Monday, July 29, 2013

What Happens In Countries With Energy Poverty?

Being in a country that currently has struggles with unemployment, it can be seen how this affects the overall economy. Especially in a country where a majority of the professions require some form of energy. Fortunately, The United States is one of the leaders in energy production, not to mention in clean and eco-friendly research and technology. So what happens in another country that has a massive quantity of factory jobs that run on energy sources such as oil or gas, for example Pakistan.

Pakistan is considered a third world country, and even in this category it is considered one of the poorest countries, with it's major export being textiles. Therefore, a large portion of the jobs found in Pakistan are in factories based on natural gas, but when the domestic need for natural gas rises during the winter, the amount of gas used in factories has to lower, in order to meet the domestic demands of energy, and when adding the constant power outages, it leaves very little energy source to work with. Placing workers and families in a rut, as seen in the video below.

The issue is clear, with no efficient or reliable source of energy, jobs are static and almost nonexistent, leading to a decrease in family funds, leading to a decrease in overall quality of living. The real matter that should be question is, what can we do to bring energy to these countries that are energy poor?
As mentioned in previous posts, the UN has a global goal to achieve universal access to modern energy services by 2030. And while a little under two decades worth of time seems an eternity, in reality the amount of countries that suffer from energy poverty needs every asset, cooperation and donation possible.
While everyone can hope and aspire to create a Nobel Prize winning solution, but there are smaller things that can be done in the meantime to help these countries. Many foundations have been establish and their sole purpose is to provide clean eco-friendly energy to rural regions and countries with poverty in energy. For example, Eco Energy Finance they asks for donations of 10 dollars to provide a solar lantern for a family living in rural Pakistan.
The road to achieving the goal of the UN will be a long and challenging one. But it should not only be the goal of UN, all need to take part in this process and consider what they can do to promote clean energy. Whether is be motioning for the installation of solar panels or a roof garden at their jobs or schools. In this way awareness is created of the matter.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sustainable Energy For All… How realistic?

Photo Credit: mckaysavage via Compfight cc

Sustainable Energy For All is a United Nations initiative with the goal to bring sustainable energy for all by 2030. Now what is the reality of this goal? Will we see the changes this initiative plans to make by their goal of 2030? If we are going as we are now we will not make it. Looking at the information from the United Nations initiative, 1.2 billion people still are without accessible electricity and 2.8 billion people are still using wood for cooking and heating causing 3.5 million deaths a year from respiratory illness related to the fumes from wood and biomass. To put this into perspective, that is more than twice as high as deaths due to malaria, which is 1.2 million, and HIV/AIDS deaths, which is 1.5 million. Obviously this is still a major problem.

There have been improvements over time in fighting energy poverty, from 1990 to 2010 1.7 billion people acquired access to electricity yet if we continue as we are we will not see the United Nations initiative goal of total accessibility met by 2030 a reality.

The goal to provide sustainable energy for all is ambitious and they plan to mobilize members of the High-Level Group, commitments from governments, private sectors and civil society partners to take action, making sustainable energy for all a possibility by 2030. BUT is this enough? Although action is being taken and more information and awareness is happening…will we see the goal met by 2030? 

For more information on Sustainable Energy For All click here.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Luci is Different

Luci is a solar powered flashlight/task light that was funded by the popular crowd funding website, indiegogo. Luci improves the lives of people living in the developing world by providing a dependable solution for people without electricity. It was designed to be free of the electric grid and is collapsible. Luci was created by Micro Power Design, who was inspired by this quote:
“Energy is the thread that connects economic growth, increased social equity and sustainability. But, widespread energy poverty still condemns billions to darkness, ill health and missed opportunities for education and prosperity.” – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

Luci is meant to help in these ways and more:
  • Workforce: Increases productivity and promotes job-creation
  • Education: Lengthens study time and improves conditions
  • Health & Safety: Reduces incidents of pulmonary diseases, kerosene burns and risk of gender based violence
  • Social: Increases community relations and reduces community violence
  • Environmental: Decreases CO2 emissions which damage the environment
  • Economy: Saves money ordinarily spent on kerosene which in turn stimulates the economy

Furthermore, it is incredibly sustainable and low cost! For just  $14.95 (and only an additional $5 for each thereafter) one may purchase and donate to someone in need.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Health Impacts of Living in Energy Poverty

Photograph by Lynn Johnson, National Geographic
Many poor households in developing countries rely on traditional forms of energy to heat their homes, cook food, and provide light. These include the burning of coal, animal dung, wood, and agricultural residue.  At first glance, one might not think of this as a terrible health hazard… Campfires are common and no one seems to be developing lung cancer from being around them. However, there are many health issues that arise when using these methods indoors on a day to day basis. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.6 million people die from the effects of indoor air pollution every year. Smoke from cooking has nowhere to escape to, so the women and girls who are responsible for preparing meals inhale this toxic air. This smoke, known as black carbon travels deep into the lungs and respiratory system causing health problems such as emphysema and lung cancer.

Solutions varying from the use of solar power to biogas digesters have been posed to help alleviate this issue. The biogas digester takes less than a day to turn food scraps and other organic waste into clean, usable methane that can be used both for cooking and household electricity. At $400, this is not exactly feasible for more people living in these rural areas, but with some financial backing and donations the biogas digester could be a very simple solution to a growing health problem. Solar technology is another way that has been posed to reach the world’s energy poor. Though large solar panels covering entire roofs are expensive, solar power can be used effectively on a much smaller scale. Solar lamps with battery storage are available for just $30 and would provide plenty of light to a room at night. Check out this video of a girl who took the problem into her own hands…

Friday, July 19, 2013

Decentralization: The Next Big Thing in Energy

It wasn't too long ago that I remember the excitement that came with going to the library and opening the new copy of my favorite magazine. We are information consumers to the core - we love to exercise that rational part of our mind and learn new things about the world. Aristotle called it a simple curiosity. Fortunately, we no longer have to be only consumers of information. The information revolution has enabled each and every internet connected individual to have the ability to create original content and contribute to the global collective of human knowledge.

In much the same way, we seen to be on the verge of another revolution. You could say this one is much more important, as it tickles not only man's curiosity for knowledge - but rather his future survival and ability to thrive. Energy decentralization, albeit in its very early stages promises to provide a means for millions of consumers to produce energy in a peer-to-peer network of consumers and producers working together to escape energy poverty and distribute it as needed. Think of technologies that already exist, like residential combined heat and power (resCHP), which waste heat from furnaces is harnessed in a local network and used to create energy. 

I for one and excited to start being a small, but key player in the decentralization of energy. Maybe it's time we all started thinking beyond the walls of our own refrigerators and homes - into the neighborhood and community we live in. The means will soon be upon us - are we ready to make the world a better place? 
To read more: 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Power Africa

Energy Poverty- not a word most of us hear or may not even be familiar with, especially where I'm from in the Northwest. We have been blessed with the ability to get the energy we need to sustain our current population plus some, but the numbers continue to grow and the need for more electricity becomes greater.

Though we have what seems like an abundance of energy there are still parts of the world where people don’t have access to energy. Why in such a modern world are there still people without energy? The question to ask is not why the energy isn't available, it is a question about access, how do we get energy to them?  There are many ways to get energy, generators, wind, water, solar, coal, but are all those ways best?

Electricity has become a necessity in the modern world; by giving people access to electricity, something that I believe most of us take for granted in developed countries, we would be giving them the ability to access a better way of life. Many of the luxuries we enjoy in a developed nation come at a great cost for those in undeveloped or developing nations. Access to electricity would allow a more efficient way of doing simple everyday tasks, such as cooking. Things that would normally take all day to accomplish could now only take them minutes or hours to accomplish by having access to electricity.

An article that was released on July 4, 2013, discusses the plans of President Obama’s initiative named Power Africa. The multi-billion dollar effort is aimed to double the power access to Sub-Saharan Africa, in which it was stated that if no action is taken there will be more people in Africa without power in the year 2030 then there is currently. This is a huge undertaking for anyone but will be beneficial to the U.S. if Africa can get its economy up. Part to the goal is to bring sustainable energy to Africa over the next 5 years. It will be easier said than done, it may seem as simple as building a coal plant, but now where do they get the coal? Or we could help them build a wind farm, but now you’re tasked with training an unskilled labor force. At what cost is it going to take to help better the lives of these populations?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

2030: The Big Goal Year

The United Nations has set two goals that they'd like us all to reach by the end of the year twenty-thirty. The first is that it would like the 1.3 billion people who are without mainstream electricity to have access to it, and the second is that they want the global warming to be kept under 2°C.

But is this easier said than done? Perhaps. Why?

Each of these goals have a likely possibility of conflicting with one another. In order to increase the modern energy of electricity, we need to increase fossil fuels. But it is those same fossil fuels that has put the global warming crisis so high.

So will this become an instance of talking the talk and not being able to walk the walk as well?

For more information, click here:
HDR is an engineering company that constructs solar-voltaic landfills.  Vice president Mark Roberts states, "When you get done with a landfill, that property’s primary function can no longer be used anymore. It’s a great pyramid of waste,”  Which begs the question, "...What do you do with these facilities when you’ve filled it up?"  Landfills in Atlanta and San Antonio have become models for sustainable energy.  The Atlanta landfill, Hickory Ridge, produces 1 megawatt from its panels.  This energy is sold to Atlanta's power company.   San Antonio was the home of the first landfill in the country to be covered by solar panels. 

For more information click Here!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Solar Power Fighting Energy Poverty

In Buenos Aires, Argentina, a solar power project is now providing electricity to the cities poorest homes. Before the solar power project, families were buying individual propone tanks to cook their food and heat their water. Can you imagine, when you walk out to your barbeque and turn your propane on, if you only had that to not only cook your meals but also heat your water??? This method is expensive and can be up to six times more costly than using the cities gas lines. This project has placed 42 solar water heaters on the rooftops of homes, providing a low-cost solution and raising awareness to renewable energy.

The quality life improvement this project alone is creating is inspiring. For families who have been heating water on the stove and then bringing that into the bathroom to now turning on the faucet and having solar-powered hot water on demand is life changing for these families. This is such a significant change and improvement in quality of life to these families.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Simple Solutions

Photo Credit: Evans Wadongo

Energy poverty is a widely used term but what exactly is it? And why should we be concerned? Energy poverty is when an individual, family, community, or whole city lacks access to modern electricity. Energy poverty contributes to slow economic growth and wide spread poverty. In 2012, it was estimated that 1.3 billion people don’t have access to electricity, which is nearly 19% of the world population, nearly half of these people live in Africa. 

Founder, Evans Wadongo, of Sustainable Development For All is doing what she can to help. Building off firsthand experience -  growing up in poverty in Kenya - Wadongo is making great strides in helping Africans. She designed a solar powered lamp called “MwangaBora” to enable children to do school work at night. Tremendous improvement has been seen in the children’s school work after the distribution of the lights. Something as small and basic as the light seen in the picture can make a world of difference for many. There are still many people living in energy poverty that need our help.  

To read more about Evans Wadongo, Sustainable Development For All, and to find out ways you can help follow the link