How To Make Renewable Energy More Affordable To Rural Communities

rural solar
© Dominic Chavez/World Bank

Whether you drive an electric car or have a compost bin in your yard, civilians are transitioning to greener lifestyles. The rising global temperature and changing weather patterns persuade individuals to take action. Society is making strides to shrink its carbon footprint, but our power cables are the umbilical cord we have trouble cutting.

Rather than turning off our screens for good, we can simply charge them using an eco-friendly energy source. Renewable energy systems convert non-depletable natural sources, like the sun and wind, into electricity. You can see these devices in use when you pass a turning wind turbine on the side of an urban highway or solar-powered roofs in the suburbs.

Why We Need Renewable Energy

We currently source the majority of our energy by burning fossil fuels. Our homes’ electricity and cars’ fuel derives from coal, oil and natural gases. When we burn these materials, air pollutants invade the atmosphere causing the enhanced greenhouse effect.

The greenhouse effect is an organic process that heats the Earth’s surface to sustain life. Elements in the atmosphere retain the sun’s energy for a brief period while the planet warms to an appropriate temperature. When air pollutants consume the atmosphere, they absorb this energy, convert it to heat and trap it in the air for extended periods. Over time, this process raises the global temperature.

Installing a solar panel on your roof or wind turbine on your property is a costly investment. It requires a large upfront payment and access to assembling resources. It may be difficult to transition away from conventional energy sourcing in rural communities that lack these resources or funds. Fortunately, there are ways to adopt green power while on a budget.

Residential Renewable Energy Sites

Many individuals believe that homeowners with wind or solar energy devices are the only ones who can source the energy they produce. If you have a renewable energy sourcing appliance, you can share that energy with your community.

A non-profit organization, GRID, utilizes this shared accessibility to bring renewable energy to under-served communities. The company finds homes with optimal sun or wind exposure and installs renewable energy devices for no homeowner cost. They can then distribute the energy produced on their property throughout the community.

GRID creates accessible and affordable green energy in rural areas and creates jobs. As more systems arrive in these regions, the company must find additional employees to perform installations. This eliminated the upfront costs associated with renewable energy system purchases while still providing access to clean power.

Cooperatives

Cooperatives (co-ops) can provide affordable energy to rural areas because they only source residents’ power demands. When co-ops source renewable energy, they can provide clean, inexpensive electricity to an entire community. These companies also developed a way for low-income individuals to invest in small shares of solar projects.

Community solar programs allow residents to source their energy from renewable sources without purchasing a green device. When community members buy a share of the solar project, they benefit from the power it generates. This system also helps homeowners that live in shaded or windless regions.

Technological Advances

Recent advances to renewable energy technology are decreasing the cost of devices. The current silicon-based solar cell panels are expensive and less efficient at turning sunlight into energy. New perovskite crystal panels use cost-effective technology that also increases their efficiency by 1,000 times over conventional systems.

Drones have also found a place in the world of renewable energy. The new airborne wind turbine utilizes drone technology to fly in place, creating wind for power. These devices use minimal resources compared to conventional turbines, significantly reducing their cost.

Green Living Is Possible

Whether you are on a budget or live in a shaded and windless region, you can access affordable renewable energy. These systems create new jobs, improve air quality and save residents money over time. Talk to your local government officials about installing communal solar panels or wind turbines to decrease your rural community’s carbon footprint.