Large-scale projects may sound beneficial and grandiose but whether they actually provide the necessary benefit is questionable. Recently, a large Kenyan power company, Lake Turkana Wind Power, released a plan to construct 350 wind turbines on leased land in a desert area. However, their project has stalled over the past couple years, and has failed to benefit the off-grid Kenyans who need the power the most. The project has yet to create jobs and will eventually displace people and ecologically disturb the land. In projects such as these, financial obligations and political will may also muddle the vision. The Kenyans who most need this benefit’which could increase their well being substantially by being connected to the grid or attaining a form of electrification’are not being addressed. Yes, the wind turbines will increase usage of a renewable source of energy, but will they provide the added benefit that’s necessary?
It may be the smaller projects that reach out to only a few people at a time that will not only spur the growth on a smaller scale, but provide a much larger benefit since they are tailored to communities and needs. For example, Samsung recently created a mobile classroom, a shipping container filled with computers and internet connectivity powered by fold-able solar panels, meant to enhance the educational experience for rural students. To provide students with resources that they’ve never had before is much more of an added benefit to someone’s life. It’s little tailored initiatives like this that can be implemented quickly, face less bureaucracy and financial constraints, and benefit the parts of society that need power the most.
Photo by Natasha Cloutier