Who's got the power?

Posted: 7 November 2000

India has shown the world that muck makes power. Now the technology has spread to a number of developing and developed countries. Who's Got The Power, an Earth Report 'Hands On' special lasting 26 minutes, showcases a range of renewable energy technologies.

It visits Northern Germany, where Dieter Prenzler fuels his farm and buildings with biogas generated from the bodily waste of 1,200 pigs, 4,000 chickens and his family. To this he also adds waste fats from the restaurants of Hamburg, and he gets paid for his trouble. His system produces sufficient gas to heat, light and power the farmhouse and outbuildings and if he's lucky he still sells the excess energy to the electricity company.

But the benefits of any low-tech renewable energy source are not just environmental. Reporting from Peru, Who's Got The Power shows how local, clean energy generation can bring a huge range of social benefits to remote and poor areas. Ninety-six per cent of Peru's rural population are without electricity and are too remote to be connected to the national supply. In Cajamarca in the Andes, Intermediate Technology has set up a pilot project with the local farming co-operative to build a mini hydro-electric generating plant to serve the needs of the local community. These micro-hydro schemes are cheap to build and run.

With electricity a range of opportunities suddenly become possible; the local carpentry business can use power tools, the community can tune into developments in the outside world through television and radio and the co-operative has invested in a computer to help run its affairs. The brightly lit homes in Cajamarca are proving that micro-hydro provides the means to power Peru's remote communities.

Nick Rance

Who's Got the Power features five examples of renewable energy around the world and is part of TVE's series Earth Report and is available from:

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