Moving Renewable Energy Forward in Nicaragua

 blog  Comments Off on Moving Renewable Energy Forward in Nicaragua
Sep 132012
 

Adam Dolezal and Alexander Ochs | ReVolt | 13 September 2012

Para una versión en español de este blog, por favor hacer click aquí.

Last week, the Worldwatch Institute’s Central America team – together with our partners from the INCAE Business School – convened a working group of nearly 40 renewable energy experts and decision-makers in Managua, Nicaragua. The emphasis: access to energy for marginalized communities through sustainable energy options. With presentations and participation from the government’s renewable energy office, Nicaragua’s renewable energy association, an array of rural energy initiatives, and the region’s largest wind power developer, the working group took our research and potential for impact to a new level.

Participants from the workshop The Way Forward for Renewable Energy in Nicaragua at INCAE Business School Campus in Managua, Nicaragua.

Worldwatch Director of Climate & Energy, Alexander Ochs, incited the round table forum to recall that the overarching goal of our efforts is not to promote renewable energy technology for its own sake– as so often the discussion can remain caught in technical details – but for the environmental, social and economic outcomes that clean and locally-generated energy provides. Renewable energy is a means to reach overarching policy priorities: giving access to modern energy sources, mitigating local pollution and climate change, and addressing important gender, health, and education issues. In a region where countries ship 5 to 15 percent of their GDP overseas for the import of fossil fuels-the use of which produces high additional social, environmental and economic costs- harvesting domestic renewable energy sources is a prerequisite for sustained economic growth. Continue reading »

Experts Assess Future of Renewable Energy in Central America

 newspaper interview, press release  Comments Off on Experts Assess Future of Renewable Energy in Central America
Aug 302012
 

The Worldwatch Institute and the INCAE Business School host high-level workshop on energy access and renewable energy potential in Central America

WASHINGTON – August 30 – The Worldwatch Institute (www.worldwatch.org) and the INCAE Business School’s Latin American Center for Competitiveness and Sustainable Development (CLACDS) are co-hosting two workshops on “The Way Forward for Renewable Energy in Central America” in Managua, Nicaragua and Alajuela, Costa Rica tomorrow and on September 3, respectively. The participative dialogues aim to promote the exchange of ideas and experiences among a select group of experts from regional institutions, civil society organizations, energy sector companies, and government agencies. The workshops will focus on the role of renewable technologies in broadening access to modern energy services and achieving regional development goals.
(…)
“This project is a joint effort aimed at speeding the development of renewables in Central America,” said Alexander Ochs, Director of Worldwatch’s Climate and Energy Program. “Key energy experts will gather in one room to discuss the region’s challenges and opportunities in embracing renewables, discussing state-of-the-art reforms as well as areas of local, national, and regional best practices.”

“It’s not just that all countries will need to contribute to mitigating and adapting to global climate change.” continued Ochs. “Central America can become a real leader on renewables, given the high price it pays for its current energy system—-some countries spend 10 percent or more of their GDP on importing fossil fuels. The region has also had exciting early experiences with adopting new, unconventional renewable technologies, including geothermal, solar, biomass, and wind technologies.”

The first workshop will take place at the INCAE Business School’s Managua campus from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 30, 2012. The second workshop will take place at the INCAE Business School’s Alajuela campus from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Monday, September 3, 2012.

[You can find the full announcement HERE]

 

Cambodia’s Hydro Plans Carry Steep Costs

 newspaper interview  Comments Off on Cambodia’s Hydro Plans Carry Steep Costs
Aug 202012
 

By Lawrence Del Gigante, IPS News

A fisherman on the Si Phan Don riverine archipelago of the Mekong River. Credit: Courtesy of Suthep Kritsanavarin/OxfamA fisherman on the Si Phan Don riverine archipelago of the Mekong River. Credit: Courtesy of Suthep Kritsanavarin/Oxfam

NEW YORK, Aug 18 2012 (IPS) – The Cambodian government has committed to the construction of five dams along the Mekong River in order to meet a huge demand for electricity, but environmental groups warn that severe repercussions loom for this strategy. (…)

Hydroelectricity, even if a successful venture, will not solve the country’s electrification problems, other analysts say. “Right now it is relatively catastrophic, the power situation in the country,” Alexander Ochs, the director of climate and energy at the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute, told IPS. Cambodia has one of the lowest electrification rates in Southeast Asia, estimated at only 24 percent, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The government aims to raise the national electrification rate to 70 percent by 2020, according to the ADB, by expanding the grid and sourcing more than half of the needed electricity from the Mekong River. A large complication is transmitting the electricity, with only the major cities and surrounding areas having access to power lines, meaning people in rural areas will not benefit from the hydro.

“The number of people that are really connected to a grid as we know it, a modern power service or energy line, in rural areas is as little as seven percent of the population. Overall, nationwide, it’s about 15 percent,” said Ochs. Biomass is very popular for heating and cooking, predominantly burning wood for fires and stoves. “Everything else comes from off-grid or micro-grid diesel generators and this is very inefficient and very costly, a very expensive, very dirty way to produce electricity,” said Ochs.

Currently, 91 percent of Cambodia’s power plants are fuelled by imported light diesel and heavy fuel oil, not including the diesel it takes to fuel stand-alone generators. “All of this happens in a country where you have incredible renewable energy potential. It has amazing potential for wind, very, very good potential for solar,” said Ochs. Importantly, the solar potential in Cambodia is very high where it’s needed, including in the populated areas, meaning solar technologies can be installed domestically, such as solar panels on the roofs of houses, according to Ochs.

Continue reading »