Last month, South African Airways and Boeing celebrated flying the first-ever plane in Africa to be fuelled by biofuel from tobacacco. Project Solaris aims to produce local cleaner biofuel to power planes in South Africa, whilst providing local jobs. It means the aviation industry is also set and able to use biofuels, a measure that will help lower carbon-emissions. The South African Airways project will also produce biodiesel for cars and for other industries.
Addressing climate change requires massive decarbonisation of our economy, particularly in areas such as electricity generation, transportation and agriculture. We focus on sharing knowledge on solutions to the problem as opposed to just forming the case for action.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is an intergovernmental organization that helps countries move to more sustainable energy options. The Agency also provides a focal point for governments from around the world to work together and share information on clean tech best practice. IRENA recently released a policy brief Solar Pumping for Irrigation: Improving livelihoods and sustainability, this brief forms part of a broader agenda focused on renewable energy opportunities in the agriculture and water sector.
Another innovation with regard to solar energy category was that of solar roofing tiles presented by Strauss Energy. Strauss is into the business of incorporating solar cells - called Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) into building materials such as tiles. The solar tile is either made of a plastic material or mixture of plastic and ceramic components, with solar cells being overlayed on top. This model seeks to combine both the advantages of house roofing and power generation. The solar cells work in the normal way by converting sun’s energy into power which is then channeled to power devices at home, office or factory.
Right this minute; a woman somewhere in rural sub-Saharan Africa is on a long trek. Not because she’s part of a nomadic tribe or visiting a neighbouring village but because she has to do something that many of us with modern conveniences take for granted – cook for her family. This woman represents the reality of about 3 billion of the world’s population who cook meals over an open fire everyday. People who just need an easier way to get things done. Showcased in the Network’s Solutions Database along with other low-tech projects, the Ezy stove does just that.
Kenya is a first in many a renewable energy innovation. The country houses a number of solar-energy innovations that touch on, among other sectors, agriculture and the retail sector. Agriculture, being the backbone of the Kenyan economy, and an employer of 75% or thereabouts of the entire country’s workforce, remains an important sector in the country. The IEA observes that by 2050, solar energy could be the top source of electricity, generating up to 16% of the world's electricity - Kenya is certainly not an exception to these statistics.
Living off the grid, without access to stable electricity, carries consequences beyond simply not being able to switch on the lights at night. In hospitals and clinics across developing regions, the inability to rely on electricity — or a complete lack thereof — translates into profound shortcomings in the provision of life-saving treatments. William Steel interviewed Julia Römer for Cleanleap, Julia co-founded Coolar in 2014, with the goal to develop a better solution for off-grid refrigeration of medical supplies.
Intasave, a not-for-profit and environmental enterprise is planning to use scalable nanogrid solar power systems to bring clean, reliable and affordable power to about 500 communities and 250,000 people in Kenya, South Africa and Mozambique within three years. After raising the initial US$100,000 through crowdfunding, construction of the hubs is already underway in villages in Kenya.
Smallholder farming is primarily characterized by differentially low incomes, in particular the poor sub-Saharan African farmers. Closely tied to this are the high proportion of farmers income spent on their energy needs, both at the domestic and crop-production level. There is essentially a correlation between income levels and access to clean modern energy. In Kenya, the energy situation could be getting better, with a social enterprise that invests in an end-to-end solution for smallholder farmers, Takamoto Biogas is tackling the fundamental global problems of deforestation and climate change.
The World Banks off grid solar initiative, Lighting Global, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance have recently launched the third publication of its type – an in depth analysis of the trends for 2016 global off grid solar power market. The report examines a relatively new market and provides valuable insights into the rapid technological changes to ensure low cost, clean electricity for all. The report highlights the key driving concern that over 1.2 billion people lack access to the power grid, which means they spend around $27 billion on expensive fossil fuel based technology.
Clean tech companies are nowadays coming up with innovative products to address the global energy and climate challenge, and most African countries are among the beneficiaries though there are still extra miles to go to reach the set targets. Cleanleap has interacted with Powerspot about a prototype that they recently designed and manufactured to help provide access to electricity. What has been the feedback about their prototype in Africa? Is it reliable? Find out more details in this article.