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«Published Annually Vol. 6, No. 1 ISBN 978-0-979-7593-3-8 CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS Sawyer School of Business, Suffolk University, Boston, Massachusetts ...»

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5. Energy use and economic development generally rise in parallel (Lior, 2011). It is not possible for underdeveloped economies to grow without increase sources of energy.

6. Energy is required for water harvesting and cleaning. Absent energy to drive wells or filtration processes, dirty water contaminates and kills millions of children and adults per year. Moreover, the very act of collecting water, a job that falls

Conference papers © Knowledge Globalization Institute, Pune, India, 2012

primarily to women and children, is one that in many developing areas is exceptionally dangerous due to rape, murder, and kidnapping.

7. Rural electrification is a necessary prerequisite to increased farm yields via irrigation, increased harvesting hours, etc.

8. Energy for transportation, goods distribution, and human movement requires an infrastructure that is lacking in many developing countries—particularly in the rural areas. As this infrastructure is lacking in most developing economies, having sources of energy that are indeed local—such as sunshine and wind—means that transportation costs can be reduced and goods can be transported greater distances and more quickly.

9. Energy costs and availability are the largest impediments to economic growth in developing countries. As the demand for energy continues to rise, the cost of the remaining supply will rise as well.

In fact, so interconnected is energy in general and human development (including economic development) that the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change has set a goal to ensure universal access to modern energy services by 2030. Moreover, and specifically addressing renewable energy, the UN secretary general has indicated that adoption of renewable energy can substantially help developing countries reach the millennium development goals established by the UN in 2000. (UNDP, October 2010) (Please see Appendix A for more information about the relationship between energy and the MDGs.)

Why Renewable Energy?

Renewable energy, rather than conventional sources driven by fossil fuels, will provide increased competitive advantage for developing countries for various reasons. Most simply, developing countries are in the position of providing more than 50% of the world’s capacity for renewable energy simply by dint of their climate and geographical locations. Sunshine, wind, and water (via oceans) are abundantly available in most of Africa, Asia (including the Indian sub-continent), and Latin America where the largest percentage of the developing world resides (Johnkingsley, 2011). As the needs for energy continue to escalate throughout the developed world, the countries that have developed cutting edge renewable energy technologies will be in the best position to divest themselves from dependence on fossil fuel technologies as well as to market their renewable energy portfolios to wealthier countries. More importantly, many renewable energy sources can be installed with much more limited capital investment than required for the creation of large centrally located generation and transmission systems (e.g., coal plants.) The installation of these sources of energy generation and distribution are also expected to increase the number of jobs available. Most importantly it is expected that the cost of fossil fuels will continue to rise as demand the world over increases making these sources of energy less viable (i.e., more expensive).

Typically when speaking of renewables the sources of generation are solar, wind, geothermal, hydro (i.e.water via tidal generation or dams), and biofuels. In fact, throughout the developing world there is a relatively large reliance on hydroelectric power and biofuels already (Martinot et al, 2002). The challenges faced by these are the distribution channels that are antiquated and inefficient. Additionally, most of these systems are currently distributed via a grid system (i.e., a centralized network) of power distribution. The limiting factors of these large systems are that they are capital intensive and most generally used in areas of high population density. While this has been the recent means of power distribution, historically renewables have been the major source of power (Edinger & Kaul, 2000). As solar and wind are available everywhere they therefore provide opportunities for a more decentralized—or distributed—energy network. This has tremendous benefits in the developing world because it requires less capital, less infrastructure, and can reach the large rural populations that must be included in electrification in order to meet future economic and human challenges (UNDP, 2011). Moreover, because distributed systems don’t necessarily require as significant an infrastructure investment, they can be sized to meet local demands. That is, via decentralized energy models of power generation and distribution, small and micro energy systems can be developed that are specifically targeted to the needs and desires of local communities—a critical factor for both economic success and cultural acceptance of new energy systems.

Successful Renewable Energy Practices

Qurashi and Hussain (2005) indicate that most successful rural renewable energy projects can be classified into 5 areas of application: residential and community lighting, small industry, agriculture, cooking & water heating and transportation (alternate fuels). Their exhaustive research indicated that there are over 1.1 million solar home systems installed with India (450,000), China (150,000), and Kenya (120,000) leading in such adoptions. Komatsu, Kaneko, & Ghosh (2011), studying solar home systems in Bangladesh, found that their adoption reduced household consumption of kerosene and dependency on rechargeable batteries resulting in cost savings of 20-30% per month. Seeing these cost savings and the increase availability of

Conference papers © Knowledge Globalization Institute, Pune, India, 2012

electrically driven products (e.g., lighting, TV) 60% of the programs neighbors indicated their desire to adopt solar powered homes as well. The researchers concluded that even though the scale of single solar powered homes is small, the benefits for each household are substantial.

In a somewhat dated report, Martinot et al. (2002) provide documentation of numerous renewable energy programs in developing countries. In rural residential areas they found that over 50 million households are served by small-hydro village scale grids providing electricity to power lighting, TV, radio, and telephony. They found another 10 million households getting lighting powered by biogases and more than 1 million homes powered by solar photovoltaics and wind. They also report that up to 60,000 small enterprises are powered by small-hydro village-scale mini-grids and that tthousands of communities receive drinking water from solar PV-powered purifiers/pumps. They also report over 10 million households have solar hot water systems for cooking and hot water.

As indicated in the previous examples, the successful adoption of renewable energy programs and projects in the developing world range from micro-scale individual user projects (e.g., PV lighting for individual homes) to macro grid enabled projects (e.g., large-scale wind farms) and everything in between. Scale (large, small, & micro) and source of power (solar, wind, oceans) are not the only distinguishing factors in examining renewable energy projects. Sponsorship, that is, pubic, such as government orchestrated, private such as via NGOs, non-profits, and for-profit institutions, or a combination of both, also distinguishes types of projects being run successfully. Below, examples of various programs in different geographical areas are provided to acquaint the reader with the variety of options available.

Government Projects. Throughout Africa there are numerous governmentally sponsored renewable energy projects taking place. Most specifically, Nigeria, Ghana, and Senegal are very active in launching projects to meet their countries’ energy needs.

In Ghana the government is supporting rural electrification via the installation of solar photovoltaics. The government is also providing new more highly efficient stoves to be used in homes to result in more efficient consumption of biomass. Nigeria is investing in large scale projects that will generate electricity from wind and sun. Senegal is supporting both large and small scale solar developments (Ogunleye, 2008). India is investing in mid-size solar generation plants and is also supporting he adoption of micro-projects such as the distribution of solar-powered led lights. Mauritania is in the process of building additional facilities to generate biomass energy production. Of course, China has the most active program of all as the country is currently growing its renewable energy generation at a rate of 20% per year.

NGO Projects. The World Bank, the World Economic Forum, the United Nations and other multilateral international organizations are all involved in pushing for increased investment in and deployment of renewable energy technologies.

Generally, these programs are large scale and the aim is increased industrialization and job creation. The United Nations Development Programme specifically works with developing countries to enhance capacity in 3 key areas: strengthening national policy, mobilizing and expanding financing options, developing effective approaches for scaling energy service generation and delivery at the local level. As of 2010, this institution was mobilizing action to expand access to modern energy services to 36 million households by 2015. Programs included smokeless stoves in Pakistan, biogas technology in India, and PV technology in Tanzania and the Dominican Republic. Similarly, many large local organizations within various countries as well as multilateral economic development councils are doing the same. The aims here are mixed (industrialization and human development) with the emphasis on agriculture and community employment. Small local non-profits are also involved in encouraging renewable energy. The focus for these organizations tend to be on the human rights, poverty, education, and health issues that are tied to lack of economic development.

Private Projects. These types of projects also take multiple forms. There are large for-profit business projects the world over just as there are small business and micro-business approaches. There are also an increasing number of non-profit organizations that are established with the goal of alleviating human suffering via access to energy. An interesting example of this is the combination of organizations established in India by Dr. Ranganayakulu Bodavala, the founder of Thrive, an NGO that works to give tribal people more access to technology. He developed a series of LED-based lighting solutions to address a range of home and institutional lighting needs for rural areas. As part of the project, he created Thrive Energy Technologies a company to manufacture these LED lights on a large scale. The lights are distributed through the non-profit organization, One Child One Light whose mission is to provide every child in India with a study light that is “bright, not polluting, dependable and economical by the year 2014” (p. ). At a much smaller scale is the new business funded in the United State called Angaza Design. This company, less than 1 year old, was started for the purpose of selling solar powered lighting and charging systems in East Africa (Bloomberg Business Week and angazadesigns.com.).

Conference papers © Knowledge Globalization Institute, Pune, India, 2012

Combination projects. Not surprisingly, alliances of government, business, non-profits, and local community leaders tend to result in the most comprehensive and successful new energy programs. For example, the recently implemented “KUDURA” project, operating in Western Kenya will offer community utility services that create jobs, alleviate poverty, curb deforestation and reduce carbon emissions. This will be accomplished by holistically combining solar photovoltaic panels, water purification and biodigester technology which will replace the need for dirty charcoal, kerosene and wood and provide electricity, clean water, and biogas for cooking and biofertiliser for crops. (Alliance for Rural Electrification, 2011). A different joint venture in Sri Lanka seeks to promote rural economic development via a renewable energy project sponsored by the Sri Lankan government, the World Bank, Global Environment Facility and a local bank.


There are, not surprisingly, numerous barriers to the adoption of renewable energy technologies for economic development.

Mizra, Ahmad, Harijan, and Majeed (2009) identify these as: technological, policy/regulatory, cost/pricing, institutional, market performance, and informational/social. Of these, the least problematic is technological as the improvements in and advancements to solar, wind, and other renewable technologies are happening at a very fast rate. The most problematic, however, are also the most difficult to address—government regulations/legal structures and local knowledge/customs that are antagonistic to change.

Nonetheless, there are some key practices that can help in the implementation of such programs. They must be locally culturally acceptable. That is, the location, maintenance, and use of technology must not go against local norms. Secondly, all key stakeholders must be consulted and buy into the program. This will include both official and unofficial leaders as well as the consumers, competitors, suppliers and of course, regulators. The choice of energy technology must be appropriate for the resources available and the local skill set to administer it. Clearly, solar installations will not be efficient in areas with heavy cloud cover and rainfall. Similarly, areas with too much wind are just as problematic as those without enough in locating wind propelled generators. Projects that allow for the generation and distribution of energy on a local distributed basis will be more successful as people feel more psychological ownership of local projects that they can see. Finally, for wide-scale adoption of renewable energy technologies to work, it must be rooted in social change.


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