| Local Experience With Micro-Hydro Technology |
A second energy crisis, coming from diminishing supplies of biomass energy, traditionally used in most rural areas (wood, dung, agricultural residues), is emerging simultaneously. Population growth, deforestation and diversion of fuelwood and charcoal to cities, where more expensive kerosene is replaced, endanger the ecosystem which supported village life . The system of traditional energy supply always was and remains very much an integral part of village life. Any change in energy use (e.g. increased consumption) has far reaching consequences on other aspects of life and the rural environment. Energy consumption levels of the majority of the rural population in developing countries are sufficient only to satisfy subsistence requirements according to a study commissioned by U.S. A.I.D.. An approximate figure of the amount of energy consumed is 300 to 400 kilograms of coal equivalent per capita per year (kg ce/cy). This figure seems appropriate for reference purposes although conditions in different countries and areas vary widely and data are available only from a few specific cases.
Most of the rural requirements are met with traditional energy resources. Percentage points of traditional energy use in relation to total energy vary in different environments and can be summarised as follows:
-800 Million people use 50 %
-160 Million people use 70 %
-270 Million people use 90 %
-The remaining people in developing countries use around or less than 40 %.
The figures given are based on national averages , and for rural areas the share of traditional energy is even higher.
Commercial energy used in rural areas is mainly in the form of oil-derivates such as petrol, high speed diesel and kerosene. Much of it goes to the transport and agricultural traction sector. Other important uses are lighting (kerosene lamps), cooking (kerosene, LNG, LPG)(LNG = Liquid Natural Gas, LPG = Liquid Petroleum Gas ) and provision of motive power to produce electricity for isolated rural communities and individual farms and plantations, small agro-based industries and cottage industry. Very often such motive power is used directly in its mechanical form, to run all kinds of machinery, typically water pumps, grain-and saw-mills.
Attempts to substitute petroleum products for traditional forms of energy have been dramatically undermined by todays cost of oil. Transport and traction by animal and human energy, for which petroleum products had been substituted to a much greater extent, are suffering a reversal in many regions, and rural electrification -if based on oil-derivate fuel -also has to deal with increasing costs of supply.