Al Hammond

New energy options for the BOP ?

I’m struck by the seeming convergence of a number of new options for providing/generating energy in rural BOP areas. Wind-up radios and pedal-power water pumps are already succeeding commercially in Africa. Photovoltaic packages look promising for powering cell phone and other mobile device chargers, and may be a good match to power low-voltage WiFi wireless data networks and new hyper-efficient LED light sources. New work on the genomics of cellulose-digesting and ethanol-fermenting organisms may lower costs and widen markets for ethanol fuels, already a success in Brazil, creating both local substitutes for petroleum-based products, export markets, and jobs.

These trends could have both local and global market implications.? Wouldn’t it be interesting if off-grid energy solutions–sophisticated solutions, not just wood and kerosene–turned out to be how several billion people meet their energy needs, sustainably? And although the U.S. and EU may refuse to buy sugar from poor countries, if they perpetuate their agricultural embargos, but they would find it much harder to refuse to buy a “green” fuel.

I’d welcome comments on this thought, and additional examples that fit the pattern.