In the quest to end global poverty through renewable energy, a lot of attention has been given to large international institutions and NGO’s.  Let’s take a moment to spotlight some of the less lauded poverty-alleviation warriors: the people on the ground working tirelessly to better our world through renewable energy innovation and small business enterprise.

Sky Energy International (SKYei), Sunrise, FL

Founded by Roland “Mack” McLean in 2009, Sky Energy International brings renewable energy to the Caribbean and Africa in the form of solar and hydroelectric power.  McLean’s company has established renewable energy bases in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Kingston, Jamaica.  One of SKYei’s most defining achievements was the construction of a $5 million solar panel assembly factory in Addis Ababa last year.

Attic Flow Technologies, Laguna Beach, CA

This small California business installs energy efficient cooling systems through the use of solar attic flow technology, which uses a thermal switch to turn a fan on or off in response to changing temperatures in an attic.  The owners describe the company mission succinctly, stating:  “Our mission, no our passion is to help homeowners and businesses save money, energy, and the environment by providing quality, alternative cooling systems that are safe, durable, and cost-effective.” This technology creates an cheap way for poor American families to forego heating and cooling bills.

Windstream Power LLC, N. Ferrisburg, VT

Windstream Power LLC is an innovative renewable energy business operated by 14 people in rural Vermont.  Since the 1980’s, Windstream has been manufacturing high-quality DC power systems, their trademark Human Power Generators, and Educational Light Boxes.  In addition, Windstream produces the Permanent Magnet DC Generator which enables small wind and microhydro applications.  DC power is an excellent source of renewable energy that is used in rural areas.

– Josh Forgét

Sources: Renewable Energy World, Sky Energy International, Attic Flow Technologies, Windstream Power LLC
Photo: Sky Energy International

Renewable_energy_developing_countriesA new report by the World Bank, Sustainably Energy for All Global Tracking Framework, is advising middle to high-income countries to invest more in renewable energy as part of the effort to end world poverty. The report suggests wealthy countries to invest an additional $600 billion a year in energy efficiency until the year 2030. This number is $200 billion more than the current estimate.

The World Bank is calling on the top 20 “high-impact” countries that use about 60% of the world’s energy consumption to double the amount of renewable energy they use as well as energy efficiency. When this happens, these countries will increase their renewable energy consumption to 36%.

This report also discloses that wealthy countries have made “only ‘modest’ progress” in terms of increasing renewable energy usage since 1990. In fact, there has been a negative 1.3% energy improvement rate between 1990 and 2010. If the world’s wealthiest countries are to reach the doubling energy efficiency by 2030, efforts must dramatically improve.

In addition to the World Bank suggesting a $600 billion renewable energy investment, the organization also recommends utilizing $45 billion of this money in expanding electricity and $4.4 billion towards improving cooking standards. Of the remaining funds, $395 billion should be invested in energy efficiency and $174 billion in renewable energy.

As demand of electricity continues to increase, it is prevalent that energy costs decrease and countries find a way to use more sustainable energy. One in five people, about 1.5 billion people, currently do not have access to electricity. Once the world’s wealthy countries embrace renewable, efficient energy, poor countries have a better chance of growing economically and developing.

– Mary Penn

Source: Greenwise Business
Photo: WMO

Abu Dhabi at the Forefront of Solar Energy DevelopmentAbu Dhabi has used its oil profits to open the largest solar power plant in the world. The United Arab Emirates is among many Middle Eastern nations, including Saudi Arabia, to focus on solar energy development. The plant cost about $750 million and will provide 20,000 residences with electricity.

The energy produced by the plant, called Shams 1, will increase Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy source consumption to 7% of its total energy consumption. The plant is part of what the head of Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co., Ahmed al Jaber, called a “strategic plan to diversify energy sources in Abu Dhabi.” It is the first of several plants scheduled for development in the coming years.

Shams 1 has a similar design to California’s Solar Energy Generating System (SEGS). Even though Shams 1 is the largest single plant, the nine SEGS plants combined generate three times as much energy.

The irony of Abu Dhabi’s use of its oil money cannot be overlooked: by investing in solar energy development for its own electricity needs, Abu Dhabi will be able to export even more of its bountiful oil resources. Shams 1 will eliminate 175,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year, the equivalent carbon dioxide production of 15,000 cars.

But how many more cars across the globe will the city’s oil reserves enable to run, even as Abu Dhabi cleans up its own energy usage?

– Kat Henrichs
Source: NPR
Photo:Giz Mag

Green Energy Can Fight Poverty and PollutionAccording to a new study, green energy is the only sustainable solution in eradicating poverty for a large number of the world’s poor and preventing “a climate disaster.”

The study, released by the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, warns that the widespread use of clean energy, as opposed to fossil fuels, is the only way to prevent further damage to the environment and to eradicate poverty throughout the world. The World Bank, International Energy Agency, and other major institutions have also given similar warnings.

The UN has implemented a program called the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4All) that aims to “double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency” by 2013, double the amount of renewable energy used, and bring electricity to more of the world’s poor. Joeri Rogelj, who worked on the study, says that meeting these goals and also preventing widespread deforestation is the only way to prevent a climate crisis.

Rogelj’s study confirmed that the SE4All initiative’s funding would actually cost less than the current subsidies the fossil fuel industry is given, which are estimated to be about $523 billion in 2011 alone. Comparatively, the funding for SE4All is slated to be around $30 to $40 billion per year. The study also asserts that the conversion to clean energy would also aid in making the Millennium Development Goals of downsizing poverty and promoting international development.

Thus far, several countries are on track to switch much of their energy sources to renewables – Iceland uses 81% clean energy and Scotland has a mandated 100% clean energy by 2020. Denmark is also following suit to become 100% dependent on renewable energy in the near future.

The study concludes that “achieving the three SE4ALL objectives could put the world on a path toward global climate protection,” and that getting rid of fossil fuels would eliminate the health hazards associated with pollution in many developing countries and low-income communities, as 1.5 billion people worldwide still live without electricity.

Christina Kindlon

Source: Business Mirror

In a new program, the World Bank is partnering with the Development Bank of Ethiopia to fund geothermal energy exploration in the country, which is extremely rich in geothermal resources that lay through the Great Rift Valley.

Up until recently, no geothermal energy projects have been pursued in Ethiopia due to high costs and lack of funding, but the new project will fund an initial $20 million to ignite such projects, with an additional $20 million to be given down the road. The agreement states that the World Bank will pledge $200 million towards developing Ethiopia’s energy infrastructure.

This is not the first energy investment the World Bank has made in Ethiopia; they gave $40 million to the country’s private sector for renewable energy pursuits last year. Initial funds will be put towards exploratory drilling to determine the potential of geothermal projects, and once more information is available, the World Bank will start accepting proposals from organizations and investors interested in developing geothermal projects and power plants within Ethiopia.

Other such geothermal projects have already been in the works by the African Development Bank, with geothermal programs slated for Kenya, Tanzania, and Djibouti. Professor Paul Younger of Glasgow University asserts that the promise for geothermal development in these areas of East Africa is great, with Kenya as the latest “success story.” Although projects in other areas are merely in the preliminary stages, Dr. Younger maintains that the energy industry in the region is developing quickly, and energy development in Eritrea and Uganda may even be possible in the future.

Along with rich geothermal resources, Ethiopia also has considerable hydropower potential of up to 45,000 MW, taking into consideration the great water and rainfall resources in the country. Hydropower already accounts for 86 percent of energy produced there, so officials recognize the need to diversify current energy sources and are aiming to harness the potential 5,000 MW of energy that geothermal technologies can offer. The country’s dependence on water resources for power are especially alarming in light of climate change issues, which include increasingly sporadic rainfall and drought conditions.

Although the country has come very far in energy development within the last few years, 85 percent of the population still lacks access to an affordable source of energy. The country is hoping to provide for the population and decrease dependency on hydropower through aggressive pursuits of renewable energy. As part of the five-year plan, Ethiopia is aiming to increase its energy portfolio fourfold by 2015.

Christina Mattos Kindlon

Source: The Guardian