A World Bank scheme to bring electricity to the world's poor is short-sighted and won't curb climate change or help the people it's aimed at, environmental groups said on Sunday. The Bank released a progress report on Sunday looking at ways to fund cleaner energy projects in some of the world's poorest regions and drive economic growth in those areas. The report, entitled Investment Framework on Clean Energy and Development, says an estimated 1.6 billion people do not have access to electricity. Environmental groups said the Bank was missing a huge opportunity to promote the use of renewable energy by instead backing conventional fossil-fuel based generation.
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Abundant, reliable, affordable electricity is thus a critical priority for developing nations. Hydroelectric projects offer one solution, coal-fired power plants another. They aren't perfect ecologically, but neither are wind turbines, which require extensive acreage, kill birds, and provide inadequate amounts of intermittent, expensive electricity that cannot possibly sustain modern societies. Now a revolutionary nuclear energy technology is being designed and built in South Africa, but with suppliers and partners in many other nations. The 165-megawatt Pebble Bed Modular Reactors are small and inexpensive enough to provide electrical power for emerging economies, individual cities or large industrial complexes. However, multiple units can be connected and operated from one control room, to meet the needs of large or growing communities.
Abundant, reliable, affordable electricity is a critical priority for developing nations. Hydroelectric projects like Bujagali (Uganda), Narmada (India) and Three Gorges (China) offer one solution; coal-fired power plants another. They aren't perfect ecologically, but neither are wind turbines, which require extensive acreage, kill birds, and provide inadequate amounts of intermittent, expensive electricity that cannot possibly sustain modern societies.
CAPE Town has, with much fanfare, just embraced wind power, that green panacea of sustainable and clean energy. But we are most unlikely to hear of its cost, its inefficiency and, indeed, its damage to the environment. We will hear that wind power helps curb our greenhouse-gas emissions, makes the country less dependent on fossil fuels and energy imports and -- the icing on the cake -- also creates jobs. Surely this is the solution to many of the world's biggest problems? To see if these alleged benefits actually stand up to closer scrutiny, let us look at a country held up as a shining example: Germany.