“Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.“
This is goal seven of the United Nations’ sustainable development program. This means that renewable energy should be accessible to cities and far-flung areas.
As the demand for renewable energy goes up, governments should make it easily accessible to remote and rural communities to invigorate them, create jobs for them, and reduce their carbon footprint.
For this reason, providers of renewable energy like hydro, geothermal, and solar companies, among others, should be tapped by local governments and consulted to see what they can do about remote areas.
As it is now, there’s no way to easily quantify indigenous communities’ access to renewable energy sources because of a lack of federal oversight. Many of these distant communities still rely on diesel-generated power, which roughly costs them about $2 per liter. That doesn’t include the cost to go into town to buy their supply.
In 2017, the short-lived First Nations Renewable Energy Alliance said that Australian communities could spend up to $5,000 per quarter.
Given that many remote communities worldwide are dependent on expensive and polluting diesel generation, thus spending (or wasting, depends on how you look at it) millions of dollars annually, governments worldwide should make renewable energy sources more accessible to them.
Here are a few ways of how renewable energy sources can make a difference in local and remote communities.
Invigorate Local Economies
In 2015, a partnership between Swaziland-based timber company Montigny and Technoserve under an Energy and Environment Partnership (EEP) grant. Their goal was to investigate how to maximize waste from timber to generate energy.
This led to the utilization of Montigny’s then-newly-finished biomass power plant. This plant was recognized to have such great potential for environmental, livelihoods, and employment upliftments for the African nation. The 35-megawatt plant can easily reach beyond 20% of Swaziland’s energy needs. The economic stimulus alone has already saved the country a lot of money since importing more than 80% of its energy from South Africa.
Given this example, an alternative and sustainable energy source can help generate significant savings for the local economies — money that can be easily diverted and invested in other worthwhile development projects that can speed up their development. This is just one of the many instances where a renewable energy source has breathed not just new life but hope into local and indigenous communities.
Create Job Opportunities
The U.S. was able to create at least 110,000 new jobs in clean energy in 2018 alone. Compared to fossil fuel jobs, clean energy jobs outnumbered them three to one.
Until today, leading cities and economies are prioritizing renewable energy not just for its environmental impact but also for its economic benefits, especially in job opportunities and livelihood.
However, the attention should not be fixed solely on big cities and urban centers. The long-term goal should include bringing the clean energy industry to remote areas where many people are available and willing to be trained for the day-to-day operations of particular clean energy businesses and local energy efficiency.
Doing so can create hundreds of thousands of jobs all across the U.S. alone. If other nations follow suit, the world will be adding probably millions of job opportunities, which could, in turn, create hundreds of millions of dollars in local economy revenues and savings.
Lastly, one of the most obvious positive impacts renewable energy has on local and remote communities is the reduced carbon footprint from the decreased use of fossil fuels.
Mind you. This doesn’t mean that renewable energy sources mean zero carbon footprint. All renewable and sustainable energy sources have a minimal amount of carbon dioxide output associated with manufacturing its technology. However, the way it is used can have a great environmental impact on a bigger scale.
As the number of power grids that rely less on diesel-generated power decreases, the amount of carbon footprint we emit becomes relatively lesser.
With the different renewable energy options, a consumer’s carbon footprint and the environmental value of the different clean energy assets will largely depend on the grid it interacts with. But rest assured, it is significantly lower than fossil fuel consumption, which helps us fight against climate change.
With the way things are going, the need for alternative and sustainable energy sources will only keep increasing as the days go by. Those who have access to it can already attest to its benefits. Governments should include remote and far-flung areas in their list of priorities of renewable energy provision.