Infrastructure Development in Micronesia

The Federated States of Micronesia relies heavily on foreign aid, yet under its Infrastructure Development Plan 2016-2025, it plans to gain self-reliance and growth in six main areas. In addition, the Sustainable Energy Development and Access Project and the Maritime Investment Project, funded by the World Bank, are two major projects that are already underway. The developments are in key areas, such as fishing and island connectivity, which many Micronesians rely on for their livelihood.

Federal States of Micronesia Infrastructure Development Plan 2016-2025

As part of Micronesia’s Infrastructure Development Plan, economic growth and self-reliance are two areas of improvement. Micronesia is a remote region containing more than 600 islands northeast of Papua New Guinea, 74 of which are inhabited. Due to its remoteness, tourism and investment in the main regions of Micronesia are sparse. The Infrastructure Development Plan is focused on six main areas: macroeconomic stability, good governance, developing a private sector-led economy, health and education services, infrastructure improvement and long-term environmental sustainability.

Under this umbrella, Micronesia already has a number of accomplishments under its belt. Specifically, the School Facility Repair and Construction Master Plan came to fruition in 2013. Likewise, the Airport Master Plan was completed in 2012 and involves safety and security in air transportation. There are four international airports, and development in air transportation is another step to attracting tourism to Micronesia, and therefore, income to those employed in the tourism industry. Although infrastructure development in Micronesia covers many areas, positive economic growth and progress in becoming self-reliant are two important goals for developing its economy.

Sustainable Energy Development and Access Project

The World Bank donated $30 million to Micronesia’s Sustainable Energy Development and Access Project in December 2018. The project aims to increase electricity access and quality and to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels. The four main states of Micronesia, Pohnpei, Kosrae, Chuuk and Yap rely on fossil fuels like diesel. About 96 percent of electricity use in Micronesia comes from fossil fuels, and about 75 percent of the total population has access to electricity.

The project’s goals are the following: increase electricity status in the state of Chuuk, increase renewable energy generation in the states of Chuuk, Kosrae and Yap, improve performance of the Pohnpei Utility Cooperation and provide technical assistance relating to governance, accountability and financial performance of the energy sector. Electricity access varies on the islands. Only 27 percent of the population in Chuuk has access to electricity, yet Pohnpei has a 95 percent electrification rate. The project aims to provide access to renewable energy to the islands for long-term use.

Federated States of Micronesia Maritime Investment Project

The Maritime Investment Project is another source of infrastructure development in Micronesia that was approved on May 9. At a cost of over $38 million, its focus is to increase efficiency, safety, security and climate resilience of maritime infrastructure and operations in Micronesia, including upgrades or repairs to terminal structures at Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk and Yap ports. The project will also improve the connection between the islands with regards to access to food, water and emergency response services.

More than 90 percent of exports are fish. The project benefits not only for infrastructure development in the major ports but also for Micronesians that work in the strong fishing industry. The project ends on August 1, 2024. Sihna Lawrence, Microneisa’s Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, said, “Guided by our Infrastructure Development Plan, we look forward to working with the World Bank to improve our maritime transport and develop stronger connectivity across the archipelago.”

Ongoing Infrastructure Developments

Micronesia’s goal of self-reliance is given through the development plan and projects. Infrastructure development in Micronesia is a major move toward reducing the 41 percent poverty rate and improving health, education and the overall wellbeing of Micronesians.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

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

Sustainability in PortugalLocated on the Iberian Peninsula in Western Europe, Portugal was one of the world’s most powerful seafaring nations throughout the 15th and 16th centuries. However, environmental destruction, loss of colonies, war and political instability catalyzed the decline of Portugal’s wealthy status.

In a bid to turn things around, the coastline country has been emphasizing sustainability since 2014. Through the reallocation of resources and renewable energy, Portugal seeks to enhance economic, social and territorial development policies. Here are 10 facts about sustainability in Portugal and its dedication to responsible and sustainable growth.

10 Facts About Sustainability in Portugal

  1. Portugal 2020 is a partnership agreement between Portugal and the European Commission dedicated to sustainable economic and social development. Between 2014 and 2020, the European Commission agreed to allocate 25 billion euros to Portugal. This funding will allow for the stimulation of growth and creation of employment.
  2. Smart, sustainable and inclusive growth is at the center of Portugal 2020. Within the next calendar year, Portugal aims to have a greenhouse gas emission equal to that of the early 2000s. The goal includes having 31 percent of energy come from renewable sources, along with increased exports from the promotion of sustainable development.
  3. Portugal 2020 is designed to have a large impact on social development. This impact includes a 75 percent employment rate, 200,000 fewer people living in poverty, decreased early school dropout levels and a dedication to combating social exclusion.
  4. One improvement stemming from Portugal’s emphasis on sustainability is water quality. Since the beginning of Portugal 2020, 100 percent of urban and rural drinking water and bathing water meets health standards. This is just one way in which civilians are benefiting from the emphasis of sustainability in Portugal.
  5. Another area of improvement is air quality. As of 2019, Portugal has satisfactory air quality with pollution posing little to no risk on human health. However, Portugal still plans to improve its air quality further.
  6. Portugal is on target to hit the goals outlined in Portugal 2020. With the aid of the European Commission, Portugal is set up to meet the economic, environmental and social goals outlined in the partnered agreement.
  7. Portugal’s goals for after Portugal 2020 include decarbonization. By 2050, the country aims to be carbon neutral, which means they will not release any carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Aside from utilizing environmentally-friendly methods of energy production, another goal is transportation reform. Portugal’s plan includes replacing more than 500 buses with electric powered vehicles and investing in two new underground networks. Increasing access to quality public transportation will hopefully have a drastic impact on the use of carbon emission via cars.
  8. Solar power is another focus of Portugal 2020. The Portuguese Minister of Environment believes the country can harvest more than 10 percent of energy production within the next five years. Currently, Portugal harvests more wind than solar energy. However, this other prospect for sustainable energy sets new goals for the future and more opportunity for job creation.
  9. Portugal has embarked on a green growth agenda. The country aims to be a national leader in sustainable and economic growth. Portugal’s Commitment for Green Growth targets a low-carbon economy, high efficiency in resources and more jobs centered around sustainability. This sets a high standard for countries wanting to build up their economies in a sustainable way.
  10. A 2030 agenda will outline new goals for a sustainable and inclusive Portugal. This new plan aims to focus on issues pertaining to peace, security, good governance, increased emphasis on fragile states, conservation and sustainable use of oceans. It also aims to focus on human rights, including gender equality. Although the seaside country will have many successes to celebrate in 2020, the Portuguese government is already preparing its next steps to keep driving forward sustainability.

Portugal 2020 and other national sustainability goals highlight the country’s commitment to investing in the future. Focusing on resourcefully building its economy, sustainability in Portugal also focuses on improving societal issues, such as poverty and education.

Keeley Griego
Photo: Flickr

Energy Poverty
Eliminating global poverty will not be accomplished strictly through emerging opportunities and resources for the world’s most vulnerable people but will be done by redefining ideas about poverty. Instead of defining poverty by a purchasing power baseline, Rajiv Shah, the current Rockefeller Foundation President, thinks we should define and measure poverty in terms of power connectivity and electrification, in other words, energy poverty.

Rajiv Shah, former United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator, suggested this idea at the Affordable and Clean Energy for All event in Washington, D.C. Shah points to the idea that poverty is traditionally measured by a “basket of goods” stemming from a “total calories mindset.” Energy poverty defines poverty by the extent of the lack of access to modern energy.

Poverty Definitions Today

Currently, poverty is defined with a mere dollar amount. Extreme poverty is defined as a daily income of less than $1.90, and moderate poverty is living on less than $3.10 a day. The idea of moving from defining poverty from purchasing power to energy accessibility has some weight to it. For example, India in the 1970s defined poverty as the ability to purchase 2,100 to 2,400 calories of food per day depending on if the person was living in the city or in rural areas. In 2011, the Suresh Tendulkar Committee, a namesake for the late economist Suresh Tendulkar, defined living below the poverty line as spending between 27.2 and 33.3 Indian rupees (or between $0.38 and $0.46) per month on electricity, food, education and health.

This measure is thought to be far too conservative, but it does touch on the expanse of resources and services, specifically electricity, that factor into basic living standards. India is said to have 300 million people with little or no access to electricity. That is roughly 23 percent of its population. By taking energy poverty into consideration, a much clearer picture of global poverty rates can be analyzed.

Providing Energy to Areas In Need

Shah and the Rockefeller Foundation are not just providing mere lip service to the conversation on extreme poverty but also real energy service. The Rockefeller Foundation sponsors Smart Power for Rural Development, a $75 million program launched in 2015 that brings solar power to villages. This program has already powered 100 Indian villages with mini-grids that supply renewable energy to over 40,000 people.

Investments in mini-grids such as Smart Power for Rural Development or the $20 million raised from Husk Power Systems (the largest for an Indian mini-grid company) are thought to be the most efficient solutions for securing energy goals for sustainable development. Without reliable energy connectivity, almost half Of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 cannot be achieved. Two of such goals are “no poverty” and “affordable and clean energy.”

Energy is vital to attaining Development Goals such as health, education, inequality and food security. “Access to reliable electricity drives development and is essential for job creation, women’s empowerment and combating poverty,” says Gerth Svensson, chief executive at Swefund, a Swedish development finance institution that works to eliminate poverty by establishing sustainable businesses.

Metrics to Define Energy Poverty

Defining poverty through the proxy of energy poverty can leave vague perceptions. Yet, one metric illuminates the reality of what it means to be energy poor. Energy poverty is being quantified by the Multidimensional Energy Poverty Index (MEPI). The MEPI measures energy deprivation, as opposed to energy access. It is made up of five dimensions: cooking, lighting, services provided by means of household appliances, entertainment/education and communication.

Each dimension has one indicator to measure the importance of the activity, with an exception to cooking, which has two indicators. Each indicator has a binary threshold that indicates the presence or lack of a product or service. Energy poverty defined through the cooking dimension is measured by cooking with any fuel besides electricity, natural or biogas since it would leave a family vulnerable to indoor pollution. The lack of several other products or services complete the index—the lack of access to electricity (lighting), a refrigerator (household appliances), a radio or television (entertainment/education), and a landline or mobile phone (communication).

Measuring Poverty Through Energy

According to BRCK, a Kenyan organization that works to furnish internet connectivity to frontier markets, 18 of Africa’s 54 total nations have at least between 50 and 75 percent of their population without access to electricity, and 16 have more than 75 percent of their population lacking. On the measure of communication, only four of those nations have mobile-phones access for more than half their population, the highest being South Africa at 68 percent.

Using the current standard, roughly 736 million people worldwide are considered to be living in extreme poverty, yet 1.1 billion people were still living without access to electricity in 2017. The means for microeconomic power and poverty alleviation via education, healthcare, business and communication seem to be less about cash flow and more so concerning reliable energy flow, redefining poverty with the idea of energy poverty.

Thomas Benjamin
Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Energy
Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) initiative in 2011 with three goals in mind.

He aimed to secure universal access to energy services, to double the global improvement rate in energy efficiency and to double the amount of renewable energy used globally.

Through doing so, he hoped to work toward the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 7. This goal aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. The initiative focuses largely on bringing together groups from different sectors to collaborate on a common goal.  

Sustainable Energy for All Forum

With partners from different governments, the private sector and civil society, SEforAll is able to use a multi-pronged approach to tackle the issue of sustainable energy access.

Partners of the program come together each year at a Sustainable Energy for All Forum, where attendees from over 80 countries discuss the progress that has been made and what still needs to be done.

Partners can present their work for the previous year and announce plans for the next one. Different organizations have the opportunity to meet together and potentially collaborate on new projects.

They give evidence and ideas in various working sessions that cover topics such as maximizing the impact of energy, city-level action, gender equality in sustainable energy and challenges that countries are facing.

This information ultimately helps countries who have aligned with SEforAll fulfill their pledges to improve sustainable energy access. After each forum, numerous follow-up meetings and events are scheduled.

Examples of these events are People-Centered Accelerator, Sustainable Energy in Somalia and other. Partners come together to apply the information from the forum to their individual projects.

Forum Topics

While the forum discusses a variety of issues, SEforALL also provides targeted accelerators with specific topics. Participants discuss energy efficiency in terms of appliances, building efficiency, district energy, among other topics.

These meetings are also focused on action, so participants can talk about policies, business models and solutions.

Many initiatives have come out of these accelerators, including the U.N.-coordinated District Energy in Cities Initiative. It works toward increasing the adoption and funding of district energy, a sustainable way of heating and cooling buildings.

Other Sustainable Energy for All Projects

SEforAll also works towards projects of its own, including improved data collection. They created a website with “heat maps” that tracks which countries are making progress and which are not.

They use collected data on clean cooking, electricity access, energy efficiency and renewable energy to identify trends in different countries. With this information, countries can evaluate the success of their policies and SEforAll can target countries that need more progress.

To further evaluate the progress of different countries, SEforAll and The World Bank Group launched Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy  (RISE), a set of indicators used to thoroughly assess each country and the manners in which they address sustainable energy access. It covers 111 countries, which roughly makes around 96 percent of the global population.

It categorizes each country into three zones, according to how much progress they are making. Each country is also given scores based on their performance in energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy, based on specific indicators in each of the categories.

Sustainable Energy for All ultimately encourages countries to take action towards improving sustainable energy access. It provides them with evaluations of how well their current policies and efforts are working and information on how they can improve their work.

Through collaborations with other groups from different sectors, countries are given the tools to make progress and to develop in the right way.

– Casey Geier

Photo: Flickr

environmental degradation and poverty
At a historic United Nations Summit in New York in September 2015, countries from all over the world adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agenda aims to end poverty and inequality while protecting the environment and ensuring sustainable development. To do this, the agenda established 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be accomplished by 2030. These SDGs emphasize the relationship between environmental degradation and poverty and how sustainable development is critical to achieving these goals.

Sustainable Solutions

Sustainable development is defined by the U.N. as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Such a practice involves using natural resources in a way that will leave future generations with a healthy planet and enough resources for survival.

Earth has only a limited amount of natural resources, and how people and countries currently use these are unsustainable. Current consumption patterns and national policies of developed and developing nations alike are severely damaging the environment and jeopardizing the future of the planet.

Inefficient use of resources, wasteful consumption, pollution and waste are all key factors in environmental degradation. These practices also contribute to global poverty; poverty, in turn, then damages the environment. This vicious cycle will not end unless countries and individuals change their practices.

How Countries and People Harm the Environment

Natural resources are currently allocated to meet the wants of the few instead of the needs of the many. Developed countries account for 24 percent of Earth’s population but consume 70 percent of the world’s energy and 60 percent of its food.

Though developed nations are more energy-efficient than developing nations, consumption is so high that they still contribute a great amount to pollution. The extremely high demand of these countries leads to extensive deforestation so more land can be used for agriculture.

Developing nations further contribute to environmental degradation through inefficient energy use and environmentally-harmful practices like resource stripping. Countries resort to these harmful practices for a variety of reasons. Natural resources account for a majority of many developing countries’ exports. In an attempt to grow their economies, countries overexploit these natural resources.

In addition, a large part of many developing countries’ budgets is used to repay their debt, leaving little money to fund sustainable development programs. Many nations “believe they cannot afford the luxury of environmental protection” and feel forced to accept long-term environmental damage to meet their immediate needs.

Many poorer individuals in developing countries feel the same. They depend on natural resources for their livelihoods, which leads many to deplete these resources in order to survive.

How Harming the Environment Harms People

This environmental degradation disproportionately affects the poor, particularly those in developing nations. Overconsumption in wealthy countries means many people in poor countries don’t have enough food. One billion people worldwide are hungry, yet 1.2 billion are obese.

Air and water pollution are health hazards. Lack of clean water and air and poor sanitation and nutrition leaves people vulnerable to diseases and causes extremely high rates of death among children.

Poor people are also more susceptible to natural disasters, as they are more likely than wealthier individuals to live in areas where earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, fires and other disasters are common. These disasters destroy people’s livelihoods and homes, often forcing people to move to other areas. These environmental refugees can cause overcrowding and environmental stress in the areas they move to, which worsens both environmental degradation and poverty.

Unless people and countries change their practices, both environmental degradation and poverty will worsen. Natural disasters are becoming both more extreme and more common because of industrialization and human actions. As the world population continues to grow, more and more people will be hungry, live in overcrowded conditions and ultimately, live in poverty. Promoting sustainable development is crucial to a better future.

How to Change

Governments, businesses, organizations and individuals: all have a role to play in the effort to protect the environment and end poverty.

Wealthy nations must change their policies that are detrimental to the environment. Expressing support for the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals and implementing policies that align with these goals provides an example for other nations and encourages them to behave the same.

Foreign aid to developing countries can stabilize their economies, make them more financially and technically capable of focusing on environmentally-friendly development and help them establish practices that are consistent with the SDGs.

Accountability and Responsibility

Governments should also encourage individuals to take more responsibility for living sustainably and educate people on how to do so: eat less meat, shop locally, reduce food waste, use less plastic, recycle, switch to alternative forms of energy — the list goes on and on. (See here for more ways you can live sustainably). Businesses can do many of these actions as well as change their practices to be more environmentally-friendly.

“Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth… these are one and the same fight” said Ban Ki-moon, the previous U.N. Secretary-General. “Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.” Environmental degradation and poverty are directly related; to end one, the world must address both.

Laura Turner
Photo: Flickr

solar energy in ZambiaThe Republic of Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Africa with a population of over 16.5 million. A shocking 54.4 percent of this population lives below the World Bank’s standardized poverty line. Currently, Zambia is unable to effectively meet the energy needs of its citizens. As a result, the Zambian government, USAID, independent investors and NGOs throughout the U.S. and Europe are investing in solar energy in Zambia, as they believe it has the potential to greatly reduce poverty and contribute to meeting the country’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

 

Problems with Current Zambian Energy Infrastructure

A majority of Zambia’s nationalized energy production is created using hydroelectric dams; however, the dams face many problems in terms of their reach and reliability. Dams in the country only provide power to 10 percent of the Zambian population. Furthermore, the dams become unreliable as drought conditions increase throughout southern Africa. Zambia’s climate pattern works around a wet and dry season. As the rainy seasons become shorter and less intense, the dams are not filled to capacity. Less water in dam spillways inherently results in less energy production and more frequent blackouts.

Consequently, a majority of Zambians rely on charcoal to meet their energy and heat needs. The need for charcoal results in widespread deforestation of the savannah woodlands that make up a majority of the Zambian natural ecosystem. As a result, habitat destruction decreases biodiversity, degrades the natural ecosystem services and damages what could be a lucrative Zambian ecotourism industry. Because of these problems, the Zambian government and outside investors are looking toward solar alternatives, recognizing the benefits of solar energy in Zambia.

 

The Solution:  Solar Energy in Zambia

Director of the Zambian Development Agency (ZDA) Patrick Chisanga and other branches of the Zambian government are teaming up with investors throughout the United States and Europe to provide funding toward solar energy in Zambia. The ZDA is currently negotiating a $500 million solar investment deal from an unnamed German company hoping to provide projects and products to the growing market.

In 2015, USAID Zambia and Power Africa provided $2 million of funding to the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) Scaling Solar project, which has contributed $4 billion in global solar investments, to further develop smaller-scale commercial and utility solar energy in Zambia. NGOs like the U.K.-based Solar Aid are currently working in conjunction with a group called Sunny Munny to develop solar projects and provide resources to the very eager Zambian communities.

Moving Toward the Future

Solar energy development in Zambia continues what is already a growing trend of technological leapfrogging throughout the African continent. Zambians understand that they may never be a part of the nationalized power grid and therefore readily accept solar energy infrastructure as a solution to this problem. In a report conducted by BBC in Jan. 2018, reporters describe buzzing excitement in villages after they set up their solar technologies and finally had access to their own non-biofuel energy source.

With the help of Zambian government action, USAID investment, private investment and nonprofits like SolarAid, solar energy in Zambia will help the country approach several of its 2030 Sustainable Development Goals: providing citizen access to reliable modern energy resources, building resilient infrastructure and protecting and restoring natural ecosystems within the country.

– Daniel Levy

Photo: Flickr

cheap clean energy
By 2020, it is anticipated that the price of wind and solar energy will be equal to or even less than the cost of fossil fuels.

This cheap clean energy would have obvious environmental benefits, but it is also significant because it provides poor communities in developing countries, more specifically in Asia and Africa, with the opportunity to connect to the power grid, in some cases for the first time.

 

Slow but Constant Progress

A large amount of Africa’s population continues to remain without electricity. According to a World Bank article published last year, 500 million people in African countries do not have any electricity, which is down from the 600 million that Reuters reported in 2016.

Of that 600 million, Reuters found 10 percent utilized sustainable means to get their electricity. While the progress has been slow, the continuing decrease in the cost of clean energy means that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of universal access to electricity by 2030 will be more obtainable.

As cheap clean energy becomes more competitive with fossil fuels, businesses and other countries have invested in developing infrastructure in African countries so that they can utilize sustainable energy.

One recent example of this assistance occurred last August when France gave Kenya $36 million in order to construct 23 mini-grid systems for wind and solar energy. Due to this action, businesses and homes in these poor communities will be able to utilize electricity to spur development in multiple ways as the price of renewable energy continues to fall.

 

Efforts to Provide Jobs

In 2017, the renewable energy sector provided 9.8 million jobs around the world, with jobs in solar energy being the largest employer, according to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency; this number demonstrated an increase from the previous year. Furthermore, the Director-General of IRENA, Adnan Z. Amin, predicts that by 2030, the renewable energy sector could employ around 24 million people.

 

More Light, More Time to Study

Having electricity at home gives families the opportunity to use technology they previously would not have had access to. For example, families in Mali could charge their phones at home, and use other devices such as radio and television.

Another positive impact that people may not often consider is that access to electricity makes it easier for people to stay up later, and as a result get more work done. This is particularly beneficial in the case of students, who can have more time to finish their homework using light from electricity.

As described in one article by The World Bank, it was generally reported that teachers in Mali noticed their students improve in classes after they gained access to electricity through solar power.

 

Business Advantages

Cheap clean energy makes it easier for businesses to stay open longer, and work more efficiently. For example, small restaurants can use electricity to power freezers and refrigerators and therefore remain open longer hours. More specifically, after Mali installed a solar energy plant in one region of the country, women were able to use the electricity to create a processing unit for their local produce.

Overall, the introduction of solar grids and other cheap clean energy is promising for the continuing development of African countries. By far, solar energy continues to be the cheapest form of clean energy. A 2017 report from IRENA found the cost of electricity from solar power fell almost 70 percent between the years 2010 and 2016.

As technology continues to advance and the prices of clean energy continue to fall, electricity can finally reach these poorer communities and make a difference in the lives of the people who inhabit them.

– Jennifer Jones

Photo: Flickr

Solar Power in the Fight Against PovertyHunger, lack of education, conflict, disease, war; these human calamities have a common factor: poverty. One word to define a worldwide phenomenon which unfortunately hits 2.8 billion people on earth, or near half of the total entire population.

So, what are the solutions to fight this burden? Investment, innovation, technology and education are all viable options. But more and more multinational companies, associations and even simple citizens are now engaged in the fight against poverty, using a very special tool: solar power. As a source of renewable energy that is good for the environment, solar power can also help people get out of poverty by giving them access to electricity.

Today, most inhabitants of developing countries rely more on kerosene than on electricity for their basic needs such as household lighting. This is not only because the cost of electricity is extremely high, as the poorest people in the world pay 40 times more for the same energy services, but also because, most of the time, the nearest outlets are located miles away from where poverty is striking.

Because of this poor resource distribution, 15 percent of the global population still lives without access to electricity, and it is this inequality that solar power is attempting to balance by giving people easier access to electricity, information and education. For example, in Bangalore in India, families using solar panels can save $100 a year, money they tend to invest in their children’s education.

According to Simon Bransfield-Garth, Azuri’s CEO, a leading company in solar power in emerging markets in Africa, “a child spends an extra [two] hours per day doing homework if he has electricity.” But giving people access to electricity, and thus to information and education, is only one advantage this form of energy has to offer developing countries.

First, using solar power requires only one natural resource: the sun. This free, nonpolluting and unlimited
generator makes solar power one of the most environmentally friendly energies in the world. Furthermore, green energy is reliable and cheaper in the long run than kerosene or generators. It is also safer and easier to preserve in case of natural disasters, as solar panels are detachable and can be put indoors.

Helping in both the fight against poverty and climate change, solar power seems to be the perfect solution for those who still don’t have access to electricity. But there is much more at stake here: every year, more than four million people are killed by indoor air pollution, more than AIDS and malaria combined. Developing clean energy is, now, a matter of life or death.

As concluded Justin Guay, associate director of Sierra Club’s International Climate Program, “Just providing a few hours of solar lighting alone improves the human condition.”

– Léa Gorius

Photo: Flickr

Pollinate Energy
India is a country that is home to 1.3 billion people and counting. Despite rapid innovation and expansion in the country, a significant portion of the population live in slums.

In fact, as of 2014, 24 percent of the urban population of India resided in slum housing. Slum housing is any housing that may lack structural integrity or space, access to clean water or sanitation or where residents do not have security of tenure.

With such a large population living in slums, there is a serious need for affordable energy. Yet electricity from the power sector in India is very unreliable and power outages of 20 hours or more occur often. As a result, many people who reside in India’s slums rely on kerosene as fuel. While kerosene is an effective substitute for an unreliable power sector, it is not cost efficient and can cause household and environmental air pollution.

To improve access to sustainable energy in India’s slums, one organization called Pollinate Energy has implemented a unique business strategy. In what Pollinate Energy calls “social business,” a salesman or “pollinator” builds connections with locals in Indian slums.

The pollinator may teach the locals about the benefits of using renewable energy and the potential negative effects of using kerosene for light or cooking. If the community members want to purchase sustainable energy products from the pollinator they can buy them at an affordable price.

Plus, if the customers are satisfied with the products, they may act as “worker bees” that refer other community members to the pollinator in return for products or commission.

This business model encourages the adoption of reliable, sustainable energy products in India’s slums and allows consumers to become entrepreneurs in their own communities.

According to their annual report, in 2014-15 Pollinate Energy sold over 9,000 products to nearly 43,000 individuals in India. These products helped save 43.7 million Rupees and eliminated 2,000 tons of potential CO2 emissions for consumers who would have bought and used kerosene for light and cooking.

For at-risk individuals like those who live in slums, any money that can be saved could be used for other essential goods like food, water or medicine. Though systematic change is necessary to fully help those who reside in slums around the world, Pollinate Energy is making a positive difference by providing clean energy products and job opportunities to those in need.

Weston Northrop

Photo: Flickr