Clean energy for emergency response

Damaged power lines during hurricane

Damaged power lines during hurricane

It can happen anywhere—to anyone. A hurricane, a flood, an earthquake. Suddenly homes and businesses ­are lost, and residents are homeless and displaced. Power lines are the first casualties of any disaster. And without electricity and clean water, lives are lost and diseases spread.

Many communities are completely dependent on large, centralized sources of power. These power sources always seem safe and reliable—until they are not. Then, one downed substation can leave a million people in the cold and dark. Without power, disaster victims are at the mercy of extreme weather. They are susceptible to freezing or heat stroke. People who rely on life-saving appliances like dialysis machines, heart pumps, and oxygen systems are among the most vulnerable.

It’s safe to say no one loves a disaster, but disasters are also opportunities to upgrade infrastructure. And one obvious opportunity has been overlooked: solar energy.

When disaster strikes and power is lost, relief agencies like the United Nations and non-governmental organizations typically come in and install a few generators to get basic services up and running. But those generators usually run on a fossil fuel, often a dirty one like diesel. Not only does this quick fix add air pollution to an already troubled area, it can also be very difficult for disaster victims to even obtain diesel. If it has to be shipped in, that can cause serious delays because of wrecked airports and rail lines. And the cost of running a diesel generator is ongoing. It keeps needing more diesel every day, adding that cost to communities that are already financially ravaged.

Helios - Solar powered generator for emergency response

Helios - Solar powered generator for emergency response

Today’s inventive solar companies have designed transportable solar panels and generators that can bring immediate relief to disaster victims—whether the disaster is weather or war. Here at Anton Energy, we have invented a solar generator, called the Helios, that can get a small community up and running in the time it takes to hook it up to appliances and turn it on. The Helios is a standalone product. It doesn’t need fuel to get it running or keep it running, and it was designed for easy transport and rapid deployment. And, perhaps most importantly, it doesn’t hook up to an expensive and vulnerable infrastructure. If one generator is damaged, it doesn’t take down forty others and black out an entire community.

That’s right. No waiting for pipes to be fixed and power lines to be repaired. Communities that sometimes have to wait weeks for electricity and water to be restored would have instant access to the services they lost.

It’s not just about getting the lights back on. Perhaps the gravest danger to disaster victims is the loss of clean drinking water. When storms sweep in, water towers, pipelines, and wells are often destroyed or contaminated. Without water, disaster victims have poor chances of survival.

How does a solar product like the Helios provide access to clean water? By providing instant electricity, the Helios can be used to power water filtration systems and water desalination systems. Some contaminated water merely needs to be heated to kill life-threatening bacteria. The Helios handles that need.

Refugee camps are a necessary evil in disaster zones. But the high rate of mortality in these camps could easily be avoided with thoughtful deployment of renewable energy. Solar energy and wind turbines should be built in to any new camp and added to existing ones.

Several NGOs that provide relief aid have realized the value of renewable energy, especially solar energy. It’s time for other NGO’s to open their eyes to the potential of solar when it comes to emergency response.

Anton Energy joins United Nations list of sustainable energy providers

We’ve been lied to. We’ve been told that progress comes with a price tag. And that price is bad air. You can have jobs and a brisk economy alongside gas guzzlers and smokestacks. Or you can stagnate in poverty and clean air. That’s what we were told. But it simply isn’t true.

The truth is: you can grow business, develop industry, and bring a better standard of living to undeveloped countries, all while lowering the damaging carbon dioxide emissions that threaten the world with catastrophic climate change. Sustainable energy solutions, like solar panels and wind turbines, are the key to progress without climate disaster.

The United Nations recognizes the importance of energy acquisition in developing countries. That’s why the UN launched its Sustainable Energy For All (SE4ALL) Initiative, led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Many of us take it for granted that we can get warm in winter and fire up our laptops. But over a billion of the world’s people have no access to power like that. They have no protection from bad weather, no way to work in the dark, and little to no internet access. The United Nations’ ambitious SE4ALL initiative has set the goal of energy access for everyone by 2030.

Let’s break that down. Universal energy access means everyone has the ready use of modern energy. It also means that current energy systems must improve. The SE4ALL goal is to double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency. And, last but certainly not least, universal energy will mean increasing the proportion of renewable energy in the world’s energy mix. The UN goal is twice the current amount of renewable energy.

To achieve these goals, the UN will work, in part, through the United Nations Foundation which was created to manage the one billion dollar endowment made to the UN by Ted Turner.

Renewable energy providers are the key to achieving the UN’s universal energy commitment. So the United Nations Foundation has put together a roster of companies and stakeholders committed to the mission of bringing clean power to the powerless. Anton Energy is one of the most recent members of this Energy Access Practitioner Network. The network spans 170 countries and aims to provide clean, affordable, reliable, and decentralized power across the planet.

The UN also has seventeen sustainable development goals. Here at Anton Energy, we have embraced the seventh of these global goals and made it our own. That goal is “affordable and clean energy,” and it is our company mission.

We have a clear vision of a world where everyone has light, heat, the ability to communicate remotely, and reliable medical equipment. In that world, people can improve their lives, get good jobs, start businesses, and go to school to learn new things without having to struggle against failing and outdated power grids. We leverage the sun to bring power into your home and homes across the world. We believe you can have clean air AND progress.

How Africa Is Hacking Its Energy Crisis

What is life like in 2016 without reliable electricity?

Meet 3 inspiring Tanzanians who found ways to hack the energy crisis, in which 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have no power.

In this short documentary we meet several Tanzanians who are determined to overcome these types of challenges. Their creativity and inspiring attitudes resulted in unique hacks to the energy crisis.

Haiti: A Perfect Laboratory For Distributed Solar

Imagine a world where only a quarter of the population has reliable access to electricity. And half of that is illegally obtained. Now imagine that electricity is prohibitively expensive because it has to be imported. Throw in an earthquake that has left behind crumbling buildings and a devastating loss of lives. Add a history of poverty.

It might sound like a story board for a Mad Max film, but it isn’t. It’s Haiti. Haiti has historically struggled to power its homes and businesses with fossil fuels which cost the country four percent of its gross domestic product. But the expense of keeping the lights on does not mean that everyone has the lights on. Most rural Haitians have little or no access whatsoever to modern energy. Farmers and small businesses routinely fall back on faulty and polluting diesel generators. Overall, Haiti has less access to modern energy than any other country in the western hemisphere. And Haiti’s dependence on imported oil means that the country is extremely vulnerable to oil price hikes.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that Haiti represents an almost perfect palette for renewable energy opportunities. Anton Energy travelled to Haiti last month to see for ourselves. We didn't only see a country with a history of misery and poverty, we also saw a land of opportunity for distributed solar power that is mostly or entirely independent of monopolistic utility companies.

Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais - The hospital provides primary care services to about 185,000 people in Mirebalais and two nearby communities. But patients from a much wider area—all of central Haiti and areas in and around Port-au-Prince—can also receive secondary and tertiary care.

Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais - The hospital provides primary care services to about 185,000 people in Mirebalais and two nearby communities. But patients from a much wider area—all of central Haiti and areas in and around Port-au-Prince—can also receive secondary and tertiary care.

While Haiti’s government-owned traditional utility provider, L’Électricité d’Haïti, falters in its mission to power homes and commerce, clean energy in Haiti has come to the rescue from a very unlikely source: a hospital. That’s right. L'Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais has been outfitted with 1800 solar panels that generate an overflow of energy. That excess power goes straight into the Haitian grid.

Meanwhile, in Les Anglais, a southern town in Haiti, four hundred homes have been wired up to a micro-grid. These homes are now powered by a diesel/solar hybrid technology, thanks to EarthSpark, a non-profit group with a mission to eradicate energy poverty.

Currently, the high cost of energy hurts Haiti’s productivity and economic growth. Projects such as the EarthSpark grid and the hospital have tremendous potential to transform Haiti into a prosperous nation no longer dependent on imported or strangled by energy poverty. Research conducted by the WorldWatch Institute shows that, if Haiti harnessed all its renewable resources, it could meet fifty-two percent of its energy needs through the year 2030. Haiti gets plenty of sunlight, but it will also need to harness wind, hydro, and geothermal energy.

EarthSpark's microgrid in Les Anglais uses smart meter technology, allowing customers to buy energy when they need it and as much as they can afford, in the same way that they currently pay for cell phone credit and kerosene.

EarthSpark's microgrid in Les Anglais uses smart meter technology, allowing customers to buy energy when they need it and as much as they can afford, in the same way that they currently pay for cell phone credit and kerosene.

It will take a combination of factors for Haiti to realize this potential. The good will of non-profit organizations like EarthSpark will be essential to an energy rich Haiti because the cost of renewable technologies is prohibitive to most Haitians. Simultaneously, the Haitian government must have a bold vision for the future and a willingness to commit financial resources up front in order to ensure the country’s energy stability. Commercial solar and wind turbine manufacturers and installers will also need to create innovative solutions that make the cost of a clean energy infrastructure affordable to individual Haitian families and small businesses.

 

Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future

Inspiring words from President Obama, saying he will double funding for clean energy research and development by 2020 in an effort to help private sector job creation and lower the cost of clean energy.

In this week's address, the President discussed climate change and how the most ambitious climate agreement in history is creating private sector partnerships that are advancing the latest technologies in clean power.

2015 - a transformative year for energy

2015 will be remembered as a transformative year for energy. 

The world finally came together to act on climate with the inspiring Paris Agreement at COP21 - a deal beyond the outside edge of what most commentators had considered achievable. And while others might argue that the Paris Agreement could have been a lot more ambitious it has at least started the slow but important process and showed that there is hope. With so many commitments to keeping temperature rises under two degrees Centigrade and eventually decarbonising the world’s economy. Wow!

We also saw dramatic price plunges for oil and natural gas to the significant emergence of industrial batteries for energy storage, 2015 was on a momentous course even before the world came together in Paris to agree on steps to reduce global warming.

What has been particularly heartening, however, is that 2015 has seen a further geographical broadening of clean energy. 2015 may well turn out to be the first year in which developing countries as a whole invest more in renewable power than developed ones. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Last but not least the new year ushers in the official launch of the bold and transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by world leaders last September at the United Nations. The new Agenda calls on countries to begin efforts to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) over the next 15 years.

With that, it just remains to wish a happy holiday to all customers, friends and partners of Anton Energy.