Despite rising commodity prices and concerns from international leaders about energy scarcities and gas costs at the pump, millions of people in Africa still do not have access to electricity.
Only three nations in West and Central Africa are on track to provide power to every citizen by 2030, according to the SDG7 agenda. In the region, 263 million people will go without electricity in ten years if things continue at this poor rate. One of the lowest rates of electricity access in the world is in West Africa, where only 8% of rural inhabitants and 42% of the general population have access to it.
These numbers—some much too large, some much too small—have serious repercussions. Enhancing people’s chances and options starts with electricity. Access is essential for increasing economic activity and helps to improve human capital, which is an investment in a nation’s future potential.
Children cannot complete their education at night without electricity. Businesspeople are unable to trade with one another or obtain market information. Even worse, as the COVID-19 epidemic has so clearly demonstrated, a lack of energy restricts hospital and emergency services, putting patients at even greater risk and tainting priceless medications.
How will West and Central Africa be powered?
Accelerating the transition to universal energy access is crucial right now in order to fuel the continent’s economic change and encourage socioeconomic inclusion. Without consistent access to electricity, a nation’s social fabric may suffer, with those without it growing weary of inequality. Here are some audacious strategies that are needed to address the energy access challenge in the African continent.
One of the things can be done is to make utilities profitable. Many electricity suppliers in the area are cash-strapped and run infrastructure and a generation fleet that is outdated and in poor condition. As a result, they are unable to provide their consumers with electricity that is both dependable and economical, much alone provide electricity to those who currently have to rely on subpar alternatives to electricity. In Sub-Saharan Africa, less than half of the utilities make back their operating costs, which causes GDP losses of up to 4% in some nations.
Lowering the cost of supply is a requirement for increasing electricity access to those who are currently without it, typically lower-income and frequently remote households. This is accomplished by improving the performance of national utilities and greening their power generation mix.
West and Central African nations must go outside their boundaries in order to further link their national utilities and grids to other systems in the area. This is a crucial second point. Without effective regional trade, many nations would be largely dependent on a small number of energy supplies and polluting generation sources, necessitating the importation of fuel at volatile international oil prices.
Last but not least, political leaders will need to dedicate a lot of time and effort to obtaining universal access to power, especially when it comes to creating laws and rules that can draw reputable investments.
Where there is energy there is life, but what if that same energy is the reason life is being destroyed? Non-renewable energy resources such as coal, oil, and natural gas have been abused extensively over the years; and not only are they detrimental to the environment, but they are bound to finish in the future. The switch over to more sustainable sources of energy has been something that has not been around for a hundred years yet, for that it could still be considered to be still in its infancy today.
Sustainable Development Goal 7 is one of 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. It aims to “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.” According to “SDG7 Energy Compact of the Republic of Lebanon”, by the year 2030, universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services should be ensured, as well as increasing substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, and expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all.
Energy in Lebanon, ever since the mid-nineties has been dominated by oil, which represents more than 95% of the primary energy consumed in 2019 (Julian & Salameh, 2022). According to Electricité du Liban (EDL), in 1995 thermal energy expenditure was 4,349 GWh only to spike drastically to 14,617 GWh in 2017. In 2019, though, there is a noticeable decline in thermal energy expenditure as it settles at 11,665 GWh; with an increase in hydraulic energy from 415 GWh in 2017 to 829 GWh, thus almost doubling in two years. As a result, we notice that slowly, but steadily, Lebanon has been shifting its focus to renewable energy sources, thus aligning with SDG 7.
Source: World Bank Global Electrification Database from “Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report” led jointly by the custodian agencies: the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency ( IRENA ), the United Nations Statistics Division ( UNSD ), the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Energy consumption in Lebanon has always been at a loss. From 1995 until 2019, Lebanon’s consumption averaged at 10,845 GWh whereas only 8,936 GWh has been averaged in production. Hence, this is where the deficiency lies. It is impossible to claim sustainability where there is an undersupply.
Despite the lack in production, Lebanon does in fact import sources of energy in order to fulfill the needs of the country in terms of electricity. That, though, does not reflect the reality of most Lebanese citizens. “For decades now, electricity has been a major issue in Lebanon. State-owned Electricité du Liban provides only two hours of electricity per day. However, some areas experience complete shut-off. Until today, the Lebanese people’s main alternative to state-provided electricity is resorting to private generators that work on diesel. Two problems emerge from this situation, the first one being the price of petroleum-related products” (Muro, 2021). Surprisingly, according to the most recent World Bank studies, in the year 2020, 100% of Lebanese have access to electricity. The reality of the situation is very different as aforementioned with privatized energy distribution becoming the norm, consequently aggravating the environmental situation.
Source:Electricité du Liban (E.D.L)
As the economic crisis intensifies day by day and energy costs rise by the hour, the more well-off portion of the Lebanese society has been resorting to alternative energy sources; mainly solar energy. Although that does not solve the problem per-se, it has spurred a mass transition as NGOs have hopped on board to provide solar panels to less-abled communities. As a result, more and more people have been stopping their memberships with alternative providers (generators).
It comes as no surprise, switching to solar energy. It is a step that is long overdue, and as the saying goes “necessity is the mother of invention”. Even though it is not exactly an invention, but through necessity, Lebanon is slowly becoming more sustainable! Lebanon has a lot of natural resources such as wind and water. However, the most interesting and important natural asset is the abundant sunshine, making solar energy in Lebanon the ideal alternative to consider for Lebanon to get out of the electricity crisis. Using solar energy in Lebanon saves money for the Lebanese people whose private generators’ cost keeps on increasing. In fact, for 12 hours of electricity a day, the fuel cost for private generators can be as high as $550 per day. Although the installation of solar panels is expensive as well, it is an investment. If someone pays $550 per day on fuel, installing solar panels will reduce their cost to around $140 per day. (Monzer, 2022)
Yet another possible solution, straying from the tradition of utilizing natural resources, is the use of yet another crisis Lebanon suffers from. The trash situation has been plaguing the country for years now and it is possible, with the right funding from the right individuals and associations to begin collecting this trash and transferring it to specialized factories that will in turn use it in order to produce energy. This long term investment thus solves two issues simultaneously, while providing job opportunities for many locals.
It is of the utmost importance in Lebanon to deviate away from oil as a main fuel for energy and depend more on renewable energy from resources such as sun, wind and water. In Lebanon up to 4.5% of electricity comes from hydropower and up to 95.5% from oil. Abiding by the goals set in the SDG 7 is a surefire way to take the appropriate steps to building a society in which sustainable energy is the norm. Despite being a long way from sustainable; with the aid of the diaspora, concerned NGOs, and the local community, it is possible to make use of nature’s bounties, which are plentiful in the 10,452 km2 of mountainous rushing streams, gusting winds of the vast planes, and the showering sunlight reaching every corner of the nation.
Year after Year, temperatures rise across the world with an increase in the overall emissions of CO2 and other gases correlated with global warming. Sea levels are at risk of rising, climate change is on the rise, increased risks of droughts and floods and threats to biodiversity. All this as a consequence of global warming and finally putting people’s lives at risk and the survival of the world. Although we have a solution available, we are not efficiently relying on it neither optimizing its use. SDG 7 requires a world responsibility towards providing accessible and clean energy sources, one of our key responsibilities is to ensure that we reach this goal adequately by the year 2030.
“Amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is 50% more than the 1900s.”
“Temperatures increasing yearly, and summers getting hotter.”
These are words repeated by people over and over, but are we reacting?
The following shows the rise in temperatures.
The root problem!
Global warming was identified as a global issue during the 1980s, during the year 1988 world hottest summers were recorded. Since then, hotter summers have been recorded, increasing temperatures are still being recorded along continuous increase in CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable energy was first explored in 1927 through wind turbines, although such resources are available, they are still not used adequately to encounter the rising temperatures issue. Renewable energy resources are available, but their usage is not improving.
Are we sufficiently using them?
World resources institute states that renewable energy resources emit 50g or less of CO2 emissions per KWh over their lifetime, compared to about 1000g CO2/KWh for coal and 475g CO2/KWh for natural gas.
Renewable and clean energy resources such as solar power, wind power, hydro power or nuclear power are highly available and further resources could be developed. Current resources are not efficiently used along with no clear plans or transition to more clean energy resources. On the other hand, not all countries or people have appropriate access to clean energy resource neither the resources or accommodations required to develop them.
The infrastructure and development of renewable energy is highly costly, but costs for using such energy on the long-term are cheaper, current fossil fuel prices are set to be cheaper as the pollution consequences and carbon-fee are not interpreted into the pricing strategy of gases and fossil fuels. Governments and Organizations are avoiding the transition due to its high costs but at the cost of polluting and putting high risks on our environment our health and survival of earth.
A clear rise in CO2 emissions accompanied by a decrease of renewable energy consumption is shown and identified by world development indicators.
Optimizing usage of currently available clean energy resources and services.
Increase the availability of clean energy sources and reliance on them across different sectors and industries.
Raise Awareness on the problem “that we have the resources and capabilities needed to reduce global warming” but we are not efficiently using them.
Raise Awareness about the risks and effects of global warming along with the quick rate it is happening at.
Governments and World organizations planning strategies to increase the use of renewable enerygy and conducting awareness campaigns to influence the public and future image.
If we don’t protect our environment and nature, we can’t protect ourselves. Floods, drought, higher rates of contamination, increased health risks and the slow death of our planet are the cost of using cheaper resources.
“Most air pollution comes from energy use and production,” says John Walke, director of the Clean Air Project which is part of the Climate and Clean Energy program at the National Resources Defense Council. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that each year, air pollution is the major cause of the death of nearly seven million people on Earth. Air pollution has several causes such as:
Burning fossil fuels
CO2 and other greenhouse gases emissions
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, it is estimated that deaths due to the devastated air quality will continue to rise till 2100 and the economic value of the health benefits was estimated to be between $50 and $380 for each ton of carbon dioxide emitted.
Ever since the industrial revolution, there was an outbreak of industries in all fields ranging from mechanical production to electrical to technical. All these productions relied mostly on heavy machinery that in fact, combusted energy sources (such as fuel, oil, diesel…) and in a complex series of chemical reactions, released gases. One of those gases is Carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 by itself is not bad because it is a needed chemical in nature. However, CO2 levels in the air have been increasing drastically to the point that they have become one of the major sources in air pollution, according to MDPI.
Carbon Dioxide from electricity production:
According to the World Nuclear Association, almost 40% of the energy-related CO2 emissions are due to burning of the fossil fuels for electricity production. Because a huge part of electricity production depends on burning fuels, there will be a mass of CO2 emitted to the air. This in turn leads to high CO2 emissions, especially from the countries that depend completely on burning fuels to produce electricity. The visuals below demonstrate and prove that the regions that had the highest CO2 emissions from electricity and heat production in 2014 tended to have the highest air pollution rates. The Carbon dioxide emission rates were highest in the middle east, east Africa and east Asia compared to the low numbers of North America and Europe. The same former countries had the highest air pollution rates (PM2.5) compared to the latter. Therefore, we can conclude that the higher the dependency on fuel combustion for energy production, the higher the CO2 emission rates, the higher the air pollution rates. On the long run, this can have devastating effects on the nature, climate and humans.
What can be done?
After governments realized the devastating effects of the gaseous emissions on the air quality and on humans in general, several attempts were done, such as awareness programs among the youth, restrictive laws and advertising. However, these attempts tackled the tip of the iceberg of the problem. A solution is needed to solve the problem deep from within the roots, to prevent it from happening in the first place. Producing energy from renewables could be a potential solution. The most common renewable power technologies are through Solar, wind, biogas, geothermal, low-impact hydroelectricity and biomass. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, generating energy from renewable sources reduces air pollution, diversifies energy supply and creates economic development.
To reduce the gaseous emissions and air pollution, several countries tried to develop their technological and scientific knowledge of renewable energy production as saw a promise in using renewables, that could one day, be substituted for fuel combustion to produce energy. In fact, developed countries such as USA and the EU countries took serious initiatives to use renewable energy production. The below figures show that countries that increased their electrical energy production from renewable sources over the time period of 2005-2014 had the least air pollution rates in 2014. The EU countries and North America had the highest dependency on using renewables to produce electricity compared to the middle east, east Africa and east Asia and the former regions in turn had air pollution rates that are much lower.
Renewable energy production, therefore, is a clean energy source that can reduce Carbon dioxide emissions and in turn lead to a better, sustainable and a healthy planet that has a rich and high air quality.
THE 17 GOALS: Affordable and clean energy in australia:
CO2 emissions is one of the hottest topics nowadays especially in Australia where they are suffering from the high emission of CO2. CO2 leads to many problems in the atmosphere warms the planet, causing climate change.
In the last 30 years the emission of CO2 in Australia has been increasing significantly, that line chart here shows the trend of consecutive increase over the years.
Energy-related CO2 emissions is increasing by years This is abundantly seen when we examine emissions from energy generation in Australia. We can see here that the CO2 emission increase significantly as more electricity is generated where more than 30% increase in the CO2 emission generated from the electricity production.
The coal in Australia plays an important role in it economy and that what made Australia so rich, the high availability of that natural resource.
It’s well known that the coal is used worldwide for electricity production, as Australia is one the richest country in coal resources them energy-related carbon emissions from coal resources have risen to arrive to a maximum of 84% which was primarily due to rising energy consumption in Australia.
The CO2 emission from electricity and heat production followed an incremental trend until 2001 where it started to fluctuate that is caused as we can see to the decrease in the electricity production from coal sources here a new line shows up that stated to going upward but at very shy way that is the electricity production from renewable sources.
the renewable energy consumption in Australia is 10.13% of total final energy consumption at the end of 2019 which is considered very low considering Australia as a developed country only a small portion of that 10.13 is used to produce electricity as we can see in 2014 9.32% is the renewable energy consumption of total final energy consumption only 7.5% of that is used to produce electricity.
So, what are the barriers for Australia for not up taking renewable energy?
Some consumers and companies may be unaware that installing solar panels might help them save money and hence fail to analyze the potential. They may also lack a reliable installation and are unsure how to locate an appropriate provider.
The cost of capital
For many individuals, the initial capital expenditure of solar panels is a substantial barrier to realizing the financial benefits of free power.
People may be aware that installing solar panels is a good idea, but they may have other priorities that must be addressed first.