The Chinese government is lowering its subsidies for renewable energy, after researchers found that they were too high relative to the rapidly dropping global price of wind and solar technologies.
Small-scale, community-managed hydro power schemes in remote rural Kenya function well if they are run by strong leaders, and have firm rules for how the scheme should be managed. When members of the mini-grid system know they will be disconnected from the grid for breaking those rules, they tend to cooperate more willingly.
For the average rural Kenyan, having a fully charged mobile phone isn't just a luxury that allows them to make phone calls. It’s a complete office for running their small businesses. So when people have access to an electricity source that allows them to keep their phone batteries charged, it means the entire local economy benefits.
The mountainous countryside in Kenya is ideally suited for small-scale hydro power plants, particularly for communities that are too far from the national electrical grid, or where the infrastructure and connection costs are too high. But the government of this East African country has not exploited its hydro power opportunities, something which environmental economist Mary Karumba hopes to change as she returns to government service after completing her doctoral studies in South Africa.
Having competitions between staff, appointing water-saving ‘champions’ in your office block, or recognising people for their efforts to use energy more sparingly: these are small but powerful ways that cities can encourage people to cut their water and electricity use. Now, behavioural economists at the University of Cape Town’s Environmental Policy Research Unit (EPRU) are about to embark on a three-year collaboration with Cape Town’s utility managers, to see how they can implement these ideas across the city, and get them written into municipal policy.
High state subsidies have helped speed the growth of the renewable energy sector in China, but they now threaten the sustainability of the government’s funding policy for this sector. This is particularly true given the recent reduction in the cost of solar and wind technologies globally. Together, these factors are making the supply side of the sector extremely profitable in China, but are depleting state funds that are earmarked for this much-needed growth.
Ethiopia aims to build a green economy and to follow a growth path that fosters sustainable development. Through the development of its Climate-Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) strategy, which is based on carbon-neutral growth, it envisions attaining middle-income status by 2025. Improving the productivity of the agricultural sector, protecting forests, expanding the coverage of electric power from renewable sources of energy and transitioning into modern and energy-efficient technologies are the main pillars of Ethiopia’s CRGE strategy.
Air pollution caused by wood-burning in homes for cooking and heating purposes is one of the most important environmental problems in Chile, affecting thousands of families and causing early mortality. EfD Chile researchers study families’ and producers’ economic behavior, and advise the government to incorporate effective economic incentives to design better pollution control policies.
Within the unique wetland area Mpumalanga Lake District lies the site of a proposed, and controversial, opencast coal mine, the Lusthof colliery. It will require a preliminary ‘set-aside’ of about 70 million South African rands.
Contrary to the notion that increased biofuels production will undermine the food security of developing countries, EfD research results show that it can increase production of both food cereals and cash crops in Ethiopia. However, the effects vary by region.
ESKOM (national Energy Service Provider) has contracted Martine Visser, Grant Smith (masters student) and Steven Davies to do research on consumer understanding of billing practices.
Payments for ecosystem services in Costa Rica: Does it matter who gets paid and why for the efficiency of payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs aimed to reduce deforestation and forest degradation? This is being studied by EfD Central America researchers.