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Driving resilience: financing energy for food and water

  • By Stephen Kihiko
  • April 27, 2021

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recognizes energy, food and water as essentials for human well-being, sustainable development and poverty reduction. Projections show that the demand for energy, food and fresh water will increase significantly over the next decade.

The expected increase in demand is likely to be influenced by economic development, urbanization, international trade, population growth and mobility, cultural and technological changes, diversifying diets, and climate change. Amidst these projections is the interdependence between the three: energy, food, and water.

Agriculture accounts for about 70 percent of the total global freshwater consumption. Similarly, food production and the resultant supply chain consume roughly 30 percent of the total energy used globally. In this light, energy is used to produce, distribute and transport food. It is also used to extract, lift, collect, pump, transport and treat water. 

While the need for energy, food production and water is agreeable across the board, providing this energy satisfactorily without planetary harm is a daunting task. Increased energy production to meet the different needs of the population has been found to have a negative impact towards the environment. 

The European Environment Agency notes that energy and environmental challenges are closely related since it is practically impossible to produce, distribute, transport and consume energy without tangible environmental impact. Among the ecological problems linked to energy production and consumption include climate change, water pollution, air pollution, solid waste disposal and thermal pollution.

Investment in renewable energy offers an excellent compromise, in this case. Renewable energy holds the promise of meeting the high energy demands now and in future while offering clean energy. Investing in renewable energy offers many benefits, including reduced energy demand, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and reduced costs of energy across the economy.

Kenya Climate Ventures (KCV) is at the forefront of pursuing this promise. KCV is financing renewable energy initiatives to meet the demand for the same in food production and water. The impact investment company has invested in Ofgen- a solar company- which implements solar energy projects. In collaboration with KCV and other partners, Ofgen also offers upfront funding to cover the costs of solar energy generation, including the purchase of equipment and installation. 

In regards to financing energy for food and water, KCV has partnered with Sunken Ltd., an organization that provides innovative business solutions to commercial enterprises. Sunken limited provides a wide range of green energy solutions to communities, small-scale farmers and commercial projects. These solutions often improve the profitability and productivity of enterprises. 

One of their products, Sunlight Pump, uses sunlight to provide energy used to pump water for irrigation. Unlike the gasoline pumps, it is less expensive to operate, hence better productivity for farmers. The Sunlight Pump offers clean energy for both food production and water, consequently reducing environmental damage.

KCV’s effort in financing cleaner energy is a win-win situation for all parties involved. It increases productivity and profitability for the individual stakeholders, drives the country’s economic development, and conserves the environment.

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