Government committed to power all facilities with solar by end of Akufo-Addo’s term – Minister

By: Pamela Ofori-Boateng

The Minister for Energy, Mr Boakye Agyarko says the government is committed to ensure that all government facilities are powered with solar by the end of Akufo-Addo’s term to save the country a tremendous amount of money.

Mr Agyarko said, “In my own ministry our 13 to 14 per cent reliance on solar means that on a monthly basis we are saving about GH¢7000, which translates to about GH¢90.000 annually or $20.000 and that is a significant savings.”

Mr Agyarko was speaking at a brief event organized by the US embassy to mark a signing deal between the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), and BioTherm Energy (Pty) Ltd.

He noted that, “God in his infinite wisdom gave us the sun and if we are careful and wise enough then the only source that we think is indistinguishable is what we should be fully relying on hence my passion for renewable energy.”

He however, indicated that his commitment to solar has led to a discussion where it is the objective to turn his department into a solar powered building which will gain them more authority to compel other Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), to go solar.

He said the objective of the Akufo Addo’s government is to keep the light on and keep transportation running.

“Our experiences through 2012 to 2014 and 2016 and its lingering effect mean that if we are to keep the lights on, then our reliance on fossil fuel is not the way for the future. We have to get renewable and get to renewable fast,” he noted.

He indicated the possibility of generating electricity much cheaper from solar than the utilities sold to Ghanaians. Adding that, it is possible to generate electricity from solar for  less than 60 pesewas or 15 cents a kilowatt hour.

Through the deal, the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), provided $861.300 to fund feasibility studies for the Ghanaian company BTSA Buipe Solar Ltd in the Northern Region of Ghana.

 

Source: ghanabusinessnews.com

 

Rotary Clubs support Somboro Sietori Communities with rechargeable solar lanterns

 

The Rotary Club of Accra-Ridge in partnership with the Rotary Club of Wa have donated solar rechargeable lanterns to two communities in the Jirapa District of Upper West West Region, namely, Somboro and Sietori to be distributed to about 100 households.

According to the President Nominee (PN) and Chair, Service Project Committee, of the Club, Sampson Djan Amoako, the club was mindful of the six areas of focus of Rotary International, and sought to impact positively on the communities in their Economic and Community Development.

The donation of the portable solar lanterns will extend their day time activities, thus improving their socio-economic lives, he said.

The project also targeted improvement on the Basic Education and Literacy of the communities by helping school children study at night. Easier ways of studying after school will make their academic records better with a sterling performance, he added.

He indicated that the project was supported with funds from the Rotary Club of Wa, in providing 100 rechargeable solar lanterns valued at about Nine Thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢ 9,000.00).

The two clubs agreed to provide communities without access to electricity, and are currently not connected to the national grid of electricity supply annually.

Rotarian Sylvester Dery, the Service Project Director of the Wa club advised the heads of the community to share the lanterns equitably and not hijack them for their personal gains. Rotarian Agambire the Vice President of the Wa club noted that, the Upper West Region lacks development and it is time for other organizations in the region to support Rotary’s effort to Serve Humanity.

“…..See how leaders from different countries, with diverse cultures and occupations are taking action to improve education, empower the next generation and improving our communities. That’s the difference Rotary makes,” he asserted.

He stated that Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s pressing humanitarian challenges.

He disclosed that the Club connects over 1.2 million members of more than 34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas.

Their work, he noted impacts lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world.

 

Source: modernghana.com

‘It’s time to aggressively turn to solar power’ – ACEP advises Ghanaians

 

African Center for Energy Policy (ACEP) says Ghanaians should seriously consider solar power as an alternative source of energy in the wake of a protracted energy crisis.

ACEP Deputy Director Ben Boakye told Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Tuesday, an important barrier to solar power, which is cost, has reduced significantly enough for consumers to consider it as an alternative.

Ben Boakye

Ben Boakye

Ghana has enough installed power capacity of 3,644MW to meet a peak demand of  2,118MW. In practice, therefore, there should be no load shedding. But power plants need either gas or Light Crude Oil to produce electricity. Hence beyond installed capacity, government has to cough up cash to buy fuel.

“Dumsor is not a function of installed capacity. Dumsor is a function of your ability to procure sufficient feed or crude, or gas to power the plants” Enery minister Boakye Agarko pointed out during his vetting.

Government required at least US$1.18 billion to procure fuel alone for 2016, the Energy Commission has said. And there is the ‘garguatuan’ outstanding debt described as ‘legacy debts’ to settle. It is estimated at $2billion.

The energy crisis dominated much of President John Mahama’s tenure, slumped the economy to growth rates under 3.9% in 2016 and is believed to have cost the NDC government the 2016 elections.

Following erratic power supply over the past four weeks, consumers have expressed misgivings about whether the crisis endured since 2012 has resurfaced.

Four years after the crisis embedded in the power system recurred, the NDC government has had to sink more than $640million into two power purchase deals to alleviate the situation. It led to increasing cost of utilities by more than 50% in 2015 alone.

President Mahama announced in 2016 that power rationing had ended but warned there was a lot of work still to be done.

After more than nine months of stable power and a change in government, 2017 signs on the wall suggest the situation is still fragile and a political blame game is on about which government should be blamed for the resurgence.

“It is difficult to promise at this state, that we have ended load shedding,” Ben Boakye stated and refused to rule out a re-lapse.

As a testament to Ghana’s fragile power supply system, a re-lapse is possible even when scheduled maintenance on power plants are to be carried out.

In the meantime, Ghana relies on Ivory Coast, its neighbour to the eastern border for between 74mw to 140mw of power.

According to ACEP, the current power supply is “just about what [we] need”.

Accra by night, improved power supply

After shifting focus from hydro power to thermal power, the energy expert said the time is right for a shift to solar power.

‘I think it is the way to go” he stressed. He said a solar panel or two installed in homes can slash the recurring cost of power and reduce dependence on the Electricity Company of Ghana, the power distributor.

Despite government’s plan to cede 5% of energy generation mix to solar, not even 1% has been achieved, he said.

Only 2.5mw of Ghana’s power mix is from solar energy. The 2.5mw solar power plant at Navrongo in the Upper East Region was inaugurated in May 2013. It cost  $2 million.

Ben Boakye says he wants to see government loosen bureaucratic hurdles to solar power distribution and financing so that individuals can adopt the sun source-energy to power their homes.

The push to solar power should be aggressive, he urged government. In February 2015, President John Mahama announced plans to help install 200,000 rooftop solar systems.

It was to be funded by increasing the Energy Fund Levy on Petroleum Products from Gp0.05 to Gp1.0.  It is expected to save the country about 200 megawatts of power daily.

 

Source: myjoyonline.com

Solar-powered cinema opens in Burkina ahead of festival

President of Burkina Faso Roch Marc Christian Kabore (C) cuts the ribbon during the inauguration of a new movie theatre which runs on solar power in Ouagadougou on February 24, 2017.  By Ahmed OUOBA (AFP)

 

Ouagadougou (AFP) – A solar-powered cinema was unveiled in Burkina Faso Friday ahead of Ouagadougou’s hosting of Africa’s top film festival, even as movie theatres on the continent continue to disappear.

The theatre, with its 300-seat capacity, will run on solar energy. Named Canal Olympia Yennenga, it is now the third-largest movie hall in the Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou.

Located in the city’s posh Ouaga2000 neighbourhood, the theatre cost about 3 million euros ($3.2 million) to build.

It is the brainchild of French businessman Vincent Bollore, whose company owns French premium TV and cinema group Canal Plus.

“In the city of Ouagadougou, we lack movie theatres of this calibre,” said Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

“Ouagadougou is the capital of African cinema. We have every intention of keeping it that way,” Kabore said. “It is in our interest to have theatres.”

Ouagadougou will play host to the Pan-African Film and Television Festival, better known as FESPACO, which kicks off Saturday and winds up March 4 with a red carpet awards ceremony in the city’s football stadium.

More than 100,000 people are expected for the 10-day event, held every two years, a year after 33 people were killed and scores injured in an unprecedented jihadist assault in January 2016.

More than 160 movies are screening, including 20 features vying for the top award, the prized “Etalon d’Or” or Golden Stallion.

During the theatre’s unveiling, Kabore hailed the “beautiful tool” of culture.

A score of feature films from 14 African countries and the French West Indian territory of Guadeloupe are competing to take the top prize, won last year by “Fièvres” (“Fevers”), by Moroccan director Hicham Ayouch.

The hall also opens at a time when many historic cinemas have shut and when many African cities just simply lack movie theatres.

The Canal Plus group is set to open about 50 other movie theatres in francophone countries in Africa where the group operates, said Canal Olympia President Corinne Bach.

It is the third hall the group has opened after Douala in Cameroon, Niamey in Niger, and Conakry in Guinea.

Despite last year’s attack by a three-man jihadist unit on city hotels and restaurants, the government ruled out cancelling the film festival which has become the small and struggling nation’s premier event.

In December, the Burkinabe army suffered its biggest ever setback when 12 soldiers were killed during a jihadist raid on the Mali-Niger border.

 

Source: modernghana.com

Research into science/technology innovations doesn’t gather dust – CSIR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Victor Agyeman, the Director General of the Council for Scientific and Industry Research (CSIR), has debunked the assertion that research into science and technology innovations are placed on shelves to gather dust.

Dr Agyeman said the CSIR had developed 165 technologies and all those technologies had been well packaged, profiled and documented.

“We have prepared marketable tools in the form of business plans on these science and technology innovations targeted at some entrepreneurs in the private sector,” he said.

Dr Agyeman made this known when Business Plans on 10 out of the 165 technologies was launched in Accra.

The 10 key technologies, he said, include Gas Cabinet Fruit Dryer, Feed Pellet for Grass Cutters, Biogas Technology, Solar Dry Technology, Improved “Akosombo Strain” of Nile Tilapia using cage culture, and Oil Palm Mushroom Production.

Others are Mechanised Palm Kernel Separator, and Innovative Rain Harvesting Water Technology.

However, Dr Agyeman said the “promotion, uptake and commercialisation of those developed technologies had not been encouraging” adding that “valuable information to unearth their business potential had mainly been confined to the research and academic circles”.

Dr Agyeman, therefore, challenged industries to take up risk by tapping into the potentials of science and technology to propel the rapid economic growth of the country.

He noted that apart from risk, high interest rates and inflation continued to remain a challenge to businesses.

According to Dr Agyeman, he was of the belief that business plans developed by the CSIR would serve as “window to unearth the business potential of the developed technologies to the private sector for the greater betterment of Ghana’s socio-economic development.”

Dr Agyeman said the CSIR, under the Ghana Skills and Technology Development Project, has, therefore, established a Technology, Development and Transfer Centre (TDTC) house by CSIR-STEPRI.

He said the CSIR-TDTC was aimed at bridging the gap between research and the private sector through an effective technology development and transfer system that could constantly engage private sector on their technology needs.

He cited Malaysia and Sri Lanka as some of the countries that had taken up research into palm and coconut respectively adding that those products were fetching high revenue.

 

Source: ghanabusinessnews.com

Eritrea: Potable Water Supply Project

Asmara — A solar energy operated potable water supply project in Ona-Nalai, Central region, worth 5.5 million Nakfa was recently inaugurated. The project includes 7.2 kilowatt solar energy and reservoir holding 50 cubic meters of water besides 3 water distribution centers.

Mr. Zerit Tewoldebrhan, Managing Director in the Central region’s office, said that water shortage was an acute problem for the village inhabitants and called on the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the facility.

The Director General of Land and Agriculture in the region, Mr. Yemane Abai,pointed out that the project is a continuation of the efforts exerted to ensure social justice in remote areas and commended the stakeholders for their cooperation.

UK reaffirms backing for Africa’s energy growth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The British government has reaffirmed backing for investment in “conventional energy source” to develop the power sector in Africa that will drive economic growth and development on the continent.

In an era of a raging debate on limiting the use of fossil fuels in favour of renewables, the United Kingdom (UK) government is forging ahead with its support for providing power to the continent.

The move would be welcomed among African political leaders who have long argued that such restrictions were holding back their countries’ development.

Over 620 million people are without access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa and some 730 million people in the region rely on dangerous, inefficient forms of cooking, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA also noted that in sub-Saharan Africa, the average electricity consumption per capita is not enough to power a single 50-watt light bulb continuously.

During a recent session in the UK Parliament, the Department for International Development (DFID) responded to MPs’ queries about the steps the Department was taking to improve energy supply in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Access to energy is a prerequisite driver of economic growth and development,” the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, James Wharton, told the House.

“When able to secure it, the world’s poorest people can pay up to 80 times what we pay.

“That is why the UK and this Department are playing a key role in providing both on and off-grid energy access, such as through the Energy Africa campaign, which will help to secure energy supplies for over 4.5 million of the world’s poorest people,” Mr Wharton added.

He pointed out that 1,000 MW can support 800,000 jobs in Africa, referring to a project – in which the UK’s Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) had a majority stake – to provide 5,000 MW on the continent.

“This is the scale of the difference we can make when and where we get this right and that is why we are doing it,” Mr Wharton said.

Of late, there has been criticism of the use of fossil fuels to provide electricity, as outgoing US President Barack Obama decided in 2013 that his administration would no longer back the use of coal abroad for electricity generation unless there were carbon emission controls.

During the debate on the Commonwealth Development Corporation Bill in the UK Parliament last month, the Minister of State for International Development, Rory Stewart, said of that problematic issue: “I do not think it would be responsible for economic development in Africa to put us in a position where we cannot invest at all in any conventional energy source.

“As I have mentioned before, China has been building about 8GW of power in a two-month period, with Africa delivering 6GW of power over a decade,” Mr Stewart said.

“It would be a great pity if the only investments we could make in energy in Africa were in renewables.

“This would be unacceptable in a continent that has struggled to build 6,000MW of generating capacity over a decade,” Mr Steward added.

It also comes after the UK renewed commitment to new technology, such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), to support developing countries.

The UK Energy Minister, Jesse Norman, said recently: “In 2012 the government committed £60 million from its International Climate Fund to support the development of CCS technology in emerging economies.

“This international CCS Capacity Building Programme is to work with, and in, emerging economies to develop the technical and institutional knowledge necessary to enable the deployment of CCS technology.”

This is welcome news for African counties such as Ghana that want to use their massive coal reserves to power the continent.

Africa has 35 billion tons of recoverable coal reserves and at the current rate of consumption, would last for 122 years, according to the IEA.

For the incoming government of President Nana Akufo-Addo, the task of countering constant power failure in Ghana would be a major challenge. As currently, about seven million Ghanaians, about 28 per cent of the population – did not have access to electricity.

This covers about eight per cent in urban areas and 50 per cent among the rural communities.

Many African countries are arguing against restrictions on using coal to power their development.

For example the Nigerian Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun told a recent joint meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank: “We in Nigeria have coal but we have a power problem, yet we’ve been blocked because it is not green.

“There is some hypocrisy because we have the entire Western industrialisation built on coal energy.

“They are saying: ‘You have to use solar and wind’, which are the most expensive,” she added.

Experts have pointed out that renewables such as solar cannot power industrial development in Africa because they are unreliable.

Mr Wharton told the UK Parliament that in order for Africa to prosper, it would need “load-based electricity to complement the intermittent energy generation such as solar”.

The British government has reaffirmed backing for investment in “conventional energy source” to develop the power sector in Africa that will drive economic growth and development on the continent.

In an era of a raging debate on limiting the use of fossil fuels in favour of renewables, the United Kingdom (UK) government is forging ahead with its support for providing power to the continent.

The move would be welcomed among African political leaders who have long argued that such restrictions were holding back their countries’ development.

Over 620 million people are without access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa and some 730 million people in the region rely on dangerous, inefficient forms of cooking, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA also noted that in sub-Saharan Africa, the average electricity consumption per capita is not enough to power a single 50-watt light bulb continuously.

During a recent session in the UK Parliament, the Department for International Development (DFID) responded to MPs’ queries about the steps the Department was taking to improve energy supply in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Access to energy is a prerequisite driver of economic growth and development,” the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, James Wharton, told the House.

“When able to secure it, the world’s poorest people can pay up to 80 times what we pay.

“That is why the UK and this Department are playing a key role in providing both on and off-grid energy access, such as through the Energy Africa campaign, which will help to secure energy supplies for over 4.5 million of the world’s poorest people,” Mr Wharton added.

He pointed out that 1,000 MW can support 800,000 jobs in Africa, referring to a project – in which the UK’s Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) had a majority stake – to provide 5,000 MW on the continent.

“This is the scale of the difference we can make when and where we get this right and that is why we are doing it,” Mr Wharton said.

Of late, there has been criticism of the use of fossil fuels to provide electricity, as outgoing US President Barack Obama decided in 2013 that his administration would no longer back the use of coal abroad for electricity generation unless there were carbon emission controls.

During the debate on the Commonwealth Development Corporation Bill in the UK Parliament last month, the Minister of State for International Development, Rory Stewart, said of that problematic issue: “I do not think it would be responsible for economic development in Africa to put us in a position where we cannot invest at all in any conventional energy source.

“As I have mentioned before, China has been building about 8GW of power in a two-month period, with Africa delivering 6GW of power over a decade,” Mr Stewart said.

“It would be a great pity if the only investments we could make in energy in Africa were in renewables.

“This would be unacceptable in a continent that has struggled to build 6,000MW of generating capacity over a decade,” Mr Steward added.

It also comes after the UK renewed commitment to new technology, such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), to support developing countries.

The UK Energy Minister, Jesse Norman, said recently: “In 2012 the government committed £60 million from its International Climate Fund to support the development of CCS technology in emerging economies.

“This international CCS Capacity Building Programme is to work with, and in, emerging economies to develop the technical and institutional knowledge necessary to enable the deployment of CCS technology.”

This is welcome news for African counties such as Ghana that want to use their massive coal reserves to power the continent.

Africa has 35 billion tons of recoverable coal reserves and at the current rate of consumption, would last for 122 years, according to the IEA.

For the incoming government of President Nana Akufo-Addo, the task of countering constant power failure in Ghana would be a major challenge. As currently, about seven million Ghanaians, about 28 per cent of the population – did not have access to electricity.

This covers about eight per cent in urban areas and 50 per cent among the rural communities.

Many African countries are arguing against restrictions on using coal to power their development.

For example the Nigerian Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun told a recent joint meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank: “We in Nigeria have coal but we have a power problem, yet we’ve been blocked because it is not green.

“There is some hypocrisy because we have the entire Western industrialisation built on coal energy.

“They are saying: ‘You have to use solar and wind’, which are the most expensive,” she added.

Experts have pointed out that renewables such as solar cannot power industrial development in Africa because they are unreliable.

Mr Wharton told the UK Parliament that in order for Africa to prosper, it would need “load-based electricity to complement the intermittent energy generation such as solar”.

The British government has reaffirmed backing for investment in “conventional energy source” to develop the power sector in Africa that will drive economic growth and development on the continent.

In an era of a raging debate on limiting the use of fossil fuels in favour of renewables, the United Kingdom (UK) government is forging ahead with its support for providing power to the continent.

The move would be welcomed among African political leaders who have long argued that such restrictions were holding back their countries’ development.

Over 620 million people are without access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa and some 730 million people in the region rely on dangerous, inefficient forms of cooking, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA also noted that in sub-Saharan Africa, the average electricity consumption per capita is not enough to power a single 50-watt light bulb continuously.

During a recent session in the UK Parliament, the Department for International Development (DFID) responded to MPs’ queries about the steps the Department was taking to improve energy supply in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Access to energy is a prerequisite driver of economic growth and development,” the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, James Wharton, told the House.

“When able to secure it, the world’s poorest people can pay up to 80 times what we pay.

“That is why the UK and this Department are playing a key role in providing both on and off-grid energy access, such as through the Energy Africa campaign, which will help to secure energy supplies for over 4.5 million of the world’s poorest people,” Mr Wharton added.

He pointed out that 1,000 MW can support 800,000 jobs in Africa, referring to a project – in which the UK’s Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) had a majority stake – to provide 5,000 MW on the continent.

“This is the scale of the difference we can make when and where we get this right and that is why we are doing it,” Mr Wharton said.

Of late, there has been criticism of the use of fossil fuels to provide electricity, as outgoing US President Barack Obama decided in 2013 that his administration would no longer back the use of coal abroad for electricity generation unless there were carbon emission controls.

During the debate on the Commonwealth Development Corporation Bill in the UK Parliament last month, the Minister of State for International Development, Rory Stewart, said of that problematic issue: “I do not think it would be responsible for economic development in Africa to put us in a position where we cannot invest at all in any conventional energy source.

“As I have mentioned before, China has been building about 8GW of power in a two-month period, with Africa delivering 6GW of power over a decade,” Mr Stewart said.

“It would be a great pity if the only investments we could make in energy in Africa were in renewables.

“This would be unacceptable in a continent that has struggled to build 6,000MW of generating capacity over a decade,” Mr Steward added.

It also comes after the UK renewed commitment to new technology, such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), to support developing countries.

The UK Energy Minister, Jesse Norman, said recently: “In 2012 the government committed £60 million from its International Climate Fund to support the development of CCS technology in emerging economies.

“This international CCS Capacity Building Programme is to work with, and in, emerging economies to develop the technical and institutional knowledge necessary to enable the deployment of CCS technology.”

This is welcome news for African counties such as Ghana that want to use their massive coal reserves to power the continent.

Africa has 35 billion tons of recoverable coal reserves and at the current rate of consumption, would last for 122 years, according to the IEA.

For the incoming government of President Nana Akufo-Addo, the task of countering constant power failure in Ghana would be a major challenge. As currently, about seven million Ghanaians, about 28 per cent of the population – did not have access to electricity.

This covers about eight per cent in urban areas and 50 per cent among the rural communities.

Many African countries are arguing against restrictions on using coal to power their development.

For example the Nigerian Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun told a recent joint meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank: “We in Nigeria have coal but we have a power problem, yet we’ve been blocked because it is not green.

“There is some hypocrisy because we have the entire Western industrialisation built on coal energy.

“They are saying: ‘You have to use solar and wind’, which are the most expensive,” she added.

Experts have pointed out that renewables such as solar cannot power industrial development in Africa because they are unreliable.

Mr Wharton told the UK Parliament that in order for Africa to prosper, it would need “load-based electricity to complement the intermittent energy generation such as solar”.

 

Source: ghanabusinessnews.com

How Solar power is bringing food security to Africa

By: Joe Ware

Malawi is a country on the front line of climate change. Unlike nations ravaged by a typhoon or rich western cities swamped with floodwater, the kind of impacts Malawians face barely raise a flicker of interest in the media. Compared to a hurricane, a few degrees of temperature rise and shifting rainfall patterns sound mild, but in reality they have the potential to be far more devastating writes JOE WARE

Sunshine can reach places that conventional grid infrastructure cannot – meaning it can be set up anywhere

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. Ninety per cent of Malawians live in rural areas; agriculture makes up 80 per cent of the labour force and 80 per cent of its exports. With so many people reliant on growing things from the ground, disruptions to the climate threatens the wellbeing of an entire nation.

For centuries Malawian farmers have learned the patterns of the seasons – when to plant their seeds in order to capture the rains that watered the ground and brought forth food to eat and sell. But this life-saving knowledge is becoming worthless, as rainfall patterns are distorted by a changing climate and the El Nino weather event, which this year created the worst food crisis in 25 years.

This time 6.7 million people do not have adequate food.

However thanks to solar, the poorest and most remote people in Malawi are turning the power of the sun to their advantage and benefiting from irrigation systems, which are pushing back against the ravages of climate change.

Solar is most commonly known for its potential to transform the world’s energy supply. Solar farms are popping up all over the place, and costs continue to plummet. Only this month the International Energy Agency released figures showing that last year, around the world, half a million solar panels were installed every day. But for Malawian farmers, the magic of solar technology has another and more immediate form of assistance – helping them to water their plants.

In remote Malawi, conventional grid power is unable to reach communities and so cannot be relied on to power irrigation systems when the rains don’t come. And even if grid power did reach these remote regions, the costs would be prohibitive. Likewise, polluting diesel-powered generators are also far from ideal. In some places such running costs mean farmers end up paying more for the energy they use than they can earn from their crops. Thankfully, solar offers a solution. The initial investment to get such schemes up and running may not be as cheap, but it pays off in the long run. Solar-powered irrigation requires no purchase of diesel and no payment of electricity bills. And sunshine can reach places that conventional grid infrastructure cannot – meaning it can be set up anywhere.

What it does require though is some initial investment. A recent solar irrigation scheme in Chikwawa District in Southern Malawi funded by UK, Norwegian and Irish governments, and implemented by Christian Aid, has proven to be so successful it received specific attention from the Malawian state. The appropriately named, Bright Msaka, Minister for Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, praised the scheme for not being built along the country’s main roads to maximise visibility to ‘important people’, but instead in remote places where the need was greatest.

As the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. In this case the eating has been of corn all year round. Mother-of-three Maria Moveni, 27, has been using irrigation farming in recent months. She says: “My husband and I have experienced a tough life for some time. During the rainy season we used to cultivate cotton, sorghum and maize of which the yield was not all that good due to frequent dry spells and floods that haunt this community. This affected our livelihood so badly that my family depended on selling firewood. Now I am in a new world of possibilities. Having my own maize in October is like a dream.”

But to ensure such innovative projects become the norm instead of the exception we need to shift the balance of investment away from fossil fuel development and towards clean, green, alternatives.We need more aid spending to focus on such projects to help poorer countries develop in a low carbon way.

In September a Christian Aid report showed that the World Bank, which speaks often about low carbon development, was funneling millions of pounds towards fossil fuel projects.  This needs to change if the World Bank is going to be taken seriously on its claims to be a champion of sustainability.

Renewables are already starting to improve people’s lives and they have the potential to impact millions more.  We now need to see investment to unlock further progress and speed up this world changing transition.

 

Source: theecologist.com

 

 

Botswana: Scottish Pipe-Powered Water Disinfection System Set for Botswana

A self-sustaining water treatment system that operates without grid electricity or solar power has been launched for rural water systems in developing countries. Called the Scotmas Bravo Hydro, the system creates its own power by means of a tiny hydro-electric generator placed within the water pipe itself. Scottish water disinfection specialists, Scotmas Group, has launched the technology this week and will deliver it to 40 villages in Botswana from January 2017.

The delivery is part of a wider investment by the Botswanan Government to improve water distribution to rural communities and assist in economic and social development. Due to a range of environmental and social factors including drought, and a population increase in Botswana, sources of safe drinking water have become increasingly scarce.

Alistair Cameron, managing director of Scotmas, said: “The need for effective water disinfection in remote areas of developing countries has never been greater, but difficulties include a lack of reliable grid electricity, potential theft of solar panels from remote locations, and the difficult maintenance required for traditional venturi pump systems”. Representatives from the Botswana Water Authority recently visited the company’s headquarters in Kelso, Scotland. [waterworld.com]

Source: allafrica.com

Africa looks to solar for communities off the grid

By: Jennifer O’Mahony in Dakar and Nicolas Delaunay in Nairobi

Dakar (AFP) – Above the sacks of seeds and coal, three kerosene lamps gather dust in the tiny shed that Kenyan chicken farmer Bernard calls home.

He prefers to use solar energy to light up his evenings, listen to the radio or watch television, after abandoning a diesel generator he said was expensive to maintain and burned fuel too quickly.

“Solar panels are a good, cheap solution,” he told AFP.

Across the continent, consumers are opting for their own off-grid solar solutions to power homes and small businesses, even as African governments unveil massive new solar projects seemingly every month to expand their grids.

According to International Energy Agency projections, almost one billion people in sub-Saharan Africa will gain access to the grid by 2040, but by that time 530 million will remain off-grid, almost comparable with the 600 million who cannot access power today.

Governments have ramped up their efforts: on Africa’s Atlantic coast, Senegal last month inaugurated a massive 20 megawatt (MW) project that will deliver energy to 160,000 people, which President Macky Sall saluted as ushering in “a new, clean-energy era”.

But ​​Mouhamadou Makhtar Cisse, director-general of national utility Senelec, underlined upcoming problems in an interview with AFP.

“We actually have an excess of 100MW of power,” he said. “But we have a distribution problem. We have been thinking in terms of roads and railways… but not about electricity highways.”

With around 55 to 65 percent of homes receiving electricity, Senegal’s grid strength is above average for sub-Saharan Africa, whereas in South Sudan and Liberia this hovers between one and two percent.

But even in Senegal, neighbouring Mauritania and Rwanda, which have all invested in large-scale solar projects as the cost of panels tumble, the twin challenges of limited grids and Africa’s demographics remain.

‘Space for innovation’

“The grid and the off-grid are so far apart right now that it’s creating a huge space for innovation,” enthuses Andrew Herscowitz, coordinator for US President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative.

Power Africa, which identifies governments and businesses requiring sustainable and affordable energy and offers funding and expertise in more than 15 countries, has taken a particular interest in solar.

Power Africa is pushing this renewable source so that people “don’t have to wait for the grid to arrive to them, they can access a company today and have a solar panel put on their roof,” Herscowitz told AFP.

Half of sub-Saharan Africa’s power is generated in South Africa, while north Africa has built effective grid systems that largely serve their populations with a constant flow of energy.

But for the rest, off-grid systems and the technology needed to make them reachable to the sub-continent’s poorest homes have reached a tipping point in the last five years, spurred by advances that have lowered costs.

Lighting homes with kerosene and candles remains expensive, dangerous and polluting, but in Kenya micro-solar firms have brought power to 30 percent of the off-grid population.

“A person can for the same amount of money they were spending to buy kerosene just for that little flicker of light… use that money to buy a small solar panel that can power safe lightbulbs,” Herscowitz said.

Simon Bransfield-Garth, CEO of British “pay-as-you-go” solar panel firm Azuri, noted that the cost per kilowatt hour for electricity in the West was around 15 US cents, while kerosene was 53 times higher and candles 105 times higher on average for African consumers.

Azuri and rival M-Kopa offer a package of solar-powered lightbulbs, radio, and phone charging ports for as little as 50 US cents a day.

Solar-powered televisions are available for a little more and fridges are expected to follow.

The firms have made their mark in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana, which also have the heaviest uptake of mobile money systems, allowing users to pay for these services automatically through cheap and easy-to-access bank accounts provided by telecoms firms.

In these markets, customers are often so sparsely distributed that even if they have the opportunity to connect to the grid, doing so is still often more expensive than solar packs.

Sunshine continent

Investment in the sun to feed Africa’s grids is appreciable: by the end of 2014 output stood at 1,334 MW, more than ten times larger than in 2009 (127 MW), according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

As consultancy firm KPMG put it in a recent report, solar power is “the most widely available source of renewable energy in Africa”, and could “bring energy to virtually any location in Africa without the need for expensive large-scale grid level infrastructural developments.”

The uptake of solar still remains extremely low compared to coal and biomass, accounting for less than five percent of overall grid power, but solar is getting cheaper and easier to install than ever.

Besides, most off-grid communities have no other option, as Africa Power’s Herscowitz noted: “the amount of money needed to solve the energy deficit in Africa is hundreds of billions of dollars. No government has that money.”

 

Source: mordenghana.com