The United Nations Rio+20 Conference called last year for urgent action to put the world on a more equitable and sustainable development path. Countries agreed that systems and behaviors that worsen poverty and inequalities, exclude women and marginalize others, are pushing our planet to its limits and must change.
Achieving sustainable energy yields benefits beyond the environment. It enables children to study at night, allows health clinics to store needed vaccines, and frees women from backbreaking chore and life-threatening smoke from wood-burning stoves. It creates a platform for better and more productive lives.
Dawn is a mere glimmer on the horizon and the city is still plunged in darkness. Its cobbled streets are menacingly dark.
But specks of light pierce the breaking day in villages in Alanganallur block, Madurai East, Madurai West and Melur blocks. The streets are unpaved but streetlights powered by solar energy burn bright, lighting up the dips and curves on the village roads.
Load shedding has now become a way of life in Madurai, but good news is emerging from hamlets – big and small - in rural Madurai.
When The Hindu correspondent visited villages in the interior of Madurai East and Alanganallur, the villagers proudly displayed the solar panels they had installed in their homes.
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Countries that move from fueled lighting systems to solar power could save billions of dollars per year, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said from Kenya.
The U.N. Environment Program said the 1.3 billion people who don't have access to electric light pay a combined $23 billion per year on kerosene. More than 75 percent of the population in West Africa doesn't have access to a reliable source of electricity.
India has solar irradiation ranging from 4 to 7 kilowatt hours per square meter per day. Every year, the country has about 300 clear sunny days and about 2,300 to 3,200 sunshine hours.
For 5 years starting in 2004, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) studied the challenges and opportunities of building the world’s largest solar park in the state of Gujarat in India. A report by the Clinton Climate Initiative confirmed the state as a solar hot spot, a region with high “direct normal irradiance levels.”
Creating electricity for the planet requires hundreds of massive power plants, and a transmission grid system to deliver the power. In the Himalayan nation of Nepal, mountains impede this delivery.
“Nepal is a poor country,” says Kiran Man Singh, a senior rural energy expert. “We don’t have many resources, because we are landlocked, and we don’t have fossil fuels.”
But one thing the nation does have is water. So small-scale hydroelectric projects, called micro-hydro, are being used to harness the power of water to produce electricity. Cheaper and faster than large hydroelectric dams, these micro-hydro projects are channeling Nepal’s ample water resources to power dark villages in the nation of 27 million.
The latest International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Medium-Term Coal Market Report 2012 re-confirms the dangerous path the world is on–a path of increasing dependence on coal, which carries serious environmental risks for people and the planet. According to the report, the world will burn 1.2 billion metric tons more coal per year by 2017 compared to today, surpassing oil as the world’s top energy source.
Sustainable energy—energy that is accessible, cleaner and more efficient—powers opportunity. It grows economies. It lights up homes, schools and hospitals. It empowers women and local communities. And it paves a path out of poverty to greater prosperity for all.
As part of ADB’s ongoing mission to promote solar investment across the region, experts and investors have gathered in Jodhpur, Rajasthan for the 4th Asia Solar Energy Forum to explore the latest trends and issues.
ADB.org speaks with S.Chander, Director-General of the Regional and Sustainable Development Department about the quest to kick start the use of this clean, virtually inexhaustible power supply in the region.
Creating a sustainable business is hard enough in the developed world. But in important emerging markets it can be more difficult still.
When Harish Hande set up India’s Solar Electric Light Company (Selco), in 1995 with the aim of providing cheap, clean solar energy to the nation’s rural poor, he quickly ran into a series of barriers.
Money was a big problem: India had few financial institutions willing to invest in renewable energy projects. He also needed to develop a method of distribution.