4 Simple Ways to Help Your Kids Conserve Energy in the Home

Saving energy in the home is something that all family members must do to take good care of the environment. The earlier age that this starts, the sooner the savings and good habits. Educating children on the reduce, reuse and recycle plan makes a difference for energy conservation.

With the generation of over 250 million tons of waste, only 34 percent of the waste is recycled. This causes mountains of trash to sit in landfills. Four simple areas of focus can make a dent in the usage of energy. Making this a family practice enhances the chances for change in the ecosystems.

Reusing and Recycling Toys and Games

Children have a lot of fun at the shops where items are resold, such as charity stores. When kids see that there are toys that are in great condition that they can get for a low price, they get just as excited as mom and dad. Donating their own used items helps them serve the community. It can be like a trade off, only with a small charge.

Recycling Containers

Keeping recycling bins handy and making a game about recycling makes it fun and educational. Kids can learn how to read labels, while in the store. They can match the appropriate containers to the bins. Having an outing to the recycling center, kids can see where their recycling goes. Making a contest out of recycling, such as competing for who can recycle the most, helps instill knowledge while having fun.

Water Conservation

This can be a sticky subject with kids. Encouraging showers over baths, allowing a weekly bath and showers other days, helps save. Making a game of setting timers for showers, will encourage their involvement. Setting the example of fill a water glass for teeth brushing helps children to see the best way to save water. Reusing non-detergent water for watering plants helps keep waste down.

Conservation of Energy and Natural Resources

Turning off all electrical appliances while not in use is a great way to save on your Reliant energy Corpus Christi costs . Having game nights with board games keeps energy usage low. Growing a family garden, adding compost from vegetable scraps is another way to show how to reuse. Taking a family walk to clean up the streets or parks is a great service to the community. Reduce, reuse and recycle will be fun.

The Ins and Outs of Energy in Africa

Africa has long been the no go area for energy investment, and on average Africans receive the least amount of electricity per person in the world. But 2014 brought with it the winds of change; the construction on Obama’s $7 billion Power Africa project began and this forced the focus to shift onto Africa and its potential for massive development in the energy industry.

Why Has Africa Struggled in the Energy Industry?

There are many reasons why Africa has never emerged as a stronghold for energy in the past, and why 1 in 4 Africans still have no access to electricity today. However, there are two main reasons for this:

  • Political instability and mismanagement
  • Lack of infrastructure and investment

For the last 100 years Africa has been going through a transitional period that has encompassed civil wars and extreme corruption at times. Many of the continents power plants were irreparably damaged in civil wars, as is the case with Liberia whose power infrastructure was destroyed by rebels in 1990.

In other cases governments have mismanaged their funds, or corruption has resulted in the crumbling of entire energy industries. For example Zimbabwe has one of the continents biggest hydro electrical projects in Lake Kariba, and a vast coal mine located in Hwange; yet the country still suffers from severe power shortages. The infrastructure has been poorly maintained with much of the generated money finding its way into the pockets of cabinet ministers.

Africa is a hugely vast continent that is still developing, and they simply have not had the means to implement the infrastructure that is principal for the building of sustainable energy sectors.

The lack of investment in the industry has stemmed from the political instability that seems to regularly grip Africa’s countries. Flailing currencies and their unpredictable nature has previously proven a deterrent for most investors.

What Has Changed?

Mainly the change has come about from the urgency to explore more renewable and sustainable energy resources, and Africa has no shortage of potential for these projects.

There has also been a progressive step forward in the privatization of energy industries in Africa, with Nigeria leading the way. This ensures that the energy sectors have huge private investment and aren’t at a risk of mismanagement from the country’s government. This has provided a major reassurance for investors looking to go into Africa’s energy sector.

Current Projects Happening in Africa

Throughout the continent steps are being made to invest in and push for cleaner, more sustainable energy resources. And 2014 emerged as an incredibly successful year for the continent, as developing countries came up trumps in spending and investing in renewable energy resources. Kenya came in the top 10 list of the highest investors in sustainable energy in developing countries.

The Ins and Outs of Energy in Africa

Some countries lead the way in particular types of renewable energy projects, as you will see outlined below.

Ethiopia’s Hydro Power Plan

Ethiopia has launched an ambitious plan to be the continents super power in Hydro Electrical energy. The highlight of this plan is the Green Renaissance Dam, which will be built on the Nile River, and is set to cost $4.1 Billion. Both local and foreign investors are funding the building of the dam, and it will be the biggest in Africa, generating a whopping 6,000 MW at full capacity. There has been some controversy surrounding the building of this dam, and concerns have been put forward by Egypt about the effect that the dam will have on the flow of the Nile as it passes through the country. There are two smaller dams that will be finished at around the same time in 2015 and overall these will generate over 8,000 MW at their peak.

The Ins and Outs of Energy in Africa

Overall, Ethiopia plans to spend $12 billion in the attempt to harness the hydropower from their waterways, and this has the potential to generate almost 40,000 MW of power by 2035. This enterprising approach has opened the eyes of investors to the massive opportunities for renewable energy that lie in Africa.

Morocco Opens Biggest Wind Farm in Africa

The Tarfaya Wind farm in Morocco has officially been put into operation. The project was a joint collaboration between GDF Suez, its partner Nareva Holdings and the Tarfaya Energy Company. The farm itself encompasses 8, 900 hectares and is now Africa’s biggest wind farm.

The total cost of the project was 450 million Euros and it was financed by an alliance of three Moroccan banks. There are 131 turbines that are set to generate 2.3 MW each, and the power generated is set to reach 1.5 million households.

The Moroccan government has set out a 2,000 MW target for wind energy, and Tarfaya covers 15% of this. They plan to have 42% of all their electricity sustainably generated by 2020, and the country has engaged in a massive push for foreign investment into their energy sector, paving the way for other African countries to follow suit.

Jasper Solar Plant, South Africa

The Jasper Solar plant is Africa’s biggest solar power project and it encompasses a massive 325,000 solar modules. The power generated will reach over 80,000 households and should go some way in alleviating and addressing their recent power shortages.

The plant is expected to generate 180,000 MW annually and it will make up some of the 18 GW of sustainable energy that South Africa plans to generate by 2030. South Africa is the leading country in Africa’s commercial sector and by implementing this plan; they are setting a good example for their less developed neighbors to follow.

As you can see, the energy industry in Africa has taken a sudden leap in the right direction. It is hoped with all these new projects and investments that Africa will no longer be so behind the world in the energy sector, and that they will in fact become a model for the use of sustainable, renewable energy development in developing countries.

Developing Countries Step Up Renewable Energy Investments

2014 was a year that saw a dramatic increase in the investment and implementation of renewable energy resources in developing countries. More advanced countries were outpaced by the sheer number of wind and solar farms that were not just completed, but also pledged by governments in developing countries.

Developing Countries Step Up Renewable Energy Investments

The country with the biggest numbers going to into their renewable energy sector was China. They held 6 of the biggest solar panel producers, out of the world’s top 10. And their wind turbine production is doing equally as well, accounting for 5 of the biggest manufacturers in the world.

Kenya was a surprising inclusion one of the highest spending developing countries with regards to investment in their renewable energy industry. The country has seen huge private investment in the Lake Turkana Wind Project, and a big government pledge towards the development of geothermal energy in the Rift Valley.

Developing Countries Step Up Renewable Energy Investments

Uganda took a massive step toward a greener, and more sustainable energy future by investing massively in hydro energy. The government is set to spend $12 billion dollars building numerous large dams throughout the country, which will have the potential to produce 40,000 MW of power by 2035.

While developing countries have always been behind in their energy sectors, 2014 was a year where the world sat up and took notice of the development taking place in their renewable energy industries. This is just the start of a green revolution for developing countries, and hopefully we will only see the numbers increase over the next few years.

Small Scale Energy Projects in Developing Countries

So often when we think of energy projects we get a picture of sweeping wind farms or huge hydro dams, and normally we are quite correct in our thinking. Investment in large-scale energy projects is much higher than that in small-scale projects. But in developing countries it is starting to make sense to look at investing in small-scale energy projects and implementation, especially in remote areas.

Small Scale Energy Projects in Developing Countries

2014 was a year that saw massive investments by developing countries into their renewable energy sectors, with China spending the most out of any other country worldwide. These investments however tend to focus on energy development at a government level, and all business is conducted in the formal economical market and was put towards making the national power grid green. This doesn’t address the issue of people who are going without power completely. Whole communities are not connected to the national power grid and they won’t benefit at all from these new investments.

In developing countries there was a slight, yet significant increase in small-scale energy production, but this mainly came from private commercial companies and NGOS. This increase is a stepping-stone in the right direction as many communities in developing countries live in rural areas where they have no access to the national electricity grid, but have abundant potential for the development of small-scale energy projects.

The Advantages of Small-Scale Energy Projects

While there is an on-going debate on ‘Distributed Generation’ and community centered energy projects, there is undoubtedly some very real benefits, which work well for communities in developing countries.

1. They Create Skills and Employment

Most small-scale energy projects require that the community get involved in the process. Local people can be trained in the art of building and implementing the form of sustainable energy that will be used. This training adds valuable skills not just to the individuals themselves but also to the community as a whole.

Employment is created through the building, application and repair of the energy source. It also increases business in the local area itself, as parts for the projects need to be purchased and maintained.

2. Can Be Implemented in Rural Areas

The people who get the least amount of electricity in developing countries live in rural areas. Small scale energy schemes can easily be put up in these areas for a relatively low cost, and it means people who are just too far from the electricity grid are still able to get power. This is particularly true in Africa where 60% of the population lives out in the rural areas.

There are three main types of small-scale energy that are used to power rural communities.

1. Micro Hydro:

Micro hydro projects are one of the most successful small-scale energy plans. Unlike the large-scale projects, the turbines can be powered by running stream/river water and do not need a dam to be created. This means that there is no disruption to aquatic life, or the surrounding habitat. It also eliminates the huge cost of building a dam to power the project. This form of energy distribution has little environmental impact and is directly beneficial to the communities using them.

One of the greatest micro-hydro schemes is found in Peru on the slopes of the Andes. This was a remote area too far for municipal electricity but extremely rich in river and streams. Practical Action, an international NGO, built 57 turbines using local skills and labor, and implemented a vast micro hydro scheme. The project now provides electricity to over 30,000 people, most who have never had electricity in their lives.

This project shows us just one of the many thousands of micro hydro schemes that are now being initiated in developing countries worldwide.

2. Solar Panels:

Community based solar systems are offering people the chance to have electricity in even the most remote corners of developing countries. This form of sustainable energy is particularly successful in Africa, and we are finding more and more of these projects being implemented throughout the continent. Some of the poorest developing countries are found in desert regions and therefore it makes sense to harness the sun’s energy for electricity. While the cost of installing the panels can be quite high, the running costs and maintenance is all relatively low.

One of the most successful community solar programs takes place in the Kakuma Refugee camp in Kenya. The community in this camp is able to rely on solar systems to be completely self-sufficient. They use solar lights, lamps, cookers, water pumps and streetlights. The project has resulted in the training of at least 100 refugees to implement and maintain the solar panels themselves.

3. Small Scale Wind Turbines

This is the least used form of small-scale energy generation, but it is growing steadily. A small turbine is perfect in an area of high wind, but the best results come from combining this method with solar photovoltaic generation. This eliminates the risk of no electricity in the case of poor wind power.

This scheme is used successfully in small pockets of developing countries, mainly in areas where subsistence farming is the main economic activity.

Wind turbines are used on a small-scale in farming districts in Southern Africa. Rather than being community based though, these turbines are installed to run a singular persons homestead, and can also run water pumps for the farm. While it may take a while for small-scale wind turbines to reach the level of solar panels or micro hydro projects, the potential is certainly there, and the numbers in use are slowly increasing.

Renewable energy investment is growing exponentially in developing countries, and while it may be mostly in the large-scale sector, governments and investors are also taking note of the success in the small-scale projects too. 2014 saw a huge rise in the amount of funding given to NGOs wishing to work on small-scale energy projects in developing countries, and that number is bound to get higher as the benefits of the various schemes are starting to be noticed.

Kenya: Paving the Way in Renewable Energy Development in Africa

All eyes have been on Kenya recently as the government has announced ambitious plans to develop and improve their renewable energy industry. In 2013 the Kenya’s Energy and Petroleum minister announced that they were planning to increase electricity levels by 5,000MW in 2016.

Kenya’s government pledged a focus on three types of renewable energy; that is Wind Power, Solar Power and Geothermal Energy. In March 2014 the Kenyan government signed the largest ever investment by a private company.

The Lake Turkana Wind Project

The LTWP is expected to provide 300 MW of electricity to the country’s national grid, and this is one fifth of Kenya’s total electricity production. Located in Northeast Kenya this wind project extends 40,000 acres, and will boast three hundred and sixty five wind turbines. The project is expected to be running by 2016 if all goes according to plan. The Lake Turkana Wind Project has the potential to increase Kenya’s power generation by over 15%, and will save the Kenyan government over $100 million dollars in yearly fuel costs.

Kenya has massive prospects for wind energy development all over the country, and the government is monitoring areas for future implementation. There are some other smaller wind energy projects being planned in Kenya alongside the Lake Turkana Wind Project. They include the Electrawinds project in Lamu, Kinangop wind farm in the center of the country and in the Rift Valley area there is the Kipeto Wind Project.

Geothermal Energy Development

Kenya has a huge amount of geothermal activity, which can be found mostly in the Rift Valley. It is the cleanest and most cost effective of all the potential renewable energy resources for Kenya to harness. There are numerous geothermal projects under way, which once completed have the potential to produce 10,000 MW of electricity.

Kenya’s biggest geothermal plant is Olkaria, which is situated about 80 km outside of the capital city of Nairobi. While work is still ongoing at Olkaria, the site is already producing 280 MW of energy, and with about 40 new wells being drilled each year there is hope that this number will double very soon. The geothermal energy sector is also benefitting from the LTWP development, as they will be able to connect to the same grid that will run right through the Rift Valley.

Solar Power Development

The Kenyan government does not see solar power as a huge priority at the moment, with high implementation costs, and relatively low output. However, they have been focusing on small-scale rural solar development with the help of NGOS and private companies. This will enable whole communities to have electricity where they are unable to access the national grid.

Kenya is taking major steps and investments in moving towards a cleaner and more sustainable energy future. It is hoped that other countries in Africa will soon start to follow suit, and that the unlimited renewable energy resources in the continent will finally start to be harnessed.

Chile’s Massive Renewable Energy Potential

Chile is a country that is extremely low in fossil fuels, and they have to import 90% of their supply. The country identified that they need to do massive development of their renewable energy resources to successfully manage their energy situation as the world moves towards a cleaner energy climate in the future.

Chile’s Massive Renewable Energy Potential

In the past year or so Chile has become the busiest country in the market of renewable energy, and investors are clamoring to get into the country for many reasons.

Wind Farm Potential

Chile has over 4,000 miles of very windy coastline that is yet to be developed. This leaves a huge gap for wind farm development that is slowly starting to be filled. Latin America’s largest wind farm was completed in Chile last year. The farm, El Arrayan, was developed by the Pattern Energy Group, and is set to generate 115 megawatts.

Solar Potential

The Atacama Desert is hot and sunny and offers a perfect market for vast wind development in Chile. The desert already boasts the Amanacer project, which produces power for the Cap SA mines. SunEdisomInc developed the project, and it produces about 100 megawatts of energy. The company has plans to spend about $1 billion developing renewable energy in the Atacama region.

It has a stable political climate, clear economic laws and a huge amount of undeveloped renewable energy resources. Because of these factors Chile has emerged as one of the major players in the renewable energy industries, and it seems set to continue that way.