Nicholas Keyes, The World Bank
June 12, 2013 |
About 1.2 billion people still lack access to electricity, and 2.8 billion have to rely on wood or other biomass to cook and heat their homes, said a recent report produced by a multi-agency team led by the World Bank.
The Sustainable Energy for All Global Tracking Framework report is also clear about where the energy gap is concentrated: in Sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia. These are countries and regions where children do not have light to study at night, where communities are often insecure after dark, and where businesses lack the reliable power to get off the ground. Changing this picture will require a concerted international effort.
In response, the World Bank Group is launching a global program to help countries achieve universal energy access, as part of its support to the Sustainable Energy for All initiative. The Sustainable Energy for All Technical Assistance Program (S-TAP), with US$15 million in initial funding from the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), will start in five countries in Sub-Saharan Africa: Burundi, Guinea, Liberia, Mozambique and Senegal.
The program will deliver a comprehensive package of support to help countries expand energy access, and build a prospectus of investment-ready projects that will facilitate that expansion. Together, these are expected to catalyze further funding and investment from donors and the private sector that will allow countries to achieve universal access to electricity and safe household energy solutions by the year 2030.
“We cannot end extreme poverty without tackling energy poverty,” said S. Vijay Iyer, Director of the World Bank Group’s Sustainable Energy Department. “The low access rate in these countries is both a cause and result of poverty. Change will require investment, knowledge sharing, and a long-term, collaborative effort with governments and development partners.”
Discussions are underway to expand the program beyond the first five countries to Central America and Asia. The program will also work to support the further development of regional power pools in Sub-Saharan Africa. The program is designed to eventually extend to 20 countries, with an end goal of catalyzing access to electricity and modern cooking fuels for 200 million people by 2030.
The current participating countries are characterized by low rates of energy access. Senegal is working to double rural electrification to 50 percent by 2017, and to minimize power outages. Liberia is rebuilding infrastructure damaged by its recent civil war, but at present less than 2 percent of the population is connected to the grid – one of the lowest rates in the world.
“The scale of the challenge for these countries is daunting, but experience shows that it can be done,” said Rohit Khanna, Manager of the World Bank’s ESMAP, which will implement the program. “Take Rwanda, which was able to triple household energy access in only three years. Or Vietnam, where a generation ago fewer than 15 percent of rural homes had access to electricity. Today, over 95 percent do.”
S-TAP will focus on developing a detailed action plan and an investment prospectus for each country. The investment prospectus will determine the policy and financing support needed for each country to meet its targets, and will include pre-feasibility studies for specific investment opportunities. These opportunities are expected to cover both expanding electricity access and solutions for cleaner household cooking and heating.
Other activities include a stock-taking of current energy access programs, capacity development, and policy and regulatory advice focused on two areas:
- improving the power sector investment climate by helping countries develop more credible and predictable regulations, and adopt global procurement standards;
- improving the governance and financial viability of power companies, through better accountability, autonomy and cost recovery.
Taken together, this support is expected to lay out a clear roadmap for each country to achieve universal energy access by 2030.
This article was originally published on World Bank and was republished with permission.
Solar power has been around since the earth has had a sun, and will continue to exist as long as that remains true. In fact, we have been using solar power as long as life as we know it has been in existence.
At the very bottom of the food chain, plants convert sunlight into glucose, therefore converting solar energy into a usable form. This stored energy moves up the food chain as the plants are eaten by animals, and those plants and animals are eaten as well. What this means is that all life is powered and sustained by solar energy.
We use solar power to warm our homes, by opening the windows and letting the sunlight stream through. We use it to heat our swimming pools, to cook food, and, at the very least, to see. Solar power is nothing new—but the way that we are able to use and apply it to our everyday lives has changed dramatically in recent history.
In ancient times, houses were constructed into the side of hills and mountains to use the heat that was stored from sunlight during the day, and released after sunset. Fast forward to the late 1800’s, and a solar powered steam engine was created, along with the first solar powered water heater, and an early version of photovoltaic cells.
The price of these new inventions was too high to be feasible for use by the masses. However, following the trends of all forms of technology, the price decreased over time. Today, solar power as we know it has become more affordable, and continues to become a more viable option for homeowners everywhere.
Many consumers, even those who consider themselves greenies, won’t bother to investigate purchasing solar energy systems for their home. Even the smartest consumers among us have a difficult time understanding how solar could possibly be a viable, affordable energy choice. This disconnect happens for the simple reason that communication about the personal benefit solar can bring to a homeowner as well as the economic benefit it can bring to our nation is lacking.
We Americans are bombarded daily with news stories that support our addiction to fossil fuels. For example, there are twice as many news stories about the Keystone Pipeline and the economic benefits it might bring to America, than there are about the economic benefits that solar energy is providing. In addition there is a lot of noise made by politicians and pundits who seem almost gleeful when an American company like Solyndra fails because this supports their political viewpoint that there is no market in America for solar.
Of course, this is total nonsense. When the horseless carriage was first invented, some start-up auto manufacturers went out of business, but obviously others survived and prospered. Those who are selling the idea that solar is not ready for prime time and so should be ignored either do not know what they are talking about, or stand to benefit from killing competitors to the fossil fuel industry.
The fact is that the solar energy industry is actually booming and as a result, it is creating lots of green jobs every year. Solar industry leaders in America are working hard to make the USA a leading manufacturer and exporter of solar technologies with the goal to one day we can outperform China. However, stories about the positive economic benefits of solar are few and far between.
Solar is a technology that has been around for decades. Although the industry has been experiencing record growth, the technology itself remains stable and dependable.
Can we help you to switch to solar energy? To receive a thorough consultation to explore how solar could work for your home and budget, schedule an appointment with one of our solar consultants by clicking here: www.solareworld.com. You might be surprised by what you learn.
To stay updated on the ever improving world of solar power, follow Solar Energy World on Facebook.
There are many options for solar power installations, and the most common types are rooftop or ground mount systems that are placed on the property of the person who has purchased or leased a solar power system. However, there are other options, including community solar farms or gardens.
A community solar farm is a solar array that several members of a community invest in, and benefit from. For example, let’s say that ten families on Main Street are interested in solar power. Several of them sign up for a free solar analysis, but are told that they will need to remove several of the trees surrounding their homes, and that solar power is not a viable option for the homes at one end of the street, due to a tall business complex that casts a significant amount of shading over part of the neighborhood. Some of the neighbors do not want to remove their trees, and nothing can be done about the shading caused by the existing business complex. So, what can the homeowners on Main Street do about their desire for solar power?
The remedy for this situation is for the neighbors who are interested in solar power to choose an ideal location for a solar array, and then each invest in the construction of the project. This location could be a nearby field, or even, with the cooperation of the property owner, the rooftop of the existing business complex. The community owners of the solar power system will then each benefit from the production of the solar array, by being credited for the amount of power generated by the solar power system depending on the portion of the array owned by each household.
Community solar power is a beneficial option for people who are not in the ideal situation for solar power, such as those in the example above, or for condo owners who do not each have their own rooftop space available.
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Earth Hour will be held on Saturday, March 23, 2013 from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm. It is not specific to a certain time zone, but will be observed separately in local time zones as the clock strikes 8:30.
So what exactly is Earth Hour, and what is the point?
For the past nine years, Earth Hour has been celebrated as a symbolic act by those who wish to prevent global climate change, and reduce their impact on the environment. The idea is simple: turn off your lights for one hour, starting at 8:30 pm local time. But your commitment to the environment should not end when the hour is over, and Earth Hour is meant to last beyond the hour itself. Participants are asked to get involved as individuals, or with their communities or businesses in order to make a difference. Suggestions could be to plant trees, improve the home or workplace to be more energy efficient, or other green action of your choice, and then to spread the word and encourage others to do the same.
The Solar Holiday Photo Contest is under way, and Solar Energy World is looking for photos of solar-powered homes that are decorated for the holidays!
If you are a home or property owner that has chosen solar power, and you have decorated for the holiday season read the contest rules and submit your entry. Hurry, because all entries must be submitted by Wednesday, December 19, 2012.
All entries will be uploaded to the Solar Holiday Photo Contest Pinterest board by Solar Energy World. Vote for your favorite photos by “liking” the pins, and don’t forget to re-pin your favorites to encourage your followers to vote!
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Solar Holiday Photo Contest Rules and Entry
Solar Energy World on Pinterest: Solar Holiday Photo Contest
On the evening of Thursday, September 27th, Solar Energy World and SunPower hosted Solar Energy World’s first Solar Stars Soiree at Turf Valley Country Club in Ellicott City, Maryland. Over 100 attendees listened to presentations about solar power by some of the most influential women involved in solar and green energy, and enjoyed an evening of awards, prizes, and hors d’oeuvres to celebrate the power of women in solar energy.
The Soiree included an informative question and answer session, where attendees learned valuable information about the benefits of solar power. Featured speakers included Laureen Peck, Vice President of Marketing for Solar Energy World and moderator for the event, Ann Elsen, founder of Elsen Energy, Susan Greene, President of American Solar Energy Society, Stelli Munnis of SunPower Corporation, as well as Summer Reed and Sara Callaghan, also of Solar Energy World. Topics included financial incentives, SRECs, and the factors that caused the women of the panel to become involved in solar energy.
Homeowners listened to presentations about solar energy, the financial and environmental benefits, and the process of installing a solar power system in a home or business. In addition, Candice Stankus, a homeowner and Solar Energy World customer spoke about her experience with the company, and with solar power in general. Summer and Sara of Solar Energy World discussed SRECs, incentives, and net-metering, and attendees participated in a question and answer session with the members of the discussion panel.
Several prominent and influential attendees received the Solar Energy World 2012 POW! Award (Power of Women)
About the POW! Award Winners
POW! Award winner, Kim Parson is President of Maryland-based Automotive Collision Technologies, one of Baltimore Business Journal’s 50 Largest Woman-Owned Businesses. She is devoted to running her business with integrity when it comes to customers, and the environment.
POW! Award winner, Ann Elsen was a contributing speaker at the Solar Stars Soiree and is the founder of Elsen Energy and the Executive Director of the Howard County Green Business Association, and, as a member of several other green organizations, is a consultant to the local government on energy issues.
POW! Award-winner, Stephanie L. Dunn-Hunt is President of Dunn & Associates Public Relations, another company listed in the BBJ 50 Largest Woman-Owned Businesses. She is the sole creator of the Baltimore African-American Home & Garden Show, and has been featured in Baltimore Smart CEO Magazine.
POW! Award-winner, Lisa Ambrose is founder, President, and CEO of Tithe Corp., also a BBJ Largest Woman-Owned Business. Tithe Corp. is a green, internationally recognized, and 100% woman owned and operated business specializing in innovative HVAC solutions.
Thank you to all of our speakers and guests who attended this event that celebrated the influence of women in green technology and renewable energy! To view even more photos from the event, please visit our Solar Stars Soiree album.
By Samantha J. Majka
At Solar Energy World, we focus on bettering the planet. Usually, and most obviously, this is through the installation of solar power systems. In addition, under the umbrella of creating a better, greener planet, falls community outreach. This year, for Earth Day, Solar Energy World partnered with two Maryland schools for events that focused on educating students about the facts and benefits of solar power.
Solar Energy World representatives visited Eagle Cove School in Pasadena on Tuesday April 24th, and St. Joseph School in Cockeysville on April 25th. Students participated in a presentation by Jose Cespedes, Solar Analyst, and then competed in a race with solar powered race cars that they had built themselves.
The presentations consisted of an educational speech, a small experiment, and a question and answer session. Students also passed around mini versions of the solar panels that Solar Energy World installs on homes and buildings. We were particularly impressed with the excellent questions posed by student participants!
The second half of the events was especially exciting, as students and teachers moved outside for the solar car race. A week before the event, Solar Energy World provided solar powered race car kits to both schools, and teams of students assembled and decorated their cars. The winning teams from both schools received a prize of a pizza party provided by Solar Energy World.
Please visit Solar Energy World on Facebook to see more pictures and video of the races. A special thank you goes out to the staff of Eagle Cove School and St. Joseph School for inviting us to participate in their Earth Day celebrations.
By Samantha J. Majka
Solar power, while an attractive option for many homeowners, has been out of reach due to budget constraints. Although the price of solar panel installation has decreased significantly in recent years, homeowners still cite the initial cost as a major reason for remaining solar-free. Luckily, there is a new option that allows homeowners to reap the benefits of solar power with little to no money down. Solar leasing is now available, and for homeowners that cannot or do not wish to purchase solar panels upfront, this is a great way to make the switch to clean energy.
Anyone with approved credit can have solar panels installed, and pay a monthly fee to lease the panels. All components of the system will be covered for the duration of the lease. There are currently two different solar leasing options that homeowners can choose.
- Homeowners can opt for zero down payment, and pay a set fee to rent the panels every month. This option saves homeowners about $50 per month over what they would currently pay for their electric bill.
- There is the option to put money down, which would mean greater monthly savings. There would still be a set fee for leasing the panels every month.
At the completion of the 20 year term, homeowners can decide to purchase the solar power system at its market value, renew the lease for another term, or have the solar panels removed.
With Solar Energy World, homeowners who wish to lease are not limited in the brand or quality of panels. We offer a wide selection of high quality solar panels for a system that is uniquely customized for your home.
By Samantha J. Majka
Solar power is undoubtedly a great choice for eco-conscious homeowners that are seeking to reduce their carbon footprint. Furthermore, solar energy is free, meaning that investing in solar panels can reduce your monthly electric bill to zero dollars (or even less, with net-metering). But the benefits of solar energy reach far beyond those reasons. In fact solar installation can significantly increase the resale value of your home, meaning that not only will you be saving money now, but you can expect financial stability and security in your family’s future by increasing the value of one of your most important assets: your home.
The value of solar can be found in the fact that it reduces pollution, leading to a cleaner, better world for future generations, and it saves money, which is an obvious benefit. But the interesting thing about solar power is that its value increases over time. As the price of traditionally supplied electricity rises year after year, this translates to more money saved by using solar power. In fact, according to American Solar Energy Society, each $1000 saved in home operating expenses (such as electricity) translates to a $20,000 increase in home value.
During its lifetime your solar power system will pay for itself more than once. Even when the value of the equipment has depreciated, experience shows that homeowners will still pay more for a home with the system already installed than they will spend to buy a different home and have a system installed themselves. The appeal of solar is strong, but so is the convenience of a home that is already determined to be energy efficient, and ready to be lived in. This demand actually causes homes that are energy efficient, boasting features such as solar power systems, to sell much faster than their less efficient counterparts.
The benefits of solar are obvious, and they only stand to increase as technology improves, and as the price of conventional electricity continues to increase. Solar Energy World is available to answer your questions about going solar. Follow us @solareworld on Twitter, and “like” us on the Solar Energy World Facebook page.
By Samantha J. Majka
Here at Solar Energy World, we love the new and innovative technologies that involve solar power. In fact, we spend a lot of time blogging about the great benefits of solar energy, and how it can not only help reduce your carbon footprint, but also seriously reduce or eliminate your energy bills. However, we understand that many of our readers may be browsing the Solar Energy World website for more information regarding the basics of solar power; after all, what better place to seek information than from the fastest growing solar energy company in the mid-Atlantic region?
Think about the sun. You already know that the sun is an abundance of light and heat. Both light (electromagnetic radiation) and heat (the speed and movement of the atoms in matter) are forms of energy, and we use both of these forms of “solar energy” every day. You have probably used a simple, solar powered calculator at some point, and you may have even tried to fry an egg on the sidewalk on a hot summer day. These, and even simple activities like sitting in the sun as opposed to the shade for warmth, are ways that we use solar power. So how do you take solar energy a step further and use it to power everyday things, like your hot water heater, a solar cell phone charger, or even your entire home?
The answer is in photovoltaic or PV cells. PV cells are comprised of materials like silicon. When radiation from the sun (sunlight) hits the silicon atoms, the electrons that bond them together increase in energy and begin to move more rapidly. This increase in energy allows the affected electrons to become part of an electrical current, which then can be used to power your home. The free, negatively charged electrons that create what we know as electricity flow through our homes through the wires that make up the electrical system, as they gravitate toward a positively charged surface.
While sunlight is a constant, daily occurrence, the amount of solar panels you need to fully power your home depends on the amount and quality of sunlight that hits the panels, largely dependent on your location. It also depends on how much electricity your home uses, and the efficiency of the solar panels themselves. As technology improves, the efficiency of solar panels increases.
This information is great for the times when the sun is shining, but what about on rainy days, or when the sun sets every night? Can you still power your home with the electricity gathered from the sun?
Absolutely! Solar energy can be stored in several ways. The electricity can be stored in the same way that rechargeable batteries are charged. However, the more popular, and less expensive, way of storing solar power is through net-metering. Net-metering allows the excess electricity created using your solar panels to flow back into the existing electrical grid. When this happens, the electric meter on your house will roll backwards, like a credit on your account. If you need to use the electricity, you draw it back from the grid, and the meter will roll forward. If you do not need to use the excess energy, you may be able to sell it to the electric company.