NCSEA defines clean energy as energy derived from renewable, zero-emissions sources (“renewables”), as well as energy saved through efficiency (“EE”) measures.[i]
As the 7th SDG, access to clean sustainable energy is vital for a better life and better future for humanity. However we can only attain this goal if we jointly use the clean energy resources.
Renewable energy is derived from natural processes that are regenerative over a short period s of time and cannot be depleted. The most common renewable energy resources are biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind.[ii]
A clean energy economy powered by both renewables and energy efficiency is the most sustainable energy planning scenario available.
Biomass is the predominant type of energy used in Uganda, accounting for 94% of the total energy consumption in the country. Charcoal is mainly used in the urban areas while firewood, agro-residues and wood wastes are widely used in the rural areas.
A2019 assessment by African Journal of Environment and Natural Science Research concludes that, biomass briquettes have a great potential for providing cleaner source of energy to the rural poor in Uganda and other countries on the African continent.
From our experience as RGF, we have learnt that briquettes are going to be the cheapest cooking fuel over time, if used with an efficient stove and fireless slow cooking basket to complete the cooking, briquettes become a very economic friendly product.
The cost of leaving for the rural poor is continuously increasing, communities need to adopt new sustainable methods for daily expenditures. The cost of unsustainable cooking solutions is not only financial but also social in terms of hour lost collecting fire wood and attending to open fire cooking as opposed to engaging in other social and economic activities, the environment as well cannot sustain the increasing demand, we need to protect it by adopting and promoting sustainable energy solutions.
Adoption and use of briquettes is one way of creating employment. Different people can engage across different value chain points like sourcing of raw materials/supplies, production, distribution and capacity building.
Clean energy is an ideal means for Uganda to create employment for the young population. The unemployment rate for youths aged 18-30 years stands at 13.3%, engaging in the clean energy value chain would be one sustainable way to increase employment for the youth.[iii]
Biomass technology relies on waste biomass as raw material and hence does not contribute to
deforestation like unsustainable charcoal does. Uganda could promote briquettes use in rural settings and peri-urban areas in order to facilitate transition to green energy sources with low costs to the consumers and the environment.