Tapping mountains in the energy mix for future generations
Three core elements need to be crucially harmonised for sustainable development to be achieved, which include, economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection.
For downstream cities, remote mountain Communities, Mountains provide sustainable energy. By 2030, the targets to be met by mountains are an increase in the share of sustainable energy in the energy mix especially in countries with fragile mountainous ecosystems. Improving access for mountain communities to sustainable energy will be on the top agenda priority.
One-fifth of the world’s population live in mountains and for half of all people it is a source of water. Preservation of mountain ecosystems for future generations can be defined as Sustainable mountain development. As early as the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio, mountains were recognised as vulnerable ecosystems of global importance, where they were included in Agenda 21, the conference’s outcome document. At the UN Rio+20 conferences in 2012, the importance of mountains was reaffirmed.
There is extreme diversity in the Mountain ecosystems, while, they are also highly sensitive to climate change, natural disasters, industrial exploitation, migration (especially upland-lowland migration) and mass tourism. Due to climate change, the retreat of glaciers will exacerbate water scarcity in the medium and long term. The SDC’s Global Programme on Climate Change sustains various scientific projects studying glacier shrinkage and its consequences in key partner regions.
Up to 80% by Mountains and sometimes even 100% of downstream river flow, and therefore it can be said that for green economic growth mountains are a key resource. Mountains provide sources of energy such as hydropower, solar power and wind power. Some of the key advantages of Mountains in terms of Power generation are highlighted below:
Hydro Power: In Mountain regions, Hydropower is one of the main sources of sustainable energy. In the European Alps, Hydro power is the leading source of energy. About 85% of Hydro power is generated in Latin America. In Asia and Africa it is also increasingly important. .
Solar Power: Mountains and cold regions can also efficiently produce solar power –contrary to popular belief. Good locations for solar energy would be the Himalayas and Tropical Andes, where installations could produce approximately 20% more energy than they could at sea level.
Wind Power: This type of power has potential for sustainable energy in mountains but is still largely untapped. Wind corridors with high wind speeds that are ideally suited for wind turbine development can also be created at lower elevations because of the terrain and topography.
Thus the battle for a secured and sustainable energy future must have important dynamics of mountains and mountain ecosystems also in consideration.
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