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In Brazil, Nigerian entrepreneurs miss out on global renewable energy initiative

By Clara Nwachukwu   |   14 October 2016   |   3:17 am
Music stars and entrepreneurs in santa Marta

Music stars and entrepreneurs in santa Marta

• Shell tasks youths entrepreneurial ingenuity

A fortnight ago, young entrepreneurs form across the world gathered in Santa Marta, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to unveil their latest technology in renewable energy.

They came from all walks of life – engineering, architecture, business administration, cutting across countries including Britain, Bazil, Pakistan, and China.

They all gathered for the heroic #makethefuture campaign by the Shell Group. And to demonstrate that the future belongs to the youth, the unveiling of the global campaign was accompanied with music and dance from musicians from the United States, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

The make the future campaign is a cocktail of latest entrepreneurial skills in renewabales, developed from various unlikely sources such as waste coffee grounds, waste cooking oil, motion waves, gravity weight, kinetic energy generated from footsteps and solar.
According to Shell, “We believe the answers to tomorrow’s energy challenges lie in the power of people’s ingenuity, and that together we can #makethefuture today.”

The need for renewable
Efforts have intensified to find alternatives to hydrocarbon resources and make global energy mix more robust to meet growing demand, since energy is vital to everyday life humans need to maximise the opportunities therein.

However, additional skills are needed in terms of human ingenuity, innovation and technology to unlock these opportunities and provide cleaner and healthier energy for all.

Already, it is estimated that by mid-century, there could be 9 billion people on planet Earth, and around three-quarters of us will live in cities.

As more people gain access to energy and enjoy higher standards of living, the challenge facing the world will then be how to produce more and cleaner energy to power our machines and appliances while reducing CO2 emissions that cause climate change.
Renewables milestones

To underscore the importance of renewable, countries around the world invested up to $286 billion in 2015 looking for cleaner and more sustainable sources of energy to power their homes, vehicles and businesses. This was more than double the spend on fossil fuel with $130billion, where developing countries even recorded higher investment of $156 billion above developed countries’ $130billion on renewable projects.

United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, in his forward to the Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2016 Report, said: “Reducing the risks of climate change requires urgent action now.”

More interesting for the UN Scribe also, is the fact that “for the first time, more than half of all added power generation capacity came from renewables.”

The Renewables 2015 Global Status Report, published by Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century, REN21, published on September 29, 2016 corroborated the UN/Bloomberg Renewable Investment Report 2016,

Chairman of REN21, Arthouros Zervos, in a forward to the report, said: “As 2014 demonstrated, the penetration and use of renewables are increasing as is the combination of renewables and energy efficiency.”

For instance, REN21 said: “renewables represented approximately 58.5% of net additions to global power capacity in 2014, with significant growth in all regions. Wind, solar PV, and hydro power dominated the market modern renewable (mostly biomass) generating approximately 8% of this share.

Renewable energy also was used for cooling, a small but rapidly growing sector.

“In the transport sector, the primary focus of policies, markets, and industries has been on liquid biofuels. The share of renewable in transportation remains small, with liquid biofuels representing the vast majority.

“Advances in new markets and in applications for biofuels such as commercial flights being fuelled by aviation biofuel continued in 2014.

Relatively small but increasing quantities of gaseous biofuels, including biomethane, also are being used to fuel vehicles. Increased electrification of trains, light rail, trams, and both two- and four-wheeled electric vehicles is creating greater opportunities for the integration of renewable energy into transport.”

Noting that the share of renewables in the overall energy mix is still under 20 per cent, Zervos insisted that “This needs to change if access to clean, modern renewable energy services for all to be assured by 2030.”

Making the future with Shell Oil and gas, Anglo-Dutch Shell has an asset value of $340.16billion and market capitalisation of $210billion, as at May 2016, making it one of the biggest energy companies in the world.

According to the group which was set up in 1907, “We use advanced technologies and take an innovative approach to help build a sustainable energy future.”

Inviting entrepreneurs to work with it by tasking their ingenuity, Shell believe its “New Lens Scenarios describe plausible futures, where renewable energy sources like solar and wind could provide up to 40% of energy globally by 2060, and the sun could become the world’s largest primary energy source a decade later.”

Some of the entrepreneurs, whose ingenuity stood out among the lot, actually emerged from the Shell LiveWIRE, a social investment programme aimed at helping youths explore the option of starting their own business as a real and viable career option.

“It provides support, access to training, guidance, and business mentorship to young entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35,” Shell explained.

Against this background Brazilian Henrique Drumond, Insolar connects communities in Santa Marta, Rio de Jainero, to solar power by installing photovoltaic panels.

At Bio-bean, Co-Founder, Arthur Kay, used coffee grounds produced by coffee factories, coffee shops and offices turning these waste grounds into an effective biofuel in Britain. The grounds are recycled into biomass pellets, used to make excellent fuel for heating.

Chinese start-up MotionECO, founded by Shutong Liu, transforms used cooking oil into sustainable biofuels that can reduce greenhouse gases from air, road and marine transportation by as much as 85 per cent. In China, citizens have to contend with five million tonnes of potentially harmful used cooking oil each year, which is regularly recycled back into the food system.

GravityLight on its part harnesses kinetic energy from the gravity of falling rocks to produce a safe, renewable source of light to poor communities with no access to electricity in Kenya.

For Pakistani Sanwal Muneer, the solution came by recasting waves from traffic to energy source with Capture Mobility by using wind turbines to capture the energy of traffic being wasted.

Laurence Kemball-Cook’s Pavegen, invented the kinetic tiles, which capture the energy of footsteps and convert it into electricity. The company developed the first kinetic and solar-powered football pitches in Rio, Brazil and Lagos, Nigeria.

In all of these the entrepreneurs are creating jobs for the unemployed youths, while also providing sustainable energy solutions in their respective domains for now and the future.

One on one with The Guardian
The Guardian, which attended the launch of the makethefuture campaign, spoke with each of the entrepreneurs on their experiences, including Nigeria’s musician, Yemi Alade, who represented Africa, in the global event where music met energy. Excepts:

Yemi Alade: “It makes a lot of sense that music is connected to energy because I use energy in my studio everyday and without energy, I can’t do anything. Over time, I am able to understand the idea of what make the future campaign is all about. It is not easy for people to sit down and create all these innovations. A lot of the ideas are still new to an average Nigerian and I will take the message home to Nigerians to remind my people that it is not yet over, as there are organisations like Shell out there who are interested in financing amazing ideas.”

Laurence Kemball-Cook, Pavegen: “What we have in mind is to empower communities to look at energy differently and use it differently. Nigeria is an obvious choice because of the lack of infrastructure and the use diesel generators. The issue creates a massive alternative energy source, so it’s become incredible to go and find out a solution. I don’t have a particular analogy of what the renewable energy market is in Nigeria. It is difficult for Western companies to move into the market considering the risks, but as a small company, we look at the opportunities as well as the risks and where we can grow. As we reduce the cost it becomes more viable in a market like Nigeria.”

Sanwal Muneer, Capture Mobility: “What we do is to place micro wind turbines by the side of the highways to capture the air turbulence caused by traffic to generate energy. If you look at the current energy resources, they’re dependent on the environment or geography. We wanted to create something that is scalable and easily installable and reach out to more people and which can be installed even in the off grid communities as well.”

Shutong Liu, MotionECO, “I found that waste cooking oil is the best feedstock for biofuel. But people collect used cooking oil and the old left over and use it for cooking again, which is a big problem for our health. We can blend up to 50 or even 100 percent. But regularly, we use up to 5 or 10 percent of this clean fuel into the regular fuel, and it will dramatically increase the quality of the fuel.”

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