The focus of technology for developing nations: renewable energy or net-zero?

With the rapid push towards reversing climate change, every country is facing its own set of challenges but especially the developing nations.


The last-minute decision to phase down instead of phase-out of fossil fuels left many astounded at the COP26, while others saw it coming. But it gave a clear message that the world is not yet ready to let go of fossil fuels entirely. Although dealing with the climate crisis should be an unquestionable priority, it is also true that energy transition and adopting cleaner, greener measures and alternatives in every sector around the world is not an overnight process. But as nations, communities, and individuals, we have to take a step ahead in adopting sustainability. The only question that needs to be discussed is what should we opt for first, low carbon or renewability?

Economies across the globe have put in a significant effort in the research and development of various methods to harness natural and renewable sources of energy. With a number of inventions and start-ups already existing in the energy sector, the concept is certainly not new, but now it comes with a deadline and newer technologies that need more Research & Development, investment to come out as viable options. Whether it's investments in the solar and wind industry or developing the new buzzworthy resource as in the case of hydrogen, there is a transition on the rise, which eventually will lead to the replacement of much-exploited fossil fuels in the near future. It is not just the developed countries that have pitched in their resources to research and develop clean energy sources, but also the developing countries that have made some significant moves.

 For instance, India has pumped up its solar energy production to 42GW already, making good use of the vast expanses of land available, and is also about to install its first green hydrogen microgrid project at the Simhadri plant in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Brazil has an enormous hydropower production level at 356.4GW, while Indonesia currently houses four of the world’s top 10 geothermal power projects. So every nation has realized the importance of employing natural and renewable alternatives for the long haul and is generously investing in the infrastructure development of sustainable energy.

Renewable energy is not only better for the environment but also sustainable and requires much less labor and more mechanization. Also, It is further expanding the green jobs sector and skilling the workforce.

Carbon- capture, on the other hand, is a set of technologies of capturing and purifying the emissions in the air. It is also a rapidly growing field, to overcome the net-zero target. Researchers believe that carbon capture is one of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse emissions and cool down global temperatures. Currently, there are 20 CCUs(Carbon Capture Units) around the world, but most of them are only set in developed nations. There are several challenges that must be overcome for large-scale deployments, like addressing technical issues of integrating the CCUs and scaling up the legal and regulatory requirements to decrease investment risk.  A number of factors can explain the slow uptake of CCUs, but the high cost of manufacture and maintenance is one of the most frequently heard of. According to the committee on climate change, 2018 progress report to the UK parliament, the estimated investment cost for the process is scalable according to the source of CO2  and its residue. For a plant treating 40,000 tonnes of industrial residue per year, the cost can be approximately £5m. Researchers often cite CCUs as being way too expensive and unable to compete with solar and wind electricity, especially owing to the fall in costs over the last decade. Further climate policies drive the market and determine economic impacts, including an increase or decrease in electricity prices, and the financing mechanisms to facilitate investment in the technology. Thus several challenges lie in the way of developing CCUs. Actions taken in the field of large-scale transitions must be taken on a country basis taking into account the different circumstances and national policies.  Individual governments should take the call for prioritizing climate change mitigation and undertake appropriate measures accordingly.  

Written By:

Iqra Tofiq

Iqra is a writer with an aptitude for creating opinionated pieces on politics, climate, and society. She has a background in Geography and has previously worked as an SEO content writer and manager for an online media company.

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