Alternative Energy in Developing Countries: New U.N. Report
a Ghanaian woman
A United Nations environment agency survey has revealed the potential for renewable energy in some of the world's developing countries is much greater than previously thought. The UN Environment Agency (UNEP)'s four-year project to map the solar and wind resources of 13 countries has discovered thousands of megawatts of new renewable energy waiting to be unleashed in Asia, Africa, and South and Central America
"In developing countries all over the world we have removed some of the uncertainty about the size and intensity of the solar and wind resource," said UNEP executive director Klaus Toepfer. "SWERA (The Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment) is a good example of international cooperation that can produce a range of positive environmental and social outcomes. In the case of renewable energy, knowledge is literally power."
"SWERA (The Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment) has clearly demonstrated that the modest amounts needed to support renewable energy assessments can significantly change the way countries pursue their energy goals," said SWERA's project manager Tom Hamlin.
The countries where SWERA has carried out surveys to date are: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Cuba, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sri Lanka.
China alone has the potential for more than 100,000 megawatts of renewable power, while Brazil also has large amounts, according to the study.
Small countries also have surprising potential. Sri Lanka has a wind power potential of 26,000 megawatts, which is 10 times the country's installed electricity capacity.
Windy Lake Nicaragua gives the small Central American country 20,000 megawatts of potential renewable power.
In Guatemala, wind estimates before SWERA were mostly unknown, but is now estimated at 7000 megawatts, based on SWERA products. The Guatemala Ministry of Energy has established, with support from SWERA, the Center for Renewable Energy and Investment within the Ministry to carry out validation studies and identify sites for wind energy development.
The benefits for each country differ. "If you look at China and Brazil they're going to be manufacturing the (renewable) plants and there are big economic benefits in that," said Hamlin. "And there are broad economic benefits for the smaller countries," he said. "Instead of always importing petroleum they would have domestic resources so they would save on the costs and risks of having petroleum prices fluctuate wildly."
In the African country of Ghana, where the SWERA study discovered more than 2,000 megawatts of wind energy potential, this is "quite a significant amount" according to UNEP, as it estimates that Africa need just 40,000 megawatts of electricity to power its industrialisation.
Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment Website