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The existing lack of information and data on potential energy resources, infrastructure, projects, and technical know-how is hindering countless activities, particularly developments in the energy sector in Western Africa. This is due to poor-quality data on energy systems, potentials and trends, lack of standards, and a low level of awareness and technological development in terms of geospatial resource management. Such barriers need to be eradicated, for instance through the use of geospatial technology that can capture, compile, analyse and share information necessary for energy planning and development.
The ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) Observatory for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECOWREX), a web-based information platform, was developed in response to the existing knowledge and information barriers that are hindering development in the energy sector in Western Africa. Its aim is to provide decision makers, project developers, investors, researchers and the general public with tailored information on the energy sector in the ECOWAS region. This platform also employs a Geographic Information System (GIS) to help visually assess the energy resources in combination with other human activities and plan where and when specific energy technologies can be deployed. To keep up with the demand for data sharing and knowledge transfer, it has become crucial to restructure the ECOWREX map framework.
BIOCHAR PLUS - Energy, health, agricultural and environmental benefits from biochar use: building capacities in ACP Countries
Growth in demand for wood fuel, coupled with a lack of alternative resources, has contributed to ecological decline (i.e. a decrease in forest area, increase in savannah, loss of biodiversity), soil erosion and health side effects. In Ghana, for instance, there is high consumption of wood (c.15 kg of wood per day per person) with the highest wood fuel consumption (charcoal or wood fuel) at the largest households, which may be related to wood fuel collection carrying no financial cost to households. People do not value energy conservation and this habit is seriously threatening the availability of fuel: it is estimated that in Togo there will not be any wood available in 20 years’ time. Some available options to change the fuel use need to be explored:
- Using other available biomass as feedstock.
- Improving cooking stoves to reduce the daily amount of charcoal or wood used per family.
- Improving feedstock characteristics (i.e. pellets).
- Studying, developing and applying sustainable forms of forest management.
ENRICH - Enhancing energy accessibility & efficiency through establishing sustainable STI support national networks with a regional dimension in East Africa
Energy deficit and energy poverty have become a major obstacle to growth and development in Eastern Africa. One of the major energy issues in the context of the EU partnership with Africa is price volatility and energy security. Eastern Africa suffers from high prices in the energy market and shrinking natural energy resources. In Tanzania, for instance, 80% of domestic energy consumption is biomass, which is used for cooking (firewood and charcoal)and approximately 95% of deforestation is due to the collection of firewood and production of charcoal.
Restricted access to energy resources is hampering the East African region from sustainable development. Despite the energy emergency in the region, support from research institutes and academia is inadequate to address this situation. However, at the policy level, various countries have stressed the importance of energy access and quality research and innovations.Unfortunately, there is a mismatch between policies, political decisions and societal needs.
In the WABEF project, biowastes are defined lato sensu; these include all organic residues issued from agricultural and agro-industrial productions and from municipalities. Conversion of these biowastes through anaerobic digestion to generate energy and fertilisers should allow the closing of the organic loop and generate a move towards an agronomic management of nutrients while addressing global issues such as food security, public health improvement, environmental management and climate change mitigation. Over the past five years, particularly in Europe, a booming development of anaerobic digestion plants has occurred, increasing the scientific and technological divide even more between African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) member states and most industrialised countries. This development could also take place in the Sudano-Sahelian zone where the climatic conditions are favourable for anaerobic digestion processes.
Even though Botswana, Namibia and Zambia have ambitious renewable energy plans, and activities have been rolled out in the past, a lack of knowledge and a workforce that is insufficiently skilled in renewable energy technologies (RET) is still undermining the development and application of these technologies. Although the potential for renewable energies has been recognised for several decades, governments remain resistant and it is mainly small-scale research, demonstration projects and enterprises that have been developed.
The Caribbean region has weak innovation systems. With research and development (R&D) investments being among the lowest in the world (< 0.5% of GDP), the development of a knowledge-based economy that builds on the use of science and technology to tackle important challenges for Caribbean societies is stifled. Within the context of limited private investment and a scarcity of research institutions, higher education and public research organisations constitute the main sources of knowledge and innovation. To reinforce the impact of research investment, policy makers need to ensure that knowledge is transferred from education and science to society. Understanding knowledge transfer and the associated role of intellectual property rights (IPR) is important in order for public policy to support new growth opportunities. The Caribbean innovation system and the way science and technology contribute to sustainable economic development can be improved through effective knowledge transfer (KT) mechanisms, as they provide incentives for creative and innovative activities, improve the climate for investment and international collaboration, mobilize market forces, and provide new business models.
The application of solar-powered Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) electrolysers for the sustainable production of hydrogen gas as fuel for domestic cooking
Developing Caribbean states like Jamaica depend heavily on imported petroleum fuels to meet their energy needs. The high import bills for petroleum products have adversely impacted economic and social development in the Caribbean. Energy security, accessibility, affordability and sustainability are key issues which these countries face even as climate change impacts continue to hinder growth. Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), wood and charcoal are predominantly used as fuel for cooking. The growth trend for petroleum prices and the continued use of wood and charcoal produced by cutting and burning trees are of great economic and environmental concern. Deforestation is of particular concern in combination with the frequency of extreme climate-related events like droughts, flooding, tropical storms and hurricanes. These events cause environmental impacts such as loss of soil in agricultural areas, silting of the oceans and loss of biodiversity. The region is endowed with many renewable energy resources such as sunlight, wind and water, all of which are underutilised.
Although wave climate is one of the major drivers for coastal systems, there has been no formal assessment of baseline wave climate or climate change effects on wind and waves at scales relevant to Pacific island countries. Because waves directly cause coastal erosion and inundations, this represents a key uncertainty for climate change adaptation by coastal developments and communities. The limiting factor in assessing the effects of climate change on the wave climate and the stability of the coast is the lack of information available on the variability and trends of ocean waves. There is also limited information on how the wave climate and its variability influence sediment transport on the 45,000 km of shoreline in Pacific island countries. This prevents the implementation of sound climate change adaptation and mitigation measures at coastal developments and exposes the population to coastal hazards such as inundations.