Fighting Climate Change through Solar Lighting
Uganda’s Conventional electrification schemes are not cheap for rural dwellers to afford leading to only 7% rural household connections to the national power grid. For that reason it will take about 400 years if the annual connection rate doubled to connect the existing rural household. Greenhouse gases emissions are brought about by fuel based sources like kerosene, where kerosene lamps are in use for lighting black carbon has been spewed leading to climate change. These lamps are responsible for over 100 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, where during its life span of 5 years each lamp will have emitted about 1 ton of carbon dioxide. Currently about 1 billion people rely on kerosene for lighting around the world this has led to household fires, diseases like chronic bronchitis in women and acute respiratory infections in children (Armstrong and Campbell 1991). Pregnant women have suffered due to the harmful chemical substances emitted especially the growing fetus. Carbon monoxide emitted binds with hemoglobin which reduces oxygen delivery to key organs.
400 years is really a long time to
have all rural households connected using hydroelectric power as it’s the case
in Uganda, other faster forms of renewable energy have been considered by the
Government of Uganda. Investors are needed to develop other sources of power
like biomass, solar, geothermal and waste energy, in 2010 Tororo Solar Power
Station was commissioned to produce 10 megawatts to be sold directly to the
national grid. About 400,000 homes near the station will be connected thus
reducing on transmission losses. In 2013 the government of Uganda signed a mou
with Ergon Solair to build a utility solar power station of 500MW capacity,
divided into four 125MW plants, with construction of the first plant to start
in 2014. This should be the largest solar project in Africa with storage
|Solar village source: ASYV|
Rwanda opened one of the biggest solar power plant in East Africa producing 8.5 MW, with more than 28,000 solar panels at cost of $23.7 million. You may be wondering why the biggest at 8.5MW because its operating and the above mentioned projects are under construction or they are being proposed. This has put Rwanda in second position to have such large amount of solar to its grid after South Africa.
The solar road the first of its kind a bike path in Krommenie, northwest of Amsterdam in the Nettherlands it was developed by TNO, Ooms Civiel, Imtech and Province of Noord – Holland. Just imagine with little sunlight compared to Uganda, the project has produced 3,000kWh within 6 months, which has been fed to the electricity grid. The amount of electricity generated so far can power an electric scooter to go around the world 2.5 times with just 70 meters or 230 feet of the bike path used. In the 6 months 150,000 bicyclists have used the path.
By Kateregga Dennis, BA(ECON), Dip. IEL