It is the mag of modern era
Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 resulting in wind and solar energy being produced at a cost equivalent to conventional sources like coal and natural gas. The US government is lighting the path to clean energy solutions at compatible rates for the world to follow.
Use of wind and solar energy for electricity generation around the world is rapidly growing with the likelihood that it would displace hydrocarbons in fifteen to twenty years. In 2015, it is expected that for the first time, Germany will generate more electricity via renewable sources like wind and solar than through its aging set of 8 nuclear reactors. Cost of electricity in Germany is historically low (half of what it is in Britain) this year consequent to wind and solar installations in the country.
China added 5 gigawatts of new solar capacity in the first three months of 2015! That is nearly equivalent to all the solar installations ever built in Spain. China is going for 17 gigawatts of new solar capacity in 2015, tying it up with Germany, currently the leading solar power in the world, with 33 gigawatts of installed capacity.
The Indian state of Maharashtra has announced a plan to nearly double its power generation from renewable energy over the next five years, with 7.5 gigawatts of solar energy and 5 gigawatts of wind by 2020. At the moment, 9% of the State’s energy comes from renewable sources and this plan would bring the total to 15%.
The United Arab Emirates plans to add 100 megawatts of new solar PV capacity soon. By 2017 the largest solar plant in the Middle East will open there with a capacity of 200 megawatts. By 2021, the UAE plans to get 24% of its electricity from renewable sources.
All this is happening because solar power and wind power are competing with hydrocarbons. Their real price is rapidly falling. There are other advantages - like end to pollution, which economists seldom figure into their formulas for profitability. If we considered this, coal, gas and oil would be the least preferred choices. There is thus an urgent need that SAARC members think on the same lines — they have immense potential which is lying untapped. The existing intra-regional energy trade is restricted to electricity between India and Bhutan and India and Nepal. The focus on sharing experiences in renewable energy solutions is still missing.
Some of the SAARC member states have considerable experience in using environment-friendly renewable energy. Examples include wind, solar and biogas plants in India, micro-hydro plants in Nepal, micro-financed rural energy in Bangladesh, grid connected small hydro installations in Sri Lanka, and hydro/solar plants in Pakistan. Policies for sharing such technologies and experiences within the SAARC region could play a positive role in reducing energy imports and air pollution and could be incorporated in policies for sustainable development, environmental protection and improvement in public health.
The geographical features of all South Asian countries, comprising a vast land mass, sea waves, bio-fuel, coal, rivers, strong winds, woods, mountains and other natural means boast of high potential for most alternatives. The current level of alternate energy use (contributing up to 12.9% of the total primary energy supply in the region) is limited and the private enterprises are exploring commercial viability. Renewable energy supply is estimated at 43% and 77% of the demand by the years 2030 and 2050, respectively that would help in Green House Gas (GHS) savings up to 560 Gigatons of CO2e.
The SAARC region is home to 23% of the total world population with a large proportion living below the poverty line. There is a wide variety in its energy resource endowments, particularly in relation to hydel, wind, solar, tidal, fossil, and other energy options including bioenergy so as to meet the requirements in different walks of life, economic activities and meeting a large portion of household energy demand across the region. The energy demand in the region is expected to grow at an annual rate of 5%, with the household and industrial sectors as the main contributors whereas the potential is far beyond the present and future needs of the region.
The clean energy potential is yet to be exploited as the countries either remain energy deficient or are not able to optimally harness & utilize their resources like Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan. The fossil fuel import dependence envisages diversification, especially for renewables. South Asia is ranked as one of the regions with lowest per capita consumption of energy particularly in the form of electricity even though the region is blessed with tremendous energy potential for generating enormous amount of electricity.
Electricity produced by South Asian countries is less than 50% of their available potential. Presently, amongst eight SAARC nations, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh are faced with an acute shortage of electricity which amounts to the tune of 40000 MW. They apply various energy mixes predominantly using imported oil, which in turn is persistently increasing their import bill. Due to 8-12 hours power cuts, the commercial businesses have to pay 35% extra by using diesel and oil generators, thus adding to their operational costs. Thus, the need of the hour is to coordinate, establish a regional pool of information and expertise and a clear roadmap by establishing the SAARC Energy Grid, wherein surplus energy could be pooled and transmitted to the country facing electricity shortage — Sustainable Energy for All in South Asia: Potential, Challenges, and Solutions (Policy Paper No. 151 by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Islamabad, Pakistan). For this South Asian nations will have to exhibit greater will for providing an enabling environment to encourage production, trade and distribution of electricity through an efficient and fair mechanism. The writers, authors of many books and partners in HUZAIMA IKRAM & IJAZ, are Adjunct Faculty Members at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).
The SAARC region is home to 23% of the total world population with a large proportion living below the poverty line.