OECD Week 2011 highlights the need for growth whilst protecting the environment

By Neil Townsend, CEO, Just Energy

May 30, 2011

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) celebrates its 50th Anniversary this week. Originally formed from European nations in the wake of the second world war, it now brings together 40 countries that account for 80 percent of world trade and investment.

The recently released OECD Green Growth Strategy, and the new report, Towards Green Growth, asserts that governments must look to the green economy to find new sources of growth, and that green growth makes economic as well as environmental sense.

Emerging economic powers, including South Africa, now contribute to over 25 percent of global GDP. And, while many are not members of the OECD, the relevance of at the OECD’s conclusions to their economies can not be underestimated. Indeed, in many ways emerging economies may have even more to gain. Just as in telecoms markets where mobile technology helped developing economies to skip to the latest technology, bringing with it huge productivity gains, renewable energy technology is poised to achieve the same in the power sector.

The OECD also commented that in natural resource sectors alone, commercial opportunities related to investments in environmental sustainability could run into trillions of dollars by 2050.

A modest share in those investment opportunities for local communities, such as those provided by Just Energy’s wind energy generation projects in South Africa could bring multiple benefits, such as improved education and health care.

Interest in sustainable development initiatives in developing nations is clearly very strong. Encouraged by this, Just Energy is motivated as ever for its community-owned wind projects in South Africa and its planned projects in other countries to achieve their triple return on investment: financial returns to investors, social returns for to the community, and environmental returns for the planet.

IPCC study highlights importance of renewable energy for developing countries

By Neil Townsend, CEO, Just Energy

May 23rd, 2011

I was encouraged to read some of the findings of the IPCC’s recent study into the possibility of renewable energy meeting the world’s growing energy needs. The IPCC, the UN’s climate change science body, found that renewable energy could contribute to 80% of the world’s energy supply within four decades.

To achieve that level, governments must put renewable energy centre stage since it is public policies that will either expand or constrain renewable energy development over the coming decades.

As reported by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, renewables are already of increasing importance to the investment community, with global investment in low-carbon energy reaching a record $243 billion in 2010, double the level of 2005.

The IPCC study also found that investing in renewables can help poor countries to develop, particularly where large numbers of people lack access to an electricity grid, a point that underscores the relevance and importance of Just Energy as an organisation seeking to enable low income communities to produce renewable energy on a commercial scale.

Ramon Pichs, co-chair of one of the key IPCC working groups, said: “Developing countries have an important stake in the future – this is where most of the 1.4 billion people without access to electricity live yet also where some of the best conditions exist for renewable energy deployment.”

As Just Energy’s three wind farm projects in South Africa get closer to overcoming their respective technical and regulatory challenges, our vision of community-owned projects that will bring real multiple benefits – greater energy supply, reduction of carbon emissions, local development support and improved agricultural production – gets one step closer to a reality.

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