Sustainable energy: Goodbye Canada, hello Africa?
According to Yale University’s 2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) Canada ranked as the 46th greenest country in the world, a shameful and sudden drop from #12 in 2008. Why? Mostly due to Canadian ‘tar sands’ or ‘oil sands’ in the province of Alberta, where huge petroleum reserves lie in the form of bitumen, a heavy black form of crude that is energy intensive, highly polluting and more greenhouse gas intensive than conventional oil extraction.
And now Canada has pulled out of the Kyoto Treaty, citing that it would be too expensive. Canadian environment minister Peter Kent claims that it would cost the taxpayers too much money to meet Canada’s emissions targets under Kyoto. Bit of populist rhetoric that is only music to the ears of oil companies, methinks.
So long, ex green country. Any other solutions out there? How about all that sun in North Africa? Should we turn the deserts into giant green energy farms?
In 1986 a German physicist named Gerhard Knies calculated that the world’s deserts receive more solar energy in 6 hours than humans use in a year.
The culmination of his efforts is “Desertec”, a largely German-led initiative that aims to provide 15% of Europe’s electricity by 2050 through a vast network of solar and wind farms stretching right across the Mena region and connecting to continental Europe via special high voltage, direct current transmission cables, which lose only around 3% of the electricity they carry per 1,000km. The tentative total cost of building the project has been estimated at €400bn (£342bn).
The German public’s anti-nuclear sentiments – spurred on by Japan’s Fukushima disaster – have lent fire to the solar energy rush in North Africa.
Read more on that story in the Guardian.
Sustainable energy projects are also on their way across the entire continent of Africa. From wind energy in Kenya, Morocco and South Africa to hydro power in the Democratic Republic of Congo to geothermal in Ethiopia, Kenya and Mozambique, plus the aforementioned Sahara solar projects.
Read more about Africa’s sustainable energy prospects in the Wall Street Journal.