Green Career Tips by Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar, Founder of EcoMENA, talks to Bhavani Prakash of Green Collar Asia about cleantech industry trends, and offers tips for professionals trying to enter renewable energy and waste management sectors.

This interview was originally published on www.greencollarasia.com and is being republished with the kind permission of Bhavani Prakash. 

Green Collar AsiaHow did you become so interested in renewable energy and waste management technologies?

Salman Zafar: I am a chemical engineer by education. After completing my Master’s degree program in 2004, I got the opportunity to work as a Research Fellow on large-scale biogas power projects which initiated me into waste management/bioenergy sector.

During the course of my fellowship, I was involved in the design, operation and troubleshooting of waste-to-energy plants and other biomass energy projects. The idea of converting wastes into clean and useful energy appealed to me in a big way, and after completing my education in 2006 I started writing articles and blogs on biomass energy and waste management which were well-received around the world. A Swedish gentleman read one of my articles and was so impressed that he asked me to prepare a comprehensive report on biomass energy situation in Southeast Asia and there was no looking back from that day onwards.

Green Collar AsiaAs a leading authority in Asia and the Middle East in this realm, can you give an overview of waste management trends in the region?

Salman Zafar: The rapid increase in population, rising standards of living and scarcity of waste disposal sites has precipitated a major environmental crisis in Asia and the Middle East. Municipalities are finding it extremely hard to deal with mountains of garbage accumulating in and around urban centres. Reduction in the volume and mass of municipal waste is a crucial issue especially in the light of limited availability of final disposal sites in many parts of the world.

The global market for solid waste management technologies has shown substantial growth over the last few years and has touched USD 150billion with continued market growth through the global economic downturn. Over the coming decade, growth trends are expected to continue, led by expansion in the US, European, Chinese, Asia-Pacific and Indian markets. Asian and Middle Eastern countries are also modernising their waste management infrasructure and have seriously begun to view waste-to-energy technology as a sustainable alternative to landfills for disposing waste while generating clean energy.

Green Collar Asia: What are the drivers that are required for waste-to-energy technologies to scale up? What kind of policy support would be conducive?

Salman Zafar: Waste-to-energy technologies cannot prosper without political, legislative and financial support from different stakeholders. Close and long-term cooperation between municipalities, planners, project developers, technology companies, utilities, investors and general public is indispensable for the success of any waste-to-energy project.

Energy recovery from wastes should be universally accepted as the fourth ‘R’ in a sustainable waste management program involving Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. An interesting fact is that countries (like Sweden, Denmark and Germany) which have reduced dependence on landfills have the highest recycling rates, and they have achieved this in combination with waste-to-energy.

Green Collar AsiaWhich areas/regions are investing most in renewable energy, or rather where do you see a lot of activity?

Salman Zafar: China, United States, Germany, India and Brazil are witnessing a good deal of activity in the cleantech sector. China has made rapid progress in renewable energy sector, particular in wind energy, and invested more than USD 6 bi7llion in different renewable energy resources in 2012. India is among top destinations for renewable energy investments with more than USD 6.85 billion pouring in for solar, wind and biomass projects in 2012. Brazil has also made strong investment in clean energy and is the market leader in Latin America.

Green Collar AsiaAs a keynote speaker and panelist for several events, do you see a growth in the number of conferences in renewable energy and waste management, and new locations for these?

Salman Zafar: Yes, there has been significant proliferation in academic as well as industrial conferences in recent years. Renewable energy has caught the attention of the policy-makers, academic institutions, corporates, entrepreneurs and masses because of concerns related to global warming, industrial pollution and dwindling fossil fuel reserves. Infact, oil-rich countries like UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are working on large clean energy projects to mitigate the harmful environmental effects of the oil and gas industry and to augment their fossil fuel reserves.

As far as new venues for cleantech conferences are concerned, countries like United Arab Emirates, India, China and Singapore are in the limelight. Worldwide enthusiasm for renewable energy and green technologies has increased dramatically in recent years, and hundreds of conferences and exhibitions are being organized each year at hitherto unknown destinations which is surely helping in raising environmental awareness and career development.

Green Collar Asia: What skills and competencies are required for this field?

Salman Zafar: Skills for cleantech jobs are more or less the same as that required for traditional jobs. The capability to transfer traditional skills to a green energy project is a crucial factor for any industry professional. Renewable energy jobs are heavily based on core knowledge areas like math, science, engineering and technology.

To get an edge, it would be beneficial to get specialized knowledge and experience in the areas of energy efficiency, waste management, environmental policies, natural resource management, sustainability, computer modeling tools etc. A wide variety of jobs are on offer in the cleantech sector, such as managers, process operators, analysts, engineers, IT professionals, systems engineers, designers, technicians etc.

Green Collar Asia: What advice would you give to professionals entering this sector?

Salman Zafar:  Being a relatively new industrial segment, it is advisable not to rush things while entering the cleantech sector. Focusing your education on core knowledge areas is the first step towards a green energy career. There is an avalanche of jobs in this sector, and key to success is to use your transferable skills to get a dream job.

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Waste Management Perspectives for Oman

recycling-OmanGlobalization and modernization have led to increased consumption among the Omani population. Reportedly, the average Omani household throws away one-third of the food it purchases. Conspicuous consumption fuelled by peer pressure and effective advertising brings more goods and products into the home than the family members can actually make use of. And along with the increase in merchandise comes a lot of extra packaging. Product packaging now accounts for the bulk of what is thrown into household rubbish bins.

The urge to keep pace with what one’s neighbours, relatives and peers acquire means higher rates of consumption: a new mobile phone every year instead of every five to ten years, a new car every three years instead of every twenty to thirty years, and so on. Consumption becomes excessive when we cannot make use of what we obtain. The result is waste. Yet the seeds of positive, environmentally-sustainable, community-based waste management are here in the Omani culture and tradition: they just need to be replanted in the right places and nurtured.

Why should anyone be interested in the issue of household waste in Oman? We can start by observing a few important facts—some positive and some negative—about Oman’s relationship with environmental and sustainability issues. As early as 1974, the governmental office of the Advisor on Environmental Affairs was established in Oman. Later on, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs took its place.[i] Environmental protection, sustainable development, and with that, waste management, are stated priorities for the Omani government.[ii]

Yet Oman has a long way to go when it comes to waste management. More than 350 registered landfills and dumpsites are active around the country, in addition to which, illegal and unmonitored dumpsites are often started by residents of underserved areas.[iii] Currently, the Omani population country-wide produces approximately 700 grams of solid waste per person, and in the Muscat area, the average per person is nearly one kilogramme.[iv] Furthermore, the amount generated per person is projected to increase year by year for the next ten years.[v] According to a study in 2012 by Sultan Qaboos University’s Department of Natural Resource Economics, the average Omani family wastes one-third of its food. That is, approximately seventy riyals worth of food per month is thrown out, not eaten.[vi]

Three important statistics to keep in mind as we discuss the situation in Oman: First, immigrants (migrant workers, expatriates, etc.) account for over thirty percent of the total population in Oman, so we cannot say that this is solely an “Omani” issue. It is an issue that affects all residents in Oman: Omanis and non-Omanis alike. Second, sixty percent of Oman’s population live in cities and large towns. Third, household consumption (i.e., purchases by household members to meet their everyday needs and maintain their current standard of living) accounts for 35.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).[vii] Compare Oman’s proportion to that of the United States, where household consumption as a percentage of GDP is almost double, at 70 percent.[viii]

Recycling efforts in Oman

Recycling efforts in Oman have until now been scattered and not coordinated. So far, all recycling programmes have been initiated by private entities such as schools, businesses, charitable organizations and non-profit environmental groups.[ix] Most recycling programmes have been only temporary, such as the Dar al Atta’a initiative to collect and recycle used clothing in 2013,[x] or very limited in geographical extent, such as the paper and plastic recycling efforts of local schools in the Muscat area. Lacking ongoing funding and logistical support from the government sector, many of these initiatives were unable to gain traction and eventually had to shut down.[xi]

Recycling rate in Oman is still very low

Recycling rate in Oman is still very low

The four Rs (reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle) of waste management have not yet entered the everyday discourse of Oman, but does this mean that they are not part of everyday life in Oman? We think the people of Oman can help us to answer this question. For this purpose, a pilot study was designed, a questionnaire was prepared, and in a series of interviews with individual Omanis we recorded their responses.

The Pilot Survey

The questionnaire covered household consumption habits, food waste and other household waste, and awareness of the four Rs, with particular attention to recycling. The main focus of the survey was on food waste. Of the 21 questions, fifteen were multiple-choice, with write-in options for any needed explanation. There were six open-ended questions, inviting respondents to give their opinion or share something of their experiences and knowledge of the topic. In the tradition of an anthropological study, the survey was specifically designed to be presented orally as a series of questions to individual respondents in a face-to-face interview setting. The questions were written in English but presented in Arabic to most of the respondents. Conversely, responses were given orally in Arabic and recorded in writing either in Arabic and then translated, or directly translated into English as they were written down.

The respondents were all adult Omani nationals, ranging in age from their early twenties to their late fifties. All respondents reside in Muscat, but the majority were originally from other provinces and maintained a strong connection with their home village or town. The respondents represented various occupations such as: university student, homemaker, bank clerk, teacher, taxi driver and police officer. The interviews were carried out in March and April 2016.

The major outcomes of the pilot survey are described in the second part of the article which is available at this link.

References


[i] Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs. n.d. ‘About the Ministry.’ MECA website. https://www.meca.gov.om/ar/module.php?module=pages-showpage&CatID=1&ID=1 (accessed 30/03/2016)

 

[ii] Omanuna Government Entities List. n.d. http://goo.gl/zO4bXZ (accessed 30/03/2016)

 

[iii] Zafar, S. 2015. ‘Solid Waste Management in Oman.’ EcoMena Knowledge Bank. 27 January, 2015 http://www.ecomena.org/solid-waste-oman/ (accessed 20/02/16)

 

[iv] Palanivel, T.M. and H. Sulaiman. 2014. ‘Generation and Composition of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman.’ ICESD 2014. APCBEE Procedia 10(2014): 96–102 (accessed 20/02/16)

 

[v] World Bank. 2015. ‘What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management.’ http://go.worldbank.org/BCQEP0TMO0 (accessed 22/04/16)

 

[vi] ‘Average Omani family wastes one-third of food.’ Gulf News. 23 June 2012 (accessed 28/02/16) http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/oman/average-omani-family-wastes-one-third-of-food-1.1039366

 

[vii] Central Intelligence Agency. 2016. The World Factbook. ‘Oman’.  https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mu.html (accessed 20/02/16)

 

[viii] OECD iLibrary. 2009. ‘Household Consumption,’ National Accounts at a Glance 2009.

http://goo.gl/osZAKR (accessed 29/04/16)

 

[ix] Environment Society of Oman. n.d. ‘Project Recycling’. http://www.eso.org.om/index/pdf/ESO_Project_Recycling_En.pdf (accessed 10/04/16)

 

[x] ‘Dar Al Atta’a Raises RO 12,000 by recycling donated clothes.’ Muscat Daily. 19 August 2013. http://goo.gl/KeRkf1 (accessed 22/02/16)

 

[xi] ‘Ecologists in Oman pitch for recycling waste.’ Times of Oman.  4 August 2014.  http://timesofoman.com/article/38045/Oman/Ecologists-in-Oman-pitch-for-recycling-waste (accessed 22/02/16)

 

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Qatar’s Fight Against Climate Change

Qatar's environmental records have always been in news, of course for the negative ones, but it has always strived to work towards reduction of GHGs emissions. Qatar is already doing plenty to help poor countries with financing and it seems unfair to focus on per capita emissions for a country with estimated population of 2.27 million making it the 143th most populous country on earth. (For climate talks, that is heresy). This may sound harsh, especially since Qatar's contribution to global warming is tiny compared with the United States, China or India.

In recent years, Qatar is making itself a benchmark for all future sustainable and renewable initiatives in the Middle East. Qatar is committed to creating a cleaner and more energy efficient environment which is expected to make significant contributions in addressing climate change challenges and moving towards a more sustainable future. However, these positive moves will not be enough to cover up the fact that Qatar, much as the other oil-producing countries in the Gulf, has still not made any commitment as part of the UN climate talks.

Qatar’s Revamping Climate Plans

In line with Qatar National Vision 2030, Qatar aims to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. Sustainable development has been identified as one of the top priorities in Qatar’s National Development Strategy. Environmental Development is one of the four main pillars of the Qatar National Vision 2030, which aims to manage rapid domestic expansion to ensure harmony between economic growth, social development, and environmental protection.

According to recent reports, Qatar is getting close to opening its long-delayed 200-megawatt solar tender. Qatar currently has a stated goal of installing 10 gigawatts (GW) of solar power capacity by 2030; the 200 MW solar tender represents just a portion of the installations expected over the coming years, but is still a noteworthy quantity. Qatar, as part of its environmental commitment and sustainable development, is turning to renewable sources of energy such as solar power, with initiatives already underway.

Qatar Foundation (QF) plays an instrumental role in Qatar’s sustainability efforts as it helps transform the country into a knowledge-based economy. It also endeavors to realize this vision by making sustainability an integral part of the day-to-day lives of local residents. By doing so, QF is working towards achieving its own strategic mission of unlocking human potential and promoting creativity and innovation.

Qatar Foundation (QF), in partnership with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), is setting up a pioneering Climate Change Research Institute and a Global Climate Change Forum as part of MoU signed on sidelines of COP 18 UNFCC Doha conference in 2012. The Institute, the first of its kind in the region, will seek to fill critical gaps in research on mitigation, adaptation and climate resiliency for key regions such as tropics, sub-tropics and dry lands. However, it is making a very slow pace due to various issues.

Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development is producing up to 85 percent of Qatar's total solar energy as it announced the launch of one of the Gulf region's first Energy Monitoring Centre (EMC) to manage its smart grid and monitor solar power generation across all sites within Education City. The EMC is part of the recently completed Solar Smart-Grid Project that added a total of 1.68MW of new solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at various facilities. The PV systems at QF now generate 5,180 MWh of clean energy annually, resulting in savings of around 2,590 tons of CO2 emissions every year.

The Qatar Green Building Council, a QF member was established in 2009 to promote sustainable growth and development in Qatar through cost efficient and environment-friendly building practices. There has been rapid progress in green building sector in Qatar with the emergence of many world-class sustainable constructions in recent years. With the fifth-highest number of LEED-registered and certified buildings outside the U.S., Qatar has valuable experience and inputs to offer on the system’s local relevancy and application.

Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC) which hosted Doha UNFCCC climate conference COP 18/CMP8 was the first LEED certified project in Qatar and remains its largest rooftop solar system installed to date. Subsequently, Qatar Foundation continues to have the largest pipeline of all PV installations in the country, in addition to its pipeline of LEED-certified green buildings. With more than five megawatts of solar energy installations planned, Qatar Foundation's clean efforts are one of the largest in the Gulf region.

QF is equally dedicated to sustainable infrastructural development. For instance, the student-housing complex at Education City is currently one of the only platinum LEED-certified student housing complexes in the world. Having earned 12 Platinum LEED certifications in the category of ‘New Construction’ from the US Green Building Council, it is also the largest collection of platinum LEED- certified buildings in one area in the world.

Qatar Solar Energy (QSE) has officially opened one of the largest vertically integrated PV module production facilities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The 300 MW facility, located in the Doha industrial zone of Qatar, is the first significant development of the Qatar National Vision 2030, which aims to reduce the country's reliance on fossil fuels in favor of more renewable energy sources. Qatar's fledgling forays into the solar PV sector have gathered pace last year, when state-backed Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec) acquired a 29% stake in SolarWorld in a move that raised eyebrows throughout the industry.

The Head of Qatar’s state-run electricity and water company (Kahramaa) has already announced ambitious plans to install solar panels atop the roofs of many of the country’s 85 reservoirs. With these latest plans are for creative solution to Qatar’s lack of viable land space (the country measures just 11,571km²), it is a must in a country with very little available land for large-scale solar plants. Qatar will adopt a scattered model, installing several small- to medium-sized PV installations.

Qatar's National Food Security Programme (QNFSP) has been a driving force behind the nation’s thirst for renewable energy, creating an action plan designed to better utilize Qatar’s abundant solar radiation. Meanwhile, Qatar Solar Tech 70% owned by the Qatar Foundation (QF) has announced that it is scaling up its local manufacturing capabilities, and will build a 297 acre solar farm in the country’s Ras Laffan Industrial City.

As the host country for 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar has pledged solar-powered stadiums and the country is also working on a range of other solar projects gearing up to this Football Extravaganza.

Conclusions

Climate change and increase in temperatures is making Qatar even more vulnerable to the lack of water and food insecurity. Every single drop of water that is used in Qatar needs to be desalinated. Every single gram of food that is eaten needs to be either imported or grown with desalinated water. The plunging price of oil, coupled with advances in clean energy and resource conservation, offers Qatar a real chance to rationalize energy policy. Qatar can get rid of billions of dollars of distorting energy subsidies whilst shifting taxes towards carbon use. It is heartening to see that Qatar has recognized the importance of renewable energy and sustainability and its fight for reducing its ecological footprint. A cheaper, greener, sustainable and more reliable energy future for Qatar could be within reach.

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How to Make an Environmentally-Conscious Person

The public discourse on industrial pollution, climate change, global warming and sustainable development has made environmental protection a top priority for one and all.  Concerted efforts are underway from governments, businesses and individuals to make Earth a clean and green planet.  When it comes to sustainability, everyone has a role to play. We can contribute to the global environmental movement by adopting changes that are within easy reach.

Here are some tips to prove that you are an environmentally-conscious person:

Use Solar Power

Solar power is the most popular form of alternative energy. Worldwide, millions of businesses and households are powered by solar energy systems. A potential way to harness solar power is to install solar panels on your roof which will not only provide energy independence but also generate attractive revenues through sale of surplus power. Another interesting way to tap sun’s energy is use solar-powered lights for illuminating streets, boundary walls, gardens and other public spaces. Solar-powered lights by Deelat Industrial provide a reliable and cheap source of energy in rural and isolated areas.

Recycle Stuff

Recycling keeps waste out of landfills, thus conserving natural resources. The first step in recycling is to buy a multi-compartment recycling bin for separate collection of paper, plastics, food waste and metal. Paper, plastics and metals can be recycled and reused while food waste can be composted or anaerobically digested to produce biogas and nutrient-rich fertilizer.

Switch to Efficient Bulbs

The traditional incandescent light bulb consumes lot of electricity, and a better alternative is an LED light. LEDs are important because due to their efficiency and low energy, they are beginning to replace most conventional light sources. A LED reduces pollution by a ton per light per year, with almost 80 percent reduction in energy consumption. Although the price of such a bulb is higher, it will surely cover expenses through energy savings.

Unplug Gadgets

A simple method to protect the environment is to remove the power source when you turn off the gadgets. Putting gadgets (or appliances) on stand-by mode consume a lot of power and substantial cost savings can be made by stopping this practice. Prevent energy wastage by unplugging any gadgets not in use or that are fully charged. You may also use smart power strips that cut the power supply to devices that no longer need it. 

Pull that plug!

Use Filtered Water

Buying packaged water is good for your health but this does create a problem. Plastic waste is something that everyone should worry about. At the same time the water you buy will be transported for a long distance until it reaches the supermarket. This means that precious fossil fuel is used in its transportation. An alternative that reduces its environmental impact is to filter your own water and use a refillable water container. Tap water is good for consumption and you can always use filtration systems to increase water quality.

Waste-to-Energy Outlook for Jordan

A “waste crisis” is looming in Jordan with more than 2 million tons of municipal waste and 18,000 tons of industrial wastes being generated each year at an annual growth rate of 3 percent. Alarmingly, less than 5 per cent of solid waste is currently recycled in Jordan. These statistics call for a national master plan in order to reduce, manage and control waste management in the country. The main points to be considered are decentralized waste management, recycling strategy and use of modern waste management technologies. Currently there is no specific legal framework or national strategy for solid waste management in Jordan which is seriously hampering efforts to resolve waste management situation.

Waste can be converted into energy by conventional technologies (such as incineration, mass-burn, anaerobic digestion and landfill gas capture). Municipal solid waste can also be efficiently converted into energy and fuels by advanced thermal technologies, such as gasification and pyrolysis. Landfill gas capture projects represent an attractive opportunity for Jordan as huge landfills/dumpsites are present in all cities and towns.

A 1 MW pilot demonstration project using municipal solid waste (MSW) through landfill and biogas technology systems was constructed and commissioned in 2001.  The project was expanded in 2008 to about 4 MW.  Jordan plans to introduce about 40-50 MW waste energy power projects by 2020. However, biomass energy projects offer a low potential in Jordan because of the severe constraints on vegetation growth imposed by the arid climate. It has been estimated that animal and solid wastes in Jordan represent an energy potential of about 105 toe annually, but municipal solid waste represents a major fraction with a gross annual production rate of more than 2 million tons.

More than 80% of actual total manure generation is concentrated in 4 northern Governorates Al Zarqa, Amman, Al-Mafraq and Irbid. More than 80% of cattle manure is being produced in three northern Governorates Al-Zarqa, Al-Mafraq and Irbid. More than 80% of poultry manure production is located in 5 northern Governorates Amman, Irbid, Al-Zarqa, Al-Mafraq and Al-Karak. An exception is sheep manure. More than 90% of sheep manure is available in three Governorates Aqaba (40%), Al-Mafraq (25%) and Al-Zarqa (25%).

Conclusion

In Jordan, waste-to-energy can be applied at small-scale for heating/cooking purposes, or it can be used at a large-scale for power generation and industrial heating. Waste-to-energy can thus be adapted rural as well as or urban environments in the country, and utilized in domestic, commercial or industrial applications.

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African Development Bank and Renewable Energy

Africa has huge renewable energy potential with some of the world’s largest concentration of alternative energy resources in the form of solar, wind, hydro, and energy. Overall, 17 countries in sub-Saharan Africa are in the top-33 countries worldwide with combined reserves of solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal energy far exceeding annual consumption. Most of the sub-Saharan countries receive solar radiation in the range of 6-8 kWh/m2/day, which counts among the highest amounts of solar radiation in the world. Until now, only a small fraction of Africa’s vast renewable energy potential has been tapped.  The renewable energy resources have the potential to cover the energy requirements of the entire continent.

The African Development Bank has supported its member countries in their energy development initiatives for more than four decades. With growing concerns about climate change, AfDB has compiled a strong project pipeline comprised of small- to large-scale wind-power projects, mini, small and large hydro-power projects, cogeneration power projects, geothermal power projects and biodiesel projects. The major priorities for the Bank include broadening the supply of low-cost environmentally clean energy and developing renewable forms of energy to diversify power generation sources in Africa. The AfDB’s interventions to support climate change mitigation in Africa are driven by sound policies and strategies and through its financing initiatives the Bank endeavors to become a major force in clean energy development in Africa.

Energy projects are an important area of the AfDB’s infrastructure work, keeping in view the lack of access to energy services across Africa and continued high oil prices affecting oil-importing countries. AfDB’s Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), and other programmes, are in the process of identifying priority investment projects in renewable energy, which also include small and medium scale hydro and biomass co-generation.  The Bank supports its member countries towards developing renewable energy projects in three ways:

  • By encouraging countries to mainstream clean energy options into national development plans and energy planning.
  • By promoting investment in clean energy and energy efficiency ventures
  • By supporting the sustainable exploitation of the huge energy potential of the continent, while supporting the growth of a low-carbon economy.

FINESSE Africa Program

The FINESSE Africa Program, financed by the Dutch Government, has been the mainstay of AfDB’s support of renewable energy and energy efficiency since 2004. The Private Sector department of AfDB, in collaboration with the Danish Renewable Energy Agency (DANIDA), has developed a robust project pipeline of solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energy projects for upcoming five years. 

The FINESSE program has helped in project preparation/development for Lesotho (rural electrification by means of different sources of renewable energy), Madagascar (rural water supply using solar water pumps), Ghana (energy sector review) and Uganda (solar PV for schools and boarding facilities), as well as on the development of the energy component of the Community Agricultural Infrastructure Improvement Program in Uganda (solar PV, hydropower and grid extension), the Bank’s initiative on bio-ethanol in Mozambique (including co-funding a recent bio fuels workshop in Maputo) and the AfDB Country Strategy Paper revision in Madagascar.

Clean Energy Investment Framework

The AfDB’s Clean Energy Investment Framework aims at promoting sustainable development and contributing to global emissions reduction efforts by using a three-pronged approach: maximize clean energy options, emphasize energy efficiency and enable African countries to participate effectively in CDM sector. The AfDB’s interventions to support climate change mitigation in Africa are driven by sound policies and strategies and through its financing initiatives the Bank endeavors to become a major force in clean energy development in Africa.

In order to finance energy access and clean energy development operations, the Bank Group will draw on resources from its AfDB non-concessional window to finance public-sponsored projects and programs in countries across Africa. According to the Framework, AfDB will work with a range of stakeholders (national governments, regional organizations, sub-sovereign entities, energy and power utilities, independent power producers and distributors, sector regulators, and civil society organizations) on key issues in clean energy access and climate adaptation in all regional member countries. 

Climate Investment Funds

Part of the AfDB’s commitment to supporting Africa’s move toward climate resilience and low carbon development is expanding access to international climate change financing. The African Development Bank is implementing the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), a pair of funds designed to help developing countries pilot transformations in clean technology, sustainable management of forests, increased energy access through renewable energy, and climate-resilient development. The AfDB has been involved with the CIF since their inception in 2008. 

The Bank is actively supporting African nations and regions as they develop CIF investment plans and then channeling CIF funds, as well as its own co-financing, to turn those plans into action. One of the Climate Investment Funds, the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) provides developing countries with positive incentives to scale up the demonstration, deployment, and transfer of technologies with a high potential for long-term greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions savings. 

In the Middle East and North Africa region, US$750 million in CTF funding is supporting deployment of 1GW of solar power generation capacity, reducing about 1.7 million tons of CO2 per year from the energy sectors of Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. In Morocco, US$197 million in CTF funding is cofinancing the world’s largest concentrated solar power initiative. Another US$125 million is helping scale up investments in its wind energy program targeting 2GW by 2020.

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الطاقه المتجددة بالمغرب العربي

المغرب، كونها أكبر مستورد للطاقة في شمال أفريقيا، تبذل جهودا مركزة للحد من اعتمادها على الوقود الأحفوري المستورد. وتعتبر الطاقة المتجددة  مصدر موثوق في بلد مثل المغرب العربي التي لديها الاعتماد الكامل تقريبا على شركات الطاقة المستوردة.والمغرب تنفق سنويا  أكثر من 3 مليارات دولار على واردات الوقود والكهرباء في حين انها تشهد نمو الطلب على الطاقة بمعدل 6.5 في المئة سنويا.

وفقا لتقرير الوزارة المغربية للطاقة والتعدين، الطاقة الإجمالية المركبة للطاقة المتجددة (باستثناء الطاقة المائية) ما يقرب من 300ميجا وات في عام 2011. وقد حققت الحكومة المغربية بالفعل هدفها المتمثل في توفير حوالي 8٪ من إجمالي الطاقة الأولية من مصادر الطاقة المتجددة بحلول عام 2012 والذي يتضمن توليد الطاقة وتحويلها وتوزيعها.المغرب يخطط لاستثمار 13 مليار دولار لتوسيع مشاريع طاقة الرياح، والقدرة على توليد الطاقة الشمسية والكهرومائية التي من شأنها ايصال حصة مصادر الطاقة المتجددة في مزيج الطاقة إلى 42٪ بحلول عام 2020، مع الطاقة الشمسية وطاقة الرياح والطاقة المائية بمساهمة فردية من كلا علي حدي تصل الي 14٪.

 

برنامج الطاقة الشمسية في المغرب

أطلق المغرب أحد أكبر وأكثر الخطط طموحا في مجال الطاقة الشمسية في العالم باستثمارات قدرها 9 مليارات دولار أمريكي. وتعتبر خطة الطاقة الشمسية المغربية كعلامة فارقة على طريق البلاد نحو إمدادات طاقة آمنة ومستدامة وايضا هي طاقة نظيفة وخضراء وبأسعار معقولة. الهدف من هذه الخطة هو توليد 2000 ميغاواط (أو 2 جيجاوات) من الطاقة الشمسية بحلول العام 2020 من خلال بناء مشاريع الطاقة الشمسية على نطاق ضخم في خمس موقع – العيون (الصحراء) وبوجدور (الصحراء الغربية)، طرفاية (جنوب أغادير )، عين بني مطهر (وسط) ورزازات – باستخدام تقنيات مختلفة للطاقة الشمسية من استخدامات مسخنات حرارية والخلايا الضوئية والمركزات الشمسية.

وسيكون اول مصنع، في إطار خطة الطاقة الشمسية المغربية، سيتم التكليف به في عام 2014، ومن المتوقع أن يكتمل في عام 2019 المشروع بأكمله. وبمجرد الانتهاء،فمن المتوقع لمشروع للطاقة الشمسية توفير ما يقرب من خمس توليد الكهرباء السنوي في المغرب.

المغرب، الدولة الافريقية الوحيدة التي لديها وصلة كابلات الطاقة إلى أوروبا، هو أيضا تلعب دورا رئيسيا في خطة الطاقة الشمسية لحوض البحر المتوسط والمعروفة بمبادرة ديزيرتيك الصناعية. يهدف مفهوم ديزيرتيك لبناء محطات الطاقة الشمسية لتزويد الطاقة المتجددة من منطقة الشرق الأوسط إلى الدول الأوروبية باستخدام كابلات الجهد العالي ذات التيار المباشر (HVDC).

في المرحلة الاولي لتوليد 500ميجاواط في ورزازات وهي أكبر محطة للطاقة الشمسية الحرارية في العالم. سيتم بناؤها باستثمار 2.3 مليار يورو تقديريا، و المشروع هو المرحلة الاولي ليتم تنفيذها في إطار خطة الطاقة الشمسية المغربية. مجمع للطاقة الشمسية ورزازات، بسعة إجمالية قدرها 500 ميغاواط، وسوف يدخل في خدمة شبكات التوزيع المغربية في عام 2015 ويبلغ حجم انتاجها تقريبا 1.2 تيراوات ساعه / سنويا لتلبية الطلب المحلي. وسوف تكون المرحلة الأولى تقنية القطع المكافئ بانتاجية 160 ميغاواط في حين سيتم استخدام الخلايا الضوئية و تقنية المجمعات الشمسية CSP في مراحل لاحقة.

ومحطة عين بني التكاملية بين النظام الشمسي كدورة مركبة مع المحطة البخارية هي واحدة من مشاريع الطاقة الشمسية الواعدة في أفريقيا. المحطة تجمع بين الطاقة الشمسية والطاقة الحرارية، ويتوقع أن يصل إلى الطاقة الإنتاجية من 250ميغاواط بحلول نهاية عام 2012. البنك الأفريقي للتنمية، بالتعاون مع مرفق البيئة العالمية وهيئة الكهرباء الوطنية المغربية (ONE)، تقوم بتمويل ما يقرب من الثلثين من تكلفة المحطة، أو حوالي 200 مليون يورو.

في عام 2010، تم تعيين الوكالة المغربية للطاقة الشمسية (MASEN)، وهي مشروع مشترك للقطاعين العام والخاص مخصصا لتنفيذ هذه المشاريع. وبهدف تنفيذ المشروع ككل ال التنسيق والإشراف على الأنشطة الأخرى المتصلة بهذه المبادرة. المعنيون واصحاب القرارات من المشروع جهات تشمل صندوق الحسن الثاني للتنمية الاقتصادية والاجتماعية، شركة الاستثمار الطاقوية وهيئة الكهرباء الوطنية المغربية (ONE). ويدعم خطة الطاقة الشمسية من ألمانيا، بتمويل تقدمها وزارة البيئة الألمانية (BMU) وبنك التنمية الألماني Entwicklungsbank بينما تعمل GIZ في المهارات وبناء القدرات اللازمة للصناعة.

 

برنامج المغرب لاستخدام طاقة الرياح

المغرب لديه إمكانات ضخمة لاستخدام طاقة الرياح نظرا لان لديها 3500 كم خط الساحل ومتوسط ​​سرعة الرياح بين 6 و 11 م / ث.

مناطق بالقرب من ساحل المحيط الأطلسي، مثل الصويرة وطنجة وتطوان (مع ​​متوسط ​​سرعة الرياح السنوية بين 9.5 و 11 م / ث في 40 مترا)

 وطرفاية والعيون والداخلة، وتازة (مع متوسط ​​سرعة الرياح السنوية بين 7.5 و 9.5 م / ث في 40 مترا) بسرعه رياح جيدة.

 وفقا لدراسة أجرتها CDER وGTZ، يقدر امكانية سواحل المغرب الكلية لطاقة الرياح بنحو 7963 تيراواط ساعة سنويا، وهو ما يعادل نحو 2600 غيغاواط. تم تثبيت مجموع طاقة الرياح في المغرب في نهاية عام 2010 مع أكثر من 286  ميجا واط و اكثر من 800 ميجاواط تحت الانشاء.

تم تثبيت أول مزرعة رياح في المغرب في عام 2000 مع قدرة 50.4 ميجاواط بمنطقه الكوتيا البيضاء (Tlat Taghramt – محافظة تطوان)، تقع علي بعد 17 كم من بلدة Fnidek. الإنتاج السنوي للمشروع حوالي 200 جيجاواط ساعة، وهو ما يمثل 1٪ من استهلاك الكهرباء القومية السنوية.

 في عام 2007، تم انشاء محطةAmogdoul بقدره انتاجية 60 ميجاواط كمزرعة الرياح، على كاب سيم جنوب الصويرة، وتم نشر تفاصيل المحطة على الانترنت. وقد تم تنفيذ وتشغيل المحطة من قبل هيئة الكهرباء الوطنية المغربية ONE، وتنتج حوالي 210 جيجاواط ساعة / السنة. مشروع آخر هو 140 ميغاواط ذو علامة واضحة في مجال استخدام طاقة الرياح في Allak، EL- Haoud وBeni Mejmel، بالقرب من طنجة وتطوان والذي دخل في الشبكة القومية المغربية في عام 2010 مع انتاج سنوية تبلغ 526 جيجا واط ساعة سنويا.

المغرب لديها خطة واضحة وتسعي لتحقيقها بتوفير 2 ميجا واط من طاقة الرياح بحلول عام 2020. وسوف تخرج عن قريب اكبر محطة طاقة رياح في افريقيا بمطقة Tarfaya بقدره انتاجية 300 ميجا واط وبتكلفة استثمارية بحوالي 350 مليون دولار.

هيئة الكهرباء الوطنية المغربية ONE تقوم بتطوير حوالي نص المشاريع المتفق عليها بينما النصف الاخر يستثمر بواسطة المنتــفعين والقطاع الخاص من خلال برنامج مباردة EnergiPro والذي يقوم بتشجيع المصنعين والمستثمرين لتقليل تكاليف الانتاج بانتاج طاقة محلية بقدره 50 ميجا واط . وججزء من المباردة (ONE) تضمن الدخول للشبكة القومية مع امكانية شراء الفائض من الكهرباء المنتجة بتعريفة وحوافز تختلف باختلاف المشروع القائم للانتاج.

 

ترجمه: هبة احمد مسلم- دكتور الهندسة البيئية. باحث في الشئون البيئية. معهد الدراسات والبحوث البيئيةجامعه عين شمس.

مدرس بالاكاديمية العربية للعلوم والتكنولوجيا والنقل البحري-  مصر.

التحكم في البيئة والطاقه داخل المباني.

هندسة الميكانيكة- وكيل محرك دويتس الالماني بمصر. 

للتواصل عبر hebamosalam2000@gmail.com   

 

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CDM Projects in MENA Region

 

The MENA region is an attractive CDM destination as it is rich in renewable energy resources and has a robust oil and gas industry. Surprisingly, countries in MENA host very few and declining number of CDM projects with only 23 CDM projects registered till date. The region accounts for only 1.5 percent of global CDM projects and only two percent of emission reduction credits. The two main challenges facing many of these projects are: weak capacity in most MENA countries for identifying, developing and implementing carbon finance projects and securing underlying finance. 

The registered CDM projects in MENA countries are primarily located in UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, Syria and Tunisia. Other countries in the region, like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman, are also exploring opportunities for implementing projects that could be registered under the Kyoto Protocol.

Potential CDM projects that can be implemented in the region may come from varied areas like sustainable energy, energy efficiency, waste management, landfill gas capture, industrial processes, biogas technology and carbon flaring. For example, the energy efficiency projects in the oil and gas industry, can save millions of dollars and reduce tons of CO2 emissions. In addition, renewable energy, particularly solar and wind, holds great potential for the region, similar to biomass in Asia.

Let us take a look at some of the recent registered CDM projects from the MENA region.

Al-Shaheen Project (Qatar)

The Al-Shaheen project is the first of its kind in the region and third CDM project in the petroleum industry worldwide. The Al-Shaheen oilfield has flared the associated gas since the oilfield began operations in 1994. Prior to the project activity, the facilities used 125 tons per day (tpd) of associated gas for power and heat generation, and the remaining 4,100 tpd was flared. Under the current project, total gas production after the completion of the project activity is 5,000 tpd with 2,800-3,400 tpd to be exported to Qatar Petroleum (QP); 680 tpd for on-site consumption, and only 900 tpd still to be flared. The project activity will reduce GHG emissions by approximately 2.5 million tCO2 per year and approximately 17 million tCO2 during the initial seven-year crediting period.

GASCO Project (Abu Dhabi)

Located at the Asab and Bab gas processing plants in Abu Dhabi, the energy efficiency project is the fifth CDM project in the UAE to be registered under the Kyoto Protocol. The ADNOC's GASCO CDM project helps to reduce CO2 emissions through installation of a device in the flare line to considerably reduce the consumption of fuel gas, thereby ensuring lower greenhouse gas emissions. The project contributes to Abu Dhabi's and ADNOC's goals for sustainable development while improving air quality in the region. This retrofit project is expected to generate approximately 7,770 CERs per year.

Kafr El Dawar Project (Egypt)

Located at the Egypt for Spinning, Weaving and Dying Company in Kafr El Dawar near Alexandria, the fuel switching project is the latest CDM project from MENA to be registered under the Kyoto Protocol. The Kafr El Dawar CDM project helps reduce COemissions through switching from the higher carbon intensive fuel such as Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) to natural gas, a lower carbon intensive fossil fuel, contributing to Egypt’s goals in sustainable development. It has also significantly mitigated atmospheric emissions of pollutants while improving air quality in the region. The replacement of HFO with natural gas is expected to generate approximately 45,000 Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) per year.

 

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An Introduction to Smart Grid

A smart grid is an electrical grid that uses information and communications technology to gather and act on information, such as information about the behaviors of suppliers and consumers, in an automated fashion to improve the efficiency, reliability, economics, and sustainability of the production and distribution of electricity.

Smart grids are now being used in electricity networks, from the power plants all the way to the consumers of electricity in homes and businesses. The “grid” amounts to the networks that carry electricity from the plants where it is generated to consumers. The grid includes wires, substations, transformers, switches etc. The major benefits are significant improvement in energy efficiency on the electricity grid as well as in the energy users’ homes and offices.

What is Smart Grid

In a typical smart grid, central management center controls all the units connected to it making sure to operate them at the highest efficiencies. The central management center does not only assist in better energy management inside the facility but also it helps in reducing the electrical consumption during peak times. This reduction is reflected as huge energy savings.

A smart grid also facilitates switch from conventional energy to renewable energy. In case of having a source of renewable energy in the facility, the grid allows an easy access to integrate it into the grid. Smart grid permits greater penetration of highly variable renewable sources of energy, such as wind power and solar energy.

Smart grid is a new gateway to a green future. It not only provides better energy benefits but also opens up new avenues of employment for youngsters. For example, conversion of normal operating units into smart ones capable of connecting to the smart grid is full of new and exciting opportunities. The global market for smart instruments is trending up with out-of-the-box ideas and innovations from young energetic minds.  

Smart Grid Prospects in the Middle East

The Middle East electricity market is growing at an accelerating rate due to higher consumption rates in the private, commercial and industrial sectors. This results in the need for a successful implementation strategy that can bridge the gap between the current supply and increasing demand. A smart grid network makes for the ideal bridge where the goals of modernization can meet those of a reliable public infrastructure.

Regional countries such as UAE, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are moving ahead smart meter rollouts. The high incomes in those countries, high electricity consumption, and small populations will drive smart meter deployments in the medium-term. The technologies used and lessons learned in these deployments will then be diffused throughout the region.

Smart grid offers an excellent opportunity to modernize Middle East power infrastructure, lay the foundation for energy management, provide new employment opportunities and ultimately reduce region’s dependence on fossil fuels. The Middle East region has the highest per capita carbon footprint in the world which can be offset by deployment of smart energy systems.

In the last few years, the number of events, conferences and meetings focused on smart grid and smart energy has sky-rocketed in the Middle East. The growing amount of attention being paid to this area reflects an increased sense of urgency to meet the energy requirements of fast-growing population and sustain the rapid industrial growth across the region.

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#InspireMENA Story 1: Humanizing Architecture – Through the Eyes of Abeer Seikaly

Through the jasmine-scented roads of L’weibdeh (Jordan) I navigated my way to Abeer Seikaly’s studio, an old house that resembles Jordan's genuine and inspiring identity. Abeer Seikaly is a young Jordanian architect who has been featured on several global and local media platforms because of her innovation "Weaving a Home" that was shortlisted for the 2012 Lexus Design Award.

Influence of Education and Local Knowledge

Top architecture schools in the Arab world are heavily influenced by international trends in built environment and sustainability, and unfortunately Arabic reference material is largely ignored in teaching. The emerging thinking around built environment and its relationship with people and nature rely largely on digital and virtual practice leaving students with minimal interaction with communities and building materials. Moreover, the growing disconnect between research and market requirements in most developing countries magnifies the gap between engineering and sustainable development.  Acknowledging the uniqueness of traditional Arab architecture and its historical importance in shaping sustainable building concepts raises concern on the diminishing role of local knowledge in responding to contemporary sustainability challenges.

For Abeer, having the chance to study abroad provided her with new insights not only about architecture but more importantly about her own potential and abilities within a larger context. What her culture-rich home environment gave her, on the other hand, was respect and appreciation for art, creativity and surroundings. With time, exposure and experimentation, Abeer defined her own architecture. Emphasizing that the pure definition of technology is craft, weaving, and making, her definition of innovative architecture combines old and new, traditional and contemporary. It is also thinking about architecture as a social technology.

Re-defining Success

When people are focused on the product, they usually tend to neglect the joy and benefit of the process itself. Focusing on the process boosts self-confidence and self-awareness and yet requires diligence and mindfulness while enjoying experimentation. It enables us to engage more deeply with the present, and thus, allow us to learn faster and experience life to the fullest.

According to Abeer Seikaly, architecture is not about the building itself but more about getting into it and experiencing its metaphysical nature with time. “Ordinary architects nowadays are inclined to use computer software to design buildings while sitting in closed offices. This is only dragging them away from people and from nature. As a real architect, you need to be out there to feel, interact and test your designs”, says Seikaly. “Creating is about the process and not about the outcome.”

Thinking through Making: The Tent

As a firm believer in the process, Abeer Seikaly has been working on her creative structural fabric for years. When the time was right, she used this creative work to bridge a gap in human needs. Participating in the Lexus Design Award was part of engaging her fabric with people and nature.  Disaster shelters have been made from a wide range of materials, but Abeer turned to solar-absorbing fabric as her material of choice in creating woven shelters that are powered by the sun and inspired by nomadic culture. The use of structural fabric references ancient traditions of joining linear fibers to make complex 3-D shapes.

Tackling an important issue like shelter for a humanitarian purpose can't be more relevant to both innovative architecture and sustainable development. With Jordan being host to more than 1.4 million Syrian refugees, this is about humanizing architecture and meeting basic human needs.  Abeer has explained everything about her fabric and its use in disaster relief on her blog.

Study model showing movement of the system and its collapsibility

She passionately mentions her ultimate inspiration: thinking through making. “Experimenting, looking at material's behavior, testing, and slowly you are there”, says Seikaly. “It is about thriving and not about surviving. Revelation results from years of hard work and continuous perseverance throughout the process”, she adds.

Recipe to Innovate

There is no recipe for innovation, Abeer Seikaly explains, but Jordanian engineers and architects need to ask themselves the following: What are you about? What is local/sustainable? What is Jordan about?

When asked about role of engineering firms, Seikaly stressed the fact that most corporations nowadays do not provide an enabling environment for youth to learn and grow. Emphasizing the importance of innovation, she says “With no personal attention and coaching, engineers are disconnecting from themselves and from community. Despite all the difficulties we face in our country, innovation goes back to personal drive and motivation: if you need it, you will make it”.

“Define your role as an Architect in a developing country, I have discovered mine and became an aware human being. To serve society and improve well-being is who I am”, concludes Abeer.

Architecture and Sustainable Development

The straightforward link between architecture and sustainable development goals is Global Goal No. 11 i.e. Sustainable Cities and Communities; nevertheless, a deeper look at how architecture influences and gets influenced by other elements brings about a link with almost each of the other Global Goals. The unique relationship between built environment, people and nature makes it an opportunity to demonstrate real sustainable development, as highlighted by Abeer Seikaly’s innovation. Around 60% of the world's population will be living in cities in 2030 which dictates a new and integrated way of thinking about urban design and architecture.

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Towards a Waste-Free Ramadan Iftar

In the holy month of Ramadan, Iftar or breaking of fast becomes our main attention. The Iftars are either taken at home alone or with the family and relatives or at Iftar buffets at hotels and restaurants. The other option usually for the bachelors and less privileged people are to open the fast at mosques and at community centers whereby the iftar and dinner is provided for free organized by the rich, philanthropists, charitable organizations and mosque committees.

Disrespect to Food

It is a common sight that at Iftar, people do not respect the food and drinks that are provided to them and leave it partly eaten/ consumed. At home, food which is cooked and provided is often been consumed and left overs are kept and re-utilized. At mosques, Iftar plates or boxes are commonly being made which include dates, fruit pieces, samosa, pakoras, biryani and sweets. If open food is served in dishes and plates, it is often being shared between 4-6 people who partly eat the portions they like. Thus, huge quantity of expensive freshly cooked food provided free by sponsors becomes waste which is conveniently disposed of in the nearest communal bin. The waste also includes water bottles, containers, packaging, cardboards, Styrofoam and plastic plates, sheets, disposable cutlery and tissue papers.

Iftar Buffets – Beyond Imagination

Iftar buffets at restaurants and hotels are no different than at mosques, where Iftar and dinner packages are being offered. In such cases also, there is huge wastage of food, as eating capability of the individuals are limited. The great variety of iftar and dinner items tend to make people take more than required in their plates which later is thrown in waste bins. Restaurants and hotels provide buffets beyond our imagination, with an ‘all-you-can-eat’ spirit. If people knew what ‘all they could eat’, maybe less food would have been wasted. It is difficult to see that the food quantity run out.

At joint Iftar/ dinner gatherings at mosques, clubs and halls, more food is being provided irrespective of the number of people expected. At hotels and restaurants, food is amply being cooked for the fear that it may be fully consumed and where food availability contributes to the hotels’ reputation as running out of a specific dish would be every F&B manager’s worst nightmare. Thus, higher quantities of food/ dishes are being made. Irony of the fact is that the leftover food is not allowed to be consumed by the hotel staff or given to charity and has to make its way to the garbage bins. The view of waste containers full of fresh and valuable food is very depressing especially for a country where most of the food items are imported and is expensive.

Iftar gatherings at mosques are also responsible for wastage of huge amount of food

Violation of the spirit of Ramadan

Wastage of food is a sin and a violation of the very concept of Ramadan. The act of throwing away food is a complete contradiction to the philosophy behind fasting. Quran says food waste must be prevented and mention, “Eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess.” So let us not waste the food. If surplus food is remaining, it should be packed and send/given to deserving people. We also need to make sure the quality and safety of the donated food. Another viable option to reduce food wastage is by recycling.

Let us be more vigilant and not waste any food waste or drinks. We need to think twice before putting any food waste to the garbage bin. Each individual’s contribution counts. Let us save our environment.

Making a Switch to Circular Economy

All forms of wealth and security, including climate stability, biodiversity, resource availability, soil fertility, air and water purity and health, are depleted by the systemic error of running a linear economy. Linear economics consumes the basis for future growth so what is now growing fastest is unproductive activity, inactivity and instabilities. The credit crunch marks the withdrawal of faith in growth-as-usual and any reliable revival of growth and prosperity requires a switch of vision.

Circular Economics

The future for growth is circular economics where more economic activity would mean a faster pace of change away from waste-making and towards looking after the world and all its inhabitants. This would preserve and regenerate material value, co-operation and natural capital instead of losing it, so growth would work to build the basis for more growth. Today this may appear idealistic. Yet if circular economics was already practiced, and people were accustomed to prosperity based on resource security, then any proposal to adopt an exploitive self-defeating vision would be laughable.

Promise of Precycling

Economic dependence on waste is perpetuated by managing waste primarily as an addiction to disposal, “how can we get rid of all this junk?” The ‘waste hierarchy’ (reduce, reuse, recycle, then dispose) that has been available since 1975 is commonly quoted but in practice the bulk of effort and funding provides for continuing long-term disposal to ecosystems (by landfill, waste-burning and pollution). The waste hierarchy is being used backwards and no nation has yet attempted to create the incentives for an economy that grows from the work done to end waste dumping and implement circular economics. This is achievable with the concept of ‘precycling’ originally used for public waste education.

Precycling is applicable throughout an economy and may be understood as action taken to prepare for current resources to become future resources. The ‘pre’ prefix emphasises that this cannot be arranged after something becomes waste; it must be done beforehand. The scope of action extends far beyond recycling, to creating the economic, social and ecological conditions for all resources to remain of use to people or nature.

Precycling Insurance

A simple economic tool is available to switch from linear to circular economics and from dumping waste to dumping the habit of wasting. This tool internalises diverse externalities efficiently within markets by paying the price of preventing problems instead of the larger or unaffordable price of not preventing them. Precycling insurance is an extension of the EU WEEE Directive’s ‘recycling insurance’ from just recycling to all forms of preventing all products becoming waste in any ecosystem. This allows a single economic instrument to work with the issues at every stage of product life-cycles. Significant producers would be obliged to consider the risk of their products ending up as waste in ecosystems and to retain responsibility for insuring against that risk.

Life Insurance for Products and Planet

Precycling insurance is a form of regulation to be set-up in every nation but not centrally planned. The volume of regulation can be cut but its effectiveness drastically boosted. For example, emissions can be cut rapidly with no need for any further ineffectual negotiations about capping. Unlike taxes, the premiums from precycling insurance would not be handled by governments (whose role would be to legislate, monitor and ensure full public transparency).

Unlike conventional insurance, the premiums would not be collected up and then paid out following (potentially irrecoverable) planet crunch shocks. Premiums would be distributed by insurers and invested preventively throughout society, to cut the risk of resources being lost as wastes. Support would be provided for the dialogue, understanding, participation, capabilities, designs, efficiencies, facilities and ecological productivity needed to return used matter as new resources for people and for nature. Today’s resources would feed tomorrow’s economy.

A Free Market in Harmony with Nature

Precycling insurance would switch the power of markets to reversing the planet crunch. The speed and scale of change would exceed the expectations of all who are accustomed to ineffectual controls designed to make markets less-bad. All market participants (such as buyers, sellers, investors and governments) would adapt their decisions to the new incentives, profiting by addressing actual needs rather than superficial consumerist wants.

Producers would remain free to choose how to meet customers’ needs without waste, and even free to continue making wasteful products, in competition with other producers cutting their costs (including precycling insurance costs) by cutting their product’s waste risk. Economic growth would no longer be a competitive scramble between people rushing to acquire and discard ever more resources from an every-shrinking stock. The economy would prosper in harmony, rather than in conflict, with nature.

Shrinking Material and Energy Demands

The material requirements of today’s linear economy would rapidly shrink since the new incentives would lead to the most needs being met with the least materials moved the least distance and then regenerated rather than dumped. The energy requirements of today’s linear economy would rapidly shrink since a smaller material flow with higher quality materials closer to where they are needed requires less energy to process. Shrinking energy dependence is the key to energy security, economic recovery, climate restabilisation and prevention of conflict over diminishing non-renewable resources. The resource and energy efficiency of circular economics makes it realistic to plan the necessary reductions in GHG concentrations (ie net-negative emissions).

 

Note: This article is part 4 of 8 of author's Advanced Research Workshop paper, Seven Policy Switches for Global Security, for the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme

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