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The energy independence imperative in a volatile world [OpEd]

We are but to inform the total scale of the financial harm, however we do know that the struggle’s impression on energy costs and provide uncertainty is already right here. This “tax” on the world will finally consequence in slower financial development and hovering lighting and heating prices. Food manufacturing will grow to be extra pricey; so for the poorest it’s going to imply selecting between the fundamental requirements of consuming, heating and lighting.

All of this could be prevented if it weren’t for the world’s reliance on fossil fuels equipped by a handful of volatile international locations.

The results of energy shortage and worth will increase might be felt in every single place, however it is going to be skilled extra profoundly in Africa and all creating markets that lack entry to dependable, inexpensive energy. These markets are extremely reliant upon already high-cost fossil fuels like diesel and kerosene to energy their houses and companies.

Unfortunately, the folks dwelling in the African, Asian and Latin American markets I’m referring to already pay amongst the very best charges in the world for a painful, intermittent energy supply.

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Further, the folks of those international locations will pay as much as 20% of their earnings in energy prices. We are actually asking them to pay exponentially extra in a world the place energy freedom introduced on by alternate options to carbon-based energy sources are simply making an attempt to catch up. This is untenable.

As I write this, the benchmark worth of Brent Crude is $102 versus roughly $80 as we entered 2022. It reached a peak of roughly $123 in March 2022. While a vital enhance, this vastly masks the impression it has on creating markets.

In Nigeria, for instance, market diesel costs have elevated from N275 a litre in January to virtually N600 a litre at the moment, peaking at over N700. On my go to to Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, final month, I noticed lengthy strains at fuel stations that jogged my memory very a lot of the US fuel disaster of 1973, the place my dad and I might sit for hours ready to replenish.

The folks of Nigeria, extremely depending on diesel turbines, already paying a vital proportion of their earnings in energy prices, simply noticed a two-to-three-fold enhance in their energy payments. This backdrop is enjoying out throughout the globe, and impacting the folks of the world that do not need the sources face up to.

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We know that this may maintain for some time period. Announcements banning Russian oil and fuel – both now or in the close to future – are plentiful from the US, UK and EU. The EU is searching for to chop its heavy dependency on Russian fuel by 80% by winter this 12 months. We additionally know we’ll get by this episode, costs will stabilize, and sooner or later in the longer term it’s going to all repeat itself.

It is necessary to not ban fossil fuels. We might even must grow to be extra reliant upon them in the quick time period to handle by these extraordinary occasions. It is in the long run the place we should embrace the mix of renewables and distributed energy as a means to energy independence. Build resiliency in the world energy equipment and scale back our publicity to occasions such because the struggle in the Ukraine.

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Of all the good issues led to by distributed renewable energy together with price reductions by photo voltaic technology, decreased carbon emissions by the inclusion of renewables, it’s really energy independence that the world so wants at the moment and tomorrow.

To be overly depending on one provider can be unwise, much more so if that provider is volatile and doubtlessly hostile. Conversely, a steadiness throughout varied energy sources, each domestically and internationally, is extra steady and predictable. A comparatively peaceable world, with out energy-threatening wars, allows financial development to elevate the poorest out of poverty. But if wars can’t be prevented, we must always not less than guarantee energy provides aren’t disrupted.

Seeking to unfold indigenous energy technology through renewables, was as soon as seen as the best way to fight future local weather change – now it may be seen moreover because the means to ship energy independence.

Written by Bill Lenihan, CEO of ZOLA Electric

*The views expressed in this text are the views of a contributor at Business Insider Africa. It doesn’t signify the views of the organisation Business Insider Africa.

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