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$46 Million in Loans Announced for Four Renewable Energy Projects in Africa, Caribbean

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The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) yesterday announced USD 46 million in concessional loans for four renewable energy projects in developing countries. The loans will fund a wind and solar project in Antigua and Barbuda, a solar project in Burkina Faso, a solar and wind project in Cabo Verde and a solar project in Senegal. The four projects will result in nearly 12 megawatts of new renewable energy capacity, reduce emissions, create jobs, and electrify rural communities without access to modern energy services.

“Accelerating the energy transition to renewables requires all countries to take action to develop their own local renewable energy sources,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin at a press conference today on the sidelines of IRENA’s sixth Assembly. “While renewable energy resources are abundant in many developing countries, adequate finance can still be a barrier to deployment. IRENA and ADFD’s pioneering partnership contributes to overcoming this challenge, by selecting innovative projects for concessional funding.”

“Increased availability of clean, affordable and reliable energy is an important priority for ADFD to drive sustainable development and positive societal changes across developing countries,” said Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, Director General of ADFD. “Our collaboration with IRENA has significantly contributed to narrowing the energy divide that has long hindered development projects in developing countries due to the lack of reliable power infrastructure. Through this collaboration, we have ensured the availability of necessary financial resources to move the sustainable development agenda forward. At ADFD, we are committed to continuing to collaborate with international agencies to spur economic growth, ensure environmental protection and create jobs across the developing world.”

About the funded projects:

  • Antigua and Barbuda: A 4 megawatt wind and solar project will receive USD 15 million to provide energy to desalinate water and increase climate resilience. The project will avoid 8,275 tonnes of CO2 per year.
  • Burkina Faso: A 3.6 megawatt solar PV mini-grid project will receive USD 10 million to provide modern energy services to more than 12,000 local families. The project will avoid 2,500 tonnes of CO2 per year.
  • Cabo Verde: A 2 megawatt hybrid grid-connected solar PV and wind project will receive USD 8 million to provide a 100 per cent renewable energy solution for the Island of Brava. The project will avoid 4,665 tonnes of CO2 per year.
  • Senegal: A 2 megawatt solar PV mini-grid project will receive USD 13 million to supply electricity to rural villages. The project will avoid 3,200 tons of CO2 per year.“Renewable energy plays a major role in sustainable development and, for many developing countries, is the most economically viable energy source,” said Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE Permanent Representative to IRENA and Director of Energy and Climate Change at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “The ADFD and IRENA partnership enables developing countries to leverage clean energy innovation and reinforces the UAE’s commitment to advance renewable energy development globally.”The fourth funding cycle of the Project Facility is now open for project proposals until 15 February 2016, with concessional loan interest rates of 1-2 per cent provided by ADFD. These low rates will support a broad range of renewable energy projects for the remaining four loan cycles.
  • For more information visit: www.irena.org/adfd
  • These projects are funded through the IRENA/ADFD Project Facility, which commits USD 350 million to increase the deployment of renewable energy in developing countries. To date, the facility has allocated USD 144 million in project funding over its first three cycles. Loans are provided to finance up to 50 per cent of each project, attracting co-financing from banks, international financial institutions and other development partners. This mobilizes enough funds to more than double the original investment and helps build local financial markets to create valuable know-how for the future.
  • Selected projects represent a mix of renewable energy sources, are all innovative, potentially replicable or scalable, and will improve energy access. Previous projects approved for funding in cycles one and two include solar, hydropower, geothermal, biomass, wind and hybrid projects in Argentina, Ecuador, Cuba, Iran, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Samoa, Sierra Leone and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

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Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Environment

Two Ancient Japanese Philosophies Are the Future of Eco-Living

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Eco-Living
Shutterstock Photos - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Our obsession with all things new has blighted the planet. We have a waste crisis, particularly when it comes to plastic. US scientists have calculated the total amount of plastic ever made – 8.3 billion tons! Unfortunately, only 9% of this is estimated to have been recycled. And current global trends point to there being 12 billion tons of plastic waste by 2050.

However, two ancient Japanese philosophies are providing an antidote to the excesses of modern life. By emphasizing the elimination of waste and the acceptance of the old and imperfect, the concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi have positively influenced Japanese life for centuries.

They are now making their way into the consciousness of the Western mainstream, with an increasing influence in the UK and US. By encouraging us to be frugal with our possessions, (i.e. using natural materials for interior design) these concepts can be the future of eco-living.

What is Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai??

Wabi-Sabi emphasizes an acceptance of transience and imperfection. Although Wabi had the original meaning of sad and lonely, it has come to describe those that are simple, unmaterialistic and at one with nature. The term Sabi is defined as the “the bloom of time”, and has evolved into a new meaning: taking pleasure and seeing beauty in things that are old and faded. 

Any flaws in objects, like cracks or marks, are cherished because they illustrate the passage of time. Wear and tear is seen as a representation of their loving use. This makes it intrinsically linked to Wabi, due to its emphasis on simplicity and rejection of materialism.

In the West, Wabi-Sabi has infiltrated many elements of daily life, from cuisine to interior design. Specialist Japanese homeware companies, like Sansho, source handmade products that embody the Wabi-Sabi philosophy. Their products, largely made from natural materials, are handcrafted by traditional Japanese artisans – meaning no two pieces are the same and no two pieces are “perfect” in size or shape.

Mottainai

Mottainai is a term expressing a feeling of regret concerning waste, translating roughly in English to either “what a waste!” or “Don’t waste!”. The philosophy emphasizes the intrinsic value of a resource or object, and is linked to hinto animism, the notion that all objects have a spirit, or ‘kami’. The idea that we are part of nature is a key part of Japanese psychology.

Mottainai also has origins in Buddhist philosophy. The Buddhist monastic tradition emphasizes a life of frugality, to allow us to concentrate on attaining enlightenment. It is from this move towards frugality that a link to Mottainai as a concept of waste can be made.

How have Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai promoted eco living?

Wabi-Sabi is still a prominent feature of Japanese life today, and has remained instrumental in the way people design their homes. The ideas of imperfection and frugality are hugely influential.

For example, instead of buying a brand-new kitchen table, many Japanese people instead retain a table that has been passed through the generations. Although its long use can be seen by various marks and scratches, Wabi-Sabi has taught people that they should value it because of its imperfect nature. Those scratches and marks are a story and signify the passage of time. This is a far cry from what we typically associate with the Western World.

Like Wabi Sabi, Mottainai is manifested throughout Japanese life, creating a great respect for Japanese resources. This has had a major impact on home design. For example, the Japanese prefer natural materials in their homes, such as using soil and dried grass as thermal insulation.

Their influence in the UK

The UK appears to be increasingly influenced by thes two concepts. Some new reports indicate that Wabi Sabi has been labelled as ‘the trend of 2018’. For example, Japanese ofuro baths inspired the project that won the New London Architecture’s 2017 Don’t Move, Improve award. Ofuro baths are smaller than typical baths, use less water, and are usually made out of natural materials, like hinoki wood.

Many other UK properties have also been influenced by these philosophies, such as natural Kebony wood being applied to the external cladding of a Victorian property in Hampstead; or a house in Lancaster Gate using rice paper partitions as sub-dividers. These examples embody the spirit of both philosophies. They are representative of Mottainai because of their use of natural resources to discourage waste. And they’re reflective of Wabi-Sabi because they accept imperfect materials that have not been engineered or modified.

In a world that is plagued by mass over-consumption and an incessant need for novelty, the ancient concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi provide a blueprint for living a more sustainable life. They help us to reduce consumption and put less of a strain on the planet. This refreshing mindset can help us transform the way we go about our day to day lives.

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