Alternative energy to adapt to climate change

By: Fernando Ortuño

Greenenergy Director

Recently it was Storm Nate, the year before Hurricane Otto passed. How do we prepare for 2018? Every time we suffer the effects of extreme weather events, our vulnerability to the impact of climate change is evident, increasing the intensity and frequency of atmospheric events to levels never seen before.

I live in Guanacaste. It was on October 4th when tropical storm Nate began. I’ve never seen such strength before. It was two nights of not sleeping, the gusts of wind made one feel that the roof would fly through the air. Trees were constantly falling and the thunder and lightning clattering increased the tension.

It hadn’t been long before we realized that the houses nearby didn’t have electricity, but we never lost it. What set us apart from our neighbors? A year and a half ago I decided, together with my family, to put a system in our home capable of producing, storing and managing our own energy from the sun.

This decision allowed us to continue to live a normal life despite the fact that for four days the community was without energy. Our house served as a home for neighbors to charge their phones at least to keep in touch with other people.

I share this experience as a sign that, thanks to technologies that enable the decentralisation of energy generation through renewable sources, we can produce and store solar energy at key points to support people’s safety and well-being. I am talking about places like medical centres and shelters where autonomous systems could be put in place to help affected families during extreme events.

In May 2015, Mr. Martin Krause, who serves as the Global Energy Policy Team Leader and Regional Leader of the Climate, Energy and Disaster Resilience Team for Europe and Central Asia, clearly pointed out the relationship between energy and development.

The technician argued that insufficient and intermittent access to energy hinders development progress and that inadequate development is more prone to the risk of exposing their energy systems to climate change. In this regard, Krauze pointed to a number of lessons that we should follow if we are to become a better adapted society to climate change, including the following:

  • We need to diversify energy sources and establish a combination of large and small, centralized and decentralized systems capable of reducing the risks faced by the energy sector in the face of disasters.
  • We must maximise incentives to use alternative energy technologies that help combat climate change and meet the objective of avoiding an increase of more than two degrees Celsius over temperature.
  • Alternative energy systems and services need to be affordable to communities and communities must be able to choose the energy systems that best suit their circumstances, so that, for example, hydropower generation is not the basis for sites that could be exposed to long droughts and can take advantage of other conditions such as solar radiation or wind.

After more than eight years of being linked to solar power generation, I have understood that we cannot afford to continue on the same path in a context where the severity and impact of climate change is demanding us to take advantage of available technology and put all our technical capacity to give communities the possibility of reducing their vulnerability.

Access to more and new forms of clean and accessible energy sources is the beginning of a new chapter, in which self-management and production for self-consumption is the basis of an independence that gives us greater assurances and in which the understanding of ecosystems and natural phenomena are within the equation of our strategic development decisions.

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