• 1 hour India, China, U.S., Complain Of Venezuelan Crude Oil Quality Issues
  • 6 hours Kurdish Kirkuk-Ceyhan Crude Oil Flows Plunge To 225,000 Bpd
  • 10 hours Russia, Saudis Team Up To Boost Fracking Tech
  • 16 hours Conflicting News Spurs Doubt On Aramco IPO
  • 18 hours Exxon Starts Production At New Refinery In Texas
  • 19 hours Iraq Asks BP To Redevelop Kirkuk Oil Fields
  • 2 days Oil Prices Rise After U.S. API Reports Strong Crude Inventory Draw
  • 2 days Oil Gains Spur Growth In Canada’s Oil Cities
  • 2 days China To Take 5% Of Rosneft’s Output In New Deal
  • 2 days UAE Oil Giant Seeks Partnership For Possible IPO
  • 2 days Planting Trees Could Cut Emissions As Much As Quitting Oil
  • 2 days VW Fails To Secure Critical Commodity For EVs
  • 2 days Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Finally Approved
  • 2 days Iraqi Forces Seize Control Of North Oil Co Fields In Kirkuk
  • 2 days OPEC Oil Deal Compliance Falls To 86%
  • 2 days U.S. Oil Production To Increase in November As Rig Count Falls
  • 3 days Gazprom Neft Unhappy With OPEC-Russia Production Cut Deal
  • 3 days Disputed Venezuelan Vote Could Lead To More Sanctions, Clashes
  • 3 days EU Urges U.S. Congress To Protect Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 3 days Oil Rig Explosion In Louisiana Leaves 7 Injured, 1 Still Missing
  • 3 days Aramco Says No Plans To Shelve IPO
  • 5 days Trump Passes Iran Nuclear Deal Back to Congress
  • 5 days Texas Shutters More Coal-Fired Plants
  • 6 days Oil Trading Firm Expects Unprecedented U.S. Crude Exports
  • 6 days UK’s FCA Met With Aramco Prior To Proposing Listing Rule Change
  • 6 days Chevron Quits Australian Deepwater Oil Exploration
  • 6 days Europe Braces For End Of Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 6 days Renewable Energy Startup Powering Native American Protest Camp
  • 6 days Husky Energy Set To Restart Pipeline
  • 6 days Russia, Morocco Sign String Of Energy And Military Deals
  • 7 days Norway Looks To Cut Some Of Its Generous Tax Breaks For EVs
  • 7 days China Set To Continue Crude Oil Buying Spree, IEA Says
  • 7 days India Needs Help To Boost Oil Production
  • 7 days Shell Buys One Of Europe’s Largest EV Charging Networks
  • 7 days Oil Throwback: BP Is Bringing Back The Amoco Brand
  • 7 days Libyan Oil Output Covers 25% Of 2017 Budget Needs
  • 7 days District Judge Rules Dakota Access Can Continue Operating
  • 8 days Surprise Oil Inventory Build Shocks Markets
  • 8 days France’s Biggest Listed Bank To Stop Funding Shale, Oil Sands Projects
  • 8 days Syria’s Kurds Aim To Control Oil-Rich Areas
Alt Text

Is Hydrogen Fuel As Dumb As Musk Thinks?

Hydrogen fuel cells have been…

Alt Text

Russia To Become A Leader In Energy Storage

Russia, normally a hub of…

Alt Text

Richard Branson To Invest In Elon Musk’s Hyperloop One

Britain’s Virgin Group boss has…

Juan Cole

Juan Cole

Juan runs the popular geopolitics blog Informed Comment where he provides an independent and informed perspective on Middle Eastern and American politics.

More Info

Green Energy's Positive Impact on the World's Poor

Renewable energy is often thought of as an initiative of advanced, sane countries such as Portugal and Germany. But there is another arena where green energy is making an impact– on the lives of the world’s poorest populations, in the global South. For them, it is not a luxury or prudent planning for the future or a dutiful attempt to save the planet from the looming catastrophe of climate change fuelled by humans pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Rather, it is a way of solving their present, low-tech energy crisis.

Kevin Bullis explains that many villagers use expensive kerosene for cooking and heating, and to fuel lamps for light. Cell phones have spread rapidly in Africa and Asia (where often there is no grid of copper wires or underground fibre optic cables and so mobile phone towers allow them to leapfrog to a newer technology). But given that many villagers do not have electricity, they have to take their phones to private charging centres and pay an arm and a leg for the recharging.

Both kerosene and the private charging stands can be replaced right now, in the present, with cheaper solar batteries. For light, solar-powered light-emitting diode (LED) panels are much cheaper than light bulbs powered by burning kerosene.

Even the Economist agrees that for the 1.6 billion human beings not already connected to the electrical grid, renewable energy is now cheaper for them than carbon-fueled electricity. Kenyan families, for instance, pay $10 a month for kerosene, and $2 a month to charge their cell phones. A British company is now allowing them to buy via an installment plan a solar set that costs them less than $12 a month, so that in 18 months they will own it. They can then, if they like, take some of their savings and get a larger solar set with more power generating ability.

In India, too, the poorest are getting access to solar cells. Since 2007, India has doubled its green power ability, from 10 gigawatts to 22 gigawatts. It may be investing more in research on renewable energy than any other nation. In 2011, India put $10 billion into this sector.

Likewise, Nicaragua’s commitment to green energy is such that that Central American country is hoping to get almost all its electricity from renewables by 2016. Admittedly, it will accomplish a good deal of this goal with a traditional hydro-electric generating plant rather than primarily with wind and solar. But the latter are an important part of the energy mix in Nicaragua. Going green is not only cheaper than increasingly expensive oil, but has other benefits as well. It discourages villagers from burning down the forest for wood to burn.

It is likely that the cost of solar power generation will cross with that of hydrocarbons sometime in the next 5 - 10 years, even for the advanced countries. Because they don’t have a built-out grid and because even an electric light is expensive for them, the villagers of the global South are pioneers of the new, renewable world.

By. Professor Juan Cole

Juan runs the popular geopolitics blog Informed Comment where he provides an independent and informed perspective on Middle Eastern and American politics.




Back to homepage


Comments currently closed.

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News