Editorial Leader: Revolutionary time for the energy poor
ONE OF the things I really love about my job is seeing the amazing work taking place around the world to make other people’s lives better - in the May/June 2013 issue of Renewable Energy Focus I’m delighted to share that with you in all its glory.
The UN wants sustainable energy supplies for all by 2050. So do I - it’s one of the very reasons I came into this profession in fact. “What hope is there of achieving that goal when a third of the world’s population are still using kerosene lamps?” asks Julia Hawkins from the Ashden Awards on page 38. Well plenty it seems, if this year’s Ashden Award finalists (highlighted in Hawkin’s article running pages 38-41) are anything to go by.
What makes these finalists stand out is the way they are using traditional business models to make a truly meaningful difference to quality of life at the micro level around the world while tackling the global energy access challenge using renewables.
“Some might say there’s a revolution going on...and that revolution is being led by enterprise,” Hawkins writes. “Most excitingly, they are also rapidly learning how to overcome some of the biggest hurdles to increasing energy access in poor countries.”
And that, of course, is the challenge: breaking down the barriers to make sustainable energy affordable and readily available for all. And we all have our part to play in that. We cannot just leave it to the folks at Barefoot, SolarAid, Microenergy Credits, Azuri Technologies, d.light, Green Power, OMC Power, Cape Verde’s Cabeólica or India’s Shri Kshethra Dharmast- hala Rural Development Project – all featured in Hawkin’s article.
In the hubbub of everyday life it can be all too easy for most of us to forget the significance of their work. For us, the nearest we come to an off-grid existence is a camping trip, a temporary power cut at home (which we nonetheless know will be rectified by our local utility soon), or a two week vacation to the middle of nowhere that we have designed ourselves specifically to get away from western “civilisation”.
We take for granted the instant lighting at our disposal at the simple flick of a switch and the chilled fresh food in our fridges and freezers. So too, we are accustomed to having heating to keep us warm, air conditioning to cool us down, clean hot water on tap, and of course the electricity to power these and all manner of gadgets that now consume our lives in any way we desire.
Not so for millions of others around the world struggling to read by kerosene lamps at night, or struggling to pay for the fuel for them in the first place. The work of the Ashden Award finalists highlighted in this issue of Renewable Energy Focus will go a long way to alleviating that. They deserve our support to bring their work to more people.
There is a need for all of us to comprehend the difference their work makes, so we can encourage policy makers and financiers to help more in creating the conditions for growth in off-grid markets. We here in the developed world will focus on the need to boost renewables deployment simply to bolster domestic energy supply security while also minimising our carbon emissions. Both are worthy goals. Both are essential. But in truth, our everyday lives at home are changed little whether we do or we don’t use renew- able energy power supplies.
For those in the developing world however it is another story. A solar panel can be literally life changing.
This is my Editorial Leader from the May/June Issue of Renewable Energy Focus. Register now to receive the full issue and read all about the Ashden Awards finalists which make up the Off-Grid Revolutionaries.
Meantime, find out what a large planet can learn from small islands by reading a recent post by Ashden's Anne Wheldon here.
Posted 10/06/2013 by Gail Rajgor
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