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Fighting Poverty with Renewable Energy

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  • Fighting Poverty with Renewable Energy

    Published: 01.06.2004 - Last modified: 01.06.2004
    DEUTSCHE WELLE/DW-WORLD.DE

    At the 2004 renewables conference in Bonn experts from 130 countries discuss ways of alleviating poverty in developing countries and reducing their dependency on expensive oil imports.

    Over 2,500 experts from 130 countries arrived in the former German capital to blow fresh wind into the future of environmental protection.

    With up to 2 billion people in the world still without access to any sort of electricity, renewable resources are seen first and foremost as a way of alleviating poverty in developing countries and reducing their dependency on expensive oil imports.

    As Middle East unrest continues to push oil prices higher, Germany's Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul has stressed that "anyone who thinks we should not be dependent on an unstable region like the Middle East should ensure energy sources are diversified."

    The industrialized countries are slowly getting the message. As the conference kicked off on June 1, participants agreed that there are already promising signs that solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric and biomass power may soon flourish in the emerging economies of the world.

    Reason for optimismThe case for renewables

    Such initiatives are long overdue. Energy poverty is a severe handicap for rural communities. Without electricity, many are unable to set up businesses or provide light for schools and hospitals. One big advantage of renewable energies - such as solar, wind and hydroelectric power - is their independence from centralized electricity grids and big city power stations.

    Michael Hofmann is in charge of multilateral co-operation at Germany's Development Ministry. He says that the developing world already uses renewable energies - but of the wrong type. "In most cases, this is a very traditional type of renewable energy such as biomass," he says.

    "This means wood is chopped down, which creates a lot of environmental destruction." He points out that "in a country like Uganda, you have renewables in the range of over 90 percent, and what we need is a modern type of renewables, that will then mean that these countries would achieve 10 or 15 percent of renewables of the second or third generation."

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