Venezuela and Solar Energy
For ages, many authors have dissected the topic of renewal energy. This is anchored on the growing popularity and awareness on this kind of energy which they affirm is fundamental in reaching development goals, reducing climate change and opening more opportunity in the environment for sustainability (ISN Security Watch n.p). Usage of renewal energy has grown significantly in many countries across the globe because any country wishing to develop must fundamentally use friendly energy to reduce extinction chances of other energy sources (Watkins n.p). Latin American countries such as Venezuela are endowed with renewable sources of energy such as hydropower and solar energy. These sources of energy have been subjected to vibrant and comprehensive policies to ensure their sustainability as the stir the country forward towards development (Shane and Lamar n.p).This investigation will address the potential of Venezuela in respect to natural resources endowment, cultural diversity for development and presence of adequate personnel with requisite technical education in research, development and production of solar energy.
Thesis and Problem Statement
First, Venezuela has great potential in respect to natural resources, production and consumption of solar energy. In fact, the country has shown great capability and urge to develop and use solar energy to power the economy. Second, the cultural characteristics of Venezuelan population have shown the tendency to promote the development of solar energy in the country. Third, there is adequate technical education and innovation to stir research, development and production of solar energy to support the economy and environment.
Studies have established that Venezuela has great potential in respect to renewable energy (Carlos n.p). There are diverse energy options ranging from gas, wind to solar sources. In 2014, hydroelectric power energy accounted for 6.8% of the global primary clean energy consumption. (Carlos n.p). Renewable sources of energy use have continued to grow tremendously considering the fact that Venezuela has abundant natural resources. In fact, the country was ranked ninth hydropower producer globally in 2012 (Carlos n.p). However, solar energy source has not been effectively developed in the country compared to other natural energy resources.
This has prompted researchers to ask questions as to why solar energy has not been given priority through development and usage in Venezuela. This has drawn attention to the reasons behind the underdevelopment of solar energy in Venezuela.
The research involved thorough analysis and evaluation of 20 articles and research materials from environmental websites, natural energy source articles and other credible sources of information.
Findings and Discussions
The country is conscious to the fact that it cannot only rely on thermo-electric generators and hydro—power alone and as a result, the country has intensively invested in renewal energies such as wind and solar power. For that matter, studies have elaborated that Foundation for the Development of Electricity Services- state managed entity has installed nearly 2,000 solar panels nationwide, mostly in poor rural communities where connection to the electricity grid would incur serious environmental and economic costs (Suggett n.p). The country has been facing energy crisis for some; therefore, with installation of more solar panels to harnessed energy from the sun, the government has sensitized its population that problems in the electricity sector has been solved and so they can regain their excess consumption.
In light of this, rural population can now enjoy electricity generated from solar panels just like their urban counterparts. However, the minister for energy believe that despite solar power generating more power to both urban and rural population, there is need for consistent efforts through education geared towards instilling energy-saving habits (Correo Del Orinoco International n.p). Sustainability can only be achieved if there is rational use of power since this is part of a worldwide campaign to ensure better environmental conditions (Lindblad et al. n.p). Venezuela is naturally endowed with natural resources that can be exploited, fetched, developed and harnessed to produce energy. Literature review has revealed the fact that, with time, investment and expertise, Venezuela could become a major player in the global energy marketplace (Christinechen n.p). This could be beneficial to the population and the economy at large.
In fact, the country is endowed will oil reserves making its resources to eclipse the major oil producer in the Middle East. Sun shine is abundant in Venezuela because it is naturally occurring across all countries in the globe. Venezuela has shown that it is capable of producing, developing and initiating the implementation of solar power generation. Capability of the country to support solar energy was demonstrated in 2015 when the country through Yingli Solar Company announced that it had supplied 1.1MW of solar panels for Venezuela’s largest solar project located in Los Roques. In fact, extensive review of documents revealed that the 1.1 MW solar was developed, engineered and constructed by Consorcio Energias Limpias Alternativas Venezolanas (Christinechen n.p). Consequently, it is asserted that Vico Export Solar Energy, a local enterprise supported by the government provided logistics and operational support for the procurement of necessary equipment (Christinechen n.p). According to energy experts, this power plant is one of the largest in Venezuela signifying that country is headed the right direction (Christinechen n.p). This is anchored on the assertion that; until recently, the country only relied on off-grid systems of 25 kilowatts and smaller, typically located in isolated regions (Watkins n.p). Studies have found out that as part of investment and support, the country inaugurated the power plant that contained more than 4,400 multicrystalline YGE Series solar panels (Christinechen n.p). These panels are expected to harness solar from the sun and generate more than 1,400 megawatt-hours annually, which can comfortably power more than 400 typical Venezuelan homes. This is meant to serve the greater Los Roques, a place known to have incredible beautiful environment and biodiversity.
Significantly, the project is to be replicated and expanded to other regions in the country. According to the initiators of the project, Venezuela possesses significant potential for the development of solar power plants in the country. This is the best strategy of increasing renewable energy production to ensure reliability of electricity and sustainable environment for future generations. In addition, the country has shown the capability of developing alternative renewable sources of energy. This is motivated by the crisis experienced in the recent past characterized by consistent power blackouts and outages.
Cultural Dimension of the Population
The population of Venezuela is quite similar to that of other South American countries; it is a combination of indigenous people, Spanish influx and people with African ancestry. According to researchers despite Venezuela consisting broad array of people with different ancestry, it is one of the countries with stable nationalities in the continent (Maza n.p). The population is not uniform in the light of geographical location inhabited. For instance the whites inhabit Pardos, and the Indians occupy remote Guianan and Amazonas interior while the blacks reside along the Caribbean coastline. Linguistically, Venezuela’s official language is Spanish which was introduced around the sixteenth century. However, there are still more than 25 indigenous languages surviving. The community does not recognize caste system; however, the population participates in defined structures congruent to caste systems. The Venezuelan population is supportive of solar energy production and development. However, there is need to install such technologies with due consideration to cultural values. Scientists elaborate that solar energy equipment may negatively impact the heritage values and attributes of a specific property and heritage conservation belief (Larissa et al. n.p). This is attributed to the weak guidelines and policies that do not offer much guidance on ways to avoid or mitigate negative impacts resulting from the installation of solar panels on cultural heritage values.
The population upon considering socio-economic attributes is supportive of the development of solar energy because of the positive impacts this energy has on local people. In light of this, the population is aware of the fact that solar energy use will see their daily expenditure on fuel wood, charcoal, kerosene; reduce by up to 40 percent (Torella et al. n.p). For that matter, studies carried within Venezuela reveal that overall expenditure potentially reduces by 50 percent as a result of solar energy use (Ivan n.p). In addition, the Venezuelan population is characterized by unemployment and so the local are always optimistic that design and development of solar energy can develop capacities and offer additional employment. Researchers reveal that solar energy development plants ensure adequate planning of jobs that are actualized during implementation phase (Global Legal Insights n.p). Consequently, solar energy projects offer additional employment opportunities once the projects have been completed. Reviewed reports reveal that most local populace are often trained either in managing, constructing or repairing the renewable energy technologies or in handling and preforming associated tasks like food processing, irrigation or business activities (Karl n.p). Furthermore, the population exhibit behaviors signifying that they support the initiation of projects leading to generation of solar energy. This is supported by the assertion that they believe development of the energy sector is likely to improve overall quality of life.
The population is culturally aware on the importance of environmental protection, conservation and sustainability. Studies affirm that a sustainable environment is capable of supporting current and future generations (Terrapon-Pfaff et al. n.p). Use of renewal energy is always the first step in protection of environment and its inhabitants because it reduces the impacts of climate change and global warming. Therefore, the local populace has been supportive of the initiatives aimed at protecting the environment through use of solar energy. Reviewed documents have revealed that environmental objectives related to energy use include; reducing deforestation by reducing the use of fire wood, preserving biodiversity, preventing unsustainable land-use changes, reducing smoke and GHG emissions by replacing wood and fossil fuels as the energy source (Stauffer n.p). Similarly, it is commendable that Venezuelan rural communities are actively engaged in recycling of land for solar energy projects. According to environmentalists, recycling of land for use is a consistent and sustainable environmental development principle (Stauffer n.p). This is done whether the energy is used to serve the local community or distributed to serve the grid, soar development reduces extensive demands for fossil fuels and accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Environmentalists further affirm that supported solar redevelopment project involves cleanup of a contaminated site, it has the dual benefit of decreasing public health risks and repairing damage to the natural environment (Armstrong et al. n.p).
Education Capacity to Support Solar Energy Development
Historically, education in Venezuela was mean to serve the interests of minority and wealthy individuals who despite being illiterate sought education for their children. The education system was characterized by centralization, rigid structure, and inappropriate curriculum with no benefits to the locals. For that matter, the education system could not contribute immensely to the country’s economic growth and development. Around 1935, the country leadership established new institutes to train teachers and schools were also expanded to rural areas. This was aimed at addressing the dire need of skills and knowledge which was to be in line with economic growth and development. Later in 1958, the democratic leadership brought on board leaders who were willing to improve quantity and quality educational opportunities (Clark n.p). In light of addressing development goals, the government created new universities and established agricultural extensive services to address the need of farmers. However, there was a problem with the education system as students always preferred popular and prestigious professions, and not the new technical fields that were needed greatly. To address this problem, the government supported entry of students into universities with technical education. This paid off because the changes initiated injected high degree of flexibility into the education system.
The education is funded by the government and during the economic downtimes where the country experienced shortage of skilled workers. The government recruited many skilled foreign technicians, expanded technical institutions and enhanced training to the population to acquire adequate skills needed to stir the country forward. Today, the education system is regulated and controlled by the Venezuelan Ministry of Education and is highly centralized. The education system requires that a student goes through basic education nine years long and taught Spanish. The students are then subjected to secondary education where they specialize in humanities or sciences where they acquire technical skills. Education is free in Venezuela; this is aimed at ensuring universal access to skills and knowledge. The country fully support acquisition of technical skills through the education system and have initiated programs aimed at addressing this. For instance, literature review has pointed out that the country has funded programs aimed at addressing the gaps in solar training and energy education (Kiesecker et al. n.p). This has been successful because trained individual have actively been involved in promoting the production and development of solar energy and deployment. Significantly, the technical education is supportive of the technology and is an ingredient in supporting other sectors such as real estate, finance and solar operations and maintenance.
The investigation has revealed that Venezuela is in good shape in respect to solar energy production, development and use. The country is endowed with natural resources such as oil reserves and abundant sunshine. Significantly, the country has harnessed available sunshine through use of solar cells to provide energy to most rural areas in the country. Further, the population cultural values, beliefs, behaviors and aspirations are supportive of the energy. In line with this, the local population believes that production and development of solar energy potentially creates jobs, improves quality of life and ensures environmental sustainability. In respect to education system, the county offers free education that stresses on acquisition of technical skills and knowledge to move the county forward economically. However, a lot still need to done including opening avenues for investment in solar energy by establishing efficient subsidies aimed at promoting solar deployment. Consequently, the country must prepare for greater solar energy development penetration and take long term approach towards solar technology development.
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