Friday, March 1News That Matters

Solar technologies can solve dependence on fossil fuels.

Innovation experts have urged players in the agriculture sector to adopt and accelerate the use of solar technologies across the value chain to address reduce the sector’s dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate the impact of climate change.
This was during the Agri solar Stakeholder engagement workshop organized by the Innovation Village in partnership with Youth Challenge International and Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The workshop convened farmers, innovators, finance organizations and other ecosystem actors to identify innovative models and interventions capable of driving widescale adoption and use of solar technologies in Agriculture.
Speaking at the event, Arthur Mukembo, Future Lab Studios Lead at Innovation Village said, “Uganda has a significant potential for solar energy production due to its high levels of solar radiation (4.5 – 5.5 kWh/m²/day) which the innovators can leverage on to create innovative solar solutions models to enhance production, processing, distribution, and waste management processes across the agriculture value chain.”
Climate change, which at its helm is carbon emission, is the world’s biggest environmental crisis today evidenced by raging wide fires, unpredictable weather patterns, prolonged drought spells, and heatwaves. The increasing carbon emissions are responsible for about two-thirds of the total energy imbalance that is causing Earth’s temperature to rise. Like a blanket or cap, these emissions trap solar heat that would have otherwise been radiated into space.
Mukembo said, “Our focus on renewable energy (particularly solar) has been because its eco-friendliness and ability to generate alternative source of energy from both thermal and electrical energy. This can then expand its ability to address a wide range of needs and challenges across various agricultural activities such as drying, cooling, running irrigation pumps, lighting, remote field monitoring, and machine operation.”
“The workshop intends to map out the challenges impeding the adoption of solar energy and develop practical solutions to unlock the massive untapped technology opportunity that can be harnessed to improve sustainability and economics of the energy mix across farming communities, improving agricultural yields and livelihoods.
While solar energy continues to be pitched as the alternative source of energy for hard-to-reach communities, the uptake of these technologies among player in agriculture continues to be low. Morris Molole, a farmer, and representative of the Farmers Association of Uganda says this is because of the high initial costs of solar panels and batteries, limited knowledge on how to use and maintain solar equipment limited financing, technical support, and unreliable supply chain.
Therefore, there is need to increase interaction across all sector players, create platforms for knowledge sharing and networking, sector transparency, collaboration, and a better understanding that natural calamities (drought, climate change, and pest infections) need to be addressed through innovation and best tech practices.

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