Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Nations Struggle

They  strive  to  meet  energy  demands  with imported  diesel
By  Derek  Baldwin,  Chief  Reporter Published:  14:51  October  23,  2012
Dubai:  Tiny  island  countries  are  at  a crossroads  in  their  histories  as  they  strive  on limited  budgets  to  meet  energy  demands fuelled  by  outside  diesel  imports  critical  to electricity  generation.

But  the  answers  to  finding  a  more sustainable  future  energy  solution  lie  within each  of  the  island  country’s  borders,  not without,  said  several  heads  of  state  in  their addresses  to  delegates  at  the  World  Energy Forum  in  Dubai  on  Monday.
The  opening  marks  the  first  time  the  energy forum  has  been  held  outside  of  its  host country  of  the  United  States  where  it  is organized  by  the  United  Nations.
T op  leaders  from  around  the  world  are attending.

A  very  frank  Ralph  Gonsalves,  Prime Minister  of  Saint  Vincent  and  the Grenadines,  said  his  32-­island  country  can no  longer  carry  on  the  status  quo  of depending  on  fossil  fuels  to  keep  the  lights on,  appliances  running  and  government buildings  humming.

On  the  contrary,  the  country’s  legislators  are looking  to  alternative  means  of  reducing energy  consumption  while  seeking  new renewable  sources  of  energy  such  as geothermal  power  as  well  as  public education  campaigns  to  lighten  the  load  on island  power-­generating  plants.

“The  real  game  changer  is  geothermal  —  we have  enough  of  a  geothermal  resource, about  five  times  our  current  peak consumption,”  he  said.  “The  problem  is  we need  the  money  to  get  it.  We  have  to  get  to source  points.”
Drilling  on  the  side  of  a  volcano  to  get  the underground  heat  sources  will  be  expensive.

Gonsalves  said  that  he  hopes  the  World Energy  Forum  will  give  him  a  venue  for advice  as  to  how  his  country  can  raise  the start-­up  capital  needed  to  fund  the geothermal  venture.

Currently,  his  country  meets  20  per  cent  of energy  demand  through  hydroelectric  power generation  with  the  remainder  through diesel-­powered  electricity  generation.

Maldives  President  Mohammad  Waheed Hassan  Manik  echoed  the  hopes  and aspirations  of  other  presidents  in  the  hunt  for alternative  energy  sources  to  reduce  reliance on  fossil  fuels. 

“T oday  we  spend  the  equivalent  of  20  percent  on  our  GDP  on  the  importation  of  diesel fuel  for  our  electricity  and  transportation.”

He  pointed  out  that  the  Maldives’  electrical generating  cost  is  a  whopping  75  cents  per kilowatt  hour,  a  burden  that  “is  unaffordable, especially  in  rural  communities.  Our  country is  providing  heavy  fuel  subsidies,  we  have  no option  but  to  move  to  smart  fuel  policies.”

Manik  said  his  country  has  no  other  option than  to  pursue  low  carbon  policies  to  stave off  higher  and  higher  fossil  fuel  costs.

His  country  is  working  on  developing capacity  of  its  utilities,  promoting  strong business  models  to  attach  and  integrate private  investment  into  the  energy  sector  and is  strengthening  legislation  for  stonger investment  frameworks  for  energy  projects, he  said.

Ultimately,  if  current  efforts  in  Maldives  move in  the  direction  that  leaders  propose,  Manik said  he  believed  that  the  country  will  save  22 million  litres  of  diesel  per  year  and  reduce  its carbon  footprint  by  65,000  tonnes  of greenhouse  gases  annually.