Opinion: low cost, high capacity

The first time I heard the phrase, low cost, high capacity, was at a town hall meeting at my place of work. The term is used to refer to projects that involve improving and or increasing the working dimensions of a manufacturing vessel(s), as opposed to investing to replace the vessel(s) entirely, thereby reducing the cost. I found this concept interesting and wondered if this philosophy can be applied in energy development in Africa.

Often times, it is expressed that large budget energy projects are needed to help bring energy development to the continent. Now I do not disagree with that, but what about small-scale projects? Projects that are aimed to bring sustainable development to a community as opposed to a large group of communities. The large scale projects can be designed to meet energy demands of the highly-populated areas, and the small-scale projects can be used perhaps to supply the energy demands of the lesser number population, i.e the off-grid population.

Any thoughts?

Article: EnergyNet “Wind for Prosperity” project

This commentary is based on the post by EnergyNet, and the “Wind for prosperity” project, which is an initiative to provide electricity through wind power generation to the some of the off-grid population in Africa. EnergyNet is an investment entity in the United Kingdom consisting of researchers and professionals in Africa who focus on projects in energy and infrastructure in the continent. To read the full post about the project and to learn more about EnergyNet, please click on the link below.

http://www.energynet.co.uk/news/energynet-calls-african-energy-ministers-support-wind-prosperity

The initiative by EnergyNet seeks the attention of the leaders in energy across the African continent to heavily consider the project, which will yield to provide wind power generated electricity to citizens who are off the grid. Wind power has been around for quite some time, with farmers using wind-mills to convert the energy of the wind into power to grind grains to generate electricity. This technique has been applied in more recent times into wind turbines that harness wind energy and directly convert into electrical power. For information on how wind power is used an energy source, the link below can help to shed light;

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/science/ocr_gateway/energy_resources/energy_from_the_sunrev3.shtml

There is no denying the great potential of harvesting wind power for electricity, especially if done successfully. So, it is not hard to see the push for this project, as wind power is renewable; it is provided by nature, it is accessible and does not necessarily diminish in the same way fossil resources do. However, there is a disadvantage, the rate, strength and amount of this source cannot necessarily be controlled. This poses the question of resource consistency, specifically, can wind energy be reliable as a single source for electricity?

In order for the wind power technology to be successful, the wind turbines need to be placed in areas where wind is available in strength and speed rate that is more than sufficient to produce the rotational energy needed for the conversion to electrical power. From my knowledge of school geography and introductory meteorology, it is observed that strong winds are generated in areas closest to the ocean, due to the existence of the steep pressure gradient – the large horizontal  pressure difference over a distance that causes the air to move and wind to blow. So from my perspective, I would like to think that most wind projects should be located near the geographical regions that will bring about the strongest winds.

The details of the initiative have yet to be released, that being said I look forward to keeping up with any updates concerning the project. I think that “Wind for prosperity” has the potential to do exactly what it is created to do, I believe, as long as problems that may arise are not overlooked but rather used to perfect the solution that is the project.

 

Alternative Energy in Africa (Part 2)

 

This commentary is based on the post written by Dr. Mthuli Ncube, the vice-president of the African Development Bank. To read his full post on the benefits and challenges for renewable energy in Africa, please click on the link below.

http://www.afdb.org/en/blogs/afdb-championing-inclusive-growth-across-africa/post/renewable-energy-in-africa-8829/

Renewable sources of energy have been a popular topic of discussion in both developing and developed nations. Ever since the arise of the issues of global warming and climate change in the past several decades, alternative resources for energy have been observed to be viable solutions to those challenges. Interest has been especially observed for regions in the continent of Africa, where solar, wind, geothermal, bioenergy and hydropower sources are believed to be in abundance and accessible. Although it is true that many of these renewable sources are available, it does not guarantee that the road to providing efficient renewable energy will be easy, nor would it completely solve the problem for the lack of electricity and other amenities for the millions of citizens of the continent.

In the post addressed in the link above, Dr. Ncube, provides us with the benefits and the challenges Africa faces on the subject of renewable energy resources. The latter, I believe is the most important, for knowledge and awareness purposes. The reason, is because problem identification and classification are the first steps in the problem-solving process. This can be seen in the example of calculus based mathematics, where, before any set of equations can be solved, they are first classified and identified for the solver to determine which formulas or mathematical approach to be used in order to calculate the correct solution. It is in this same way I believe energy challenges in Africa should be solved. Dr. Ncube has done a great job of helping us isolate some of those issues and revealing them to us.

Alternative energy development in Africa (Part 1)

Renewable sources of energy have been a popular topic of discussion in both, developed and developing nations. Ever since the issues surrounding global warming and climate change have been introduced in the recent decades, alternative resources of energy have been viewed, by the public and private sector as plausible replacements to the sometimes environmentally harmful fossil based resources. Specifically, in the African continent, there have been talk of renewable resources to be used to improve energy development. Like it is often said, “anything that is high reward is high risk.” 

I think it is very important that we understand the fact that the change needed to provide some millions of the African population with electricity, water and energy, will not occur overnight or even the next couple of decades. In order to make it possible, the problems that exist need to be understood in their whole entirety, because they are not one-dimensional, but rather multi-complex, often involving public and private sector areas of policy, law, politics, economics, business and scientific facts.