If you’ve been following the local news this past week you’ll notice Jordan is set to purchase a brand-spanking new nuclear reactor from France, while building the country’s first, 40 megawattwind farm. Meanwhile, the non-stop chatter of oil-shale production (which I can guarantee won’t see efficient, full-scale commercial production for at least another decade) is still making the news.
I’m still not convinced of the government’s dedication to utilizing alternative energy sources. What utilization I do hear of seems to be pretty small scale. Compare our first, 40 megawatt wind farm to Peru’s first planned 240 megwatt wind farm.
The emphasis continues to be on nuclear power and oil shale, both of which I think have serious environmental issues and social costs.
The main problem, in my opinion, seems to come from the lack of culture and awareness when it comes to energy. The people are just as much in the dark (pun unintended) as the policymakers and therefore, solutions tend to be very monochromatic, for lack of a better word. There is no energy conscience in our society, and that explains a great deal of why people could care less about the amount of water and electricity they consume and/or waste. Even the connection between price increases and wastage are lost. Similarly, the lack of environmental awareness is what leads us to constantly pollute without a second thought (although this may be a start).
Imagine, for example, seeing a coordinated effort between the Ministry of Energy, Environment, the Greater Amman Municipality and the private sector, to turn off the lights of the Capital’s landmarks in a well-publicized campaign aimed at raising public awareness. Imagine seeing Amman listed in the international Earth Hour campaign next year. Heck, imagine, at the very least, large-scale promotion of energy-saving light bulbs and Energy Star products. Something that would actually save people, government and companies money (to speak in real terms).
Toronto’s City Hall on Earth Hour 2008
Awareness is meant to transform the way a people think and behave and this is why I feel that alternative energy is incredibly important; it has the added benefit of changing a society in the most direct of manners. Solar panels on rooftops are but one example of that change.
With that in mind.
Daniel Nocera, a professor of chemistry at MIT, has developed a catalyst that can generate oxygen from a glass of water by splitting water molecules. The reaction frees hydrogen ions to make hydrogen gas. The catalyst, which is easy and cheap to make, could be used to generate vast amounts of hydrogen using sunlight to power the reactions. The hydrogen can then be burned or run through a fuel cell to generate electricity whenever it’s needed, including when the sun isn’t shining. [source]
In short, the breakthrough is about a new way to harness the power of the Sun, 24/7. Research, if invested in, can yield some pretty brilliant results, and I think a country like Jordan should at the very least, be at the forefront of utilizing the emergence of new energy-saving technologies.
Other countries are doing it. Check out self-reliant Denmark, even a solar radio station in Argentina. Sweden will look to be completely oil-free by 2020 (around the same time Jordan will supposedly be entering its nuclear age), and I have not doubt that they’ll actually do it.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Right now, Jordan needs a bit more will power, and by will power, I mean the willingness to think in broader terms. The willingness to think outside the box. The willingness to have a more multidimensional approach to a multidimensional issue. The willingness to use micro solutions to solve macro problems.