Fossil fuels or renewable energy? At the heart of the ‘green’ debate about switching away from coal, gas and oil is the question of whether or not there’s enough in the way of solar, wind and other forms of renewables to replace them at a cost effective price. A question to which we don’t really know the answer.
Which is why the World Bank is investing in a massive global project to work out how much energy there is in them thar hills, quite literally. The $11.6m (R120m) Renewable Energy Mapping Program (REMAP) has been kicked off in Pakistan and Lesotho and will now be extended to other developing countries, including Zambia. The plan is for other sub-Saharan nations to join in over the four year lifespan of the project. The data gathered will be stored by the International Renewable Energy Agency and it’s hoped will influence future policy decisions. From the release:
“We expect this initiative to be highly catalytic,” said Oliver Knight, Senior Energy Specialist at ESMAP. “Resource mapping is a crucial step in providing the resource and policy certainty that commercial developers need to scale up investment in renewables. In addition, government authorities will be better informed in negotiations on specific projects, and donors will have a clearer sense of the data and capacity needs, as well as the renewable potential, of clients.”
There’s a neat little slideshow with lots of maps showing the potential for solar energy here. Annoyingly the video can’t be embedded. Apparently renewable energy only accounts for 1.6% of total consumption in sub-Saharan Africa, and with fuel prices on the increase it’s not only the greenies who’ll be interested in the results of this.