Thursday 17 December 2009

Africa: Climate Hubs Could Drive Clean Energy Research

Copenhagen — Africa needs new sources of clean energy, including a mix of wind and solar energy technologies, and should introduce 'climate innovation centres' to speed their uptake, energy experts have said.

Oliver Knight, energy advisor at the UK Department for International Development, said that the severe water shortages predicted for Africa as a result of climate change mean that the continent cannot rely on hydropower as its only clean energy source.

"Africa needs to diversify from hydroelectric power, which becomes less reliable with less rainfall," Knight said after addressing a session on low carbon energy sources at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen (7-18 December).

Different mixes of technologies would be appropriate for different countries, he said. For example, a mix of wind, solar and geothermal energies could work in Kenya, whereas hydropower, bio-energy and geothermal would be more relevant for Rwanda, which has less wind and solar radiation.

But the continent does not need to launch a massive research and development programme in its quest for clean technologies, said Knight. Rather, it should use existing technologies and adapt them to local conditions and needs.

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