Create a fund and policies for investment in renewable energy
Posted Monday, September 30 2013 at 01:00
With more than 12 hydropower stations including 250MW Bujagali power station and the latest under construction, the 600MW Karuma hydropower station, Uganda’s economy can be transformed.
The energy revolution has taken shape; all aspects of human life rotate around energy. Petroleum as the most used non renewable energy, is no longer a dependable resource since its depletion is guaranteed not forgetting its severe impacts on the environment. This has made people and states tap into the renewables such as solar, wind energy, geothermal energy, biomass and hydroelectricity.
Ugandans keep hoping for the time when access to cheap and efficient electricity, free of daily loadshedding will occur. With more than 12 hydropower stations including 250MW Bujagali power station and the latest under construction, the 600MW Karuma hydropower station, Uganda’s economy can be transformed.
Hydropower is environmentally friendly because it is carbon emission free. This does not, however, make it free of controversies, in most cases hydropower developments involve displacement of people and climatic changes result in lowering of water levels in Lake Victoria, that serves as the reservoir for two major hydropower dams; the Nalubale (formerly Owen Falls) and Kiira (Owen Falls extension) dams on the River Nile.
Solar energy has for a long time been used for drying clothes, preserving meat, drying crops, etc. It can broadly be categorised into solar photovoltaic which converts the sun’s energy into electric energy and solar thermal which uses the sun’s energy directly for heating, cooking and drying. Solar energy is cheap for industrial use and is environmentally friendly.
Geothermal is generated from areas of geologic instability and volcanic activities. These resources rely on natural systems where water is heated and comes to the surface as steam. The steam is used to generate electricity through turbines.
Main geothermal areas registered are Katwe-Kikorongo recharged from high ground in the Rwenzori, Buranga and Kibiro hot springs, located in the Western Rift Valley along Uganda- DRC border. Geothermal power has got near zero emissions.
Biomass energy is also a major source of fuel in Uganda, providing more than 90 per cent of national energy demand. Biomass energy is mainly generated from wood, agricultural residues from the main cash and food crops in Uganda, as well as municipal solid waste. Bagasse, a bi-product of sugar, is used in sugar factories such as Kakira.
Though Biomass is a cheap option, it’s not environmentally friendly. The indoor air pollution from unvented biofuel cooking stoves is a major contributor to respiratory illnesses and tree cutting for charcoal leads to land degradation.
A wind energy system converts the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical or electrical energy that can be harnessed for practical uses and transform the economy of rural areas where access to water and electricity is very restricted.
The Johannesburg World summit on sustainable Development in 2002 also emphasised water, Energy, Health, Agriculture and Biodiversity as a priority for states given to renewable and other alternative forms of energy.
Because of the important role of fossil fuels in the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and concomitant climate change concerns, renewables are perceived to constitute an important option for mitigating and abating the emissions of greenhouse gases.
With the petrodollars, Uganda can create a fund meant for investment in renewable energy and further supported by policies.
Mr Kassim is an energy lawyer. email@example.com