Eritrea, a country in the northeast of Africa, has been actively engaged in the development and utilization of different renewable energy sources, especially wind, since the first few years of independence when a preliminary survey was conducted to study wind velocity in different parts of the country.
Soon after, they establish a department within the Ministry of Energy and Mines called the “Development of Renewable Sources of Energy”.
This department becomes instrumental in initiating a number of tasks and studies on how to explore pollution-free, renewable (unlimited) sources of energy in Eritrea.
The department, in 2003, commenced the “Eritrean Wind Energy Scheme“ and the “Wind Energy Application” Pilot Project that was partially financed by the UNDP and the Global Environment Facility.
The plan was to provide electricity for seven villages in the Southern Red Sea region including Assab, Edi, Berasole, Beilul, Gahro, and Rahaita by installing three sample wind turbine generators that have the potential of generating up to 750 Kilowatts.
Wind speeds of over 7 knots (around 12 km per hour) are required to produce sufficient electricity and the wind speed along the Eritrean Red Sea coast reaches up to 10 knots and more.
The head of the renewable energy department, Eng. Abi Gebremedhin disclosed that currently, wind-powered electric generators in Assab alone cover 20% of the city’s electricity consumption.
The development of such cheap and affordable renewable energy has contributed a lot to the lives of the people in the area who are mostly live off from fishing. They can now save their meager supply of fuel to drive deep into the Red Sea to find rich fishing grounds.
They are now able to make ice from the electricity powered by these wind turbines so that they can keep the fish fresh while transporting, storing, and trading the catches. The availability of such energy, in addition to saving about 684,000 liters of fuel oil and reduce carbon dioxide emission by 1,700 tons each year, also contribute to alleviating the potential of the local fishing industry.
Eng. Abi also said that, after the success of the pilot projects in Assab, similar wind turbines with a capacity of up to 30 Kilowatts have also been installed in Edi, Berasole, Beilul, Rahaita, Gahro, and Dekemhare both for electricity and pumping water for irrigation purposes.
Eritrea’s effort to develop a pollution-free source of energy has already started to attract international attention especially with the invention of an oven, a smokeless oven, nicknamed ‘Adhanet.’ This traditional oven has the capacity of reducing wood consumptions by 50%.
The oven, which proved to be of great benefit to residents of the rural areas is highly efficient and reduces the emissions of pollutants by two-thirds. Researchers at Berkley Lab and Harvard University are studying the health and economic benefits of the oven.
This invention, in addition to improving the people’s livelihood, it greatly reduces fossil fuel use and carbon emissions.
‘Adhanet’ traditional oven has now been recognized internationally and got many international awards by standing first in Ashden Awards (UK) in 2003 as a fuel-efficient, environment-friendly device; One Million Yen prize money and Special award in the 2005 Japan Expo; stood first in Tech Museum Awards (USA) in 2006 and again stood first in the Green Apple Awards in 2010.
Every year more than 10,000 ‘Adhanet’ ovens are being manufactured and so far the government has distributed more than 80,000 smokeless ‘Adhanet’ ovens around the country free of charges.
Another successful accomplishment in renewable energy is the use of Solar Energy. The department head, Eng. Abi, further explained that around 3,000 solar panels have been installed in different parts of the country producing more than 12,000 Kilowatt of power and that 65% of remote areas in the country have become beneficiaries of power generated from solar energy.
As the country is advancing tremendously in the mining sector, the trend in the interest of developing alternative sources of energy including geothermal has shown a promising future.
It is always desirable to depend upon your own source of energy rather on the expensive, dwindling, and imported fossil fuel energy.