Developing renewable energy



Bea Perks/ Mexico City, Mexico 

Developing countries, with limited resources and relatively low energy requirements, are ideally placed to develop and benefit from renewable energy, says a leading energy researcher. 

Wind, biomass or sunlight cannot yet supply the energy needs of massive industrial plants in developed countries (see Chemistry World, March 2005, p42) but the situation differs markedly in developing countries, says Jorge Huacuz, renewable energy manager at the Institute for Electricity Research, Morelos, Mexico. 

Huacuz joined government representatives and senior energy spokespeople from Mexico, China, India, Brazil and South Africa as well as from the G8 countries (UK, Russia, Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada, France and US) at a meeting in Oxford, UK, to discuss clean energy technologies. The conclusions of the meeting, held last month, will be presented at the upcoming G8 summit in Gleneagles, UK, in July. 

Mexico was the first country to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, says Huacuz and the opportunities to use renewables as part of the 'Mexican energy mix' are many. For example, hundreds of thousands of Mexicans living in rural communities benefit from a national renewable energy programme set up in 1989, based largely on solar home systems. 

But such opportunities come with barriers, Huacuz writes in a paper in press at the journal Energy Policy. Effective policy and regulatory frameworks must be set up alongside adequate and effective institutional and technical resources and improved coordination between national and international stakeholders, he says. 

'Mexico is at cross-roads with respect to renewable energy,' he predicts. 'A swift, strong and sustained effort has to be made to alter the present situation. Otherwise, the opportunity ahead will be lost and Mexico will remain a net importer of the new energy technology.'