Hydroelectric Power in Kyrgyzstan
The increasing demand for centralized electrical power has put growing pressure on the government to modernize Kyrgyzstan’s hydroelectric capacity. 1“’s government has sanctioned the expansion of its energy infrastructure to mitigate extreme poverty and improve access to fundamental necessities in rural communities. As a focal point of its export economy, hydroelectric power modules supply 76 percent of its electricity. With lowering water inflow and deteriorating infrastructure, Kyrgyzstan faces a unique problem in mitigating and expanding its hydroelectric import/export industry while balancing the rampant poverty and income inequality among rural and urban communities. The surrounding Kyrgyzstan economy relies mostly on agricultural cultivations and the cotton export industry. With the increased development of modules of hydroelectric power in Kyrgyzstan, the controlled water supply offers the potential for massive growth in the agricultural industry. As a renewable energy source, hydroelectric energy provides the potential to control the rate at which the water flows and of the amount used, which is crucial to energy production.

Socioeconomic Implications

Traditional agricultural methods that rural communities commonly practice create the potential for extensive economic growth through the implementation of an updated hydroelectric system. Through a controlled system, the irrigation of various crops is more efficient with a renewable energy source that has less pollution. With substantial economic implications, hydroelectric power in Kyrgyzstan encourages more commercial enterprises to migrate to agrarian areas where people cannot access basic public services like running water and education as easily.

With 32 percent under the poverty line, the need for a centralized hydroelectrical grid can have vast socioeconomic implications, with an improved water supply system and improved access to basic health necessities. With Kyrgyzstan’s main hydroelectric infrastructure outdated and in need of a sufficient upgrade the inconsistency attached to this older hydroelectric module creates insecurity in basic necessities. With access to basic social programs tentative on ideal weather conditions in urban communities, the expansion of clean renewable energy sources can potentially create an influx of economic prosperity and improve energy efficiency throughout the country.

A focused effort toward improving consistent energy output will allow the quality of life to improve and give the impoverished a promising start toward economic mobility with increasing hydroelectric power in Kyrgyzstan. Reducing toxic chemicals put into the air from traditional cooking/heating methods in rural communities can allow room for a more comprehensive hydropower infrastructure. Rural communities on average tend to use more fossil fuels with more than 60 percent using those perishables due to inconsistencies within hydroelectric distribution and no updated grid system that would make those other methods obsolete.

Government Legislation

Since its independence, Kyrgyzstan established a network of standard practice in energy distribution with a comprehensive legislative agenda. People are underutilizing the potential for an increased hydroelectric presence as a larger kinetic energy source with geographically crucial bodies of water producing 5-8 billion kW·h per year and the country only using 3 percent. A more consistent hydroelectric grid is necessary for Kyrgyzstan’s economy to boost its agricultural sector. The government introduced the National Energy Program that assists in renovating abandoned hydropower plants and initiates constructing new ones. Additionally, government sectors have committed to actively work on the cultivation of Kyrgyzstan’s massive untapped energy sector. Along with a growing private sector and updated technology to improve the essential food and health infrastructures hydroelectric power in Kyrgyzstan will increase the capacity of its economy.

Adam Townsend
Photo: Flickr

5 Areas Developing Countries Lead the World
Upon initial inspection, developing countries face many obvious challenges, some of which obscure the progress being made. The realities of poverty can sometimes force this progress; after all, from the bottom, there’s only one way to go: up. Developing countries lead the world now in ways unforeseen perhaps a decade ago, and in some ways have even distinguished themselves on the global stage. Five areas serve to highlight where these countries are outperforming the developed world.

5 Areas in Which Developing Countries Lead the World

  1. Renewable and Sustainable Energy
    On the rocky fringes of a global landscape, developing countries lead the world down some of the most implausible of paths. One such pathway grows greener than others. According to World Bank, an international financial institution that finances capital projects in countries throughout the world, Mexico, China, India and Brazil are among the leaders in sustainable energy policies.In Scoring 111 countries on policies that support energy access, World Bank analytics called Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy (RISE) took into account each country’s energy access, efficiency, and policies. Vietnam, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania also received praise for their efforts.Perhaps one reason for this trend could be the falling costs of solar energy, allowing for developing countries to reach their most isolated residents. Whatever the reason, developing economies invested in renewable energy to the tune of $177 billion in 2017. That’s a 20 percent leap in one year.
  2. Election Technology
    In places like Nigeria, electronic voter identification takes precedence over traditional work, while elsewhere, in developed countries like the U.K., the digital jump still hasn’t been made.While the electronic “fixing” of an election may be possible, the likelihood of it working in a persuasive manner depends largely on the closeness of an election. And while elections in places like Kenya meet opposition and challenge, Africa still finds itself ahead in the popular vote, so to speak, when it comes to digital voting technology.
  1. Mobile Money
    Developing countries lead the way in the implementation and use of mobile money technologies as well. Remarkably, Kenya has hit the decade mark with its M-Pesa mobile money service, but it is not alone in this growing trend among developing nations.In a 2017 report by Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association (GSMA), an organization that represents the interests of mobile operators the world over, 277 million registered mobile money accounts dotted sub-Saharan Africa at the end of 2016. These services generated $110 billion of economic value and helped to support more than three million jobs.
  2. e-Commerce and Trade
    Commercial transactions conducted electronically online, referred to as e-commerce, might often be associated with advanced economies. However, developing countries also lead the way in this area, in nations like Columbia, Argentina and Nigeria.In fact, in Latin America alone, e-commerce is expected to see growth of nearly 20 percent over the next five years. What does this mean for a developing economy? It means growth opportunities and greater integration within the world’s markets.In terms of countries opening themselves up to trade, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines take center stage. According to the World Economic Forum, an organization that engages world leaders to shape agendas, these countries have now displaced the traditional powerhouses.
  3. Positivity
    A recent poll by Gallup International, a leader in economic and market research, shows that the external powers of money may not necessarily translate to intrinsic happiness. The poll found that optimism came from places like Nigeria, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh and the Philippines.When asked questions about prospects for the future or personal happiness, confidence abounded in places like Mexico, despite grim financial outlooks for the country. Maybe money can’t buy happiness.

Despite lingering stereotypes and growing pessimism in our world, developing countries lead the world in several different areas, and while the change in perception may be gradual, reality dictates a much quicker realization: developing countries make strides every day, and in some cases, set the standard.

– Daniel Staesser
Photo: Flickr

SunSalutor: Providing Energy and Water to Impoverished Countries
Worldwide, there are about 1.5 billion people without electricity and about 750 million people who do not have access to clean water. These are life’s basic necessities and people are unfortunately lacking in these resources. Thankfully, there is a new piece of technology called the SunSalutor that is providing energy and water to impoverished countries.

Solar panels are a popular solution when discussing how to bring energy to those in poverty. Solar panels have been successful but they are not as energy efficient as many would like them to be. Eden Full Goh, the founder and creator of SunSalutor, has made it possible for solar panels to track the sun which allows for more energy to be collected.

How the SunSalutor Works

A single axis tracker with a water weight at the east end and a counterweight on the west end allows for a solar panel to track the sun. The tracking is powered by gravity and water. The water weight drips water throughout the day, making itself lighter.

As the water weight becomes lighter, the solar panel begins to shift thanks to the counterweight. With the appropriate adjustment on how quickly the water weight drips water, the solar panel will track the sun throughout the day and collect more energy than it would if it was standing still.

But that is not all the SunSalutor does. The dripping water can also be filtered to create clean drinking water. So, not only is the SunSalutor providing energy to impoverished countries, it is also providing water.

Benefits of the SunSalutor

One of the great benefits that come with the SunSalutor is the low cost. At most, an entire SunSalutor costs around $10 to $15. The main frame is built from local materials such as bamboo or wood. Because of this, the SunSalutor can be maintained and fixed locally. The cost for a SunSalutor set is 30 times cheaper than traditional panels.

The SunSalutor also eliminates the need for kerosene gas generators. Buying kerosene gas can become expensive over time and generators can create a lot of noise. Furthermore, they produce CO2 emissions which can end up polluting the air. The SunSalutor eliminates all of these issues.

Providing Energy and Water to Impoverished Countries

According to the official SunSalutor website, in Mpala, Kenya, there was a village that did not have electricity. The inhabitants had to rely on kerosene gas to have electricity in their village. Villagers had to travel two hours round-trip to receive the necessary kerosene gas. They also had to do this to charge their cellphones. Thanks to the SunSalutor, these villagers can now stay within their village and produce electricity locally.

Providing energy and water to impoverished countries can have a lot of benefits. Thanks to the electricity gained, children can now study for longer and be prepared for school the next day. If these children do well in school, they can possibly break the cycle of poverty that they have been in. The SunSalutor is not only providing energy and water to impoverished countries, it can also provide people a way out of poverty.

– Daniel Borjas
Photo: Flickr

Power Up Gambia
Healthcare remains an issue that requires constant attention around the globe. Many work to stop the spread of disease, provide vaccinations and treatments, monitor women’s health and accomplish many more vital tasks. One organization, however, uses a different approach to improving healthcare — Power Up Gambia works to provide solar power to improve healthcare facilities within the Gambia.


Healthcare in the Dark

The Gambia is one of the smallest and poorest countries in Africa. Healthcare is delivered by only five hospitals, and most citizens receive their healthcare from rural health clinics throughout the country. Power Up Gambia was founded when Kathryn Hall, a medical student, visited the Gambia in 2002.

Power Up Gambia board member, Dee Bertino, spoke to The Borgen Project, and described Hall’s reaction to this trip as being “overcome at how the hospitals and medical clinics struggled to meet their patient’s most basic needs without reliable electricity.”

She went on to describe some of what she witnessed during this trip including, “Caesareans and other surgeries were often performed by candlelight, premature infants died without access to an incubator, life-saving vaccines were destroyed without adequate refrigeration.” When Hall returned to the United States, she began fundraising to provide electricity to these Gambian healthcare facilities.


Solar-Powered Solution

Power Up Gambia took on the problem of healthcare in the Gambia and decided on the clean and efficient solution of solar power. The organization has been able to provide electricity to hospitals and serve a total of over 1.6 million patients. These actions not only provide light but also life-saving water, heat and refrigeration for medication.

So far, Power Up Gambia has brought electricity to 23 hospitals and clinics. The Gambia has over 60 health clinics in rural communities that bring healthcare to farmers, but most still do not have access to electricity. They have partnered with We Care Solar and, as of 2017, were able to bring portable solar power kits to every one of these locations. This assistance has been crucial during nighttime health emergencies. and the organization also keeps spare parts for these kits on hand and trains Gambian technicians to be able to complete any potential repairs.

These technicians are trained at the Gambia Technical Training Institute where Power Up Gambia has implemented a curriculum on solar energy and solar technology to ensure the sustainability of health centers.


Future for Gambian Healthcare

Power Up Gambia has been able to do significant work in The Gambia, but its work is far from finished. The organization is currently working to upgrade its systems to meet increasing needs as well as installing a new “green” battery that will provide more power with less of an environmental impact. Bertino says, “At Power Up Gambia, we believe that healthcare should not just be limited to the wealthy.” With continued support, Power Up Gambia will continue to improve the Gambian healthcare system and provide a healthier future for all citizens.

– Megan Burtis

Photo: Pixabay

Power Africa Provides Electricity to 50 MillionLiving without electricity causes many hardships, especially for the more than 50 percent of people without it in Africa. Power Africa, an organization centered on providing countries in Africa with electricity, has provided electricity to more than 50 million people in Africa thus far.

With extreme weather and labor-intensive chores, it can be hard to live without it. Milk spoils, children have a hard time doing their homework, people have to take a bus to town to charge cell phones and many women even have to give birth in the dark. Power Africa is changing the way individuals go about their daily lives.

Power Africa Providing Electricity

While the organization is in its fourth year, Power Africa is steadily making progress towards its goal. It aims to increase generation capacity by 30,000 megawatts as well as add 60 million new electricity connections by 2030. Since its inception, it has already reached an incredible number of people. The organization uses renewable energy and installs solar power throughout Africa to provide power to citizens.

Power Africa has not only provided electricity but has also initiated public-private partnerships. Thanks to these partnerships, more than 100 private energy companies as well as investment firms, are working with the United States government to invest over $40 billion total, which is five times the United State’s first $7 billion investment towards electricity. These investors are a huge part of this movement and restoring electricity to Africa’s countries.

The Vocational Training and Education for Clean Energy Program

Vocational Training and Education for Clean Energy (VOCTEC) is an Arizona State University program. In partnership with Power Africa, it has provided regional training centers across 15 countries in Africa. This totals over 28,400 hours of training.

This program has made a huge difference for Africa. In the past, many new energy installations have failed due to not having enough trained technicians who can maintain them, especially in the solar power maintenance.

Along with this program, come more opportunities for women. VOTCEC has recruited over 150 women to take part in the solar power trainings.

Power Africa has created a network of partners, and programs, that have all teamed together to provide Africa with electricity. It continues to progress towards its goal of 60 million more power connections in the next 12 years. The organization is moving fast towards its goal and has been extremely successful in their work thus far.

– Chloe Turner

Photo: Michael Meraner

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

Solar Power in MalawiMalawi’s Ministry of Health has several ongoing efforts in developing its healthcare system and facilities. After experiencing continuous long-term power outages which interrupted the healthcare systems, the Ministry decided to start a solar power project to solve the issues in the healthcare facilities. Solar power in Malawi can change the future for the country’s hospitals and the overall healthcare system.

Not only have the power outages affected Malawi’s healthcare facilities throughout the years, but they have also affected many businesses and factories. For manufacturing companies, most of the production has stopped due to the lack of electricity. This interruption of work has threatened the growth of these businesses. Further, the generators that some businesses and buildings use are expensive to run, which has resulted in an increase in the retail price of goods and has hurt the economy in Malawi.

The power outages have been reported to last up to 8 hours at a time. As such, many of the machines required to save lives in hospitals, such as oxygen machines, are unable to run. These machines require constant power and with an unstable power source, it can have detrimental effects on many lives of the Malawi people.

The Ministry of Health, along with the Global Fund Project Implementation Unit, has decided to ensure solar power in Malawi. With a focus on the health facilities, the Ministry is installing solar power units at 85 health facilities throughout the nation. Its goal is to save lives with solar power by preventing disruptions, especially in important areas of hospitals such as the maternity wing, intensive care unit and the area for children under five. The solar panels being installed will provide 100kW of power for the hospitals.

Healthcare centers in remote areas have been affected by power outages the worst. While being affected less by power outages, the hospitals in the larger cities have still had to rely on generators to keep the hospital running, which tends to be expensive.

Malawi’s power outages have cost the country a lot of money as a result of relying on generators to keep many hospitals working. With the installation of solar panels, the country hopes to use the saved money to develop its healthcare system and facilities in other ways.

– Chloe Turner

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

Sustainable Energy Fund for AfricaWith increased global interest in the use of renewable energy resources, the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa is working to channel Africa’s clean energy potential into promoting employment and economic growth.

According to an International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report, renewable energy is expected to quadruple by 2030.

The IRENA reports that “renewable energy-related employment remains low in Africa except in a few counties, like Kenya Morocco and South Africa.” Nevertheless, the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) is combining the resources of the African Development Bank with those of the governments of Denmark and the United States. This is being done in order to provide both monetary and structural support to develop infrastructure for renewable energy sources.

The proposed plan consists of three main parts: project preparation, equity investments, and enabling environment.

Project Preparation provides funding and technical assistance for “private project developers/promoters” who intend to engage in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. SEFA screens all proposals for such projects prior to getting involved in them.

The Equity Investments segment focuses on facilitating the growth and stabilization of “small-and-medium-sized projects” that are geared toward developing solar, wind, biomass, hydro, or geothermal energy sources. This financing window, as AfDB terms it, provides assistance specifically for development on a smaller scale.

The Enabling Environment program provides grants to public sector activities that are involved in creating a viable atmosphere for the successful development of private sector sustainable energy spaces. Such measures include financial, regulatory, structural, and operational support.

One of the largest grants was provided by Italy as it joined the SEFA coalition and contributed $8 million to the program. Additionally, at the beginning of 2016, Rwanda received a SEFA grant of $840,000 specifically designated for the construction of green mini-grids. The mini-grid is one of the many modern forms of renewable energy that are expected to enormously expand economic and employment opportunities.

Liz Pudel

Sources: African Development Bank Group, Forbes, IRENA
Photo: Flickr

According to the Universidad de Ingenieria y Tecnologia (UTEC), around 40 percent of the rainforest villages in Peru do not have much electricity.

Translation: sundown means lights out. It’s a genuine problem for families and students unless they resort to unhealthy and dangerous kerosene lamps which are bad for eyesight and lungs because of the resulting smoke.

Nature, the geographical isolation of these communities and routine flooding are all part of the problem.

However, researchers and students at UTEC decided to make nature part of the solution. Taking stock of their surroundings, the team used two plants and soil to create “plantalámparas” or plant lamps.

Elmer Ramirez, a professor of Energy and Power Engineering at UTEC, explains, “We can obtain energy from the earth. Based on principles and findings documented in other countries we developed our own prototype, using a clean energy system.”

Ramirez goes on, “Every plant produces nutrients, and these nutrients — in contact with microorganisms in the earth called geobacter — undergo an oxidation process generating free electrons that are captured through electrodes. These electrodes are in a grid. This energy is stored in a conventional battery to be used to light an LED light bulb.”

Each plant lamp unit consists of a planter with an electrode grid buried in the soil, in which a single plant is growing. The electrode grid collects free electrons generated by oxidation processes and stores the energy in a conventional battery, also buried in the soil.

The battery then powers the low-consumption LED lamp, attached to the side of the planter. Each lamp is capable of generating enough power to supply two hours of light per day.

UTEC has partnered with global ad agency FCB Mayo to produce several prototypes for distribution. As of now, ten houses in Nuevo Saposoa have a plant lamp. With such innovation and low production costs, the demand for plant lamps will likely increase.

A promotional video provided by UTEC presents many members of the Nuevo Saposoa community expressing their gratitude. One resident is heard saying, “electricity is life for our children.”

Kara Buckley

Sources: Discovery News, Slate, MIT Technology Review, YouTube
Photo: Vimeo