Asia-Africa Needs Energy Revolution
Also in Jakarta, where energy policy makers, industrialists and researchers from Asian and African countries are gathering to share expertise in developing renewable energy and discuss a joint strategy.
Facing a constant decline in conventional resources and worsening global pollution, there are growing calls for a better way out and an energy revolution. Lin Shaowen reports from the Indonesian capital.
The Asia-Africa Symposium on Renewable Energy has attracted participants from both oil rich and energy thirsty states.
Regardless of different backgrounds, speakers say there must be a cheaper and more environmental-friendly alternative to finally replace the current high energy consumption pattern.
Dr. Achiar Oemry is Chairman of Fuel Cell Consortium of Indonesia. He believes he speaks the minds of all.
"Eight years, our consumption of energy increased about 10 percent, around the figure. So I think if we do not try to show other energy like renewable energy, maybe we'll have problems in the next ten years."
Same concerns are expressed by those from oil rich states. Dr. Abubaka Awidat Salem is an energy expert on mechanical engineering in Libya. He warns of rainy days and urges a quick response.
"I think we have to start a real collaboration between Asian and African continents, if we think seriously then we can fight for the next generation to find renewable energy."
Speakers say the situation is alarming. The heavy dependence on traditional mineral resources, such as oil, gas and coal has led to serious hazards to the ecological environment. It has also led to energy price hikes that make its harder for the poor to gain enough access to energy supplies and growing disputes over supplies.
But speakers say there are actually better options. They call for a greater use of renewable, cheaper or sometimes free resources, like solar, thermal, hydro, wind, vegetable oil and animal fat.
Athula Jahyamanne is senior research engineer with Sri Lanka's National Engineering Research and Development Centre.
"Especially in developing countries, we don't have enough money. We have to utilize our money and resources, especially for the development of the nature. In every developing country, you are getting solar power you freely, and hydro power, if you can put the initial cost, then it is free."
But the road ahead is not without difficulties, such as high development costs, a lack of funds and a lack of technology.
Take Indonesia for example. It claims to have 40 percent of the world's potential in geothermal energy as it's located on the so called "ring of fire", with many volcanoes. The country's government plans to increase the proportion of renewable energy use from one percent at present to 5 percent in 2020 by building more thermal or solar power plants in remote rural areas.
But government officials and experts in Indonesia say capital shortage and technological difficulties remain the biggest bottlenecks.
Indonesian Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Purnomo Yusgiantoro calls for greater south-south cooperation to achieve an energy revolution. He says the potential of renewable energy is there and huge.
"Now the key of the game is that the energy and the economics. We can push the technology and energy to where we want, to develop the renewable energy sources. I believe the cooperation is there in developing the renewable energy."
Consensus is already here at the Asia-Africa Symposium on Renewable Energy, that is, to develop more renewable energy. But to make it happen, participants say there's a need to form a joint Asia-Africa community to support the use and development of renewable energy, with policy incentives.
(CRI Apr. 2005)