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Empowering Rural Electrification With Solar Funding
Rural communities in developing countries do not have access to modern forms of energy. World Bank financing through governments and local rural banks makes a very good network to reach people who need loans to buy renewable energy systems.
Despite advances in technology and reductions in the cost of solar systems, the price per peak watt, the disposable income of rural communities would not allow them to purchase these systems. On the other hand, renewable energy sales companies did not have the capacity to lend systems to their customers due to the limited cash flow problems these companies face. These companies also do not have a loan recovery mechanism to ensure proper payment for installed systems. The result was that rural electrification was not possible.
Now, people in rural communities can go to their local banks or village micro credit banks, apply for a solar loan and work out payment plans that match their personal income, which can be easily verified by microfinance institution staff. Then the microfinance institution will sign a contract with the Government’s Rural Electrification Agency (REA) and the sales company. The microfinance institution will order the total number of systems needed by its members from the sales company. And the sales company will continue to supply and install solar systems for identified customers.
Roles of 3 parties
1. REA, in order to ensure the quality of the system delivered by the supplier and perform an energy audit of each system and give a government subsatution after the successful completion of the work to the sales company.
2. SACCO, identify the end user who needs a solar system, determine his ability to pay the loan, extend the loan and ensure that he will get a quality solar system. Identify suitable solar vending companies.
3. Solar sales company, to ensure quality supply of solar system, install it and check if it is in proper working condition and recover payment from saccos and subsidy from government after successful installation.
The rural community will be serviced using Solar Home Systems (SHS). But each SACCO can have one off-grid renewable village energy supply system, which can supply the entire village.
The following advantages can be obtained from such a system.
1. Community projects like water pumping, community hall, telecentre, health clinics, internet cafe etc.
2. Surplus electricity is sold to the national grid if the renewable energy system is close to the grid.
3. Better security for power supply
4. A small factory and processing equipment for the benefit of the village and as a money-making activity.
5. Bio fuel generator, bio fuel stove. The lantern and glycerol soap making will serve as an incentive for people to grow jatropha as a cash biofuel.
Biofuel production – use of Jatropha Sustainable fuel of the next generation.
What is biodiesel?
AS the volatile Middle East continues to affect global oil supplies, countries like Uganda are choking on the cost of importing heavy oil. Crude fossil oil prices have touched US$100, which is combined with a volatile and rising dollar exchange rate (at last month’s high dollar exchange rate it translates to Sh230,000) per barrel this year and is expected to hit the US$150 (Sh345,000) mark for two years.
Constantly rising and volatile oil prices and the unstable dollar force many countries to search for alternatives to achieve energy independence. This intensified research and encouraged the development of biofuels as the most reliable energy alternative.
The production of biodiesel from Jatropha Carcus, commonly known as ‘Ekilowa’, has many advantages. Ekilowa is well known in Uganda and is commonly used as a support for vanilla vines and sometimes as a hedge.
Jatropha, a perennial drought-resistant crop with a lifespan of over 40 years, is a member of the Europhobiaceace family. Its seeds can yield about 37% inedible oil.
One kilogram of seeds yields 200 ml of oil. Each tree can initially produce a kilogram and a half of seeds per year, and as it grows it can produce up to 6 kg. On a plot of 1 hectare, you can plant 1000 jatropha trees at intervals of 2 meters.
The global biodiesel market is estimated to reach 37 billion gallons by 2016, growing at an average annual rate of 42%.
Lankveld said the development of biofuels offers the most immediate and sustainable answer to growing economies in the tropics to produce and supply the global energy market and reduce carbon dioxide emissions as part of the fight against climate change.
Our company has set up a demonstration project on the shores of Lake Victoria. It will supply products from renewable energy sources and process biofuel.
The company will not rely on new plantations as a source of raw materials. Instead, they will start by buying jatropha nuts that are already available in existing plants. This year, it intends to collect about 10,000 kg of seeds from vanilla farmers in Mukono, Kayunga, Jinja, Iganga, Kamuli and Bugiri districts, from which it expects to extract 3,300 liters of oil… The company will also plant about 40 hectares (about 60,000 trees) of jatropha on the new land we bought.
The project will also provide farmers with high-quality jatropha seeds to increase crop production in the future. Instead of establishing large plantations, this venture promotes Jatropha as a means of diversification for farmers, encourages its integration with millet, sorghum or maize and revives those who abandoned it due to disappointment in the vanilla market and use it as a fence material for their farms.
We believe in small, decentralized biodiesel processing plants, where there is local production of jatropha nuts to reduce transportation. We also believe that the sale of vegetable oil stoves will encourage local farmers to grow jatropha and other oilseeds primarily as a source of fuel for cooking in the kitchen and later as a commercial cropping venture. we will also sell them small manual oil mills so that they can extract the oil themselves for domestic use.
The first trials of Uganda Electronics and Computer Industrie ltd, small scale off-grid renewable energy and biodiesel plants will take place in November 2010. However, in early October we are conducting sensitization seminars in 3 districts, collecting seeds, selling stoves and processing oil.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food recently recommended jatropha as a biofuel crop for developing countries. Jatropha was recommended because of its high inedible oil content, gestation period and ability to grow on degraded soils.
There is a need for developing countries to invest in the production of biofuels because with climate change the world’s energy policy will change for the worst.
Uganda can excel in biodiesel production since most of the people derive their income from agriculture. Jatropha offers enormous potential to alleviate poverty and improve health. A farmer can earn up to US$250 (sh427, 500) a year from 1km of jatropha hedge.
Long term potential
Speaking of the long-term potential of biodiesel, the reality of the biodiesel market, a successful biodiesel business plan begins with an effective feedstock strategy from which process design emerges. For biodiesel to become a long-term business opportunity, attention must be paid to the critical issue of availability of the right feedstock at the right price.
Jatropha will be a huge source of biofuel and the key to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Jatropha can bring significant benefits to the environment. It can replace jet fuel and fossil fuels from oil companies without disrupting food crops or leading to deforestation. The good thing about jatropha is that you produce a bush that lives a long time and does its job. It produces oil and also extracts a lot of carbon from the atmosphere. Jatropha is a multipurpose crop for mitigating soil degradation, desertification and deforestation, which can be used for bioenergy to replace diesel, firewood for cooking and for soap production and climate protection and therefore deserves special attention. Jatropha can help increase rural incomes, self-sustainability and alleviate poverty.
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