Floating Solar Farms
Indonesia, a Southeast Asian island nation, has developed significantly in recent years. As the government of Indonesia seeks a more prosperous life for its citizens, the demand for energy increases. Indonesia is becoming a key global economic player, not only a member of G20, the international organization which addresses major issues related to the global economy, but it also has the largest economy in Southeast Asia. However, with higher standards of living, Indonesian energy supplies are at their limits.

Developments in renewable energy technologies could provide a solution. Indonesia consists of more than 10,000 islands and huge parts of the country are simply oceans. Recent developments in floating solar farms could provide the perfect solution to Indonesia’s growing energy crisis.

Floating Solar Farms

New companies such as Ocean Sun and SolarDuck are developing floating solar farms which enable solar panels to sit on top of the water, generating electricity, while remaining afloat without taking up valuable land space, BBC reports.

The technology relies on the ability to create a floating solar panel that is robust enough to withstand ocean movement. For example, Ocean Sun creates its floating solar farms using modified silicone solar photovoltaic (PV) modules attached to a flexible membrane that floats on the ocean surface. As the panels sit very close to the surface of the ocean, people cannot view them from the shore.
>Floating solar panels could offer a renewable energy solution for numerous countries. Not only is land incredibly valuable for building, but many people feel that solar panels are unsightly and do not wish to see them in their daily lives. However, placing them far out at sea alleviates many of these problems. Given the vast ocean area which makes up Indonesia, investing in floating solar farms could offer an innovative solution.

Indonesian Energy Needs

Nearly all of the Indonesian population now has access to electricity however, what constitutes access is, by Western standards, relatively low. “Access to electricity” translates to access to basic lighting and the ability to charge a phone or power a small radio for four hours. Despite many people having access to electricity, countless on Indonesia’s islands are still not connected to the grid at all, meaning that more than a million people have to go to great lengths to gain electrical connection, BBC reports.
As the country develops and people desire the kinds of electrical devices which surround us every day in Europe and America, the amount of energy that the government must provide continues to grow. In Indonesia, energy use per capita is at just over 8,000 kWh per year. Whereas in the U.K. usage per capita is almost 30,000 kWh and in the U.S. almost 77,000 kWh, according to Our World in Data.

Innovation in Indonesian Energy

Indonesia is still hugely reliant on fossil fuels in order to produce electricity, a finite and ever-decreasing resource. Currently, only 18.66% of electricity production in Indonesia came from renewable resources in 2021.

The ocean space available in Indonesia offers a huge opportunity for renewable energy generation, whether through floating solar farms or other forms of generation. As Indonesia makes exciting strides, economically and politically, and the life of Indonesian people improves, new forms of electricity generation could create an even greater future for Indonesian citizens.

– Florence Jones
Photo: Flickr

India’s first solar-powered village
In October 2022, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Modhera as India’s first solar-powered village. Despite being a small remote village in Gujarat, residents within Modhera are now living a higher quality of life due to technological advancements. Modhera is well-known for its Sun Temple, located on the bank of the Pushpavati river. However. now, with a modern twist, the village will also be famous for its solar-powered grid. “Whenever there will be talks of solar power, Modhera will be the first name to emerge,” said Modi, according to The Tribune India.

According to the World Bank, 98.5% of India’s rural population had access to electricity in 2020. However, high costs of electricity make power unaffordable for low-income households. However, in Modhera, the solar-powered grid allows a cost-effective electricity supply for villagers.

Benefits of India’s First Solar-Powered Village

This solar project in Modhera received financing from the federal and provincial governments of about $10 million. The funding provided more than “1,300 rooftop panels for residential houses and government buildings.” Modhera has solar panels installed on the roofs of dwellings, education facilities, bus stops, parking lots and even the Sun Temple grounds. The solar power grids provide for daily needs, even after dusk, and also provide a surplus that can be stored for future use.

When the generated electricity from solar power outweighs the amount used by the residents, residents can sell extra unconsumed electricity to power utility companies. In this way, the government helps the residents to earn additional income. Besides having to pay little to nothing for electricity bills, the residents greatly benefit from the income arising from selling surplus electricity.

Stable electricity has allowed many to strengthen their livelihoods by increasing productivity in the workplace. For instance, a part-time tailor, Reena Ben bought an electric motor worth about $25 to run her sewing machine, Euronews reported. The abundance of solar power electricity allows her to sew a few more items of clothes every day. Through the additional income from selling extra electricity, another tailor, Praveen Bhai, plans to buy a gas line and stove to upgrade from the wood-fired stoves that produce excessive smoke and reduce the air quality.

Local farmers are greatly benefiting from low electricity bills and can now save that money or put it toward education endeavors or other living costs. Kailash Ben, who earns a small income through farming, saves around 2,000 rupees($25) every month, which she uses for daily expenses and her children’s education.

Looking Ahead

For Gujarat, India’s first solar-powered village Modhera represents progressive steps toward sustainability and self-sufficiency. Modhera is India’s first solar-powered village, but it is certainly not the last. Every resident benefits in a multitude of ways from solar power grids. Even the famous Sun Temple, which is dedicated to the Sun God, now relies on solar power to run its 3D light shows, light up premises and provide electric vehicle charging stations. By incorporating technological advancements to keep its centuries-old cultural monument functional and provide electricity to all, the village is one step closer to achieving self-sustainability. Now Modhera is a role model for neighboring villages, cities and many other nations. The solar-powered village not only lights the path for a green India but also raises the quality of life for citizens.

– Zahin Tasnin
Photo: Flickr

solar-energy-for-all-in-lebanonWithin the last three years, Lebanon has experienced several crises, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the Beirut port explosion without forgetting an unprecedented economic and political crisis that was recently worsened by the war in Ukraine and global inflation. However, there is one crisis that the Lebanese people have suffered since 1992: the electricity crisis. The Lebanese state never managed to provide its population with regular, 24 hours of electricity per day. People had thus come up with alternatives, such as private electricity generators and most recently solar energy to secure this basic right.

The Electricity Situation in Lebanon

For decades now, electricity has been a major issue in Lebanon. State-owned Electricité du Liban provides only two hours of electricity per day. However, some areas experience complete shut-off. Until today, the Lebanese people’s main alternative to state-provided electricity is resorting to private generators that work on diesel. Two problems emerge from this situation, the first one being the price of petroleum-related products.

With the ongoing economic crisis and the devaluation of the Lebanese Pounds, the Lebanese government does not have enough funds to purchase fuel and make the electricity factories functional. On the other hand, people are also not able to afford fuel for their own private generators. The second problem is related to over-exploited private generators that are forced to shut off a few hours a day, leaving most people living with long power outages.

Why Does Solar Energy in Lebanon Make Sense?

Given all the challenges Lebanon is facing to have proper access to electricity, renewable energy becomes an interesting option to consider. Lebanon has a lot of natural and biological advantages, such as wind, water, etc. However, the most interesting and important natural asset is the abundant sunshine the country enjoys for the majority of the year, making solar energy in Lebanon the ideal alternative to consider for Lebanon to get out of the electricity crisis.

Using solar energy in Lebanon saves money for the Lebanese people whose private generators’ cost keeps on increasing. In fact, for 12 hours of electricity a day, the fuel cost for private generators can be as high as $550 per day. Although the installation of solar panels is also expensive, it saves a lot for the consumer. If someone pays $550 per day on fuel, installing solar panels will reduce his cost to $140 per day, according to Beirut Today.

Solutions

Despite being essential and economic in the long term, installing solar energy in Lebanon is still very expensive for the average Lebanese household or business. Prices of solar installation range between $2,000 and $5,000, which is a substantial amount for Lebanese workers who usually earn around $550 on average. However, the Lebanese people are not alone and different actors are bringing new initiatives to allow the spread of solar energy in Lebanon. The Housing Bank is conducting one of these initiatives, which is proposing loans from 75 million to 200 million Lebanese Pounds over a period of 5 years, according to Arab News.

Other international and local NGOs are also helping the government as well as the people to have access to solar energy. For example, the UNDP, in collaboration with the Lebanese Ministry of Health has provided 10 hospitals with solar panels. While NGOs, such as Meghterbin Mejtemiin are looking for funds from the Lebanese Diaspora to help those in need in their home country.

As always, the Lebanese people are showing how resilient they are in times of crisis and how innovative they become to adapt to the different situations they are living in. Thankfully, people can also count on Lebanese solidarity, especially with the diaspora that is always ready to help, the most recent example being their support for solar energy implementation in Lebanon.

Youssef Yazbek
Photo: Flickr

Nigeria’s Electricity Crisis
In October 2021, Bboxx, a U.K.- based company created to tackle energy poverty, expanded its market to Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria. As more than 85 million people live without electricity in the country, Bboxx aims to address Nigeria’s electricity crisis by providing electricity to 20 million Nigerians over 10 years. With Nigeria being its largest market to date, this could yield major results for both Bboxx and the Nigerian economy.

Nigeria’s Electricity Crisis

Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $432 billion in 2020. However, problems with access to strong, reliable electricity hinder Nigeria’s development. Despite being “Africa’s largest market for diesel generators,” close to 50% of Nigerians lack access to electricity with rural Nigerians accounting for the majority of those without access. Moreso, the majority of Nigerians with access to electricity struggle with “an extremely unreliable grid,” Bboxx CEO Mansoor Hamayun told The Africa Report.

This “lack of reliable power costs Nigeria $26 billion” annually, which equates to 2% of GDP, according to the World Bank. In light of this, in February of 2021, the World Bank “approved $500 million to support improvements in electricity distribution, including investment in on- and off-grid renewable energy.” Through this commitment, Bboxx was able to launch into the electricity market.

How Will Bboxx Operate in Nigeria?

Bboxx Nigeria plans to provide a solution to Nigeria’s electricity crisis by “expanding access to clean, affordable and reliable Solar Home Systems (SHS).” Bboxx uses a long-term pay-as-you-go system whereby “customers only pay for what they use” in “monthly installments from [one] to [three] years.”

Bboxx will especially target individual households in the rural areas of Ogun, Lagos, Ekiti, Osun, Oyo and Ondo, alongside “small business owners and market traders.” Bboxx’s strategy is to strive to electrify 100,000 Nigerian households per year for three years in order to meet its goal of 20 million people over 10 years. Bboxx also plans to release other products and services in Nigeria such as “LPG clean cooking solutions, solar-powered water pumps for farmers and smartphones.” The first Bboxx shop in Nigeria opened in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State in October 2021. The company hopes to roll out its services to the rest of the target areas, eventually spreading nationwide.

The Impact of Solar Power

Because solar energy is more affordable than both diesel and kerosene, adopting solar sources means saving money. Such savings would be useful in curbing Nigeria’s high inflation rates while allowing investment into other areas. This would not only result in a better living standard for Nigerians in terms of electricity access but will also create vast improvements in other services like health care and education. Moreover, the solar home systems provider estimates that its expansion into Nigeria will create 10,000 new green employment prospects in a span of 10 years. Overall, the Bboxx expansion into Nigeria would help create new employment opportunities for Nigerians, thus enabling a booming economy and an upward trend in Nigeria’s development.

Unfortunately, while Bboxx is currently able to operate without cost constraints, the risk that the Nigerian naira may continue to devalue poses a threat to Bboxx’s operations. Nevertheless, as Hamayun told The Africa Report that it was likely “a short-term issue.” Looking at the long-term, the “fundamentals are super-strong,” he said.

The Bottom Line

While the project is still in its early stages, the prospects are clear: Nigeria’s off-grid clean market has significant potential. With the assistance of Bboxx, these transitions will revolutionize Nigeria’s electricity crisis, system and economy while reducing carbon emissions.

– Divine Adeniyi
Photo: Flickr

Developing Solar Power in Zambia
Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Africa that receives between “2,000 to 3,000 hours of sunshine per year.” The country benefits greatly from its location along the Zambezi and Kafue Rivers and has become highly dependent on hydropower, with hydroelectric dams providing more than 85% of its total energy in 2021. Unfortunately, recent droughts have led to prolonged blackouts and an increase in energy poverty across the country. To help combat this issue, the government is investing in a new source of renewable energy: solar power. Solar power in Zambia has the potential to transform the country’s economy along with the lives of citizens.

Energy Poverty in Zambia

The U.N. defines energy poverty as a lack of “access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy.” According to USAID, approximately 69% of Zambia’s 17.35 million citizens suffer from energy poverty. Energy poverty is an even larger issue for people living in rural areas — USAID estimates that 96% of rural citizens do not have access to electricity in 2021.

Energy poverty has significant negative impacts on individual homes, affecting education, health and even political participation. However, widespread energy poverty also affects the economy as a whole as it is nearly impossible for businesses to operate without power. Furthermore, a lack of power in the home presents a barrier for remote work and remote education. Implementing solar power in Zambia could be the solution.

When droughts began to cause extensive blackouts, ZESCO, the leading state-owned power company in Zambia, had “to raise tariffs by as much as 200%” in 2019 to afford the cost of importing power from South Africa. While this short-term solution prevented total economic collapse, the Zambian government quickly came to the realization that a more reliable source of renewable energy is necessary. The development of solar power in Zambia has the potential to sustainably lift millions out of energy poverty, improving the lives of individual citizens and jumpstarting Zambia’s economy as a whole.

The Transition From Hydropower

The Kariba Dam is one of Zambia’s largest hydroelectric constructions. When droughts hit in 2019, water levels at the dam “plunged to their lowest level since 1996,” causing nationwide blackouts. This prompted the development of solar power in Zambia as sunlight in Africa is a much more dependable source of energy than water. Furthermore, while the energy from large-scale hydroelectric dams is very centralized, smaller solar power grids can serve as decentralized sources, allowing for power to reach isolated rural communities.

In March 2019, President Edgar Chagwa Lungu introduced the Bangweulu Scaling Solar Plant to Zambia, a 54-megawatt power plant projected to lift 30,000 private homes and “several businesses” out of energy poverty. Following the inflated energy tariffs that power outages caused in 2019, the Scaling Solar Program was able to lower tariffs to $0.06 cents per kilowatt-hour, a much more affordable price for Zambians suffering from energy poverty.

By 2030, the government of Zambia hopes to increase its electricity generation to 6,000 megawatts. A single 54-megawatt solar power plant saves Zambia nearly $140 million in capital over 25 years, serving as a game-changer for the country’s economy. The expansion of solar power in Zambia will alleviate pressure on local water sources and allow for the rejuvenation of hydroelectric power plants. The Scaling Solar Program’s innovative projects put Zambia in an optimal position to capitalize on solar technology and improve the well-being of all citizens.

Looking Ahead

The continued development of solar power in Zambia is a pivotal way for the country to address energy poverty, especially in rural areas. Not only will this innovation revitalize Zambia’s economy but it will also improve health and education on an individual level. Overall, Zambia is in a prime position to reduce poverty and enhance the quality of life for all citizens through the power of the sun.

– Hannah Gage
Photo: Flickr

Lighting Papua New Guinea Program
Papua New Guinea is an extremely remote island nation located across from Indonesia on the same piece of land and just north of continental Australia. Despite a small population of just 8 million people, the island is very diverse — it is home to more than 800 unique languages and more than 10,000 ethnic groups living throughout the 600 total islands. More than 80% of the inhabitants live in rural locations, however, there are “only 18 people per square kilometer,” making Papua New Guinea “one of the least densely populated” nations on the planet. Only 13% of the total population has access to electricity. The Lighting Papua New Guinea Program has created innovative solutions to provide power to this underserved part of the world.

The Perfect Climate for Solar Power on Papua New Guinea

The majority of the islands of Papua New Guinea experience more than “300 days of sunshine” every year, presenting the perfect solution and climate to implement large-scale solar power projects. The Lighting Papua New Guinea program primarily focuses on remote areas deep in the wilderness, where the majority of the population lives. Since the start of 2014, the program has provided power to 1.8 million people, approximately 22% of the nation’s total population.

Before the Lighting Papua New Guinea program started islanders would go hours at a time without any substantial light. Students struggled to complete their homework and other essential tasks were much more difficult. Most families only had dim kerosene lamps to use for reading and cooking. The islanders have expressed their satisfaction with the program, noting how portable and dependable solar power is, as well as the difference the program has made in their quality of life.

International Support and Growth of Papua New Guinea’s Markets

The Lighting Papua New Guinea Program receives financial support from both Australia and New Zealand. Remote villages and other hard-to-reach locations have benefitted the most with small business profits rising through selling solar power products and household costs decreasing thanks to more efficient energy solutions. According to the energy advisor of the program, Subrata Barman, a whole new market for solar power in Papua New Guinea took root by creating awareness about high-quality lighting solutions and drawing interest from global manufacturers to partner with people living in Papua New Guinea to take the products to those who need them most.

The Lighting Papua New Guinea program’s partner, Lighting Global, is the World Bank Group’s project to provide off-grid energy through solar power to 1 billion people worldwide who lack electricity. Origin Energy Australia has provided those living in Papua New Guinea an affordable business model, by paying a monthly rate for solar-powered lights and cell phone chargers, as well as radios that rooftop solar panels power.

The model is completely new for many islanders who have never had the opportunity to use banking and credit services. Origin Energy Australia has also provided home solar power kits distributed by salesmen who travel from village to village. The kit costs $250 and follows the same pay-as-you-go system as Origin’s other solar products, with a required 20% deposit and the rest paid over a period of 12 months. Thus far, the kits have been a huge success in providing affordable solar lighting and improving citizens’ quality of life.

Papua New Guinea Leading the Way in Off-Grid Solar Power

Through the Lighting Papua New Guinea program, Papua New Guinea has developed into a world leader in advocating for solar power. Replacing kerosene lamps with solar-powered products throughout the nation has reduced greenhouse emissions by approximately 28,000 metric tons per year which has the same impact as “taking 6,000 cars off the road.” Australia, New Zealand and the Lighting Papua New Guinea program are utilizing their partnership to increase private sector investment throughout not just Papua New Guinea but the Pacific as a whole in order to mitigate poverty throughout the region. Papua New Guinea is hopeful that 100% renewable energy is possible by the year 2050 throughout the entire nation.

– Curtis McGonigle
Photo: Unsplash

Litro De LuzSolar energy may be the key to combatting poverty worldwide, with 13% of the global population lacking access to electricity in any form. In addition, this energy deprivation threatens financial security for the world’s poor. Energy access facilitates growth out of poverty by improving conditions for health care facilities, creating healthy living environments and empowering young people to pursue education.

Solutions to energy deprivation are necessary to combat global poverty. Two organizations pioneering technology solutions for energy poverty are Litro de Luz and SELF(Solar Electric Light Fund). Moreover, both organizations utilize solar energy to aid in the development of impoverished communities.

Solar Energy and Poverty

The use of solar energy is beneficial in the fight against energy deprivation and climate change. In China, for example, solar energy provides electricity for over 800,000 impoverished families. This solar energy has a direct financial impact, as one county in China witnessed an increase of $400 per household, in annual income after the installation of solar technologies.

However, the benefits of solar energy are not limited to financial growth. The increasing use of solar technology protects the climate and preserves air quality. Energy sources such as solid fuels, coal and biomass contribute to air pollution and are a safety hazard for families in the areas of their use.  The World Health Organization estimates that 3 million people die each year from the effects of air pollution. Emission-free energy sources, such as solar energy, are vital to protecting the health of future generations.

Light from Plastic Bottles

Beginning in 2012, Litro de Luz provided light to over a million impoverished families throughout the world by utilizing the invention of Alfredo Moser. Born into poverty, Moser experienced the power outages that plague Brazil, his home country. In 2002, during one such power outage, the idea for an electricity-free light source came to him. Using water, bleach, and a plastic water bottle, Moser was able to light his whole house.

His invention soon spread throughout the world, reaching the ears of Illac Diaz, a Filipino nonprofit director, in 2012. Inspired by the work of Moser, Diaz created Litro de Luz (Liter of Light) as a solution to the crippling poverty he saw in his country. Building off Moser’s invention, Diaz created light-made plastic bottles, solar panels, batteries and LED lamps to bring light to areas in the Philippines that lacked electricity. Since then, Litro de Luz has spread to impoverished communities throughout the world, from Asia to Central and South America.

The Need for Light in Impoverished Communities

While electric light is taken for granted in the US, its importance cannot be overlooked. The light provided by Litro de Luz plays a vital role in the growth out of poverty by empowering students and strengthening healthcare facilities. Without light, students cannot study during the night, making it far more difficult to do homework and succeed in school. Even during the day, reading and writing without a lamp can be difficult, especially during the winter. Litro De Luz is able to increase the amount of time students can dedicate to school. This opens doors to higher education and high-income jobs that enable economic mobility.

For hospitals and other health care facilities, lack of electricity and light is a dangerous threat. Without light, surgeries and care at night are nearly impossible. Most consequentially, infant mortality rates are significantly higher in hospitals without access to light. Some hospitals are forced to use phone flashlights and headlamps as the only source of light for nighttime childbirths, increasing the risk of mistakes that threaten the lives of the mother and child.  The work of Litro de Luz in protecting the lives of people needing medical attention and enabling financial mobility is crucial in the fight against global poverty.

Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) Provides Solar Energy

Founded in 1990 by Neville Williams, SELF started out as a small organization working to install and finance home solar systems throughout Asia. In 1997, Williams stepped down as the executive director. Her replacement, Bob Freling, had a larger vision for the organization. He knew that solar energy could be utilized for more than just singular homes. Freling saw the role of solar power in improving health systems, education, and food resources. Freling’s first project under the model of community support was the establishment of a computer lab at a high school in South Africa. After its creation, school enrollment increased by 40% and graduation rates rose by 15%. Since then, SELF pioneered projects throughout the world shifting communities away from fossil fuels and fostering sustainable growth out of poverty.

Looking Forward

Work by organizations such as Litro de Luz and SELF impacts the lives of millions throughout the world. From 2000 to 2021, the number of people without access to energy dropped by 9%. While energy deprivation still affects the lives of 940 million people worldwide, the work of Litro de Luz and SELF provides a model for future efforts to raise the standard of living for this vulnerable population.

– Haylee Ann Ramsey-Code
Photo: Flickr

Solar energy buses in South AfricaLately, pollution throughout the world has risen due to the effects of climate change, fossil fuels and the emittance of a handful of harmful chemicals in order for different countries to keep running. Ever since the late 1990s, renewable energy use on the African continent has been dropping, moving from a high of 74% in 1994 to 70% in 2015. Even in more prominent countries like Ghana, the 2015 rate was at a relatively small 41%. Some countries barely creep over 1%.

In the days of a global pandemic and climate change creeping up on the world, the need to utilize more natural forms of energy to power the world has become preeminent. And in South Africa, major steps are being taken, starting with their public transportation using clean energy buses.

Where Golden Arrow Comes In

In July 2021, Golden Arrow, one of the major organizations that provide public transportation for people in Cape Town, South Africa, has put out two fully electric buses to help transport individuals without using types of energy that are harmful to the air and to the world as a whole. According to IT News Africa, Golden Arrow began its renewable energy project back in 2016, and this project is in collaboration with the bus company, the city of Cape Town and New Southern Energy, a construction company based in South Africa that helps make solar energy products.

These clean energy buses in South Africa are expected to be run from Retreat all the way to Cape Town, which will be very convenient for people in the area due to the collapse of train services in the metro ran by MetroRail.

Due to this collapse of services, caused by poor conditions, looting and attacks from civilians, many people that worked for MetroRail have lost their jobs in an area where unemployment is already at an all-time high. The French Agency of Development (AFD), highlights that young people represent more than half of the unemployed population in Africa, or 60% to be exact. However, Golden Arrow has increased its services recently around the time these buses were introduced, so for some people in search of a job, bus operations might alleviate unemployment.

Launching the Effort

The program of launching these vehicles, according to IT News Africa, did not involve the vehicles themselves; it started from the ground up. Golden Arrow installed a small solar-powered system in one of its main vehicle depots in Epping, a small town within Cape Town. Then, in the next two phases of the program, it expanded its solar power capabilities by installing 2,500 panels at its Multimech stop. Then, with the success of these solar systems, it was time to test it out on the buses.

Two types of tests were done with the clean energy buses in South Africa, according to Techinafrica. One bus was completely empty, and the other had sandbags filled in the bus that simulated the weights of different passengers — 44 of them to be exact. For a few months, the team at Golden Arrow has been running those tests, becoming excited with the progress being made as Gideon Neethling, an engineer for Golden Arrow, stated, “Testing these vehicles has been a joy for everyone who is part of the project. Each time we carry out a new test or reach a new milestone, the level of excitement increases further.”

Considering the Future

According to Oxfam, an estimated 633 million people in Africa are living without access to electricity, and almost 800 million people are cooking food with old cookstoves, which is deemed not safe. With renewable energy use on a decline in Africa, these clean energy buses in South Africa stand to positively benefit the country and the continent as a whole. Golden Arrow can transport its 250,000 passengers every day, employ some of them to launch these solar-powered buses and then continue to add more buses to its network. Thanks to Golden Arrow, Africa is better poised to fight harmful energy, add new jobs and fight poverty within the continent.

– Matt Orth
Photo: Unsplash

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

5 Ways Renewable Energy in Spain Reduces Poverty

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

Looking to the Future

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

– Maddie Rhodes
Photo: Flickr

SELF
Many developing nations struggle with energy poverty, which is defined as “a lack of access to modern energy services.” According to Energypedia, “access to energy is a prerequisite of human development.” Electricity is also essential for the “provision of social services such as education and health.” Energy access also links to the economic growth and development of a nation. The Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) is a nonprofit organization with a mission of harnessing solar energy to support social and economic development in disadvantaged communities.

Benefits of Solar Power

According to ZenEnergy, the use of solar energy helps to decrease the effects of climate change by reducing fossil fuel reliance, air pollution and water usage. Solar energy does not burn fuel, eliminating the harmful gas emissions that stem from fossil fuel energy production. Additionally, unlike the finite nature of fossil fuels, solar energy is abundant. Furthermore, solar energy does not require water to generate electricity. Solar power is a cost-effective and sustainable renewable energy source that can help reduce energy poverty throughout the world.

Addressing Energy Poverty

SELF implements solar projects to sustainably create energy, which provides for basic human needs and economic development. When SELF was first established in 1990, the organization began by fitting individual home solar-powered systems. However, the company yearned to make a larger impact with more long-term benefits. As a result, SELF adjusted its goals to include the creation of a business model “that could be self-sustained in communities” in developing countries. Thus, the Whole Village Development Model was born.

This “all-encompassing approach” utilizes solar energy from the sun to power entire villages while improving “healthcare, education and food security.” In 2001, SELF celebrated the opening of its first “solar-powered computer lab” in a high school in Maphephethe, South Africa. Due to these solar-powered capabilities, student enrollment at the school increased by 40% and graduation rates rose by close to 15%.

Solar Power in Developing Communities

Although the entire world can benefit from solar energy, impoverished countries are especially targeted to improve air quality and reduce health issues linked to the burning of fuelwood, reports Science Direct. Solar photovoltaic is a type of technology that can provide renewable energy in impoverished communities. This particular solar source eliminates the financial burden of grid extensions. Grid extensions are not viable options in communities with scarce traditional energy sources. For many developing countries, solar energy provides the opportunity for a better life, and, environmental sustainability is a bonus.

Overseeing Vaccine Refrigerators

Among other projects, in partnership with PATH, “an international nonprofit global health organization” located in the U.S. state of Seattle, SELF recently pledged to enlist evaluation teams to ensure vaccine refrigerators are functioning effectively in vaccination sites around Haiti, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Developing countries often lack proper mechanisms to monitor the efficiency of vaccine refrigerators. The goal of the partnership is to provide this assurance.

Two solar technicians from SELF are responsible for visiting 42 sites in Haiti to evaluate refrigerators on a monthly basis. After a one-year evaluation, SELF analyzes the data and reports on it to the World Health Organization. As inadequate refrigeration can have adverse public health implications, the vaccine cold storage monitoring project is just one example of the important work SELF does to support global communities aside from solar energy projects.

SELF’s Commitment to Disadvantaged Communities

Presently, SELF is working on several different projects with the main objective of improving living conditions in developing countries. Some of its projects include bringing clean water to West Africa as well as expanding micro-grids and providing solar training in Haiti. SELF continues to light up communities in need with new projects and approaches that harness the sustainable power of the sun.

Jessica Barile
Photo: Flickr