Switch to renewable energy to save the future

In Summary

•It has been proven beyond doubt that renewable energy can play a major role in the decarbonization of energy systems in the coming decades.

•But the question is - how fast is our production of renewable energy changing?

Wind and solar renewable energy.
GREEN ENERGY: Wind and solar renewable energy.
Image: WIKIMEDIA

Energy and to be specific green energy is important in civilization and to the prosperity of the nation’s economy.

There have been remarkable and rapid changes undergoing in the energy sources powering societies across the world and it’s no doubt renewables can meet the energy needs of many countries, corporations and citizens.

It’s quite evident that renewable energy can enable countries to strengthen their energy security and achieve greater energy independence by harnessing the vast indigenous renewable energy sources.

In my view, and over some considerable time, the energy mix of most countries across the world has become dominated by fossil fuels. This has implications for the global climate, as well as for human health – fossil fuels are responsible for large amounts of local air pollution – a health issue that leads to at least five million premature deaths each year according to available reports. To reduce the dangerous emissions and air pollution, the world needs to move towards low-carbon sources of energy – nuclear and renewables.

Why renewable energy

It has been proven beyond doubt that renewable energy can play a major role in the decarbonization of energy systems in the coming decades. But the question is - how fast is our production of renewable energy changing?

Use of green is surging and according to the International Renewable Energy Agency records show that it provides about 20 per cent of energy today, and will have to rise to 50 per cent by 2050, if countries are to meet their climate commitments.

Statistics show that electricity from fossil fuels accounts for about 25% of harmful emissions in the world, while manufacturing and transport are responsible for 21% and 14% respectively. Now, if one change could have a major impact on the climate, then it would be the change to renewable energy.

According to Irena’s annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021 shows that renewable energy’s share of all new generating capacity rose considerably for the second year in a row.

More than 80 per cent of all new electricity capacity added last year was renewable, with solar and wind accounting for 91 per cent of new renewables – isn’t a positive thing in this quest?

Switching to the world’s energy system seems like a hard and costly thing but in essence, it is way cheap more-so if factors like disasters caused by fires, hurricanes and floods are put on the table… consider the cost of treating diseases it causes, clear that changing to renewables is a no-brainer.

The global aspect

Well, a random look across the globe shows that countries are investing heavily in green energy / renewables and it’s a major step towards achieving a cleaner and healthier environment.

China and the United States of America are considered to be doing well on matters renewable energy. Two leading players investing huge in the sector – serves an example to other nations.

In Australia for instance, there were push for the country to become a ‘renewable superpower’ - thanks to its abundant wind and solar resources.

Another empirical example is Norway and France which have become a key exporter of clean electricity – the construction world’s longest subsea electricity cable that travels underwater for more than 720km, across the North Sea, until it reaches the UK is clear indicator that this is a worthy cause.

Africa is turning green Africa is on the right path with expansion going up steadily and a number of countries embracing renewables idea – with projects rolling as people realize the benefits.

Vera Songwe of UN Economic Commission for Africa, says renewable energy presents the opportunity to provide access to energy to over 70 per cent of Africans who are without access currently.

According to Ms. Songwe, the learning curve for clean energy in Africa is getting better against a background of dramatic declines in the cost of renewable energy technologies, with transformative private sector investments in countries such as Morocco, Kenya, Senegal and Zambia that have resulted in some of the best tariffs in Solar PV in the world.

Patrik Huber, co-founder and managing director for East Africa at renewables leasing company Solarise Africa once gave a clear picture of what’s happening in East Africa.

He said in Uganda, 82 per cent of businesses experience power shortages every year. In Rwanda, it is 39 per cent of companies and in Kenya, 89 per cent of businesses experience power outages every year, and firms lose an average of five per cent of the value of … total sales to electrical outages. Some individual firms report losing over 70 per cent of their sales.

Solar power provides reliable energy and drastically decreases downtime, which means that previous time and opportunities lost due to power outages can now be spent doing business, making money, and rebuilding the economy.

We narrow it down to Kenya and there is clean and a lot of it — and Kenya has already moved to start tapping the Rift Valley’s vast steam reserves. The aim of the government is to generate about 27 per cent of the country’s electrical power from geothermal sources by 2031 - the first African nation to drill for geothermal power.

Kenya’s Olkaria geothermal power plants are expected to become the largest power generation complex in Kenya and to eventually increase the share of geothermal power in the country’s supply mix to about 25 per cent.

With all factors considered and all sides of the coin checked well, renewable energy is the way to go and governments should priorities projects that enhance achievements towards the green and healthy world.

Both private and public sectors continue to invest in renewable energy projects and support partnerships for more green programs to be driven by the youth for a better environmental friendly future.

Chris DiazGroup Director Bidco Africa and Brand Africa trustee.