|Energy as it relates to Poverty Alleviation and Environmental Protection (UNDP, 1998, 36 p.)|
|Examples of Sustainable Energy Strategies that Simultaneously Address Poverty and Environment Concerns|
To assist in providing improved energy services in rural areas, modernised biomass utilisation shows great promise. The widespread use of modernised biomass for cooking and combined heat and power (CHP) generation in rural areas can address multiple social, economic and environmental bottlenecks which now constrain local development. The availability of low-cost biomass power in rural areas could be helpful in providing cleaner, more energy efficient rural energy services to support local development, promote environmental protection, and stem the use of coal as a home fuel. It can also help improve the living conditions of rural people, especially women and children who currently face indoor air pollution associated with open burning of agricultural residues.
Gasification of biomass for energy uses through biomethanation or thermochemical means is an important option that has great potential in rural areas in developing countries. For instance, community biogas plants for power generation using cattle dung as feedstock have been used in villages in Karnataka, India (see Section 2.4 for detailed description of this project). The energy provides lighting and drinking water services at costs that are competitive with other decentralised options like household photovoltaic systems (Shivakumar et al., 1998). Similarly, Jilin province in China has embarked on a program to generate corn stalks producer gas using thermochemical gasification for use as a cooking fuel in village households and for fueling engines for electric power generation.
In Brazil, large scale generation of fuel ethanol from sugarcane began as early in 1975 to reduce the counter-dependence on imported oil, to stabilize sugar production in the face of a volatile international sugar market, and to create employment in rural areas. Ethanol is made from sugarcane for use as a neat fuel (100% ethanol-fueled cars) and for blending with gasoline (up to 22% ethanol). The Brazilian ethanol industry is based on roughly 400 facilities drawing from areas of 5,000 to 50,000 hectares, with cane production carried out by some 60,000 suppliers.