The true scope of the problem ©Center for Global Development
FAIR WARNING – you may have some reading to do. This article is mostly a slim collation of other articles you may want to read if you want to bring yourself up to speed on the subject of ‘energy access’ and energy poverty.
The other day Pielke the Younger unwittingly, handed me the perfect graphic to illustrate the scope of the problem that lies at the crux of the good humored dispute I have been having with Willis Eschenbach from WUWT regarding Willis’s scheme for The Powerhouse School Concept.
The Graph of the Day: Africa Power Needs, at the top of the page originally came to Pielke the Younger from an article titled: How Much Power Does Africa Really Need? by Todd Moss, Todd is director of the Emerging Africa Project at the Center for Global Development.
Willis’s rural power generation and transmission scheme for the rural poor arose out of his insight that Expensive Energy Kills Poor People, an insight with which I am in total agreement with Willis. The problem I see with Willis’s scheme is that it doesn’t go far enough to solve the real problem of energy access in the developing world. I commented at Willis’s article at WUWT and expanded upon that comment here with my article Powerhouse School Project-unintended consequences of what works.
Pleasant journey in bear country, note the PV pannel on the trailer. ©tipiman 2001
I was fisked today [in a gentle way], it was actually a small honor in this case, the author of The Powerhouse School Concept bog post I wrote about yesterday, Willis Eschenbach, did me the honor of taking some of his time to respond to my comment almost point by point. I actually appreciate this kind of critique, and in this case also garnered some appreciation for some of the points I was making and general agreement on others.
As far as I know Willis hasn’t figured out that the ping-backs to his post are coming from here and hasn’t read either of these two posts. Or, maybe he has better things to do. Of course he is welcome to comment or guest post here.
I think the greatest bone of contention arose between Willis and I over my insisting on emphasizing the importance of economic development for the adults in his community based scheme, which Willis seemed to interpret as a downplay of his scheme’s educational aspect. This was not my intent at all. My intent was to express that both were equally important and that there was a danger of one undermining the other.
Willis Eschenbach, one of the regular authors and commenter over at WUWT has a thought provoking new article up: The Powerhouse School Concept, This article is a further development of his thoughts on bringing low cost electricity to the rural poor of the world who are suffering grave hardships, disease, and excessive mortality due to their reliance on expensive or dirty biomass fuels and coal.
I’m in complete agreement with Willis that, “Expensive Energy Kills Poor People”.
Enviornemtal policy academic and blogger Pielke the Younger had a series of articles on the subject in the fall of 2012 for instance here: Against Modern Energy Access. Pielke the Younger wrote:
Access to energy is one of the big global issues that has hovered around the fringes of international policy discussions such as the Millennium Development Goals or climate policy, but which has been getting more attention in recent years. In my frequent lectures on climate policy I point out to people that 1.3 billion people worldwide lack any access to electricity and an 2.6 billion more cook with wood, charcoal, tree leaves, crop residues and animal waste (an additional 400 million cook with coal).
The “success” scenarios of climate advocates hoping to power the world with carbon-free energy almost always leave a billion or more people in the dark and several billion cooking with dirty fuels. Sometimes, magic is invoked to suggest that “electricity can be brought to everyone” without appreciably increasing carbon emissions. Of course, if we could bring electricity to the 1.3 billion without any access with no effect on emissions, then we could probably do it for 6 billion others.
In response, amplifying Pielke the Younger’s argument in comments I wrote: