Renewable energy a solution for both developed and developing nations

Posted on 17 October 2013

Governments across the globe are still innovating ways to incorporate renewables into their national energy mix.

This process presents challenges for both developed and developing economies. Perhaps the biggest question for poor countries remains how to make new technologies affordable for citizens, many of whom live on $1 a day. And for wealthy nations, such as Japan, the introduction of renewables has become a necessity following the 2011 accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

For Lebanon’s government, some of those answers were found in already existing financing structures. Pierre El Khoury, Director the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (LCEC), said renewable energy became “a serious alternative to [diesel] generators and blackouts.” That was thanks to zero-interest loans that the central bank gave to citizens who gave up generators in favor of solar panels. El Khoury said Beirut is hoping to expand its renewables policies by working with the national bank to start offering “green energy” loans to more power deprived Lebanese.

The Algerian government also has found success installing solar panels to communities that are not connected to the national grid. “By 2030, we will make solar energy count for 40% of our energy mix,” said Noureddine Boutarfa, CEO of Sonelgaz. So far, solar panels have delivered electricity to 18 villages and there are plans to introduce the technology to other desert communities. Boutarfa added that Algeria is an ideal country for further innovations in renewable resources since it enjoys 3,000 hours of sunlight a year.

Following the Fukushima nuclear accident, the future of Japan’s energy policy has become unclear. Nuclear power was expected to supply half of Japan’s total energy needs, but that is now impossible, according to Kenji Yamaji, Director General of RITE in Japan. Japan “must fill the gap and renewables will play an important role,” he said. This may mean the use of solar panels could see an even greater increase during the upcoming years as Japan tries to devise a new energy strategy. However, the recent return to power of the Liberal Democratic Party could mean a return to a nuclear driven policy, Yamaji added.

Clear policies and government regulations are basic essentials to implementing a successful renewable energy mix into a nation’s power grid, said Jose Luis Aburto, Planning Director of Mexico’s Federal Electricity Commission (CFE). But, he added, what works in one region doesn’t always mean the same results can be achieved in another. The strategy “has to be designed for the needs of the community” and depends on mature technology that can reliably produce energy.

 

This news story is based on the What Does It Take? session, “Renewables: Making the business case for distributed energy”, at the 2013 World Energy Congress.