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What is the future of renewable energy in developing countries?

I would think that most countries are investing in solar and wind systems when it comes to renewable energy. Nevertheless that is not necessarily the case for developing countries where other sources of energy are being used still for the economic reasons. So what should we expect the future of renewables to be in developing countries?

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  • Oct 18 2013: Let them do as they will.
    Its hypocritical for those of us in the developed world to expect developing countries to shoot themselves in the foot with renewable energy. Once they have proper industry and infrastructure set up, then let them start worrying about the rest of the planet.

    You may have climate change in a hundred years, but in the developing world, people are dying from bad nutrition, preventable diseases, and poor infrastructure right this moment. And all of those things can be improved with application of more money--which means that by saving cash on cheaper energy sources, you can potentially save lives.

    I have my doubts concerning the man made origins of global warming anyhow.
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      Oct 21 2013: nothing stops rich nations to develop cheap renewable technologies, and make them available patent free and royalty free for poor nations, or even help them implementing it. if it does not happen, expressing worries about the planet is nothing more than hypocrisy.
      • Oct 21 2013: My point exactly.

        I, at least, am freely willing to admit my own hypocrisy living in the developed world. Though there's a difference between failing to offer charity, and enforcing further difficulties on those already handicapped.
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    Oct 18 2013: It will coincide with education as all things do.
    "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand"- Confucius
  • Oct 22 2013: Whatever these countries decide to make it to be. Renewable energy is not costly. Look at the simple designs for sun-energy water heaters, and solar stoves. The stoves are basically mirrors concentrating the sunlight, for example. It's up to peoples imagination rather than up to their amounts of money. SHould developing countries realize of the huge potential of reneweable energy, the "developed" ones would quickly be left behind.
    • Oct 22 2013: Note that both of the designs you've suggested are no good for power generation, only heating water.

      Now there are plenty of applications for water hot enough for a nice bath, but for things like setting up an industry, it just doesn't cut it. Fossil fuels are just more economical in a pure electrical energy per dollar basis.
      • Oct 25 2013: Fossil fuels better? For how long? Anyway, how do you think vapour machines moved? They used fuels, but mirrors can concentrate enough energy to boil water and move stuff. But I was still only touching the surface. If people saved energy and cooked with the sun, warmed their water with the sun, they would have more fossil fuels for other stuff. Of course, saving here and there also help develop better technologies. But a start is right within hand.

        The answers are in the ingenuity of people. I doubt that other sources of energy are used just for economic reasons. It's more that people have not felt the need for developing ideas around alternatives. Wood was around, let's burn it. Quite direct. Use mirrors to heat that meal did not come to their minds because fire is fascinating. That creates a culture, and other things fail to develop. But make people aware and maybe they'll come with better and economical ideas. Pretending that the only solutions are the expensive ones is what makes this so difficult.
  • Oct 22 2013: If it is expected that world will produce 18% of the energy in 2050 from renewables, it should be thought that the most power can be found in the tropic, where most of the developing countries are located. So there is a great potential that should bring the attention of those interested in renewables. Another thing could be the new market mechanisms from UNFCCC that could help with the economic and technical capacity.
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    Oct 21 2013: Daniel, The answer lies in money. Wind, solar, etc ... have had limited success and are expensive. Third world economies are still far off from having this.

    You will know when "green" become serious when the likes of Al Gore, the spokesperson, is replaced with someone creditable.

    Good luck. Bob.
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    Oct 20 2013: On the national level, wind and solar are at best supplemental sources of power. Solar power can level the surge demand caused by air conditioning during hot summer months. Wind power can fill in for fuel generation units during low use times for recurring maintenance. In high "renewable usage countries" such as Germany, solar is encouraged more for residential use. In the Canary Islands, Wind power is used extensively to sustain large resort hotels along the island beaches. In either case a power dip due to calm winds or cloudy skies is a minor inconvenience You want high quality sustained power in hospital operating suites, first world or third world.
    I have to believe that all countries are looking to provide the most economical sources for power regardless of status
    as listed by the world bank.
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    Oct 19 2013: I think renewable energy is the future. Period.It does not matter what country you talk about. There are other merits to renewable energy than avoiding disasters of global warming. We can get sustainable energy and avoid a big price war for the conventional sources in the coming years. It may be costlier but when you know you have to switch to it inevitably, why not start right away.A wholesale switch maybe will not be possible, but to not be constantly in the process of having a greater power share coming from renewable sources will eventually cause more harm than good. As for what my fast becoming good friend Nadav pointed out about the immediate need for energy saving lives in the poorer nations, let me say that it's not usually availability of conventional resources that's the problem in developing countries but political paralysis, poor delivery mechaism and vested interest against the powerless to keep them so that leads to energy crisis for the poor. So in fact renewable installation like solar and wind may well be their ticket to freedom.
    • Oct 20 2013: I fail to see the connection between renewable energy technology and battling corruption, special interest groups, and political incompetence.
      If a non renewable power producing project is brought down by such things, why should a renewable one fair better? Goodwill?

      The truth of the matter is, there are many developing countries today where even if you install a power plant today, they won't have the money to buy electricity off you tomorrow. Producing the electricity via more expensive renewable means is pretty much the opposite of addressing the problem.

      As for not starting adopting renewables right now, its because the renewable technology is only improving, and there are still fossil fuels to burn.
      By waiting, not only will you be investing in better renewables (they may actually be cost effective in the future, something they're not right now), it'll also be an easier sell as the fossil fuels grow more expensive as they eventually start to dwindle. Or just go for nuclear power instead if its politically and economically possible in your country (unfortunately not the case in the developing world--another reason to stick to fossil fuels); we're in no danger of running out of uranium in the next couple of centuries.
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        Oct 21 2013: First, I think we should not be too keen on a situation where fossil fuels have almost run out and are hence too costly before we start using the renewable option effectively . Its like waiting for the dam to almost burst before evacuating. I totally agree that there is loads of room for improvement in this field as well. But unless its usage is increased, there would not even be an impetus to improve.

        Also what i was saying about solar and wind installations was, like hydel power and biogas these can be more accessible for the people as small installations for these sources are possible. Keeping in mind the backwardness of many societies their demands will not be high to begin with and they may be able to serve the people with just enough (to get nightlights, maybe run a borewell).
        Conventional resources like coal and gas are usually not available to say a village administration or run even a mini-plant of coal while its easier to manage say a water-wheel or a biogas treating plant or 10 wind mills in a field that produce few kW of power. What i was talking about was small-scale installation being possible for these sources which will grant the poor control over their own power.

        P.S.:My opinions are governed by my own observations such as-1) in India a lot of potential sites for wind and solar energy installations are available at a small scale(identified by govt survey) which are not being utilised.2) Oil and gas are already quite costly for the commoner anyway.
        • Oct 21 2013: Even small scale, its cheaper to import fossil fuels via the truck load than it is to produce power via renewable means.

          Hydroelectric and geothermal are an exception, but both require you strike lucky on geography. There is little growth in either field because most spots fit to utilize are already implemented.
          Biogas is also neat, but has difficulty keeping up with demand. Its more of a supplement than a replacement.
          Wind and solar on the other hand, are both cost inefficient on any scale, and further limited by the fact that mother nature controls the on/off switch (which comes with serious drawbacks both in economics and implementation). Solar is useful for heating bath water, but is poorly suited for electric generation. Wind doesn't even have that.

          Normally I'd suggest nuclear, but the high initial construction cost as well as political limitations make it poorly suited for most of the developing world.
          Besides, we have coal and gas enough for centuries. Oil is the only one threatening running short, with mere decades, and even that's plenty of time to adjust assuming a war doesn't abruptly cut off supply or something. Besides, oil isn't used for large scale power generation in most places anyhow, its value as a motor fuel drives its cost too high for that.

          In short, stick to fossil fuels. They're not a good option, just better than everything else.
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      Oct 21 2013: any argument having the word "period" in it can be assumed incorrect. it is a sloppy attempt to move the spotlight away from an unbacked claim. why move the spotlight away, if the claim can be supported by argument?
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        Oct 21 2013: Never meant it that way.Too much Hollywood hurting my communication skills, i guess!