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

renewable energy in China Many consider China to be a leader in renewable energy, with the country now boasting the biggest market for jobs in this sector. According to Energy Monitor, China will build more than 870 GW of solar and wind power infrastructure by 2025. For context, the U.K.’s entire solar energy installations by June 2021 stood at around 13 GW. In 2021, the renewable energy sector employed almost 5.4 million people in China, equating to 0.7% of the entire labor force. The recent global energy crisis has only served to accelerate this job boom. Last year, concerns over the price of fossil fuels pushed China to more than quadruple its onshore wind capacity and 2022 saw the biggest-ever contribution of the clean energy sector to China’s workforce.

A Clean Way to Tackle Poverty

Based on the poverty headcount of $6.85 a day, 25% of China’s population lived in poverty in 2019 and economic inequality is still rife. Therefore, poverty reduction through job creation is still very much a priority for the national government. Deciding to invest heavily in clean energy, China is ensuring it provides future-proof jobs that have little chance of becoming redundant, considering the world’s net-zero ambitions.

Plus, having prioritized renewable energy in China, other countries now rely on support from China to help meet their energy ambitions. China, for instance, has a near-monopoly on the production of wafers and ingots, commanding 96% of global solar production in 2021, according to an International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report.

In its report, IRENA has also explained where these renewable energy jobs come from, highlighting that China needs both high and low-skilled workers in its green energy push. A total of 1.6 million Chinese people are employed for their manufacturing efforts, “1 million for construction and installation” and “0.8 million for operation and maintenance,” the report says.

3 Takeaways for the Global Fight Against Poverty

China has led the way in terms of renewable energy in three main ways:

  • Early investment. By 2014, China had already pumped $100 billion into the renewable energy sector, surpassing the investments made by both the EU and the U.S. However, most other poverty-stricken countries do not have this sort of funding readily available. So, foreign aid donors, like the U.S. and the U.K., could consider using more of their budgets to support such initiatives. The potential payback on that investment would consist not only of poverty relief but also of more comprehensive, global climate action.
  • Targeted policies. China did not only rely on investment to give renewable energy a boost — targeted regulation also played an important role. The 2005 Renewable Energy Law, for instance, forced power companies to compensate renewable energy providers if they did not “buy the total amount” of the clean energy provided. This guaranteed clean energy suppliers’ economic stability from the get-go.
  • Economies of scale. “As the scale of Chinese manufacturing has grown, the costs of renewable-energy devices have plummeted,” says a 2014 Nature article. In short, China has been able to take advantage of a virtuous circle: the more renewable energy it manufactures, the cheaper the selling price, thereby generating more demand and jobs.

Finally, something that should prove encouraging is how China leveraged its “low labor, electricity and land costs” to grow its clean energy sector, IRENA reports. These low-cost advantages also exist in almost all other developing countries.

Hope for the Future

China has shown that it is possible to harness green energy for future-proof jobs and others can follow suit. India is on track to employ 1 million people in the same way, by 2030, according to the IRENA report. Other regions, like Africa, which employs less than 3% of the renewable energy labor market, could do the same.

Overall, the renewable energy job boom in China proves that foreign aid budgets could make their money go further. More investment in overseas clean energy may not only help tackle the climate crisis but also provide some of the world’s most vulnerable with invaluable employment for many years to come.

– Sam Rucker
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in Guatemala
Guatemala is known as the ‘Land of the Eternal Spring’ on account of its exotic climate and its tropical rainforests, not to mention the mysticism that shrouds the history of an ancient Mayan civilization. A nation of about 17 million people, Guatemala is situated in the heart of Central America with borders and ports on both the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. This geographical advantage in part explains why Guatemala has the largest economy in Central America. Nevertheless, disparity is rife. Guatemala has the highest level of chronic malnutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), ranking fourth-highest globally. Energy poverty is also prevalent, but renewable energy in Guatemala has the potential to lift citizens out of poverty.

Energy Poverty

A key contributor to mass food production and distribution is the availability of energy. The United States, for example, uses more energy per annum “growing, preparing and transporting food” than the entirety of the United Kingdom requires for all its energy consumption. A recent paper published in Energy Economics estimated that 76% of Guatemalans are living in energy poverty, a term defined as a lack of access to “adequate, affordable, reliable, high-quality, safe and environmentally benign energy services to support economic and human development.”

Government Push for Renewable Energy in Guatemala

To ease the current energy crisis, the Guatemalan government has turned toward stricter measures to prevent electricity wastage and is also requiring that private businesses invest in renewable energy in Guatemala. The recently implemented “Energy Policy 2019-2050,” which the Ministry of Energy and Mining developed, enforces residential regulations such as the “normalization of technical parameters relating to electric equipment” within households, a guide by Rafael Pinto Ortega and Rafael Briz explains. Policy objectives for industrial firms require serious efforts to promote “electrical self-sufficiency” by encouraging the use of renewable energy. The incentive for firms to comply and quickly adapt stems from the knowledge that the contract for the nation’s current main electricity supplier, Jaguar Energy, comes to a close in 2025.

The Potential for Renewable Energy in Guatemala

Guatemala’s reputation as the ‘Land of the Eternal Spring’ is beginning to take on a new concept in the 21st century. The enormous potential for renewable energy in Guatemala literally springs from its capacity for hydropower. Hydropower uses fast-flowing water to turn turbines and power machines, efficiently combining one of the world’s largest natural resources, water and the enduring force of gravity, to create energy. As of 2019, Guatemala had already installed 1,559 MW of hydropower capacity, which contributed to 41% of the nation’s total energy production.

The International Hydropower Association (IHA) is an NGO operating in Guatemala with the mission of ensuring the sustainable development of hydropower. By overseeing projects and ensuring plans meet the principles and terms of the San José Declaration on Sustainable Hydropower, the IHA looks to increase the contribution of renewable energy in Guatemala.

Looking Ahead

Renewable energy in Guatemala has the capacity to lift millions out of poverty. Government pressure and foreign aid for NGOs like IHA ensure that renewable energy becomes a priority investment. Hydropower has already proven to be an effective source of energy in the coastal nation and further utilization of this abundant resource will significantly improve the ongoing energy crisis, allowing Guatemalans to develop their agricultural industry and enable enterprising development in the future.

– Max Edmund
Photo: Flickr

Power Grant to Malaysia 
On January 12, 2023, the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) provided a power grant to Malaysia. Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), Malaysia’s state-owned energy company, received this grant to assist with the “utility’s digital transformation.” This grant will further the use of more renewable energy and aid in giving sound clean energy to about 2.5 million people, including those in neighboring countries who are also on the Borneo Grid.

“Around the world, we have seen the transformative impact of digital infrastructure on achieving ambitious clean energy, energy efficiency, and other climate-related goals. Our partnership with Sarawak Energy is intended to support their vision of sustainable growth by meeting the region’s need for reliable, renewable energy,” said Enoh T. Ebong, USTDA’s Director.

Diving into the Grant

The total contribution of the grant comes in at $1 million USD and will continue SEB’s, “aim of becoming a sustainable digital utility by 2025 and beyond.” The agreement of the grant came into effect during the fifth Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Tokyo, Japan.

During the duration of the grant, USTDA will evaluate SEB’s current digital landscape and “support the company’s strategic roadmap to enable the adoption of smart grid and digital power plant technologies, enhance efficiency, increase cyber security as well as meet growing connectivity commitment and service reliability requirements to drive sustainable economic growth in Malaysia.”

SEB chose the nonprofit group Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to oversee the technical study of the project and provide assistance throughout the project. “SEB expresses gratitude to USTDA for this new partnership and welcomes EPRI’s technical support,” said Datu Sharbini Bin Suhaili, Group CEO of Sarawak Energy Berhad.

USTDA’s championing of the project will further the goals of both the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment. “The Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment will deliver game-changing projects to close the infrastructure gap in developing countries, strengthen the global economy and supply chains, and advance U.S. national security.”

A Brief History of EPRI

Founded in 1972 in California, EPRI operates as a not-for-profit-independent energy research company. EPRI has a presence in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The company collaborates with more than 450 companies spanning 45 countries by “driving innovation to ensure the public has clean, safe, reliable, affordable, and equitable access to electricity across the globe.”

With regard to the USTDA providing the power grant to Malaysia, EPRI President and CEO Arshad Mansoor had this to say, “EPRI is pleased to assist Sarawak in the modernizing of its grid, as this fits with our society-based mission to ensure the public has clean, safe, reliable, affordable, and equitable access to electricity across the globe.”

Looking Forward

With the USTDA providing this power grant to Malaysia, it will not only benefit Malaysia’s renewable energy goal but it will also provide energy to millions across multiple countries who are in poverty. The goals of the grant as well as the goals of the USTDA’s other projects will see that those underserved and in need of basic needs receive proper care.

– Sean McMullen
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in Uganda
Uganda is a country that is home to roughly 49 million citizens, and of these citizens, only 42% have access to electricity. The country works around the clock to grow infrastructurally and economically so that it may provide equitable access to all its citizens. However, more than this, the government, nonprofits and foreign countries are pooling their efforts to create a future for renewable energy in Uganda.

About Electricity Access in Uganda

Uganda faces a few key issues when it comes to getting electricity to its people and throughout its country. Currently, it is facing three main issues:

  • Environmental challenges make it extremely difficult for Uganda to utilize hydropower.
  • The up-front costs of renewable energy (ex. solar, wind or nuclear) are large and can discourage investments from the government or private investors.
  • Rural areas have a harder time obtaining electricity compared to urban areas because of the barren terrain in these more rural places.

Uganda faces the issues many countries do, and while these issues are complicated, they are not impossible for countries to overcome. People from across the country and from across the globe are implementing numerous innovative and educational projects so that the country may continue in the search for and construction of renewable energy in Uganda.

The Energy for Rural Transformation (ERT) Project

The Ugandan government is spearheading a renewable energy project called the Energy for Rural Transformation (ERT) project. The Ugandan government has enacted the project in parts since the early 2000s and is currently in its third phase. The project is targeting the most remote citizens of Uganda first as it aims to build energy infrastructure in rural areas and bring internet and technological information and communication to schools and hospitals. Once the government connects these areas to the grid, it turns the newly built infrastructure into green energy resources including solar, wind, geothermal and biomass.

More than 7,000 people have been connected to the electrical grid and there has been a 31% decrease in the use of nonrenewable energy for industry from the past two phases. The third phase of this project aims to not only bridge the gaps where there are still vast expanses of rural areas in Uganda that do not have a connection to the electrical grid but also to bring renewable, green energy for an equitable future.

The Uganda National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Alliance (UNREEEA) has also promoted Uganda’s renewable energy development. It is a nonprofit conglomerate of green energy business leaders trying to promote private investment in green energy building within the country. UNREEEA helps to advocate to private business owners and energy companies to invest in the long-term future of renewable energy in Uganda, and among these advocacy efforts is its Green Banking Project. It has teamed up with the Uganda Institute of Banking and Financial Services (UIBFS) to educate on, promote and encourage private and decentralized businesses to bring their companies to all of Uganda.

UNREEEA and UIBFS have created online training courses, seminars and partner lectures to instruct businesses on why they should build renewable energy in Uganda as well as the best ways to implement green energy within the country. UNREEEA and UIBFS are working tirelessly to encourage worthwhile investments in Uganda’s technological and renewable future.

Germany’s Role in Promoting Renewable Energy in Uganda

Germany has recently been lending a helping hand to Uganda’s renewable energy front. Germany’s project started in 2020 and will be ending this November in 2023, and it is an intellectually collaborative project that focuses on bringing more biogas plants to Uganda. Biogas is a modern form of renewable energy, and because of Uganda’s low rainfall and wind rates, it can be very helpful in alleviating the challenges of implementing other forms of green energy posed by changing weather patterns. The German Biogas Association (FvB) is currently helping the Uganda National Biogas Alliance (UNBA) by freely sharing its information on biogas technologies. The FvB has helped support and advocate for the interest of biogas, develop services and infrastructure and train management positions during the past three years. The FvB is a leading example of how all countries can benefit by lending a helping hand.

While not every person in Uganda has access to electricity or the internet, every person in Uganda can rest assured that their country’s leaders are working to not only give everyone equal opportunities but also to invest in a green, renewable future. Uganda faces many challenges like the lack of infrastructure, the lack of fiscal resources, harsh weather and desert terrain and many other issues. Despite this, the government, nonprofits and neighboring countries continue to collect their efforts and garner support for capacity building and green energy advocacy across all of Uganda.

– Alexandra Curry
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in Somalia
In recent years, renewable energy in Somalia has brought electricity to some of the poorest regions. “Previously, when we paid for the diesel and the worker’s wages, we couldn’t break even and sometimes we made a loss. But now we are making profits,” a Somali local farmer, Halima Abdulle Gabow, tells Deutsche Welle about the solar panels on her farm. The country started the move toward renewable energy in about 2016 and about 10% of its energy now comes from renewable sources. Renewable energy in Somalia has become a solution uniquely suitable to Somalia’s low electricity accessibility.

Civil War and Somalia’s Shattered Power Infrastructure

When the 1991 uprising threw Somalia into a lasting civil war, the nationalized energy infrastructure was completely privatized overnight without regulation. What happened immediately was a total blackout with almost no electricity accessible to the country. In 2009, when conflicting factions signed a peace treaty in congress to establish an effective coalition government, the electricity accessibility rate increased in one year from 25% to 52%. However, the situation has remained stagnant since 2009. In 2020, almost half of the population lacked access to electricity and only one-third of the rural population had access to electricity.

According to a Stimson Center research study that Abdirahman Aynte and Eugene Chen conducted, the lack of nationwide energy planning renders Somalia to regional private power grids that are disconnected, unregulated and overlapping. These mini power grids mostly rely on diesel generators and, to operate, these generators demand diesel at their dispersed power plants. Guerilla warfare, poor traffic infrastructure and the current Russo-Ukrainian war all contribute to the high cost of diesel in unstable areas. As a result, electricity prices in Somalia are extremely expensive and volatile. Depending on the region, the price can vary from $0.30 per kWh to $1.00 per kWh, starkly contrasting neighboring Ethiopia’s price of $0.06 per kWh.

Renewable Energy Suitability for Somalia

The scorching and consistent sunshine combined with ideal windy conditions means Somalia holds great renewable energy potential. The Stimson Center explains that “Somalia has the highest resource potential for onshore wind power in Africa and the country experiences 3,000 hours of sunlight per year with daily solar radiation ranging between 5-7 kWh/m2 per day, which equates to strong solar photovoltaic electricity generation capacity.” Furthermore, Somalia “could potentially produce up to 45,000 MW from wind and 2,000 MW from solar power.”

But beyond geographical reasons, renewable energy presents a solution to Somalia’s disorganized energy infrastructure and its unstable political situation. According to Aynte and Chen’s research, there are three reasons why renewable energy is suitable for Somalia.

First, because of the lack of an integrated power grid, renewable energy has a comparative advantage over diesel generators. Unlike diesel generators, solar and wind power plants do not require fuel and local electric service providers can often repair solar panels on-site. The low logistical demand gives solar energy an advantage as Somalia also does not have a comprehensive transportation infrastructure.

Second, the ease of logistical demand makes renewable electricity supply a more reliable solution in conflict areas. Extremist groups such as al-Shabab control a substantial portion of Somalia’s main supply routes and fuel transportation becomes jeopardized. As renewable energy does not rely on constant refueling, areas with renewable energy enjoy a more stable electricity supply.

Finally, the competitive nature of the electricity market attracts electrical providers to renewable energy sources. As private power grids are positioned closely one against another, often overlapping each other, the energy market of Somalia is extremely competitive. Electricity providers have to seek the most competitive business model to survive the vibrant competition. And, renewable energy is the most economical power source for the reasons listed above.

The Future of Renewable Energy in Somalia

Moving forward, renewable energy in Somalia still faces some obstacles to developing scalable electric infrastructure. According to Somalia’s Ministry of Energy and Water Resources official, despite the success of renewable energy in Somalia, there is no replacement for an integrated nationwide power grid. While currently, remote areas gain their rudimentary access to electricity through mini-power grids, mini-power grids are ultimately unable to sustain the demand of future vibrant economic activities.

But, Somalia is already seeing visible gains through renewable energy initiatives. According to the World Bank, through the Somalia Business Catalytic Fund, solar company Solargen was able to begin an initiative to provide affordable solar power access to vendors, businesses and other entities in the town of Warsheikh and create more than 2,200 jobs through these businesses.

According to Aynte and Chen’s research, switching to wind turbines has successfully reduced electricity costs by almost 40% in the city of Garowe, while providing cost-free electricity to power streetlights, healthcare facilities, police stations and religious institutions.

Even though renewable energy in Somalia is still in its infancy, the significant cost benefit of renewable energy has already made an impression on impoverished Somalis.

– Peiyi Yu
Photo: Flickr