Africa could provide a huge boost to the future of our environmental by adopting renewable sources of energy in place of coal, according the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Fatih Birol.
While many developing countries around the globe (in particular, China and India) are catching up with the western world by strongly pursuing coal to meet the demands of their ballooning populations, nations in Africa could bypass the polluting technique altogether in favour of more environmentally-friendly methods of energy extraction.
A unique opportunity
In the developed world, an energy infrastructure has been firmly in place well before the realisation dawned of what global warming could entail, meaning that measures such as the EU’s Medium Combustion Plant Directive have had to be introduced.
Elsewhere, superpowers in Asia have followed the western example of energy generation to power the homes and businesses of their rapidly increasing populations, which has propelled them to the forefront of the emissions list.
However, there are currently an estimated 700 million people in Africa who do not enjoy access to electricity. 40% of the African content have zero access, 5% are connected to a grid that never yields power and 9% more are connected but with only intermittent access. That means that more than half of the entire African population has very limited electricity.
Constructing new coal power plants is a dangerous venture, since they entail high costs, emit exorbitant amounts of contaminants and are vulnerable to becoming obsolete with the continual rise of renewables. Therefore, it makes sense to turn to a greener solution immediately.
Renewables and natural gas as a solution
With Africa a notoriously sunny continent, it’s thought that much of its energy needs can be met by the ever-more affordable power of photovoltaic cells. Solar power plants can be more easily set up to serve local communities and offer…