Green Energy in Kenya

Kenya has big plans for its future as a major green technology user. About 70 percent of Kenya’s electricity comes from renewable energy, which is almost three times the global average. The Lake Turkana Wind Farm, which was completed in 2018, and the Meru County Energy Park are two important developments in wind and solar power, each helping Kenya to reach its target of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2020.

Meru County Energy Park

Meru County Energy Park will be Africa’s first large scale hybrid wind, solar photovoltaic and battery storage project. It will provide 80 megawatts (MW) of clean, renewable energy that could power more than 200,000 households. The project is a great step in producing green energy in Kenya and also acts as a model for other countries seeking to advance in low-cost, clean energy. Construction begins during 2021 in Meru County, Kenya.

The $150 million investment consists of 20 wind turbines and more than 40,000 solar panels. The Meru County Energy Park is a lead project by the Meru County Investment and Development Corporation (MCIDC) and its partners WindLab and Eurus Energy. WindLab is a wind energy developer that has completed projects across three different continents. During the signing of the agreement between Meru County and Windlab, Governor Peter Munya stated that “The development, construction and operation of a large scale renewable energy project within the County will bring employment, energy security and expertise to the region.”

Lake Turkana Wind Farm

The Lake Turkana Wind Farm, operational since 2018, is another major development in Kenyan green technology. It’s Africa’s largest wind power project, consisting of 365 turbines with a capacity of releasing 310 MW of sustainable low-cost energy. The wind farm is located in the Turkana Wind Corridor that channels wind between the mountains in the north and south of the desert region.

It’s also another stride in achieving Kenya Vision 2030, Kenya’s long-term development plan to create a better nation by 2030. The energy provided by the Lake Turkana Wind Farm is helping to create “a newly-industrializing, middle-income country providing a high quality of life to all its citizens in a clean and secure environment.” The entire energy sector has grown tremendously. Thanks to advancements in green energy in Kenya, electricity access in 2018 stood at 73.4 percent, an increase from 56 percent in 2016.

Since September 2018, the Lake Turkana Wind Farm generated 1.2 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and saved taxpayers about $77 million from reduced use of diesel-operated power. The project proves that wind power is an efficient and low-cost alternative for rural regions that often rely on more expensive and environmentally harmful methods of electricity, such as diesel.

Future of Green Energy in Kenya

President Uhuru Kenyatta plans to continue reducing Kenya’s carbon footprint by welcoming private investment in green technology. Major investments from corporations such as WindLab and Eurus Energy are simply the beginning to Kenya reaching its goal of achieving 100 percent renewable electricity by 2020. The nation ranks ninth in the world for geothermal power generating capacity, making green energy in Kenya a viable option to help those in poverty who struggle to access electricity. Since 70 percent of Kenya’s current power usage is already from renewable sources, the country is on an upward trajectory to achieving its green technology goal.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

Globally, more than 3 billion people still rely on open fire to cook their meals. This means that nearly half of the world’s population does not have access to sustainable fuel for cooking meals or cleaning water to make it potable. To combat this, many in the developed world have sought to popularize sustainable fuel sources for cooking, such as solar cookers.

Benefits of Using Solar Cookers

Solar cookers work by converting sunlight into energy that can be used to cook food. They provide a plethora of economic, environmental and social advantages over other methods of food preparation. For example, many solar cookers are cheaper than traditional ovens, so using solar cookers can be beneficial economically. In addition, families that use solar cookers do not have to forage for materials to make traditional fires, which can be a time-intensive activity. Solar cookers provide many social and health benefits as well. It is not uncommon for biomass in fires to contain animal dung and residue from crops; when burned, substances like this can lead to a condition known as Indoor Air Pollution (IAP), which has a slew of negative health consequences. Mexico is an example of the dangers of IAP- the country’s reliance on hard fuels is estimated to be responsible for around 15,000 deaths via inhalation and ingestion of toxic particulates.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of solar cookers, however, is the fact that they do not release carbon dioxide, which is one of the main causative factors of climate change. Given this, greater usage of solar cookers around the world will almost surely reduce the global carbon footprint, which will result in a healthier, cleaner environment around the world.

NGOs Working to Expand Implementation of Solar Cookers

The clear upside of solar cookers has resulted in the formation of multiple organizations that exist to advocate on behalf of the global implementation of solar cookers. These organizations have done work all over the world, including countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. Two such organizations are Solar Household Energy (SHE) and Solar Cookers International (SCI). SHE manufacturers solar cookers and also implements field projects to raise awareness about the benefits of using solar cookers. The solar cookers that SHE distributes last between five and 10 years and cost around $25, half of which is paid by the organization. SCI is another organization that works with local governments and NGOs, as well as the U.N., to advocate for solar cookers and poverty reduction. Through advocacy, research and capacity building, SCI has contributed to more than 6 billion solar-cooked meals. The organization prides itself on making change both at the ground level and at the policy level.

Conclusion

Everything said, cooking is a necessity for everyone; as such, it is important that efforts be made to ensure that cooking practices are safe, environmentally responsible, and affordable. As detailed above, there has been good progress made towards attaining these goals recently, and this good work is sure to continue in the near future.

– Evan Williams
Photo: Flickr

Making Solar Power BetterSolar energy gives the old adage “make hay while the sun shines” a whole new meaning. Solar panels generate 227 gigawatts of energy world-wide. For reference, one single gigawatt can realistically power 300,000 first-world homes.

While a great option for anyone, alternative energy sources are especially important for people in poverty. In undeveloped areas, electricity is up to five times more expensive per kilowatt hour. The cost is higher due to infrastructure problems. The price of expanding the electrical grid in largely remote areas is often limiting, which encourages people to use fossil fuels instead. Kerosene, diesel and coal, the most common fuel sources, pose serious health and environmental risks.

Solar power is easier to install and is safer to use. Unlike wind and geothermal power, it is fit for use in essentially every climate that humans can inhabit. Reliable electricity allows impoverished areas to leap closer towards development. People can power cellphones, radios and televisions; refrigerate food, medicines and vaccines; turn on the lights; pump and clean drinking water; cook; irrigate crops and more.

While the safety and convenience of solar power are wonderful, its contributions to peoples’ lifestyles are what truly make the difference against poverty. Students who can study at night with the help of lightbulbs learn more and perform better in school. People with electronic devices can access the internet and its infinite resources. Refrigeration allows for food to keep longer and can help preserve medications for easier dispersal when they are needed.

Current Problems with Solar Power

For all of solar power’s benefits, there are still some glaring inefficiencies. While this renewable energy is cheaper in the long-run, upfront costs can be staggeringly high for people living in poverty. While dozens of outreach groups are working hard to provide help where it is needed most, it is still a hard technology to access.

Additionally, solar panels don’t always work at maximum efficiency. They generally use one of three types of semiconducting materials: monocrystalline, polycrystalline or thin-film. Their compositions differ, and though there are nuances to the use of each type, the options simplify to this: higher efficiency panels use the more expensive materials.

Lastly, traditional solar panels simply can’t work at night. With no radiation from the sun, there is nothing to convert into useful electricity. That means that individuals who use solar power at night must ration what they could generate during the day. Multiple days with little sunlight could also make a negative impact on overall energy stores.

Ways to Improve Solar Power

Fortunately, there are many people who continue to see the benefits of this technology and who are making solar power better.

A study released in early 2019 outlined a “material defect” in solar cells’ silicon that they named “Light Induced Degradation.” Solar cells used to have a 2 percent drop in efficiency from the first hours of use, no matter what the circumstances. Scientists identified the defect, caused by an interruption in the flow of electrons and are now working to fix it. Other researchers are seeking brand-new materials for use in solar cells, including “perovskites,” which are man-made crystalline structures.

Other scientists are striving to do the improbable: make solar panels that work in darkness. Researchers at Curtin University conceptualized a “thermal battery” made of a metal carbonate and gas storage vessel. When solar radiation stops, at night or in cloudy conditions, the gas is released from storage. It gets absorbed by the carbonate, producing more heat, which is then generated into electricity.

There are also changes on a societal level. For families that can’t afford to install their own solar panels, some communities offer alternative programs. Students can charge a battery using their school’s equipment during the school day, which is used to power lanterns when they get home.

More than 12 percent of the world still has no access to electricity. With the help of this complex technology and all of the people who are making solar power better, those without electricity can soon have a brighter tomorrow.

– Molly Power
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in Developing CountriesSome think that the majority of zero-carbon energy generators are being built in European countries such as Switzerland or Norway. But that is quite a stretch from reality. In 2018, the majority of the world’s new renewable energy capacities were built in developing countries. While wealthier developed countries added only 63 gigawatts of zero-carbon of energy, during the same time period developing nations added 114. Despite encountering numerous sizable challenges, developing countries are now leading the way in terms of the world’s clean energy transformation.

Renewable Energy in Developing Countries: Current Undertakings

  • Costa Rica: The most impressive energy transition has likely been experienced by Costa Rica. In May 2019, the small country was able to hit a huge milestone of generating 99.99 percent of its energy from renewable sources including wind, solar, biomass and geothermal. Throughout the past decade, the country has seen a constant rising slope in its alternative energy generation despite adverse conditions caused by changing weather conditions and the El Niño phenomenon. The nation aims to be completely carbon neutral by 2021.
  • China: For the most part, the most popular sector of renewable energy in developing countries has come from the sun. With the cost of solar power decreasing by roughly 80 percent over the past decade, many developing countries are building both centralized and decentralized solar power systems. Some of the most ambitious renewable energy projects in developing countries are currently occurring in China, which ranks first globally for renewable energy having produced 1.4 GWh of electricity in 2019 from alternative sources. The country also owns about a third of the total renewable energy patents worldwide and is currently spending three times the amount the U.S. is in renewable energy investment, setting it up to become even more of a green superpower in the future. A combination of these factors has led to solar power becoming cheaper than grid electricity in China, which has further driven the demand and investment levels in it.
  • Kenya and the Ivory Coast: Most decentralized renewable energy projects in developing countries are currently being built with DIY kits which can easily be purchased from the internet. For instance, Lumos, a Dutch solar company, began selling solar kits in the Ivory Coast in 2017. Within a year, more than  73,000 units have been installed — consisting of a solar panel, power sockets, battery, mobile phone adapter and LED lightbulbs. Metered pay-as-you-use solar devices and generators have also become quite popular with M-KOPA, a start-up launched in 2012 in Kenya, leading the pack. For as little as a dollar per month, families can access solar energy. The company now has more than 600,000 customers across three countries and estimates on its website that it is bringing solar power to 500 new households per day.

Effects

The effects of developing countries transitioning and installing renewable energy have been overwhelmingly positive especially for remote communities. Currently, an estimated 1.3 billion people do not have access to grid electricity, forcing them to pay absurd amounts of money for unclean lighting and heat such as kerosene oil and coal stoves. However, micro-hydro systems and solar panels have been able to combat this by being self-sufficient energy off-grid sources. For example, in Kenya, the global leader in solar panels per capita, more and more citizens are choosing to install private solar systems rather than connecting to the country’s highly unreliable electric grid.

Additionally, jobs are often created in lieu of the initiation of zero-carbon energy producers. As an illustration, when Delhi, India built a new waste-to-energy plant in 2017 that burned garbage as fuel, it immediately hired seven waste-pickers and provided job training and employment to roughly 200 women.

Challenges

Currently, the greatest challenge facing the implementation of renewable energy in developing countries is reliable energy storage. Without good energy storage, communities become dependent on the natural conditions for their electricity and are subject to frequent blackouts.

Another anticipated challenge is meeting the demand of critical metals and minerals, such as nickel, lithium and manganese, to these batteries in a sustainable and ethical manner. As the demand for these materials is expected to grow tenfold by 2050 and large deposits of them are found on African soil, the extracting industry must be regulated in a way so that the economic benefits are enjoyed by the entire locality, and that labor conditions within the supply chains are correctly regulated and addressed.

Future Directions

To combat the lack of reliable energy storage in third world countries, in 2018 the World Bank committed $1 billion to help accelerate investment in both the development and implementation of battery storage. Individual countries have also pledged varying amounts towards the development of alternative energy with China leading the way with an ambitious pledge to spend at least $360 billion on renewables by 2020.

The share of renewable energies in the global energy market is expected to grow up to 20 percent by 2023, and developing countries are expected to play a large role in this growth. The usage of bioenergy, energy generated from biomass fuels, is also expected to decrease as solar and hydropower become more efficient.

Conclusively, the future of renewable energy in developing countries appears quite promising. Although it would be too optimistic to not acknowledge developmental challenges such as efficient energy storage, through ingenious thinking and adventitious ideas, developing countries are likely to continue to be on the forefront of achieving the goal of carbon-neutral global energy consumption.

– Linda Yan
Photo: Flickr

Impacting Investing
Investing in the right organizations has the potential to change the world. Impact investing is a type of investment that focuses on social or environmental benefits as well as financial or capital returns. Impact investing can be done through for-profit or nonprofit organizations that are looking to improve the world. It can be done in emerging or developed markets anywhere in the world as part of a growing market that provides capital to address global issues in sectors like “sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, conservation, microfinance and affordable and accessible basic services including housing, healthcare and education,” as the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) says. The market is estimated to be at around $502 billion as of April 2019.

According to GIIN, there are four primary characteristics of impact investing:

  1. Intentionality – The intention is one of the main things that differentiates impact investing from regular investing. The intention behind impact investing must be the desire to create measurable social or environmental benefits.
  2. Use evidence and impact data in investment design – Investments must have evidence or data that indicates the investment will have social or environmental benefits.
  3. Manage impact performance – Investments must be managed toward the specific intention of the investment. This would mean having feedback loops and means of communicating performance information to ensure that the investment is working toward the intention of the investment.
  4. Contribute to the growth of the industry – Impact investors must use shared industry terms to communicate their goals, strategy and growth. They also share information so that others may learn from their experience and adjust their investments accordingly.

Examples of Impact Investments

  • The Omidyar Network – Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay, and his wife Pam obtained large quantities of wealth after the company went public and wanted to do some good with it. He set up a limited liability company (LLC) to make investments in early-stage innovations that are able to generate profits. He also set up a 501(c)3, a tax-exempt nonprofit, to provide grants for public goods and assistance to disadvantaged communities as well as subsidize the production of beneficial goods. The use of both of these allows the Omidyar Network to use for-profit capital and nonprofit grants to benefit society.
  • Actiam Impact Investing – Actiam Impact Investing invested in Pro Mujer Bolivia, an organization that provides training and financial services to women in Bolivia. Janeth Villegas is one of many women who benefited from the program. Pro Mujer taught Villegas a number of skills including accounting and business management which empowered her to start her own chocolate company that she is now teaching her kids to run.
  • Salkhit Wind Farm – Impact investors invested capital in Salkhit Windfarm, the first renewable energy generator connected to the central grid in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The installation of this wind farm has reduced coal burning by 122,000 tons annually and has created over 3,000 local jobs.
  • General ElectricGeneral Electric (GE) provides impact capital through its Ecomagination Accelerator to finance energy conservation efforts. Ecomagination investments totaled $1.4 billion in 2014. “We want to inspire more companies to work together and tackle the world’s greatest resource problems,” Ecomagination’s global executive director Deb Frodl said. With this goal in mind, the company also aims to decrease reliance on fossil fuels in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • d.light – This for-profit company invests in and manufactures solar energy and distributes its products through the developing world. d.light’s mission is “To create a brighter future by making clean energy products universally available and affordable.” The focus here is on providing clean energy to the developing world which helps reduce dependence on fossil fuels and provides electricity to people who might not otherwise have it.

– Sarah Faure
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Renewable Energy in Djibouti

Djibouti, located in East Africa and bordered by Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, has a population of nearly one million people. In 2013, Djibouti announced Vision 2035, a comprehensive plan to use exclusively renewable energy and achieve universal access to reliable electricity. If successful, Djibouti would become the seventh country in the world and the first African country to achieve 100 percent renewable energy.

Djibouti’s Energy Infrastructure Today

Right now, Djibouti faces several roadblocks in its path toward renewable energy. For example, much of Djibouti’s energy comes from volatile imports. Around 65 percent of Djibouti’s electricity comes from Ethiopia. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), this reliance on imported energy leads to price volatility that can hamstring economic development plans. Much of Djibouti’s remaining energy comes from its own geothermal, solar, wind and biomass sources. However, much of this electricity is unreliable. According to USAID, 100 megawatts of electricity that Djibouti consumes, only 57 megawatts are available to serve the population because of underdeveloped energy infrastructure. In addition, only 60 percent of Djiboutians have access to electricity. There is a large disparity in access between urban and rural areas, with far more city dwellers connected to the grid than those in rural areas. In total, 110,000 households in Djibouti without electricity.

Potential and Progress

Despite these hurdles, Djibouti has a remarkable potential to increase domestic renewable energy production. Djibouti has the natural capacity to produce 300 megawatts of renewable energy annually—triple what it produces today. The country has abundant solar radiation for the creation of solar farms and many opportunities to harvest geothermal energy, such as the rifts of its two largest lakes, Abbe and Assal.

Since the 2013 commencement of Vision 2035, much of this potential has been actualized. The creation of the Djibouti Geothermal Power Generation Project, a power plant in Lake Assal, was announced in 2013. In 2018, construction began after $50 million in funding was secured by the World Bank and other financiers. Moreover, a $390 million solar farm is under construction in southern Djibouti as a result of a public-private partnership between Djibouti’s Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and Green Enesys, a German renewable energy firm. Djibouti is already beginning to reap the benefits of renewable energy investment projects. The World Bank reports a four percent increase in access to electricity from 2013 to 2017—the largest sustained increase in over two decades.

The Importance of Renewable Energy

There are many important benefits to Vision 2035 if it succeeds. Access to energy is essential to economic growth. The World Bank reports that reliable energy is critical for several aspects of development such as “health, education, food security, gender equality, livelihoods and poverty reduction.” Better electricity is vital for sustained progress in Djibouti.

Additionally, Vision 2035 offers a framework of sustainable development that maintains the integrity of Djibouti’s natural ecosystems. By harnessing energy from renewable sources, Djibouti can reduce poverty without depleting its forests or relying on imported coal or oil. By becoming the first African country to use 100 percent renewable energy, Djibouti has the opportunity to become a leading international voice in sustainable development.

– Abraham Rohrig
Photo: Flickr

How Kanpur's Pollution Is Being LoweredThe rising amount of pollution on Earth is something that almost everyone is well aware of. Pollution is something that continues to increase daily and can often remain in an area for years. It can be seen in the Arctic, the oceans, the forests and the most populated cities. In Kanpur, for example, the population is so dense that it has become nearly impossible to keep pollution to a minimum, especially in the winter time. Kanpur sees this pollution as a problem and is seeking out innovative solutions to help lower Kanpur’s pollution.

Health Problems From Pollution

Kanpur is home to 3 million people and contains a hazardous amount of pollution that is gradually killing the city. This can lead to health problems for its citizens as well as create a more difficult environment for the vulnerable population. Kanpur generates 400 tonnes of waste that often contaminates underground water sources, which leads to disease. In 2015, 40,000 patients were seen at the Murari Lal Chest Hospital, but in 2016 this number jumped to 64,000. The people seen are those who are able to afford healthcare, but many are not able to seek out medical help for pollution-related health problems.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has recently come up with a solution to help lower Kanpur’s pollution. It’s called cloud seeding, it’s a process that involved a mixture of salt and silver iodide. These two substances are transported and dispersed through flares in an aircraft. Although these chemicals sound harmful, it actually is a very beneficial process that creates artificial rain. Artificial rain can be used in numerous ways, like providing relief during a severe drought, but in the case, it’s used to cleanse the air in a sense, thus reducing pollution.

Important Renewable Energy

Kanpur is working harder to put renewable energy to use. The city plans on ramping up clean energies daily through the use of solar energy. Clean energy is a great way to leave a smaller carbon footprint but have a bigger impact on reducing pollution. This power will be generated through a power grid to be used by the people on a regular basis. This method of reducing pollution is fairly new for those residing in Kanpur. Kanpur’s electric company, Kesco, will be taking the lead on this project with the solar power plants. This energy project will supply energy to 7.44 million homes and also improve employment in the area through the creation of new jobs in the solar energy field.

As we can see, Kanpur is finally taking the initiative when it comes to reducing pollution in the city. Not only is the city providing employment opportunities for its residents but it is also working to protect the environment by implementing a clean energy source. The CPCB is also working hard to create artificial rain to make sure that the air stays clean. These creative solutions are definitely working towards a major overall goal of making sure to help lower Kanpur’s pollution.

Emme Chadwick

Photo: Unsplash

Renewable Energy in Africa
Africa is a goldmine of resources, yet reliable electricity is only available to 30 percent of its population. For many Africans, expensive diesel generators are the only solution to the constant blackouts, costing some countries up to five percent of their GDP.

Increasing Renewable Energy Resources

Without a steady source of electricity, students have a difficult time studying at night, businesses are restricted by the cost of generators, and countries face economic stress. As of 2016, 80 percent of South African energy came from coal, but Africa has developed numerous renewable energy projects as the nation works towards improving accessibility.

The Blue Energy Group-led Nzema Solar Power Station, for example, will raise Ghana’s generating capacity by 6 percent. By its completion, it is expected to supply 20 percent of the government’s energy goal. The Taiba Ndiaye Wind Project in Senegal builds a 158-megawatt wind farm to provide an affordable energy source for the 40 percent of the population still left without electricity.

African countries are aiming to increase their renewable energy usage; Morocco, for instance, hopes to derive 40 percent of its energy from renewable resources. South Africa partnered with 27 renewable energy producers to generate electricity for its people. Accomplishments like these have been made throughout the continent, allowing renewable energy in Africa to slowly gain a foothold.

The International Renewable Energy Agency

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA) recorded 61,000 jobs created by the renewable energy sector in 2017 alone. Thousands of Africans are being employed in technology installation, sales and construction.

According to IREA, the renewable energy industry creates more jobs than the coal industry. Solar PV itself “creates more than twice the number of jobs per unit of electricity generation compared with coal or natural gas.” Employment is an important benefit of renewable energy, considering African unemployment rates reach up to 46 percent.

Other Energy Sources in Africa

Yet, coal and natural gas discoveries are still being made. Around 30 percent of the world’s gas and oil discoveries between 2010 and 2014 were made in Sub-Saharan Africa. And while these discoveries do help towards improving energy accessibility, their long-term effects on climate change may be harmful, especially for poorer populations.

Decreased crop yields may cause a 12 percent increase in food prices by 2030, a haunting statistic with Africa’s undernourishment rates being one of the highest in the world.

Decreased water accessibility, increased risk of malaria and diarrhea and increased natural disasters may all arise from climate change. Flooding and desertification are already becoming prevalent in certain parts of southern and west Africa, demonstrating the importance of renewable energy in Africa.

Renewable Energy in Africa

Renewable energy in Africa has high potential, especially with the amount of constant sunlight it receives. A report by GSMA stated that solar energy has a potential of 656,700 TWh.

With this mass of resources, Africa would be able to independently source its energy rather than rely on other countries to do so. New and existing renewable energy projects push Africa in a sustainable direction while encouraging economic development.

Renewable energy also aids the impoverished through increased jobs and improved electricity access. All in all, Africa’s energy movement is a success story in the making.

– Massarath Fatima
Photo: Flickr

Solar Irrigation in Bangladesh
Agriculture is an essential part of the Bangladesh economy. It makes up 14 percent of the GDP, and over 42 percent of the labor force in Bangladesh is involved in agriculture. The income of almost 90 percent of the population living in rural areas is dependent on agriculture.

Bangladesh has seen excellent improvement in agriculture within the past four decades, which has led to a decrease in food insecurity. However, 24.3 percent of the population was still living below the poverty line in 2016. In addition to the high rate of poverty in Bangladesh, there are many rural areas that do not have access to reliable electricity, making electric irrigation pumps difficult to use. Implementing solar irrigation in Bangladesh is providing a solution to these problems.

Irrigation Methods in India

Irrigation is an essential aspect of the agriculture industry. The transportation of water to crops is incredibly important in terms of crop yield, and the timing of the watering is crucial for many crops. The main methods of irrigation used in Bangladesh include diesel fueled irrigation and electricity fueled irrigation. However, these methods are not cost effective. Diesel fuel is expensive, difficult to transport and prone to pollution. Electric irrigation, though less harmful for the environment, is also inconsistent since it is prone to outages and not available in all areas.

A newer method of irrigation that is more reliable and cost-effective is known as solar irrigation. The use of solar irrigation in Bangladesh has been on the rise in the past few years. Solar pumps can cover several farms, and they reduce the time farmers spend ensuring that the irrigation is functioning properly when watering their fields.

Solar irrigation cuts the costs of electricity for farmers and improves their quality of life through the reduction of pollution and the increase in time that can now be spent more effectively. Solar irrigation is especially suited to Bangladesh because of the flat terrain and the high levels of sunlight throughout the country.

Funding Solar Irrigation in India

While solar irrigation in Bangladesh is a vast improvement for the agriculture industry, it is expensive to develop and put into place. This year, the Bangladesh government will receive a $20 million loan from The Asian Development Bank as part of a Power Efficiency Improvement Project as well as grant money in order to help continue their growth in solar irrigation.

This loan and grant money will help put into place over 2,000 solar-powered pumps and create off-grid solar photovoltaic (SPV) pumping, which will allow irrigation in areas where there is less access to electricity and will help replace diesel pumps, which are more difficult to maintain.

In addition to the aid from The Asian Development Bank, The World Bank is helping Bangladesh through a finance agreement that will provide $55 million in funding for the growth of renewable energy. This agreement includes supporting the creation of 1,000 solar irrigation pumps along with 30 solar mini-grids that will also greatly improve the agriculture industry by reducing carbon emissions from using diesel-fueled irrigation pumps.

The Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL), an organization that was launched in 1997, is working towards financing infrastructure and renewable energy in Bangladesh. This year, 923 of the 1,024 solar irrigation pumps that have been approved by The IDCOL are already operational. The IDCOL has set a goal of installing 50,000 solar-powered irrigation pumps within the next seven years. Through the support of organizations like The Asian Development Bank and The World Bank, this goal is well underway.

Solar Irrigation Will Decrease Poverty and Help the Environment

Currently, 14 percent of the population of Bangladesh is covered by the country’s solar power program. Renewable energy is a growing part of Bangladesh, and the solar irrigation pumps that are being built will go a long way towards establishing environmentally friendly agriculture methods that will benefit people across the country.

By reducing the costs of farming, these solar power irrigation pumps will reduce poverty and increase the quality of life in Bangladesh. In fact, the vast majority of poverty reduction that occurred in the five years leading up to 2010 was spurred on by such improvements in agriculture. Solar irrigation in Bangladesh offers a new way to help the environment and change the lives of people living in Bangladesh for the better.

– Lindabeth Doby
Photo: Flickr

The Green Dream: Sustainability in Central America Eradicates Poverty
Despite being home to more than 40 million people, Central America harbors many cities yet to be touched by electrical grids. Currently, one in 10 Central Americans lives quite literally in the dark, with no access to electricity. But through the Regional Clean Energy Initiative (RCEI) funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and regulated by Tetra Tech and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), more Central American areas will have power and sustainable means to produce it.

Why Sustainable Energy Is The Future

The Central American economy is developing and generates a growth rate of more than 3 percent annually. The biggest barrier to a further increase in this rate comes from the lack of productivity in most regions after sunset. Due to the absence of natural light and electricity, residents cannot do any manual labor; as a result, there is an abrupt halt in business outputs after a certain time of day.

Lack of power also prevents children from studying in the evenings, which makes it more difficult for their education to progress at a regular pace; the electricity absence often leads to incomplete homework and inadequate revision of material. Finally, the lack of electricity also introduces the risk of health hazards for those who work in the dark.

Creating Sustainability

Most might claim that the simple introduction of a power source can eradicate these problems, but it is actually more imperative to create sustainability in Central America. Currently, the estimated 7 million people who do not have access to electricity live far from the cities and their well-established grids.

To ensure that power reaches these members of the population, IRENA and the Central American governments are working towards moving away from fossil fuel dependence and towards the development of identified renewable energy sources. This works in their favor because these rural areas have larger spaces to channel energy from natural phenomena (such as sunlight and wind) and cultivate it for use.

Renewable sources of energy can also effectively satiate the high demand for electricity in these regions. Worldwatch Institute revealed that geothermal energy alone has the potential to meet twice the predicted regional electricity demand till 2020.

Currently, only 1 percent of the available resources are used to install windmills to produce energy, leaving enough for developing solar and biomass sources too. Improving sustainability in Central America is thus the most affordable and optimum way to equip deserving rural communities with electricity.

The Implementation

The RCEI is currently implemented in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Tetra Tech plays an important role in this by implementing a joint regulatory and trade policy to strengthen the regional electricity market and make it more accommodating to sustainable energy.

This is supported by the Central America Regional Regulator (CRIE) and the regional market operator (EOR), who are both in charge of proposing mechanisms for sustainable energy use and frameworks that entail the burden of implementation shared by local operators and other market stakeholders.

Tetra Tech has also been successful in developing standards and quality-checks for equipment and energy efficiency. These standards ensure that the renewable resources are optimally utilized for the best possible results.

Thanks to these equipment standards, the city of Zacatecoluca in El Salvador now has a five-mile stretch of streets powered by quality LED streetlights. Not only are they illuminating the city in the night, they are also making it a safer place for its 40,000 residents.

The Way Forward

The introduction of electricity to these regions mitigates the risk of health hazards and economic stagnation. As systems continue to power the countries even in the dark, people can work longer hours and accomplish more every day.

Inhabitants will also begin to feel safer at night and become motivated to work after the sun sets in order to earn more. More importantly, the setup of a regional framework of sustainable energy allows improved transport and communication links between the participating countries, which can lead to more trade and a higher national output.

As electricity is slowly introduced, people become healthier, safer and equipped with higher incomes to fight poverty. Sustainability in Central America is hence the affordable green dream its people need today.

– Sanjana Subramanian
Photo: Flickr