Renewable Energy Sources in enhancing Human lives

Renewable Energy Sources in enhancing Human lives

Renowned economist and Nobel Prize winner Mahbub-ul-Haq once eloquently stated, “The true wealth of a nation lies in its people. The aim of development is to create a supportive environment in which individuals can lead long, healthy, and creative lives.” This profound and universal concept forms the foundation of today’s ‘Human Development Index,’ a vital tool for measuring global human well-being.

Solar energy, in recent times, has emerged as a potent force not only for improving human well-being but also as a catalyst for human development across various dimensions. In the realm of economics, it is well understood that per capita power consumption is intrinsically linked to human development. The deployment of decentralized and distributed renewable energy sources is making significant strides in elevating the quality of human life, transcending mere economic aspects.

The global pursuit of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 has triggered a notable increase in research and development (R&D) funding allocated by national governments. This surge in funding places a significant emphasis on renewable energy, specifically solar power. International organizations are actively promoting the exchange of innovative ideas and technologies on a worldwide scale. This exchange has led to remarkable improvements in the lives of people in some of the world’s most underprivileged regions. The concept of human development, which encompasses an individual’s overall well-being, is now more than ever closely intertwined with the crucial role that solar energy plays in this context.

Water is essential for life, and human development hinges on access to clean, potable water. Solar energy is playing a crucial role in desalinating seawater and providing it to some of the most underprivileged human settlements worldwide. A noteworthy example can be found in Kenya, a West African nation, where a solar-powered desalination facility named ‘GivePower’ has been established.

This innovative facility operates solely on solar power and is highly energy-efficient. It offers cost-effective access to clean water for the coastal community of Kiunga. On a daily basis, the solar-powered desalination plant produces approximately 75,000 liters of fresh drinking water, meeting the needs of 25,000 people.

According to the United Nations, this initiative has had a profound impact. It has reduced the daily travel of women in the area by 3.7 miles, minimized the health issues caused by saline and contaminated water, improved overall health, increased labor opportunities, boosted economic activities, and raised household income levels. Additionally, kidney failures, once a prevalent concern, are no longer a prominent issue. Women and children are the primary beneficiaries of this solar-powered freshwater supply, which has transformed their lives.

The successful implementation of solar-powered desalination facilities in various geographical locations and climates has prompted the Bangladeshi government to explore the installation of 1,140 solar-powered water desalination units. These units will be deployed across 16 coastal districts where the availability of fresh water is a significant challenge. This initiative reflects a growing focus on research and development (R&D) in this field.

Notably, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the USA and Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China have developed a passive solar evaporation system. This innovative system has the capability to purify saline water and wastewater, offering a promising solution for communities in need of access to clean drinking water. Remarkably, each unit costs just $4, making it an affordable and accessible option for households.

The government of Nova Scotia has unveiled a clean energy plan, aiming to deploy between 300MW and 400MW of battery storage by 2030 as part of its transition away from coal dependency. Nova Scotia’s legislative target is to phase out coal use by 2030 while achieving 80% renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 90%. While the Atlantic Loop project to import hydroelectric power from Quebec has become prohibitively costly and delayed, the new plan includes the deployment of a gigawatt of onshore wind energy generation by 2030 and 300MW of large-scale solar PV. Battery storage will play a vital role in achieving these goals. The government also aims to expand transmission line interconnections with New Brunswick and convert 100MW of coal capacity to natural gas.

Prince Edward Island’s Energy Minister, Steven Myers, has emphasized the need for the province to take all possible actions to address the loss of a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly energy source for the Island. The Nova Scotia government recently revealed its decision to abandon the Atlantic Loop project, originally designed to import hydroelectric power from Quebec to the region, due to its perceived high cost of $9 billion.

Myers expressed disappointment in the federal government for not taking more significant steps to bring the project to fruition. Given the increasingly competitive energy market in Atlantic Canada and beyond, Myers stressed the importance of Prince Edward Island being self-reliant in securing its energy needs.