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Renewable energy could be the answer for developing countries

Renewable energy could be the answer for developing countries

Douglas J.Smith,

Managing Editor

Solar, wind and biomass are essential energy sources for the generation of electric power. According to the Finnish IVO Group, energy received from the sun alone over a period of three days is the equivalent of all the earth`s energy resources of coal, oil, natural gas and biomass. Although renewable energy systems are being utilized for electric power generation worldwide, when compared to other energy sources (such as coal, oil, natural gas and even nuclear energy), the amount of electric capacity is small.

For any country to grow economically, it must have a reliable and sufficient source of electricity. If a country is to continue growing, it must keep adding electric capacity and improving its infrastructure. Unfortunately in today`s environment, the construction of new electric power plants, transmission lines, roads and other infrastructure needs raises many questions. A major concern with the construction of new electric power plants is its effect on the environment. In addition, financing is a major problem in developing areas of the world. Because of environmental concerns, plus the shortage of funding in many instances, developing countries should consider renewable fuels.

Solar and wind are proven technologies which are now commercially available for the production of electricity. Similarly, renewable biomass fuels, produced by the sugar, woodworking and forest industries, can be used for the production of electric power. Biomass can also be used as a fuel in combined-heat and power (cogeneration) plants. In general, biomass is plentiful and relatively inexpensive.

In remote areas that lack transmission and distribution systems wind machines and solar photovoltaic systems are competitive with more conventional power plants. Solar energy can be utilized for heating water, water desalination and production of electricity. The advantages of solar power are that it is reliable and has little or no environmental impact. Although solar costs are higher, they are coming down in price.

Demand for electric energy worldwide will continue to increase, particularly in the developing nations of the world. Unfortunately, many of the countries have poor infrastructure and the per capita consumption of energy varies from country to country. In countries like Thailand and the Philippines, where the need is to supply remote villages with small amounts of electricity–50-100 kW or less–distributed electric power systems utilizing solar or wind might be the answer. Not only are they cost-effective, but they are environmentally acceptable.

With the demand for electric energy increasing throughout the world countries should look at all technology options. The potential for renewable energy systems is greatest in countries that have a need to add small amounts of power. In the developed countries of the world we take electricity for granted. However, in many areas of China and India, the inhabitants have no electricity, and it is in these areas where renewable energy systems can have the most impact for heating and supplying electricity for lighting.

Douglas J.Smith,

Managing Editor

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