Why change now when we have access to electricity?
The fact that “earth needs to be protected”, should be a collective thought held by individuals in modern society. With the steady increase in world population, the demand for energy is constantly rising. The United Nations (UN) has identified the need to make affordable electricity and clean energy accessible to everyone, and has created a Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that aims to realize this vision by 2030. Globally, about a billion people lack access to electricity and around three billion people rely on wood or animal dung for cooking and heating, exposing many women and children to dangerous levels of indoor air pollution. As the population continues to grow, the demand for cheap energy increases and as a result, economies becoming reliant on fossil fuels will contribute in bringing about drastic changes to our climate. Could the use of renewable energy resources such as the wind and the sun be the pathway that we must take to access affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all?
What are these affordable and clean energies?
Ensuring affordable and clean energy by 2030 directs us to invest in clean energy sources like solar, wind and thermal. You may have heard some people dismiss the idea of renewable energy by saying, “what if the sun won’t shine or the winds won’t blow?”. Fortunately, there are many solutions in this regard. In many parts of the world, wind and solar energy are often complementary. So, when it is not sunny, the wind is blowing and vice versa. Also, the storage of energy is increasingly becoming cost-effective. For example, for small-scale systems we can use sources of energy such as batteries and large-scale systems offer options such as river pumped hydro-electric storage.
What is the cost of switching to more sustainable energy?
The expenditure that exists to tackle climate change efficiently is often expensive and discouraging. However, while the initial cost of acquiring and storing such energy might be costly, the investment is definitely cost effective. This is because In the long run, no country or an individual will have to endure the massive costs and economic externalities that come about when using fossil fuels as sustainable energy sources. Many developed countries are in the progress of adopting renewable and clean energy during recent times but developing Asian countries and Sub-Saharan African countries tend to be kept at a distance when adopting these methods. The reason can be pointed out as; the initial cost and the lack of adaptability of the populations.
What is Sri Lanka’s stance on the matter?
Parallel to the global energy transition, Sri Lanka is driving the sustainable energy revolution but with considerable drawbacks. Sri Lanka is often considered one of the world’s most vulnerable countries in the context of climate change. Hence, it is vital for Sri Lanka to secure its energy supply by focusing on renewable energy investment. Sri Lanka is endowed with a variety of renewable energy resources, biomass, hydropower, solar and wind power. Sri Lanka being a near equator country, it has an abundance of solar and wind power. Currently, in Sri Lanka 20% of the total electricity generation is done through hydropower but hydropower output has been impacted by the variability in monsoon patterns, which has significantly increased over recent decades due to climate change. These variabilities impact other clean energy sources as well, but effective methods can be implemented with these energy sources being complementary with seasonal changes.
The SDG of achieving affordable and clean energy is of utmost importance and a goal which is entirely feasible. International cooperation can be enhanced to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology. In achieving this goal, developing countries are in a more vulnerable position in terms of adaptability, resource availability and effective planning. Therefore, it is essential that an internationally integrated approach is crucial for the progress across this goal.
– Rtr. Gethmi Adikari
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