Climate change, caused by the build up of greenhouse gases is a global concern. But for a majority of humankind living in the shantytowns and villages of the developing world, climate change is the least of their worries. But, as this programme demonstrates, innovations and enterprise can provide some sustainable solutions to energy issues.
The Light Touch – India
There are billions of people worldwide who currently lack reliable access to electricity, clean water, and modern communication technologies. At the same time tremendous changes in these technology areas make access to services easier and more affordable. In India a solar energy company, founded in 1995, has developed a wide range of solar-powered equipment, installations and after-care support for lighting, water pumping and purification, TV and radio. In 2005 the success of this business was recognised internationally when it won the Ashden Award for Enterprise.
A Burning Concern – India
Farmers in India, as elsewhere around the world, have long had a problem disposing of the agricultural waste left after harvesting. To get the ground clear in time to sow pre-monsoon crops, the most common method is to burn it in their open fields, causing air pollution. An Indian mechanical engineer, Ramesh Nibhoria, has developed a large-scale institutional stove, the Sanjha Chulha, which uses biomass briquettes in large-scale institutional stoves. The advantage of these stoves is the way they make use of a waste agricultural product of no economic value to farmers, and turns it into a cash income for them. In 2005, Ramesh’s company, Nishant Bioenergy, won a prestigious Ashden Climate Care award for this innovative stove project.
Dungbusters – Nepal
How many benefits can a biogas stove provide? In Nepal, as well as reducing pressure on forestry resources, these stoves are changing lives in many ways – improving sanitation and health, giving people time to pursue other activities, and improving crop yields.
Gas Station – Sweden
Municipal authorities in Sweden have been converting waste materials into usable biogas for several years. In 2005, in an attempt to make public transport more environmentally friendly, the world’s first train to be run solely on biogas was developed by a private company, Svensk Biogas.
Winds of Change – UK
It has been calculated that Britain has the best potential in Europe for generating power from wind. In 2003, renewable energy sources in the UK accounted for around 3 per cent of the electricity generated, but wind contributed only 0.5 per cent, and mainly came from large wind farms. A Scottish entrepreneur is seeking to expand the role of wind energy through small wind turbines, hardly more intrusive than a satellite dish, which could be attached to most homes.
Several of these case studies have been recipients of the highly regarded Ashden Awards, which recognise that industrialised and developing countries alike urgently need to make more use of local sustainable energy to ensure a liveable future. Further information can be found on their website: www.ashdenawards.org/
Our thanks go to Ashden Awards for for highlighting these projects and funding the filming for this broadcast.