Connecting climate knowledge – talking about a revolution

A contribution by Geoff Barnard from CDKN. Geoff Barnard is Knowledge Management Strategy Advisor for the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), and Chair of the CKB Steering Group. CDKN has supported the work of the CKB Group from the outset. Here, Geoff introduces the CKB Group’s latest initiative: a Manifesto on climate knowledge.

A quiet revolution is happening in the climate information world, in what feels like a remarkable outbreak of collaboration, innovation and joined-up thinking.

It all began at an exploratory workshop in 2011 to test out the appetite for collaboration between online climate knowledge players. “Surely we can do this job better if we are talking to each other,” was the hypothesis posed. At the time it was not obvious that initiatives would be prepared to work together, given that they were in many respects competing for attention and user ‘clicks’. But four years on, this hypothesis feels like a ‘no brainer’. If we are not combining efforts, how else can we crack the huge challenge of getting reliable climate information into the hands of all those who need it?

Continue reading “Connecting climate knowledge – talking about a revolution”

Africa is the Place to Be!

Africa   Interested in contributing to REN21’s production of renewable energy and energy efficiency status report for southern Africa?  Let us know by completing this Expression of Interest  form. Don’t forget that the South Africa International Renewable Energy Conference (SAIREC) will be held 4-7 October in Cape Town. Applications for hosting a side event at SAIREC are now being accepted – deadline for submissions is 29 May so don’t delay!

If you are more interested in developments in Central and Eastern Europe how about submitting a tender to author, in cooperation with REN21, a status report for the region on renewable energy and energy efficiency?  For more information about the above or to read about interesting activities happening across the renewable energy sector give REN21’s latest newsletter a read.

How People Are Using Solar to Live Off the Grid in the US

Guest contribution by Tim Smith,

For some people, living off the grid is a conscious decision; given the choice between energy independence and an electricity bill, they get all the energy they need from a free, renewable, environmentally-friendly source. For others, living off the grid might be the only choice.

Continue reading “How People Are Using Solar to Live Off the Grid in the US”

An Entry-Level Pay-As-You-Go Lamp is the First Rung of the Energy Ladder

Contribution from Victoria Arch, Angaza Design

What is the role of the solar lantern in energy access? In July of last year, I attended an Engineering for Change Webinar called “Off Grid Technology Perspectives, The Case of the Solar Lantern” that explored this question. The webinar included thoughtful, context-setting presentations from Guarav Manchanda of One Degree Solar, Ned Tozun of d.light Design, and Dr. Harald Schützeichel of Sun-Connect eG. The presentations were followed by a discussion that included an interesting exchange between Dr. Schützeichel and the webinar moderator Russell Sturm, who is Head of the Energy Access Advisory at the International Finance Corporation.

Continue reading “An Entry-Level Pay-As-You-Go Lamp is the First Rung of the Energy Ladder”

Renewables and Gender Equity: Where to begin?

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I recently attended an interesting workshop on renewable energy and gender.  This was not a workshop to celebrate women, nor an opportunity to pull out the lobbying placards for women’s rights. Rather it was a measured and serious look at how supporting gender equality in the energy decision making process could benefit climate change activities.  Specifically, the workshop looked at how we (women and men) could use our collective knowledge on development, energy and gender to drive low emissions development planning.

The entry point for discussion was the renewable energy sector. What became clear over the three days’ discussion was that while we “know” that men and women often use energy services differently—and frequently make different types of decisions—there is scarce quantitative data to support these statements.  While numbers by themselves do not tell the whole story, they do support observed trends.  Numbers help track evolution and provide decision makers with the “proof” that a particular policy or measure has worked (or not). But the 10,000 Euro question is “how”?  Is it sufficient to simply add a gender component to any data collection process, e.g. how many men, how women benefited/participated?  How do we track how gender may/can increase the uptake of renewables and its long-term contribution to low emission, clean development?

I don’t have the answers but it would seem to me that we should not get caught up in debating what the best questions to ask are. If we are serious about tracking how gender contributes to low emission and clean development then would it not be better to start the data collection process, however flawed, modifying and improving it as we learn?  This circular data collection process is what underpins REN21’s work.  The evolution of its Global Status Report from an initial 30 pages to its current length of 200+ pages attests to the success of an iterative process.

To quote John Maynard Keynes—a 19th century British economist—“it is better to be approximately right, than precisely wrong.” He has my vote.

Supporting Rwandan Entrepreneurs to Capitalise on the Untapped Potential in the Picu Hydro Energy Sector

GVEP has carried out a week of specialised training sessions on business and project management for 20 entrepreneurs interested in exploiting and developing the Pico Hydro sector across Rwanda.

The training sessions held in Muhanga-Southern Province were successive to those previously carried out last year and focused on equipping participants with finance and business skills as well as activities such as costing and pricing, accurate record keeping, marketing and business management skills. Presentations were given by GVEP Technology Mentors and open discussions on specific topics were encouraged to ensure that all participants were involved and could raise any questions or issues. There was a presentation given by Mr Ajith Kumara, a highly experienced Pico Hyrdo consultant from Sri-Lanka, where this energy source has proved to be very successful.

Rwanda has considerable potential to expand and develop its Pico Hydro sector by creating a number of Pico-Hydro sites across the country. Pico hydro plants tap into the hydro energy generated by flowing water, converting this energy into electrical energy through a small turbine and providing the energy needs for a small village (generally up to 50kW) A study conducted by ESWA (Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority) identified 168 sites for this type of development, and believes that there are many more possible sites but have not yet been identified.

‘The potential sites would serve the energy needs of small industries, hospitals, and households in rural areas of the country by serving as an alternative energy source and cutting out the need to rely on petrol lamps and generators, which are both expensive and detrimental to health’ Explained Victor Hakuzwumuremyi, GVEP Technology Mentor.

Of the 20 participants who attended the training, 9 have already been involved in constructing Pico Hydro plants with some success, and are supplying around 200 households across the country. Mr. Emmanuel Uwamahoro, owner E.T.FO Ltd , is in the process of developing his business plan with the GVEP business mentors. Having previously worked as a construction technician working on constructing schools and bridges, he has decided to shift his efforts to the Pico Hydro sector and contacted GVEP for assistance. He proposes to provide energy to 135 households, a commercial centre, a school and a health centre with his intended Pico Hydro development.

Some of the participants requested further training on turbine design and the manufacturing process. After these entrepreneurs have registered their companies, moving forward, the next step for most is to head to the field to further develop their plans and work on implementation.

The training sessions and activities were jointly organized by GVEP and GIZ and form a part of the Capital Access for Renewable Energy Enterprises (CARE2 ) funded by the Swedish government, designed to help energy businesses secure access to capital and grow.

GVEP participates in the national Alliance’s strategic meeting to strengthen Ugandan cookstove market

Key stakeholders of the Uganda National Alliance for Clean Cooking (UNACC) met for a two day retreat to consolidate objectives and execute plans to increase distribution channels and improve the country’s development of the cookstove market.

Representatives from the clean cookstoves, fuels and the wider renewable energy sectors, forming part of the National Alliance’s National Executive Committee (NEC), met on 20-21 February in Uganda to approve the first year’s operational action plan. The two day event is the first of its kind since the UNACC has affirmed its role as national co-ordinator of the clean cookstove sector in Uganda. Continue reading “GVEP participates in the national Alliance’s strategic meeting to strengthen Ugandan cookstove market”