Although renewable energy is moving forward on many fronts like wind, hydro and marine energy, it's solar energy– and specifically the photovoltaic panel variety – that is showing the most progress and potential for becoming the dominant source of energy on Earth. This article discusses a few reasons why solar panels may eventually dominate fossil fuel and other renewable resources:
Availability of reliable, low-cost energy is the cornerstone of economic development and is a primary limiting factor for many developing countries. We share knowledge on an energy sector which is undergoing massive change with new technologies that will provide cheaper, more accessible and cleaner energy.
During the 1990s almost all infrastructure in Rawanda was damaged. In the past few years, however, Rwanda has made significant progress to recover its economy and solar energy is starting on the path to what could be a fantastic Cleanleap. One of the big stories is the work from GigaWatt Rwanda Limited in developing the first grid-level solar electric generating plant in the East African region.
At the bottom of our oceans and buried deep beneath permafrost surrounding the arctic circle is a vast store of methane – a natural gas produced by the anaerobic decomposition of millions of years of organic matter. Estimates vary but even conservative figures suggest there may be over a thousand gigatonnes of methane precariously stored as ice crystals under high pressure and low temperature.
Some 120 Km North-West of Nairobi, a group of Kenyan engineers work tirelessly to drill as many wells as possible at the Olkaria Geothermal Plant. Located right in the central part of Kenya; a region considered as one of the most exciting geothermal prospects in the world, it is the first geothermal power plant in Africa. The facility is in Hell's Gate National Park on the eastern edge of the Eastern Rift Valley. At this rate the engineers are drilling more than forty wells in a year. Each well has the capacity to produce 18MW of energy annually.
A debate that focuses only on fossil vs wind / solar oversimplifies the energy sector and discounts the drivers for why countries make energy decisions– namely available resources, energy security and existing capital investments. One result of this shortsighted view is that hydropower is often left out of the discussion. As our mission at Cleanleap is to share knowledge on clean technology in emerging economies so projects are deployed more effectively we think its important to focus on hydro.
Ethiopia has a defiant will to stand out. This will extends to its efforts to become a world class developer of clean energy sources like wind power. Ethiopia has become a major exporter of energy in the region and has embarked on a journey to harness its clean energy with a goal of producing over 1.3 million megawatts of electricity from wind.
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) have released a report A tank of cold: cleantech leapfrog to a more food secure world. The key message from the report is that about a quarter of food wastage in developing countries could be eliminated with better refrigeration equipment. The report describes a new way of creating a cold chain system in emerging economies. This system can be built from the ground up as there is little existing instrastruce and the ability to harness renewable energy. Creating the opportunity to cleanleap over existing more polluting systems.
Small steps can be much larger than they seem, some steps forward become great leaps. Ethiopia, a vibrantly growing economy attracting many investors, will need alternative sources of energy to sustain production and economic growth. It is out of these challenges the country is looking for more clean and renewable energy alternatives.
Although the energy industry is still working to make CCS effective using large mechanical and chemical solutions, there may be a better answer coming from nano-technology. Lawrence Livermore Laboratories are working on a new solution that uses tiny permeable nano-beads filled with a solution of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3).
EY (Ernst & Young), in collaboration with the Clean Energy Business Council and Middle East Solar Industry Association, recently launched the fourth edition of the Cleantech Survey Report Middle East and North Africa. A survey of leading industry executives which gauges the recent rate of development of cleantech in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and also provides predictions for the future.