (FEnO) established in September 2022. FEnO focuses on climate change-related energy issues, with the goal of making a transition to clean energy for all. To do this, it focuses on monitoring key resources on energy challenges in the country, having open discussions with experts in the field and assisting the public and private sectors in Finland.

Another initiative was the ASSIST Project, which started in 2017 and finished in 2020. ASSIST focused its efforts on incorporating consumers into the energy market and designing policies to push against energy issues. A major focus of this was training Home Energy Advisers to provide energy partners and consumers with advice on better energy efficiency. ASSIST has also pushed for efforts to put more vulnerable consumers at ease with the costs of energy efficiency. Within ASSIST’s pilot phase, Finland’s energy savings increased by 3.9%.

In addition, Finland’s recent developments in the field of wind power resulted in the building of 437 wind turbines over the course of 2022. The recent constructions have provided €2.9 billion in investments for Finland, a huge benefit for the country’s economy.

Where Finland Can Go Next

Given the ongoing efforts, renewable energy is on a fast track to being the most prominent energy source in Finland. There are still problems to address, such as issues keeping people from living above the poverty line. However, Finland continues to show that it has the resources and dedication to tackle these issues head-on.

– Kenneth Berends
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in African Countries
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and backed by statistics from the World Bank, Africa’s electrification rate as of 2020 sat at 55%. As the continent’s economies continue to expand, IRENA suggests that renewable energy in African countries will be instrumental in meeting growing demand.

Potential for Renewable Energy in African Countries

From country to country, the story remains the same though the percentages shift around slightly. In Ghana, for example, where the electrification rate is up to 87% in urban areas, there still remains a 10% demand growth rate year on year putting pressure on infrastructure.

In rural areas, where the electrification rate is lower at 74%, Ghana’s former minister of power Kwabena Donkor expressed the government’s goal to implement small-scale renewable projects aimed at improving productivity and reducing poverty under the Sustainable Energy for All Action Plan. Several such plans are in place for numerous countries on the continent that promise to accelerate the development of renewable energy in Africa.

Across the continent, energy demand grows at more than twice the global average, and renewables seem to be a natural next step for developing economies. Over the past few decades, researchers have explored potential sites for solar, wind and hydropower plants in Ghana and many other African countries. Though some stakeholders and institutions need to ramp up their activity to meet fast-approaching electrification targets, there is visible interest and investment.

Renewable Energy in Mauritania

Though Mauritania has recovered well from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the World Bank’s April 23 Macro Poverty Outlook report for the country, the recent war in Ukraine has caused major disruptions. The report cites Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as the cause of increasing food and energy costs as well as growing external debt.

Projections indicate a potential poverty increase to 28.8% by 2023 from 26.2% in 2022. Though the World Bank expects positive medium-term GDP growth, largely due to a joint oil and gas project in conjunction with the BP oil company and neighboring Senegal, there is real concern that volatile international markets for those commodities could render growth equally so.

Looking beyond current setbacks, renewable energy stands to transform Mauritania into one of Africa’s top economies. The AMAN project, a $40 billion renewable energy project in partnership with Australia’s CWP Global, will likely produce 110 TWh of electricity between solar and wind plants as well as 1.7 million tonnes per anum of green hydrogen or 10 million tonnes per annum of green ammonia for local use and export. In a statement, CWP cited estimates that the project could potentially increase Mauritania’s GDP by between 40% and 50% by 2030 and reduce unemployment across the country by about 33% by 2035.

Renewable Energy in Tanzania

A prolonged drought in 2022 led Tanzania’s government to begin rationing electricity in response to a drop in hydropower production. Despite its installed capacity of 1600 MW, the country faced a 300 to 350 MW shortage, according to Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited managing director Maharage Chande, in an article by Voice of America.

A reliable supply of energy has been crucial in reducing Tanzania’s poverty rate ($2.15 per person per day) from 84% in 2000 to 45% in 2018. Hydropower accounts for close to half of Tanzania’s energy mix at about 45%, a number that will grow with the completion of the Julius Nyerere hydroelectric dam. When the dam reaches completion, Tanzania’s energy output could more than double from about 1,600 MW to about 3,700 MW. Projections on electricity demand, however, indicate a fourfold increase by 2025 to about 4,000 MW.

While hydropower is promising and accounts for a large portion of Tanzania’s energy mix, the East African country is in a strong position for solar power. Tanzania receives 2,800 to 3,500 hours of sunshine per year, making it a prime candidate for developing grid-connected solar power. Off-grid solar power currently powers Tanzanian schools, hospitals, health centers and households.

Renewable Energy in Senegal

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), more than a third of Senegal’s population of 17 million lives in poverty while 75% of families endure chronic conditions of poverty. Though more than 95% of urban Senegal is estimated to be connected to the grid, access to electricity in rural areas remains limited at a little more than 47% in 2020. Agricultural exports, coming largely out of Senegal’s rural regions, account for about 17% of the nation’s GDP and employ 70% of its workers, according to a 2019 publication.

As recently as January 2023, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen visited the country as part of a trip to expand U.S.-Africa ties and launch a rural electrification initiative that will rely on renewables to bring electricity to 70 villages and 350,000 rural Senegalese people. Senegal is actively interested in a transition to renewable, with President Mackey Sall’s government pursuing universal energy access and 15% renewable energy targets by 2025.

The country’s dependence on agriculture tracks with its eagerness to transition to renewables. As extreme weather conditions continue to worsen agricultural prospects, a green and electrified Senegal could significantly propel the country toward self-sustainability and provide a chance to further expand the economy.

Looking Ahead

The transition to renewable energy in African countries has the potential to improve the quality of life across Africa while reducing poverty and ensuring sustainability. From Ghana to Mauritania, Tanzania to Senegal, various initiatives and partnerships are paving the way for a renewable energy transition. Despite challenges such as infrastructure pressure, disruptions from external factors and energy shortages, these countries are actively investing in solar, wind and hydropower projects to transform their economies, reduce poverty and increase access to electricity, particularly in rural areas. Overall, the pursuit of renewable energy offers a positive path toward increased energy stability across Africa.

– Nana Yaw Acheampong
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in IraqTwenty years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the nation of more than 40 million people still struggles with instability, poverty and power deficiency. More than 80% of power generation in the country relies on crude oil. Despite its massive oil reserves, the country still experiences frequent outages and poor distribution due to underinvestment. Developing renewable energy in Iraq could solve the growing problem of power shortages and reduce the reliance on generators.

The State of Energy in Iraq

While most households in Iraq get access to electricity, daily power outages occur in most parts of the country. This, in part, is due to underfunded distribution systems and damaged infrastructure, as well as power demand that exceeds the current supply capacity. Acts of mismanagement and corruption by government officials also factor into power supply problems.

High-income citizens often pay 125,000 dinars ($100) a month on average to receive a steady, reliable power supply. But the quarter of the population living in poverty, alongside many among the working class, don’t have the means to afford a steady power supply. The lack of reliable power leaves people in a constant state of worry. Also, they are unable to run cooling units in extremely high temperatures. Issues such as general inequality, lack of job opportunities and inadequate services contribute to worsening the situation.

Most of the country’s energy comes from its vast oil reserves. Meanwhile, renewable energy accounts for only 2% of the country’s output. And despite its vast amounts of oil, which account for roughly 8% of the world’s total reserves, the country continues to rely on neighboring Iran to keep up with growing power demands.

Future Outlook

Iraq’s climate and geography have strong potential for renewable energy development. The country receives a significant amount of sunlight, making it ideal for photovoltaic power. There are also some regions that receive viable wind speed and others that could utilize geothermal development.

On the other hand, reports suggest that to facilitate the building of renewable energy in Iraq, significant changes need to take place. These changes include the development and implementation of a government action plan for developing renewable energy in conjunction with reforms that make business opportunities more lucrative for foreign and private investors.

On the bright side, the Iraqi government is already making efforts toward the development of renewable energy. These efforts involve several business deals with foreign contractors, including an agreement in 2021 to create 2 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy with UAE clean energy firm Masdar. While finalizing the agreement with Masdar, Iraq’s oil minister stated the country hopes to build 7.5 GW of renewable energy. More recently, in August of 2022, the government hosted a two-day workshop in Baghdad to teach Iraqi stakeholders how to “procure affordable energy solutions.”

Hope for a Better Future

Despite the progress made since the devastation of the war, Iraq still faces numerous challenges. Its energy grid is underfunded and unstable, leaving millions of its most vulnerable citizens without access to a reliable power supply. However, the development of renewable energy in Iraq could provide a solution to the country’s electricity crisis. This shift to renewable energy would make the grid more affordable and reliable, ensuring that those living below the poverty line do not have to worry about losing power. Furthermore, this shift would create new job opportunities and help raise the standard of living for the Iraqi people. Recent initiatives by the Iraqi government suggest a hopeful future where the country has a fully developed renewable energy supply and a more robust and stable economy.

Jonathon Crecelius

Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in SingaporeImproving renewable energy is vital to Singapore. The country is in the process of enacting its Green Plan 2030, a sustainability project designed alongside the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) which places the eradication of poverty as the ultimate aim. Sembcorp Industries and Singapore’s Energy Market Authority (EMA) officially opened Southeast Asia’s largest Energy Storage System (ESS) on Feb. 2, 2023. According to Sembcorp, it is also the fastest ESS of its size to be built and deployed in the world, taking just six months to complete. Aside from contributing to global sustainability, the ESS will also diversify Singapore’s energy sources and drive down energy bills, which many of Singapore’s poor are struggling to pay in a post-pandemic world.

What Is An ESS?

The Energy Storage System (ESS) stores renewable energy in Singapore so that it wouldn’t go to waste. It provides a relatively reliable source of energy from renewable sources when environmental conditions prevent its immediate generation. Typically the energy is stored in batteries, which run on charge and discharge cycles so that eco-friendly energy is released during times of peak electricity demand. Sembcorp’s ESS comprises of more than 800 lithium iron phosphate batteries, which have high energy density, fast response time and high round-trip efficiency, making them perfect for efficient energy storage and release on demand. A central control station controls the charge and discharge times of the hundreds of batteries, responding to peak times of supply and demand in Singapore. This means that eco-friendly energy is powering people’s daily lives, even when renewable energy in Singapore is not being actively generated.

Why Is It So Valuable For Singapore?

Singapore has traditionally found it hard to establish reliable sources of renewable energy due to its tropical climate. Wind speeds are not high enough for wind turbines to operate productively and it lacks a fast-flowing river or sufficient sea space that can be used to generate hydroelectric power. In 2021, nonrenewable sources of energy, namely oil, coal and gas made up 99.6% of the nation’s consumption. Therefore, the Sembcorp ESS represents a major advancement in the search for sustainable renewable energy in Singapore. Even in the face of mostly bad weather year-round, the ESS will ensure that eco-friendly sources of energy are at hand, even if only temporarily.

The Sembcorp ESS has a maximum storage capacity of 285 Megawatt hour (MWh). It claims that it is able to provide one full day’s worth of electricity to 24,000 Housing & Development Board (HDB) households in a single discharge. This equates to around 2% of total HDB households and 1.7% of total households in Singapore. While this number may not seem significant, Singapore’s ESS, Southeast Asia’s largest, is a sign of its commitment to tackling global issues like changing weather patterns and poverty.

How This Helps Singapore’s Poor

Singapore’s efforts to increase the general availability of renewable energy can help to address its low-income population’s struggles to meet the increasing costs of living. Very little is known about Singapore’s poor because the government is yet to implement an official poverty line. MP Janus Lim of the Singapore Workers’ Party brought up this problem in Parliament on April 17 this year, noting the lack of attention given to low-income Singaporeans precisely because of the dearth of information about them. Notably, in bringing the hardships of Singapore’s poor to light, Mr Lim focused on their difficulty to meet increasing necessity costs in a society still recovering from the effects of Covid-19. He stated that inflation “continues to eat away at incomes” and that the lowest-income workers’ expenses have grown nearly five and a half times faster than their salaries.

Rising energy costs worldwide in recent years are at the heart of Singapore’s inflationary problems. As the cost of energy goes up, the costs of production of many items have also increased. Consumers are more often than not forced to bear the burden of these increased costs. In Singapore, this is clearly happening without a proportionate rise in wages at all levels of the economy. Singapore’s ESS may alleviate energy costs in the long term. As renewable energy becomes a larger source of energy consumption in Singapore, the country will begin to decrease its historically complete reliance on oil and gas, much of which it imports. This means that over time, Singapore’s dependence on the global market for oil will go down, leading to stabilized energy costs and costs of living.

Singapore As a Role Model

While Singapore’s ESS is yet to bear statistical fruit, its investment in this significant project will alleviate poverty and improve the country’s sustainability. While energy prices worldwide are finally starting to deflate after the global crises of the late 2010s and early 2020s, they will remain too high for many of the world’s poor. Mr Lim’s comments show this to be true of Singapore, despite it being a country which most outsiders regard as one of the wealthiest in the world.

Improving access to renewable energy may be an expensive solution that may not yield immediate results, however, this is precisely why wealthy trend-setter countries like the U.S. and U.K. should invest more in these projects. By leading a potential global movement to increase worldwide access to and usage of renewable energy, future generations of global citizens will no longer have to worry about price fluctuations when the dominant energy sources of today, non-renewables, become scarce. If anything, Singapore’s success over time is proof that change does not have to come immediately.

– Tiffany Chan
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in ChileWhile fossil fuels and copper mining once stood as the foundation of Chile’s energy sector, the country is now a global leader in innovative renewable energy strategies. A shift in focus toward solar power, wind energy and green hydrogen will diminish the number of remaining households impacted by energy poverty over the next 25 years. As the implementation of renewable energy in Chile grows, so does the country’s economic potential.

5 Facts About Renewable Energy in Chile

  1. Renewable energy sources are reducing energy poverty. Energy poverty takes shape in many ways, such as limited access to heating, air conditioning and hot water, inability to afford electricity bills and frequent power outages that disrupt both educational and business activities as well as access to essential services. Chile’s energy sector relies in part on coal-fired power generation, but the country’s Long-Term Energy Policy now aims to generate 70% of all electricity through renewable sources such as wind and solar power by 2050. Among other benefits, this plan will provide quality energy services to all vulnerable households, reduce total electricity outages to one hour per year and offer significantly lower average residential electricity prices.
  2. Chile is now a world leader in renewable energy. The 2022 updates to the Long-Term Energy Policy additionally pledged carbon neutrality by 2050 through strategic decarbonization of the economy. Previous efforts to address changing weather patterns forged partnerships with powerhouses like Germany, but the promise of these updates solidify Chile’s status as a global leader in sustainable energy, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Other countries including the U.S., Spain and Canada are now vying to learn about renewable energy in Chile and invest in the cause.
  3. Green hydrogen exports will benefit the economy. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) foresees a significant increase in Chile’s GDP as the country expands into “green” hydrogen, a source used in zero-emission fuel cells, synthetic ammonia and gasoline substitute. According to government officials, exports of green hydrogen should generate $30 billion per year by 2050. Given the nation’s access to both the Atacama Desert and the winds of Patagonia, Chile has a stark advantage over other countries to produce hydrogen with the renewable energy generated by wind and solar power. Chile hopes to be one of the top three exporters of green hydrogen by 2040, creating jobs and further reducing poverty.
  4. Eliminating coal plants will not reduce jobs. Chile intends on eliminating all coal-fired power stations by 2040 and focusing fully on renewable energy efforts. However, guidance from the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) suggests that the closures will not negatively impact job opportunities. Germany has partnered with Chile since 2008, collaborating on renewable energy agreements and training seminars. Under Germany’s recommendations, the abandoned coal plants will become renewable power plants, such as water desalination plants. This ensures jobs stay intact throughout the transition.
  5. Renewable energy in Chile creates more jobs for women. Implementing renewable energy plants opens a new job market for Chilean women. Energy+Women is a program initially founded in 2018 that focuses on gender equality and inclusion efforts in the male-dominated energy sector. The program now offers women mentorship, among other professional opportunities. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has additionally given a $300 million loan to Chile for renewable energy efforts with a focus on promoting equal pay.

Looking Ahead

Only 52% of all Chilean households had access to electricity in 1970, but today, 100% of the population has electricity access. Now, the country is pursuing goals that eliminate even a minor power outage. This dissolution of energy poverty would not be possible without the implementation of renewable energy as both a source and commodity. The nation is paving the way for sustainability initiatives. With these exciting developments, Chile is on track to become one of the first developing countries to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

– Rachel Smith
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in Peru
Peru has excellent potential for renewable energy — its geographical landscape offers opportunities for solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectric energy. In recent years, the Peruvian government and energy companies have shifted focus to increasing the use of renewable energy in Peru, which would provide jobs and create an opportunity for export growth.

Electrifying Peru

The government is working to provide all its communities with reliable and renewable electricity; however, this does not come without challenges. The Peruvian Amazon makes up 62% of the country and its difficult terrain means that connecting the area with the national grid is challenging. A 2020 report by Energypedia found that the Amazon region had the lowest rural electrification rate, 18%, compared to the coastal regions that are more accessible.

Access to electricity is key to poverty alleviation, economic growth and greater quality of life. Communities without electricity are isolated from society and their day ends when natural light ends. A lack of electricity also limits the availability of services and impacts the operations of facilities. In response, several energy companies are working to provide renewable energy in Peru and improve the quality of life in regions where there is a disconnect.

Facing the Impacts of a Lack of Electricity

Peru’s former minister of energy and mines, Miguel Incháustegui, stated that the largest proportion of energy in the Amazonian region in Peru comes from fossil fuels. Because this region is often isolated from the national grid, it must use generators to power its health centers, homes and educational institutes, which is detrimental to the environment. Generators are costly and use gasoline, a fossil fuel that is both expensive and scarce.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when the nation switched to online learning, school-age children from rural communities could not access education due to the lack of electricity and internet connection. In the Amazon, 42% of children did not have complete access to education and became more isolated. In 2021, the Catholic mission Apostolic Vicariate of Iquitos provided solar-powered radios to ensure children could tune into lessons offered by the Peruvian Ministry of Education.

Acciona Provides Energy

Acciona is a renewable energy company working to expand renewable energy in Peru. The company is constructing a wind farm in the Ica region that will be fully operational by the end of 2023 and will generate enough energy for 478,000 households. Additionally, the revenue from the wind farm will go into educational programs to support environmental and social initiatives.

In 2019, Acciona delivered electricity to 400 families in the Peruvian Amazon. Acciona’s program, Luz en Casa Amazonía, has provided electricity to Indigenous communities and aims to extend its outreach to an additional 1,000 households. Acciona uses third-generation photovoltaic kits that are easy to manage and transport and remain free of harmful contaminants.

Positive Impacts

The extensive use of renewable energy in Peru has a positive impact on the environment, health and education. Old forms of lighting, such as lighters and oil lamps, generate harmful fumes that increase the likelihood of lung disease. Acciona reports that households mainly use electricity to extend study hours, prepare meals and continue daily activities after dark. Better health and access to education for more hours a day can help to alleviate poverty in rural communities.

Renewable energy is important in order to overcome poverty. A 2022 Enel report said renewable energy in Peru could make up around 81% of its power generation by 2030. A move in the right direction to make green electricity readily available to all Peru’s inhabitants would certainly help improve living conditions across the country.

– Eva O’Donovan
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in Nepal
Nepal is in a unique position — the country is blessed with abundant natural renewable energy resources, providing it with the opportunity to bypass developing a fossil fuel industry and transition straight into a renewable energy economy. In 2019, about 17% of the population in Nepal endured multi-dimensional poverty. Renewable energy in Nepal can help expand energy access to remote areas and improve living standards for impoverished Nepalese people.

Immense Potential for Renewables

The dramatic Himalayan mountains, glaciers and rivers that dominate the Nepalese landscape provide the country with a powerful energy source, in the form of falling water. This is known as hydropower. Thanks to this energy source, Nepal is one of the few countries with domestic energy generation that is entirely renewable, with 98% of it coming from hydropower. Nepal currently produces 2,200 MW of hydropower but has the potential to produce 50,000 MW of estimated hydropower, one of the highest amounts in the world.

However, Nepal’s natural renewable resources do not stop at hydro as experts consider the country’s solar resources to be even greater than that of hydro. Scientists estimate that solar power alone could provide 100 times more energy than required for a 100% solar system in which all Nepalese had consumption levels similar to developed countries.

Despite abundant resources, the high cost of infrastructure development has historically limited the development of renewable energy in Nepal. Renewable energy makes up only a fraction of Nepal’s total energy consumption. The majority of the country’s energy consumption is from non-electric sources including biomass (68%) and fossil fuels (25%). Shifting to electricity as the main energy source, a process known as electrification, is necessary to fully utilize Nepal’s renewable energy potential.

Energy Access in Remote Areas

Electrifying Nepal comes with challenges. The situation is especially severe in rural and remote areas where the rugged, mountainous terrain creates a barrier to connecting communities to national electricity grids. As a result, many rural households still use firewood, kerosene and batteries for cooking and lighting their homes. The lack of access to reliable and efficient energy hinders other fundamental human rights like access to clean water, health and education. This is known as energy poverty.

Despite historical challenges with energy access, Nepal is one of the fastest electrifying countries in the world. Electricity access in remote areas is increasing at an annual rate of around 4.3% per year compared to the global average of 0.8%. The proportion of households with access to electricity increased from 68% in 2010 to almost 90% in 2020. However, this remains low when compared to neighboring countries such as India, Sri Lanka and Thailand, which have achieved 100% access.

Micro-grid Renewable Energy

Micro-grid renewable energy may be the solution to Nepal’s energy access challenges. Government and local organizations have previously invested heavily in micro-hydro plants in rural communities. One example is the Rural Energy Development Programme (REDP) which began in 2015 and installed 307 micro-hydro plants across rural areas of Nepal. The overall efforts of the REDP allowed 550,000 people living in remote areas to obtain access to electricity.

Experts are now advocating for the use of micro-grid solar energy in rural Nepal. Solar is competitive with and vastly more available than hydro and is also easy to implement at small scales. As the cost of solar energy production falls, it becomes an increasingly viable option for broaching the gap in nationwide electricity access and eliminating energy poverty in Nepal. Solar will also enhance Nepal’s energy resiliency in the circumstance of changing weather patterns, with climate scientists predicting that some areas of Nepal will experience a reduction in water availability, which will impact hydropower production in the future.

Micro-grid Solar Power Installations

A number of micro-grid solar power projects have undergone initiation in rural areas of Nepal in recent years. One such project is the installation of solar-powered water pumps in the buffer zone of Bardiya National Park in the southern Tarai region of Nepal.  The water pumps allow clean water access for houses and businesses. The water also helps grow crops and raise livestock, contributing to the overall food security of the community.

In Nepal’s Gulmi district, solar panels underwent installation in 11 schools and colleges, providing educational institutions with a regular power supply. This improved the quality of education by powering equipment such as computers and has allowed water pumps to be installed to provide access to clean water and improve sanitation. Access to clean water is especially important for encouraging girls to attend school, given the sanitary challenges that stop girls from attending school during menstruation.

The electrification of Nepal’s rural and remote communities is also a goal of the federal government. The federal, provincial and local governments have been collaborating with energy sector stakeholders to expand and promote clean and sustainable energy. The government has released a target of electric cookstoves in all households by 2030 and net-zero national carbon emissions by 2045.

Looking Ahead

Renewable energy in Nepal at both small and large scales is playing an important role in the country’s economic development. With the right renewable energy strategy, experts believe Nepal can achieve energy self-sufficiency during the 21st century. The development of a clean sustainable energy economy has the potential to reduce energy poverty and improve living standards for Nepalese people.

Amy McAlpine
Photo: Flickr