One day the oil will run out. One day the gas will run out. One day the coal will run out. They are finite resources. And they are polluting – and burning them (according to most scientists) causes global warming. But even if you dont believe the science, and some don’t, why would you base your economy, your miltary power, your society, on a finite and fast dwindling resource? Why indeed, and a question I am sure the oil, gas and coal industries really hope won’t be asked too often. It would take only 62 miles of mirrors in the Mojave desert in California to produce enough clean, cheap electricity to power the whole of America. Perhaps this is why the oil companies are so keen to discredit scientists and global warming. Imagine the USA proudly self sufficient in cheap renewable energy benefitting consumers and the economy!
In some of the sunniest countries in the world there is a cruel irony that many people spend much time in darkness for a want of cheap energy. And more cruel still is that the remedy is so easily available – if there was just enough seed money to harness solar power. Well now SolarAid is slowly providing funding to turn the sun’s natural power into energy – to light schools, to light hospitals and operating theatres, to allow medicines and drugs to be refrigerated, to light homes. In Malawi many many farmers are beginning to swap kerosene (paraffin) lamps for small solar panels which can be used for lighting, and charging mobile phones. The average £1 per week savings on kerosene more than pay for the panels which cost £19 – and have the added benefit of free mobile charging which often saves a long walk to a charging station where shopkeepers also expect to be paid – oh, and avoiding house fires! In Malawi only 4% of homes are linked to the national electricity grid. If farmers cannot afford kerosene they usually illegally take wood from rapidly diminishing forests, to furl fires for light and cooking. And this could so easily be avoided!