Renewable Energy: A Stimulus for Development

On February 12 and 13, the Second Annual CTED Conference took place in Abu Dhabi, titled: “Enhancing Economic Development through Technology: Focus on Africa and other Developing Countries”. Read below CTED PhD student Emilia Soldani’s post on the Energy Panel.

“Representatives from the Volta River Authority – the main generator and supplier of energy in Ghana, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Masdar Institute for Science and Technology discussed the current state of renewable energy and how technology can bring about scientific advancement in the lives of the poor. Among the examples cited were solar-powered or handle-rechargeable cell phones or high efficiency, low risk stoves.

The panel’s main message was that renewable energy, besides being clean, is sustainable and safe and can also be a powerful stimulus for development, by ensuring employment and energy autonomy. This is especially true if it comes as the result of an endogenous market-led process, rather than from aid-sustained projects. In developed countries high switching costs are still used as an excuse to delay conversions. Underdeveloped countries, however, do not have secure access to carbon fossil energy and that represents an additional incentive for them to invest in solar, wind, geothermal and hydro power.

In the past decade, world energy consumption has increased sharply and is likely to keep growing. One-fifth of the world’s population currently has no access to electricity and, accounting for primary and secondary consumption, the largest consumers use up to 138 times more energy than the smallest. More than 80% of global energy supply is produced from fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal) and the intense use of coal for heating and cooking in Sub-Saharan Africa creates a serious hazard in terms of domestic accidents and poisoning.

North Africa and the Middle East share the highest solar resources. However, hydro power constitutes 16% of the world’s electricity supply, including large projects underway in China and Ghana, and geothermal energy, with large scale projects like the Takoradi plant in Ghana, have shown rapid growth.  In addition, wind power, is very location-specific, with South Africa being the country with the greatest generation volumes in Africa.”





About CTED

CTED, as part of the New York University Abu Dhabi Research Grant, is a multidisciplinary research lab that focuses on combining economic principles, technological advances, and human-centric design to create innovative solutions for the problems experienced in emerging regions.
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