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The energy to take initiative

Sep 16,2018 - Last updated at Sep 16,2018

In 1992, I was embarrassed to learn that the total number of books published in all Arab countries that year was equal to the number of books published in Britain in 1870. Since then, I have felt some satisfaction every time a new book is published in Jordan that addresses a scientific subject in a rational way. 

Therefore, it was a pleasure for me last Sunday to attend the launch of Ibrahim Badran’s book “Energy in a Changing World”, which was discussed by the author as well as the prolific writer and renewable energy advocate Ayoub Abu Dayyeh. 

The book addresses changes in global patterns of energy production and consumption and the technology behind them. Simple, inexpensive innovations are changing lives, such as solar cookers, now used in all schools in India to prepare children’s meals. But the discussion focused primarily on the energy challenge in Jordan, and rightly so, because shortage of energy and water is among the greatest challenges facing the country. 

A pertinent recommendation was to treat energy conservation as a source of energy. According to studies conducted by the Royal Scientific Society since the eighties, Jordan can save 30 per cent of its energy bill through conservation, without any government investment. Yet, according to the Department of Statistics, only 8.7 per cent of households insulate their walls to conserve energy.  

Moreover, despite the high cost of energy, only 11.8 per cent of households use solar energy to heat water instead of fossil fuel or electricity. By contrast, in Cyprus and Israel, for instance, over 90 per cent of households use solar energy. 

Another pertinent question on solar energy was why the government imposes ceilings and imaginatively named taxes to deter householders from using photovoltaic (PV) technology to generate electricity from solar energy, particularly at a time when the government complains about the burden of subsidising fuel prices.

The reason, it would appear, is that the national grid needs to be upgraded to absorb the surplus power that would be generated by households equipped with PV panels in peak hours, and the government lacks the funds needed to make this upgrade. So, you see, we do not have enough money to start spending less money. 

Seriously, when so many people live in unhappy circumstances, why do they not take the initiative to change their situation through simple inexpensive measures that would save them a lot of money, such as insulation and solar water heaters? Could it be because they were not told to do so?

The problem may be that decades of generous aid and welfare patrimonial policies have conditioned the public to a life of conformity and complacency. They have also formed the outlook of many government officials to mistrust private initiative. 

But the government now needs a partnership with citizens in which they are encouraged to take initiatives not penalised for doing so. Experience everywhere shows that the initiative of millions who want a better life can produce a happier and more prosperous society than the directives of a few officials.

 

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Comments

Very educational article. I believe societies should be established to build awareness among citizens and special financial packages through organizations to be established to assist in spreading solar usage in the country.
Government incentives will help too.
Thank you Ali.
Wonderful as usual.

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