A German travelling exhibition on renewable energy was in Arusha as part of a world wide campaign to convert to clean energy.
Dubbed the Energiewende (energy transition), the exhibition has so far visited 60 locations in 25 countries.
Tanzania is the second country in the region after Kenya to host the exhibition. The exhibition has already been to Ghana, Algeria, Mauritania and South Africa.
The two-week exhibition in Arusha showcased energy efficiency to heating, mobility, renewable energy, climate protection, nuclear power, economic aspects, international aspects, electricity grid, security supply, energy storage, civil participation and the future of energy supply.
The transition to renewable energy is expected to open up business opportunities, foster innovation, create jobs, boost growth and make more countries less dependent fossil fuels — oil and gas.
Energy-efficiency measures carried out in trade, industry and buildings have generated over 400,000 jobs, while investments in renewable energy more than doubled the number of employees in the sector within a decade.
An impressive technological development in the past few years has seen renewable energies become the cheapest and easiest option for a build-up in electricity generation capacity. To date, most new investments in renewable energies happen in developing economies.
Numerous countries such as China have started manufacturing solar panels and other renewable technologies. This trend will continue as the market for renewable energies grows.
Germany expects to fully switch to renewable energies by 2050.
The energy transition started in 1973 following the first global crisis of 1973, and by 1991 the campaign was officially launched and expanded to include industry and households with technical advances allowing households and industry to use energy more efficiently by manufacturing domestic appliances that use up to 75 per cent less electricity.
To date, the country consumes 10 per cent less energy now than it did a decade ago and has doubled its output. It also expects to reduce primary energy demand for oil and gas in buildings by 80 per cent by 2050.
Following the reactor accident in Fukushima, Japan, in March 2011, the country passed a law to end the use of nuclear energy and phase them out by the end of 2022.
But as Germany moves to phase out its nuclear plants in its renewable energy conversion strategy, Kenya on the other hand is planning to build and operate a nuclear and coal-fired power plant.
During the exhibition in Nairobi, the German organisers cautiously warned that while the price of renewables has been decreasing over the past two decades, the price of nuclear power has increased due to increased security concerns.
This is besides the cost for storing nuclear waste for thousands of years in the future and which cannot even be estimated with certainty.
They argued that building new nuclear power plants today would be economically unsound, especially now that renewables are much more cost efficient and economic analysis says that Kenya’s electricity demand could be met in a more economically efficient way through renewables, particularly by geothermal, than through coal.
According to Erik Solheim, the executive director of Unep, despite doing well in its renewable energy conversion, Germany is still facing challenges.
The country hasn’t been able to phase out coal in the same speed in which it has expanded the use of renewables.
The current government has now established a commission to suggest a timeline and measures for how to phase out coal over the next decades.
—Additional reporting by Sara Bakata