Monthly Archives: February 2013

Reduction development budget EU

According to recent numbers of the financial framework of 2014-2020, 9.3 billion euros will be retrenched to compensate the ongoing financial crisis. Van Rompuy, President of the European council, proposed this some days ago on the European meeting in Brussels about the financial framework.

With the proposal, the objective of the European engagement to spend 0.7% GNP on sustainable development cooperation by 2015 will not be achieved.

This is a bad deal concerning the growing problems such as the effects of global climate change, the growing gap between the rich and the poor, the rising food prices and prices of raw materials. The European Commission’s verdict on this is the following:  Europe has to realize they share responsibility for those problems and has to help tackling these challenges.

What is your opinion? Was it a wise move to cut this budget which probably has little influence on solving the global crisis?

Intermezzo: Belgian windfarms and the construction of one

Hi everybody,

Today I would like to deviate a little from the current debate about nuclear energy and die energiewende, while searching deredactie.be I found a short clip in wich they explain (briefly) how an offshore windfarm is build.

http://www.deredactie.be/permalink/1.1006120

Seen as the clip has aired in april 2011, I did a bit of research to find out more about the progression of the project.

The project is situated on the Thorntonbank in the north sea. The Thorntonbank is a sandbank in front of the Belgian and the Dutch coast and is 25 meters higher than the surrounding seabed and about 20 km long.

Thorntonbank

The project started in 2002 and is/was divided into three parts

img_planning_b

As you can see on the scheme the project is nearing its end, on the website of C-Power I found that they are expecting that the final phase will go into operation in september 2013.

The goals for the different phases are listed below

img_installatieschema

On this map you can spot the layout of the windfarm (the color of the windmill matches with the colors of the phases given in the scheme above)

img_installatieschema-clean_klein

The annual generation of the windfarm is about 1000GWh, this should be enough energy for the annual consumption of 600 000 people.

Seen as the first clip doesn’t really go into details, the following video is interesting to watch.  It provides more details about the different steps in the construction.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=XqLOYeXhjDg

The phase 2 windmills on the pillars that where seen in the first and second movie clip.

Phase II windturbines

The windmills of the first phase where not fitted on this type of pillars

fto_presentation01

And it is certainly good to know that this not the only company interested in Belgian offshore energy production but that there are a lot of other company’s also active in the North sea.  The Belwind windfarm is already operating since 2010 and has an output of 550GWh.

windmills and concessieaanvragen

Thank you for reading and let me know what you think about these Belgian projects!

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The long way ahead

After searching some interesting facts on renewable energy to share, I stumbled upon this article from last year.

Article (A quick look at the charts and numbers will give you the basic information)

Reading this article made me realise how far we still have to go. I knew we were far from there, but reading that only 1.6% (in 2011) of the total energy production was from renewables, was still drasticly lower than I anticipated. This actually made me change my mind somewhat as to what the germans are doing. They will have lots of difficulties on achieving their goal, meet a lot of challenges and will probable solve loads of them, clearing up the road for other countries to follow in their footsteps. Maybe not tomorrow, but in 10, 20 or 30 years, when other countries follow the german example, they will have knowledge of the dangers ahead.

Personally I think that the US should do an extra effort and invest some of the money that goes into their (oil?)-wars into renewables. As they have a population density that is 3.5 times smaller than in europe, they have space enough to implement these changes.

As for Africa and South-America, I think they would invest if they could. But as they have been stripped by their own resources by Europe and America they have another evolution to go through.

As for China, they are still polluting heavily, but I think it’s just a matter of years until they are the lead in every sector of renewable energy (Which the graphics actually all show) and will improve on their environmental care.

Has development aid had its time? (PART 2)

Paper: http://www.mo.be/sites/default/files/MO-paper59_EindeHulp.pdf

*Debate: http://www.vvob.be/vvob/nl/nieuws/ontwikkelingsdebat-heeft-ontwikkelingshulp-zijn-tijd-gehad?q=nl/node/3003

M. Leroy speaks about internationalizing, but he means cooperation (he doesn’t use it because it is already meaningful). He claims that we don’t have to learn a fisherman to fish but that we have to fish with him.  But I think that we already have to fish with him when we want to learn him how to fish? And secondly, the step of learning the fisherman how to fish isn’t finished yet! M. Leroy claims that the government has to support and guide the initiatives of individuals. But I think this could lead to more privatization of development aid/cooperation. The problem is that it is a part of the aid-industry in which one look too much to the input and not to the realizations (and also the ‘good jobs’ matter, see previous post).

M. Leroy pleads for a large social debate (not the one above*) about internationalization, this includes not only development cooperation but also trade, financial regulation, agriculture, human rights, democracy, etc. In the debate they talk about this bigger context but we won’t go any further into this matter of bigger context like. I agree that development is also about dignity, rights in social communities and political situation but we will keep our focus on primary needs and leave the bigger context to people who have more knowledge about these things.

“The goal of development is increasing the ability of people to live the live that they value themselves. Poverty is more than lacking material resources, it is lacking the ability. But actually it is not about development any more it is about working together (cooperation), exchanging en confrontation about needs.”

There are still a lot of people who lacking basic needs! So development will be still the most important goal, but M. Leroy means that the approach should be in the way described above. There are also a lot of things that have to be considered as well like human rights and world trade/economy, this can all be brought together under the term internationalization. One can have an opinion about all this matters but I think you should leave the discussion of the different  matters to the experts .

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Has development aid had its time? (PART 1)

This post is based on the article written by M. Leroy:

http://www.mo.be/sites/default/files/MO-paper59_EindeHulp.pdf

Traditional development aid is very old and many say that it is at his end. We have to rethink the concept says M. Leroy. The relevance of aid is decreasing,  there is also a problem about the impact of aid and there are some huge changes in circumstances like the environment and the upcoming industrial countries (ex. China).  Most investments deliver very poor or none results! But the obsession of increasing budgets keeps on going, and one keep on focusing on the ‘0.7% of the Brut national product’ policy. Furthermore have many people good jobs thanks to the ‘aid industry’, and they keep on going behind the smoke screen of development aid without checking if their actions deliver results!

Some principles that M. Leroy introduced:

  • Money changing hands to ideas changing minds
  • donor logic to actor logic
  • emergency aid has its own norms and logic
  • from focusing on incomes to focusing on outcomes
  • effectiveness: the extent in which a goal is reached
  • from development assistance to internationalization

In our next post we will talk about the suggested alternative of M. Leroy, internationalization. To finish this post I want demonstrate that his vision is in some way parallel to that of Ernesto Sirolli (see earlier blog).

“It also not only about quantity (how many kids go to school?) also not only about quality (how good is the education?) but also about accountability and participation, giving the people a chance to go their own way. “

But M. Leroy goes a little further, he claims that if they can fix it on their own, you’ve got to leave them alone.

Follow up on the debate

Hi everybody,

I was very pleased to read all your opinions on the nuclear debate. I think we can agree that we are all kind of on the same page.

As a conclusion I would like to state that we feel an abrupt switch to renewable energy would be mistake.  The evolution should be gradual and measures should be taken to guarantee a steady energy supply, the use of nuclear plants for their full intended lifespan should help providing in this need.  Also in the future it might not be the best idea to fully concentrate on renewable energy but that can change depending on the evolution of the technology in the future.

I hope this kind of sums up the global opinion.

As a follow up question I would like to ask you whether you think that the German energiewende is a good idea?

If you need some extra information to form your opinion you can check one of our earlier blogs and I  also found an article with has a critical view on the subject.

http://www.economist.com/node/21559667?fsrc=scn/ln_ec/energiewende&goback=.gde_2191378_member_140423103

Based on the article I’m inclined to say no. The article creates an image of a decision that has been taken way to quick without enough planning.  The cost of the operation seem to be going trough the roof and the infrastructure isn’t ready for this at all.  Eventually it will be the German people who will have to pay the higher prices.

Nevertheless I admire the courage of Germany to make this decision and sticking to it (not all country’s follow their promises that strictly, think about Kyoto and “buying clean” air), I just think that how this change is accomplished could be done better and maybe they had to give themselfes some more time.

Let me know what you think!

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Environmental impact of wind turbines

When talking about renewable energy you initially think about the benefits, but like everything, it has some negative impacts.

The most noticeable impact is the noise pollution, almost everyone thinks wind turbines are great and more and more should be placed. But when someone suggest to put one inside a close radius around your house, all of the sudden it’s a terrible idea.

Next to the noise pollution there’s also the visual impact, a lot of people complain about the view of a wind turbine and the shading it may cast.

The third significant impact is wildlife. Birds can get hit by the blades and due to the deep foundations, underground habitats can be destroyed.

Lots of plans of building wind energy parks are put on hold or get declined due to complaints of  nearby citizens. The energy companies have even started to pay a bonus if you live nearby a windmill. (Electrabel pays bonus)

What is your take on having a windturbine nearby, do you agree with the decision to cancel plans when the neighbourhood complains and would you change your mind if living near one means receiving an anual bonus?

 

We need a new global framework

In 2000, the UN Millennium Declaration expressed a new rights-based vision for a better world. Eight goals were set up, such as reducing poverty rates, reducing child mortality and improving education.

http://www.un.org/milenniumgoals/

But these goals end in 2015 and a new framework on sustainable development needs rights rather than needs. A ‘rights-based approach’ that puts the well-being of people at the center.

The main reason is the following: poverty is not just a phenomenon among developing countries, there is a worrying trend of increasing inequality all over the world. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) left out many important issues from its list of goals. Issues such as climate change, human rights abuses, insecurity and conflict and social inequality due to gender, age or ethnicity are quite simply missing.
As mentioned before in an earlier blog ‘development’ involves much more than just ‘aid’. Other areas such as trade, agriculture, innovation, peace and security are essential.

The Millennium Development Goals were developed in a way that did not involve people’s participation, only powerful governments and grateful receiving government.  If the post-MDG framework is to be truly global, then more actors such as local communities need to be involved in the process. This will mean the future goals will benefit from greater, wider and deeper insights from a much broader group, especially those directly affected by poverty and social injustice.

The private sector needs to be in included in these decisions because this sector, such as Humasol, plays a key role in shaping involvement of the local community, employment, …