Renewable Energy in SerbiaSerbia is a nation with a population of around 6.7 million in the Western Balkans. It became a sovereign state in 2006 after the intense violence of the Yugoslav Wars. Since 2014, Serbia has been engaged in accession negotiations to join the EU. However, as of 2022, a U.N. Joint Programme reported that 12.3% of Serbians are living in absolute poverty, with the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine negatively impacting many families.

Many of these poor Serbians are also subject to energy poverty, meaning they cannot afford up-to-date dwellings and appliances or spend most of their income on energy bills. Introducing renewable energy in Serbia could be a solution to this issue, as it would help provide Serbians currently living in poverty with more efficient energy and a resulting higher standard of living, as well as create new jobs, foster economic growth and prevent further environmental damages associated with fossil fuels. 

Energy Access

Currently, the state-owned Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) monopolized Serbia’s electricity market. According to Our World in Data, 100% of Serbia’s population has electricity access. However, this is not a particularly high benchmark to meet as it only requires that a source of electricity is capable of providing basic lighting and a few other services like charging a phone or powering a fan for a few hours per day.

While Serbia has complete electricity access, not everyone in the country can use clean sources of gas for cooking. The percentage of people who can procure clean and safe fuels is only around 80% as of 2020. The other 20% of the population must use sources such as charcoal and animal dung, bringing down the number of people who have complete access to energy.

Fossil Fuels

Renewable energy in Serbia is still developing and a substantial amount of Serbia’s energy continues to come from coal plants. As much as 70% of the nation’s energy comes from the burning of fossil fuels. Serbia’s heavy reliance on coal as its primary source of electricity has caused severe instability in the past. For example, floods, which have become more common with changing weather patterns, caused several coal mines in Serbia to become unusable in 2014. More recently, in 2021, two of Serbia’s largest coal plants suffered massive breakdowns, launching the country into a crisis and forcing the government to import electricity. Despite efforts, thousands were left without power as the coal plants struggled to meet their previous output potential.


Hydropower is the most popular form of renewable energy in Serbia, contributing 30% of the country’s energy. Serbia has built the most extensive hydropower infrastructure in the Balkan region, with a capacity of 2.935 MW currently operational. However, Serbia has not yet reached its full potential in harnessing this renewable energy, as an additional 7,000 GWh of hydropower remains unused. Locals have expressed concerns over the installation of hydropower plants due to environmental damage compared to the relatively low electricity generated.

Wind and Solar

Renewable energy from wind and solar sources is limited in Serbia. Several private renewable energy companies, such as Masdar, Fintel Energija, Nova Commodities, New Energy Solutions and CWP Renewables, focus on these forms of power.

There are 398 MW of wind power available in Serbia and the country is looking to generate even more. Due to its strong winds, projections show that Serbia is capable of producing 2.3 TWh of energy from wind farms.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Serbia has a solar power potential of 3.6 GW, and government officials hope to build on that potential. Along with an average of 270 sunny days per year, the average solar radiation in Serbia is 30% higher than that of Western Europe, making it a strong candidate for solar power plants. Unfortunately, by the end of 2021, only 52 MW of solar power were installed in Serbia, although the country recently opened its largest plant to date in April 2023, and it has a capacity of 10 MW alone.

Further Steps

In 2022, the World Bank granted Serbia a $50 million loan for its Scaling Up Residential Clean Energy (SURCE) Project. This initiative aims to provide clean and efficient heating solutions and rooftop solar panels to 25,000 households over five years.

In March 2023, Serbia updated its Law on the Use of Renewable Energy Sources. The new amendments allowed for the Serbian government to implement auctions to install more renewable energy plants, as well as helped provide solutions for overloads occurring when connecting wind and solar farms to the existing power system.

As a result of the updated law, the Serbian government introduced plans to launch its very first renewable energy auction in June, offering to support wind power projects with a capacity of 400 MW and solar PV projects with a capacity of 50 MW. The government hopes this auction will be the first round in a three-year cycle that will produce 1000 MW of wind power and 300 MW of solar power.

Looking Ahead

Serbia’s implementation of renewable energy brings extensive benefits, particularly for those facing energy poverty and struggling to afford clean and safe electricity and fuel. Although there is still room for progress in fully realizing its renewable energy potential, the country’s efforts demonstrate continuous growth, and the government is taking concrete steps in the right direction.

– Sofia Oliver
Photo: Unsplash

Renewable Energy in HondurasHonduras is one of the many countries in Central and South America that has begun using a variety of different forms of renewable energy. In 2012, the government passed reforms to help the country adopt renewable energy at a faster rate. Before the reformations, 70% of the energy produced in Honduras was from fossil fuels while only 30% came from renewable energy. Now, Honduras believes that by the end of the decade it will be able to use renewable resources for 95% of its energy needs.

Types of Renewable Energy

The two particular renewable energy resources that Honduras will be able to use is its hydropower and solar power. As of 2018, most of the renewable energy being produced in Honduras has been from hydropower—it makes up 34% of country’s renewable energy. The country is estimated to be able to produce 5,000 MW with its hydropower alone.

Solar power is also another dominant form of renewable energy which makes up 10% of energy consumption. Honduras’ solar market is now the second largest in all of Latin America, with Chile being the first. Honduras is also one of the first non-island countries that has been able to use 10% of its solar energy for electric generation.

Other forms of renewable energy include biomass at 10%, wind at 7% and geothermal at 1%.

Honduras has switched to renewable energy as a means of being self-sufficient. This is especially important considering that it was the second poorest country in Central America as of 2017. Thankfully, the country can reach the energy self-sufficiency it desires with its abundant renewable energy sources.

Private Sector

One way renewable energy has helped Honduras has been by allowing private companies to be more efficient with their energy usage. One such company is the Invema Plant. The Invema Plant is the primary plastic recycler in Honduras. The company installed solar panels on its buildings and reduced their electricity usage by 30%. As a result, the company reinvests the monetary electricity savings to further recycle plastic.

Where it Stands

The transition to renewable energy has also been beneficial to impoverished rural communities. These communities are receiving electricity that they previously had no access to. Under the Honduran Renewable Energy Project for Rural Development, solar energy projects have been implemented in rural communities where there is limited access to electricity. The project has already benefited 1,075 communities spreading across Ocotepeque, Lempira, Copan, Intibuca, Santa Barbara and La Paz. This type of improvement in rural communities is especially helpful considering many impoverished Hondurans live in rural communities.

While it is impressive that renewable energy efforts have been made in Honduras to improve people’s quality of life and stimulate the economy, much work remains to be completed. Hondurans still do not have universal access to electricity. Only 87% of the population had access to electricity in 2016, which largely compromised of Hondurans living in urban cities. For citizens to feel the full benefits of renewable energy in Honduras, everyone must have access to electricity.

Regardless of the challenges that still face Honduras, that country has been able to make a good deal of progress in building energy self-sufficiency since the reform implementations.

—Jacob Lee 
Photo: Flickr

Hydropower Development in BhutanBhutan is the world’s first, and only, carbon-negative country thanks to its focus on clean energy and environmental protection. Countries that are defined as carbon-negative absorb more carbon than they produce, rendering the net amount released negative. This is partially due to the over 70% of tree-covered land that absorbs carbon and Bhutan’s strict environmental sustainability initiatives. One form of clean energy that has allowed Bhutan to achieve this status is hydropower. Hydropower is also the country’s major export and main economic driver.

Economic Benefits

Hydropower has existed as a major sector in Bhutan’s economy since the 2000s, as it accounts for 27% of Bhutan’s revenue and about 14% of its GDP. In fact, Bhutan produces so much energy from hydropower that about 80% of its surplus power is exported to India.

The hydropower potential in the South Asian country of 765,000 people is found in Bhutan’s many powerful rivers in the Himalayan Mountains. There are at least five operational hydropower plants generating more than 1,600 megawatts (MW) of power. However, this is only a fraction of what the country can generate. Bhutan’s hydropower potential is estimated at 30,000 MW, and of that amount, 23,760 MW is considered economically feasible.

Recent Developments

In order to reach the hydropower potential goal, more plants are in the work. Punatsangchu I and II, Nikachu and Khonlongchu are four such plants that will provide an additional 2,000 MW. This would double the amount of hydropower already produced in Bhutan. The projects will be complete within the next two years and strengthen past successes. The Mangdechhu plant (producing 720 MW) was completed in 2019 and is the most cost-effective power plant in South Asia.

However, Bhutan’s terrain is difficult to traverse when constructing hydropower plants, so completing an economically feasible project is rare. The proposed 2,585 MW Sankosh plant received grant money from a partnership between Bhutan and India in 2017 and will be the largest hydropower project in the region. The project will cost $1.65 billion, which is an ambitious and expensive project for a small country with a GDP of $2.3 billion. The project indicates the country’s push to continue hydropower development in Bhutan. Although Sankosh is still under discussion, the massive project could help Bhutan’s economy and lead to job growth once the dam begins construction. Hydropower projects usually involve hundreds of millions of dollars, yet the revenue earned by exporting surplus power covers the high cost in the long run.

Gross National Happiness

Although hydropower development in Bhutan appears to help its economy, the excess power is also used to help those who lack the means to afford electricity. Free electricity is provided to rural farmers, which also prevents the need to use wood and gasoline for fuel. Bhutan has had a 99% electricity rate since 2017, which is a big jump from 61%  in 2006. More than 95% of Bhutan’s electricity comes from hydropower. The country’s focus on clean energy is why it’s a carbon sink; trees absorb all the carbon produced by its people.

Bhutan’s economic development since 1972 is based on Gross National Happiness (GNH), a unique political initiative that guides the country’s development in every area. The four pillars of Gross National Happiness include environmental conservation, good governance, preservation and promotion of culture and sustainable and equitable socio-economic development. This initiative helped guide hydropower development in Bhutan while also saving the surrounding environment. For example, as part of GNH, at least 67% of the trees in the country must remain according to Bhutan’s constitution. This helps prevent deforestation while keeping carbon out of the air. The country has reached only about two percent of its hydropower potential, yet hydropower development in Bhutan continues to grow.

– Lucas Schmidt

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Laos
Although Laos is one of the poorest countries in Asia, it has rich natural resources. More than 85% of the land lies within the Mekong River Basin. About 80% of Laotians work in agriculture and live in rural areas. Water quality in Laos is an essential part of life and development in the country.

The usage of water in Laos is 82% agricultural, 10% industrial, and 8% domestic. Agriculture uses water for irrigation, fisheries, plantation, and livestock. There is approximately 270 billion cubic meters of available water, of which 5.7 billion is used and the remaining 264.3 billion remains in the rivers.

There is currently a hydropower boom in Laos. The country has the potential to produce 23,000 megawatts of electricity. Currently, it only utilizes 5% of that capacity. By selling electricity to neighboring countries, Laos is seeking to become the “battery” of Southeast Asia.


Hydropower and Water Quality in Laos


Hydropower, however, has had problematic effects on the water quality in Laos and neighboring countries. In 2013, villagers in Cambodia complained that dam-building on the Mekong River in Laos was ruining the water downstream. The villagers couldn’t drink the water anymore because it was muddy and full of silt.

In 2016, the Malaysian company Mega-First and the government of Laos launched the Don Sahong dam. Work began without approval from the Mekong River Commission, and in spite of protests by regional NGOs and the downstream communities in Vietnam and Cambodia. The Laotian government plans to build nine more dams on the Mekong River and hundreds more on other rivers and tributaries in the region.

Scientists contend the dams pose an environmental threat to fish migration and food security. The delta of the Mekong River already experienced significant sediment loss, and a dam will make it worse. The Mekong Delta is crucial to the Vietnamese economy, as it produces 50% of the country’s staple crops and 90% of its rice exports.

Ecology specialist Nguyen Huu Thien, a scientist based near the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, contends that “if the delta cannot support its population of 18 million, then people will have to migrate– migrate everywhere. The dams are sowing the seeds of social instability in the region.”

The condition of the Mekong River will define the socioeconomic framework of entire communities in Laos and its neighboring countries. Laos may get an economic boost from its dams for now, but in the long term, the health of Laos and its rivers are intertwined.

Hannah Seitz

Photo: Flickr


Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) has just started two new Hydropower projects with a price tag of over $45 million. The new Hydroelectric dams will be located on the Genale Dawa and Dabus rivers with construction expected to start in 2017.

Second Growth and Transformation Plan

The two new Hydropower projects are part of a larger initiative called the Second Growth and Transformation plan (GTP). The first GTP, which lasted from 2010 to 2015, was a success that resulted in the creation of a second GTP that encompasses this hydroelectric project.

The first GTP emphasized economic growth, expansion of public services and political stability. A crucial part of the plan was to reach the Millenium Development goals (MGDs) put forward by the U.N.

Ethiopia has made serious economic progress in the past decade, maintaining a GDP growth rate greater than 10 percent since the mid-2000s, which is double the average sub-Saharan African growth rate.

Even more impressively, Ethiopia has seen a 33 percent reduction of the population living in poverty since 2000. The high growth rate and government projects have been crucial in decreasing poverty in Ethiopia.

Hydroelectric and geothermal power are very important for Ethiopian development. The country is home to 12 river basins and part of the Great Rift Valley, making it a prime location for sustainable energy.

However, not all of that potential has been realized. Of an estimated 50,000 MW of power that Ethiopia could produce from hydroelectric and geothermal sources, only 2,000 MW are currently being generated.

Continuing the Progress

While it may seem like Ethiopia has a long way to maximize its energy production levels, it’s important to note just how far it has come. Since 2000, Ethiopia has increased its energy production 3.5 fold, with especially high annual increases since 2013.

Not only will increased sustainable energy production help Ethiopian citizens, but a proposed energy deal with Kenya (the third fastest growing economy in the world) will bring a big boost to the Ethiopian economy.

The new hydroelectric dams will generate 672 MW, a significant increase to Ethiopia’s current power levels. The two new dams are expected to begin generating power in 2021.

John English

Photo: Flickr

The World Energy Council (WEC) estimates that only a third of the world’s potential hydropower capacity has been developed.

With this knowledge in mind, an endless expansion of possibilities awaits for future investments in this renewable energy.

In fact, today hydropower is recognized as the cleanest renewable source in the world — the carbon emissions emitted from its lifecycle of construction, operation and decommission are far less in comparison to its renewable friends, wind and solar.

According to an article by SciDev Net, Africa is the world’s fastest growing economy; however, despite the foreseeable opportunities for this emerging continent, millions of people remain in severe poverty.

At the heart of this issue lies energy poverty, with 600 million Africans living without electricity, according to the International Energy Agency (IAE).

This means that more than half of the country’s population lacks access to electricity, rural residents faring worse with just 27.8 percent having access to electricity — what many count today as something they cannot live without.

Despite these harrowing numbers, hydropower use accounts for 84 percent of all non-fossil fuel energy use across Africa, a continent rich in rivers and lakes, making it ripe for this type of energy source.

Among the world’s longest waterways, The Nile is shared by many neighboring countries and offers great potential for hydropower in Africa.

Recognizing this potential, the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is underway, a structure which will be 145 meters high and its completion planned for 2017. With this height, it will be nearly one and a half times the height of the Victoria Falls and also the largest dam in Africa.

The creation of this dam will benefit many, producing almost triple the amount of Ethiopia’s current electricity production, as the dam is capable of producing six gigawatts of energy in peak output.

Dams harnessing and producing hydropower typically last 50 years without maintenance, producing limitless and continuous power, unlike other sources which are not as dependable.

However, some negative aspects of hydropower include the high costs associated with design and construction and the uncertain impact it will have on local people who call the site of the dam their home.

Although the construction and usage of hydropower “come with a complex set of social and environment challenges,” international hydropower associates are in the process of creating sustainability standards to develop and ensure Africa’s place in a world looking toward hydropower.

Future plans for the implementation of hydropower along Africa’s waterways include the Congo, Niger, Orange and Senegal Rivers, which when combined will have the potential to generate nearly 27 gigawatts of electricity.

As Africa continues to invest in renewable energy sources such as hydropower, an end to energy poverty is possible.

As SciDevNet reveals, “The next few decades could prove critical to the future of Africa’s water, energy and people.”

Nikki Schaffer

Sources: SciDev, World Energy, World Energy Outlook
Photo: Wikipedia

Over the last 10 years, the quality of renewable energy has steadily increased. According to the European Commission, between 2003 and 2013, the quality increased by 83.4% – an average of 6.3% per year. Throughout 2013, the European Union (EU) produced 192 million tons of oil – about 24.3% of all energy used.

Biomass and renewable waste are the primary clean energy sources in the EU. Hydropower, which uses water as a renewable energy source, closely follows.

Hydropower is a clean energy source that has yet to be used to its full potential. It “captures electricity by using water that flows through a pipe to turn micro turbines in a line, or by harvesting energy from stream flows in irrigation canals and streams,” as explained in a CNBC report.

At Columbia University, researchers looked at water energy in a different way – they used evaporated water as the source. The researchers took bacterial spores that contract and expand based on the humidity of the environment and placed them in rows on tape that were then put together. This created a mass of rows that contracted and expanded together based on the environment. The bacterial spores had enough power from the air to move a toy car.

The technology is not yet powerful enough to work in a real life scenario and cannot compete with solar energy in efficiency. However, researchers believe it could harness enough energy to power a phone, even if it will not change the transportation industry.

Over in the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. Navy is sponsoring another way to use hydropower – using waves and ocean currents. This is exactly what the Azura Wave Energy Device is testing in Hawaii. Azura is a 63-foot-long, 10-foot-wide, 45-ton device that rotates as the incoming wave approach to extract energy.

CEO and co-founder Steve Koft explains, “the wave energy is much more predictable than solar or wind.” They are hoping this is the future of clean energy, but Azura is still a prototype. By harnessing the energy of waves, they have potentially found a way to capture predictable, consistent and clean energy to use.

Water energy is being explored more in depth everyday, and has huge potential to reduce the use of nonrenewable energy sources.

– Hannah Resnick

Sources: CNBC, European Commission, KITV, Quartz
Photo: Institution of Chemical Engineers

Hydropower in Guyana
Guyana is currently developing a plan to harness Amaila Falls’ potent hydropower, power that is capable of producing electricity (165MW to be exact) for the whole of Guyana, reports The Economist.

The project is set to cost around $840 million and was initially headed by Sithe Global of the global investment and advisory firm, the Blackstone Group. In addition, investments from China Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank were to take part in harnessing the country’s torrents.

However, a lack of unanimous concession by the Guyanese legislative branch has resulted in Sithe Global’s withdrawal from the project. Primary criticisms by legislators were its lack of transparency—particularly the projects expenditures and the engineering plans.

The deals brokering between the Amaila Falls Hydro Inc. and its power players remained cloak and dagger, arousing skepticism from the project’s critics.

Despite the halt in the project, it was predicted to minimally affect the ecological community. Moreover, the site of the project, located at the intersection of the Amaila and Kuribrong Rivers is 30 km from the nearest community, supposedly to avoid disturbing any local villages in the region.

With the promise of hydroelectricity in 2017, Guyana could possibly reduce its reliance on imported oil although the cost of electricity will remain expensive.

Furthermore, with a shift to hydropower, green house gas emissions (GHG) were projected to decrease by 87%.

It’s realization would have cost the federally funded Guyana Power and Light (GPL) company to pay an estimated $100 million a year to the aforementioned investment groups and companies.

Despite the country’s massive potential for hydroelectricity, the project remains at a standstill. The secrecy of the project propelled its main investors, from remaining with the project. Yet, Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar recently stated that Sithe Global is still very much interested in the project, pending Parliament’s unanimous agreement.

Regardless of legislative decision, the go-ahead for the project remains largely with Sithe Global, who possesses the license to Amaila Falls’ development.

– Miles Abadilla

Sources: Amaila Hydropower, The Economist, Fox News, Kaieteur News
Photo: Wondermodo