Tag Archives: renewable energy

Developing Countries Care More about Environment

Thesis: Developing countries are more environmentally conscience than the developed world.

While this might come off as a bit backwards because surely the developed world with much more disposable income have the ability and the desire to be more environmentally friendly than their developing country neighbors, but I am going to prove this argument is wrong.

David Cheesewright, chief executive of Wal-Mart’s international business recently sat down and discussed this topic with the Wall Street Journal and said, “Surprisingly, it’s the developing markets that tend to be more passionate about green products. They do it from a very different dimension.” As can be witnessed by the graph below, areas that have a majority of developing countries are willing to pay extra money for products and services committed to making a positive social and environmental impact.

Green Energy Graph

This is exactly the opposite of the intuitive argument that the developed countries have a much higher disposable income and therefore should be more willing to sacrifice a bit more of this for a product that is environmentally safe. However as Mr. Cheesewright later went on to explain, “In developed markets, you tend to find it’s a much more aspirational purchasing decision. Whereas, in developing markets, it’s much more pragmatic. It’s about the realities of life. If you have to carry your water from a pump a mile away from your home, you love products like shampoos that don’t require water, or detergents that are very efficient. That’s why I think they’re more prepared to look for those sort of products.” People in developing countries do not have the luxuries us developed countries have, and so sometimes environmentally safe products just make more sense.

 

Opponents of this will argue that developed countries are reducing the amount of coal generated electricity they have, while developing countries are relying on this cheap electricity for much of their populations, and they would be right. However, these countries do not have the economic capabilities in place yet to utilize these much more expensive forms of renewable power. While we want/need to make some changes to help reduce the impact humans are having on the earth’s environment, we also want to help people in developing countries rise out of poverty and to an adequate standard of living. This may mean that these developing countries use more harmful sources of power for longer, hopefully the price of renewable energy keeps declining so that it will become more of an economically viable option for these developing countries to implement. As the WSJ reported, “The price reduction of renewables has been nothing short of dramatic, 80% in the last five years. The wholesale price into bid markets for these technologies comes close to zero. I think the coal companies are going to have to pay attention to these technology trends.” This reduction in price, as well as more initatives from developed countries and international organizations should help these developing countries implement more and more renewable energy sources into their power grids. The citizens of these countries will certainly appreciate it more!

Are renewable energies reliable?

Thesis: The world would not fully rely on renewable energies unless they solve the problem of its higher installation costs and uncontrollable characteristic. Moreover, wind and solar PV does not reduce pollution. In fact, it aggravates pollution problems.

Renewable energy is energy that naturally comes from resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves and geothermal heat. Since renewable energy sources do not create a pollutant, many developed countries have been spending a huge amount of money on the development of replaceable energies. Of course, there are many people who anticipate that renewable energy will replace both fossil fuel and nuclear power within the next decades. The Nuclear Information and Resource Service, a non-profit anti-nuclear organization claimed, “There are numerous renewable energy technologies available which could be expanded and many more that have great potential and should be pursued and funded more aggressively”. However, I believe that the world would not fully rely on renewable energies unless they solve the problem of its higher installation costs and uncontrollable characteristic. Moreover, wind and solar PV does not reduce pollution. In fact, it aggravates pollution problems.

What really matters to everyone before they make a decision to buy something is the “price”. Most people think that using a renewable energy such as solar energy is less expensive than other energies because it does not cost any money. This, however, is not necessarily correct. It is true that most renewable energies do not require maintenance for long time but when we consider the price of installation cost, it is unarguable that the price of using replaceable energies is costly. This is because solar panels, for example, use expensive materials to generate electricity from sunlight. For this reason, it is proven that photovoltaic solar power costs about 34 times more than gas fired power in terms of capital costs. In addition, Jerry Taylor, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute stated that renewable energies such as wind and solar power are difficult to transport and “costly to harness given the capital costs of facility construction.”

Another problem with replaceable energies is the “uncontrollable characteristics” of natural resources. Everyone wants their power to be reliable and smooth under possible control but there is no one in the world who has an ability to control replaceable energy sources such as wind, solar, tide and others. Since the wind does not always blow and sunlight is not always bright enough for solar panels to generate energies, we cannot always use energy out of renewable energy sources. Of course, we can store the energies using a battery but it is not only expensive but it also has a huge limit in terms of its capacity. If we cannot use it when we need it, there is no reason for people to use them.

The last problem is pollution problems. When we make both wind turbines and solar PV, we need to have rare earth minerals, which mostly come from China. According to New York Times, it says, “Mining and precessing these rare earth minerals, mostly from China, in their manufacture. Mining and processing these rare earths generates a tremendous amount of hazardous and radioactive byproducts.”