Last week I went to the World Bank’s Energy Week in DC. It was an exciting event in which the World Bank hosted “energy and finance industry executives, senior donor and developing country government officials, stakeholders and leading-edge thinkers of the energy sector”. Seminars discussed energy efficiency, rural electrification, alternative energy resources, and climate change. The Global Energy Assessment was an interesting topic discussed by US renewable energy trade organization and private sector. If you’ve been paying attention to renewable energy there was nothing new, except the passion to engage the emerging markets.
• Solar PV construction is fast, uses established technology for low risk project development and is highly dependent on project financing.
• Subsidies distort market
• BioMass is highly risky and often needs to be balanced against the impact on the environment and food
However, a new bit of info was China considering or enacting a “feed in tariff” to spur renewable energy development. It seems that many countries are looking into the incentive plans that feed in tariffs offer in spurring renewable energy. Without a monetary reason countries that are behind the curve for energy and have a lot of capacity for pollution need to realize that renewable energy can establish energy capacity quickly in the same way cell phones now cover most of Africa rather than landlines. Some of the things I’ve been investigating with regards to projects in emerging markets is combing the carbon credit appetite for projects focused on Re in say Tanzania or Kenya. It can help to get some of the project development to the next level of negotiations. Climate change was a hot topic at this conference, with both sides of the table offering compelling thoughts. Climate change is a worldwide problem which doesn’t respect borders or differentiate between polluters and non-polluters and lack of energy prevents economic development and keeps people poor among the strongest positions.
The Rural Energy Access seminar discussed the biggest pollutants among the poor as being biomass stove cooking. Haiti is the classic example of biomass usage gone wrong. Nearly 90% of Haiti is lost to deforestation. To compare, nearly 90% of Tanzanian’s uses bio-mass to cook with, but re-growth is quick, and biological coverage extensive. dissigno’s project in Tanzania focuses on kerosene lanterns as a source of indoor air pollution. We can’t really address cooking, because it’s a sector in itself. At least most of the cooking I saw in Tanzania was done in another area or room, away from the family area. But I imagine that the woman cooking inhales quite a bit of particulate and smoke while making meals.
Based on this I attended a seminar and demonstration on cook stoves. The technology spans improved stoves made from locally available materials such as those created by a Grameen Shakti enterprise to a German company making efficient stoves and importing them to Africa for sale. Gramen Shakti’s model is impressive. Not only do they have the backing of the Grameen Bank’s network (impressive to say the least), but they use local vendors, local materials and enable the local community to gain value from the supply chain, manufacturing and service. To me it seems ideal. However, I’m sure the German stove will give it a run for their money. Their stoves appeal to the middle class as an aspirational product. The issues however, is that these improvements deal with efficient use of the same bio-mass material. I didn’t see any programs that address an investigation in renewable energy cook options.
More about electrification and micro finance tomorrow.