100% Renewable Energy Development in the Global South

On Day 8 of our 10 Posts in 10 Days, Managing Editor M'Lisa Colbert takes a look at renewable energy initiatives in the Global South!

Renewable energy projects such as wind, solar, biomass and tidal power are changing the way the world generates electricity. Common afflictions in southern countries such as; historical dependencies on fossil and bunker fuel, electricity blackouts due to grid shortages and expensive oil and gas importation taxes are soon to be less afflicting on account of developing renewable energy projects within these regions. These projects are paving the way for more sustainable and cost effective electricity generation for the future and in some cases, involve cooperative and community ownership models that are contributing to increased civil participation and more equitable distribution of revenue. Here we take a look at a few notable projects that are improving electricity generation and distribution around the globe.    Valley View University, Accra, Ghana

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In Accra, the capital of Ghana, Valley View University is     the first ecological university and 100% renewable project of its kind on the continent of Africa. Electricity is generated from rooftop solar panels and from waste that is converted using the onsite biogas plant. The architectural master plan of the 120 hectare campus is to conserve land use and energy and create closed nutrient and water cycles that support the local economy. 

International Development Agency (IDA), Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development, Bangladesh

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The International Development Agency recently financed a project with the goal of improving the quality of life in rural areas in Bangladesh by increasing access to electricity. The project provided 600,000 people with decentralized electricity, an increase of 40% across the nation. The technological mix included solar and biomass plants using rice husk waste to generate electricity. On account of the success of the project Bangladesh has set a target of providing 1 million rural consumers with solar home systems by 2012.

Empowered by Light, Sioma High school campus, Sioma, Zambia

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The renewable energy project in Sioma Zambia on site of the Sioma high school campus is a demonstrative project commissioned by the Government of Zambia in order to demonstrate the diesel saving potential of solar grids. The solar panel system installed in this project consists of 106 panels of photovoltaic and backup battery storage—enough energy to supply 100% of the power needs on this high school campus.

According to a report published by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in 2014, South-South renewable trade is growing faster than global trade, as more developing countries are investing in renewable energy. UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner comments on this phenomenon in the report stating, "They [renewable energy] are critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing rural and off-grid energy access and improving energy security, as well as creating jobs and livelihood opportunities. This report highlights the need for targeted investments, enabling policies and capacity building to support the global transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient green economy."

Renewable energy technology is an important development tool that continues to empower and provide the Global South with greater access to modern day opportunities, all the while illustrating that global achievement of carbon neutrality and a low emissions future can be a reality and our neighbors to the south will play an important part in achieving this.   

M'lisa Colbert

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