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Scotland deliver renewable energy success to Malawi



Almost 80,000 people in rural Malawi have improved access to electricity and a brighter future thanks to the Malawi Renewable Energy Acceleration Programme (MREAP) which has published its final results.

Led by the University of Strathclyde, with an investment of £2.3m, MREAP is the single biggest Scottish Government international development programme to date.

Malawi is one of the least electrified countries in sub-Saharan Africa, with only nine per cent of Malawi’s population having access to the country’s national grid. In rural areas this falls to less than one per cent.

In districts throughout Malawi, MREAP has improved the facilities available in schools, health clinics and households through access to sustainable energy.

Scotland’s world-leading expertise in renewable energy was recognised by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in 2012, when he asked the Scottish Government to support his Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which puts energy access at the heart of international development.

Minister for Europe and International Development, Humza Yousaf said: “Across the developing world, a lack of access to cheap, reliable and clean energy is holding back progress. Nearly one in five people on this planet do not have access to stable modern electricity. In today’s world, this is unacceptable and a major barrier to introducing basic services in order alleviate poverty and reduce global inequality. This is something that the UN has recognised with its Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which we are proud to be a part of.

“MREAP has been tackling this problem head on by providing sustainable electricity to nearly 80,000 people. By working directly with communities to create their own solutions the programme has a strong foundation for the future and we are pleased to support further energy projects that will build on the work of MREAP. Learning from this flagship programme is publicly available to help inform the future of renewable energy in developing nations and to improve the quality of life for some of the world’s poorest people.

“The success of MREAP is a testament to the importance of the special relationship between Scotland and Malawi. A project of the scale of MREAP not only benefits people in Malawi – who now have access to life changing modern energy solutions – it also opens doors for invaluable business and education opportunities for Scotland in the future.”

MREAP funding provided nearly 50 renewable energy installations in communities across Malawi, ranging from efficient cook stoves, solar pumps and solar panels for electricity, through to solar lanterns and biogas digesters.

In addition to bringing community owned energy systems to rural Malawi, MREAP has also encouraged new leadership in Malawi through a new two year postgraduate degree in renewable energy, an entrepreneurship fund and a detailed analysis of the potential for large scale wind energy in the country.

Professor Graeme Burt, co-director of the Institute for Energy and Environment at the University of Strathclyde: “The direct benefits that MREAP has brought to communities in Malawi by increasing access to renewable energy technologies is a real achievement that the University of Strathclyde takes pride in.

“Malawi now has a strong evidence base on which effective scaled-up programmes can be built, impacting the lives of many more families in rural Malawi through community-based solar PV or large commercial scale wind energy. And this gives evidence to the effective collaboration established between academics, government departments, NGOs, charities, and private consultancies from both Malawi and Scotland.”

David Hope-Jones, Principal Officer of the Scotland Malawi Partnership said: “Whether in Scotland or Malawi, access to sustainable energy means equipped hospitals, functioning schools and thriving communities.

“The great impact of the work of MREAP and their partners in Malawi demonstrates the continuing strength and relevance of the historical ties between our two nations.

“Today, after over 150 years of partnership, 94,000 Scots and 198,000 Malawians are still working together in solidarity to address contemporary challenges and looking towards the future.”

A series of 16 reports are now available on the University of Strathclyde web site. The Scottish Government and project partners are sharing the findings from MREAP to encourage future energy projects in developing nations.

Two further renewable energy projects were confirmed in January as part of the Scottish Government’s £9 Malawi Development Programme 2015.


7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption



Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions |

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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Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis




Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens |

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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