International Project to Assess Potential of Renewable Energy

An international agency will map energy resources in 13 developing countries to demonstrate the high potential for renewable energy.

NAIROBI, Kenya, KE, 2002-01-10 [] “While the costs of renewable energies like solar and wind have been tumbling in recent years, obstacles remain to their widespread deployment, particularly in developing countries,” said Klaus Toepfer, executive director of the United Nations Education Project. “If we can accelerate the deployment of renewable energy, we can not only bring down the costs but also help in the fight against global warming and poverty.” The ‘Solar & Wind Energy Survey Assessment’ will map the solar and wind resources in Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Cuba, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sri Lanka. UNEP and the Global Environment Facility (a joint program of UNEP, United Nations Development Program and the World Bank) will provide US$7 million of the $9.3 million to fund a three-year pilot of SWERA. By providing accurate information, the project will provide investors with sites that offer reasonable financial returns. The findings will be linked with a Geographical Information System so developers can pinpoint promising locations on the Internet. “One of these is the uncertainty about the size and intensity of the solar and wind resource,” adds Tospfer. “The SWERA project aims to bridge this knowledge gap so potential investors can know, with a great deal of accuracy, the locations where they can secure a good and reasonable return.” Initial work has been undertaken in the Philippines, where the potential for wind power had been estimated at 100 MW for the coming decade. Following the survey, the estimate of potential capacity was increased to 480 MW by 2008 and 2,000 MW by 2015. The Philippine National Oil Corp conducted a pre-feasibility study for a 40 MW windfarm within six months of the completion of the atlas. Other participants in SWERA include the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, State University of New York, Danish National Laboratory, Tata Energy Research Institute and the space agencies of Germany and Brazil. The shortage of energy in developing countries is driving more people into poverty, explains UNEP, and the lack of energy resources has severe environmental consequences. The project launch precedes UNEP’s Global Ministerial Environment Forum, to be held in Colombia in February, where clean energy is expected to be high on the agenda of the world’s environment ministers. It also follows a G8 Renewable Energy Task Force report in August, which estimated that renewable energy could be delivered to one billion people by 2010 if obstacles were overcome. Negotiations over climate change are expected to prompt developed countries to seek sites in developing nations where wind and solar power can be deployed, explains UNEP. Various mechanisms will allow industrialized nations to offset their greenhouse gases emissions through green energy schemes in the developing world.
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