From switching on a light to charging our phones to catching a bus, energy is central to our lives. Safe, affordable and sustainable energy needs to be provided to everyone on the planet. African organisations have gained grants to develop the wide-spread use of sustainable energy.
WHERE DOES OUR ENERGY COME FROM?
The majority of energy that we use today comes from burning fossil fuels. Fossil fuels such as coal and petrol are not sustainable resources. They form naturally over thousands of years and currently we are using them at much faster rates. There is a danger they will run out by 2060 if we carry on using them at the current rate.
Fossil fuels are also dangerous for our health and the safety of the environment. Burning them can produce poisonous chemicals such as carbon monoxide, and harmful ones such as carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is building up in the atmosphere and leading to changes in our climate. This will cause the sea level to rise and increase the frequency of extreme weather events, putting the welfare of future generations at risk. We need to replace fossil fuels with sustainable energy.
Sustainable energy sources are renewable (we cannot use them up) and don’t release dangerous chemicals. Sustainable energy can come from sunlight, wind and water movement. These sources do not harm the wider environment and can be used long into the future.
There is huge potential for renewable energy in Africa. African organisations, with the backing of the Ashen Awards, are making this a reality.
SOLAR HOME SYSTEMS
‘Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia’ provides sustainable and affordable energy to households and small businesses. They have done this using solar home systems. These are solar panels that generate and store energy from sunlight. In homes this can power devices such as phones, televisions, radios, and cookers. This means more people have access to communication and information and can generate more income for their businesses.
SOLAR IRRIGATION PUMPS
Millions of farmers rely on rainfall to water their crops. Yet this is becoming very unpredictable. Fuel-powered pumps are being used but they are expensive and pollute the environment. ‘Futurepump’ supplies cheap, powerful and portable pumps for farmers in Kenya, powered only by sunlight. This means that farmers are able to grow more crops all year round.
We need to support the use of sustainable energy. We can choose to use sustainable alternatives, if they are available, and encourage its use within our communities. We can also reduce our own fossil fuel use by turning off lights or walking. With many small changes a sustainable energy future is more than possible!