Wednesday, October 29, 2014
In my today's pick section, sharing this just published article by Bobby Magill. Hydropower projects are not really green projects, reinforces this article. It also brings some new perspectives into debate.
Some of my takes from the article are as follows:
- Until recently, it was believed that about 20 percent of all man-made methane emissions come from the surface of reservoirs. New research suggests that figure may be much higher than 20 percent.
- As per a 2013 study by researchers from Singapore, large reservoirs globally could emit up to 104 teragrams of methane annually. By comparison, NASA estimates that global methane emissions associated with burning fossil fuels totals between 80 and 120 teragrams annually.
- Scientists have long thought reservoirs in warmer climates in the tropics emitted more methane than reservoirs in cooler climates, but the research at Harsha Lake shows that may not be the case.
- Warning from the Singapore researchers: Rapid hydropower development and increasing carbon emissions from hydroelectric reservoirs to the atmosphere should not be downplayed.
In fact, we have also been warning the same citing examples of several other studies done so far on methane emission from man-made reservoirs of hydro-power projects.
Hope you will find this interesting.
Thanks and regards,
Hydropower May Be Huge Source of Methane Emissions
Bobby Magill, October 29th, 2014
Harsha Lake, a large reservoir near Cincinnati, Ohio, emitted as much methane in 2012 as roughly 5,800 dairy cows would have emitted over an entire year. Credit: Firesign/flickr
Imagine nearly 6,000 dairy cows doing what cows do, belching and being flatulent for a full year. That’s how much methane was emitted from one Ohio reservoir in 2012.
Reservoirs and hydropower are often thought of as climate friendly because they don’t burn fossil fuels to produce electricity. But what if reservoirs that store water and produce electricity were among some of the world’s largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions?
Scientists are searching for answers to that question, as they study how much methane is emitted into the atmosphere from man-made reservoirs built for hydropower and other purposes. Until recently, it was believed that about 20 percent of all man-made methane emissions come from the surface of reservoirs.
New research suggests that figure may be much higher than 20 percent, but it’s unclear how much higher because too little data is available to estimate. Methane is about 35 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide over the span of a century.
Think about man-made lakes in terms of cows passing gas: Harsha Lake, a large reservoir near Cincinnati, Ohio, emitted as much methane in 2012 as roughly 5,800 dairy cows would have emitted over an entire year, University of Cincinnati biogeochemist Amy Townsend-Small told Climate Central.
Methane emissions from livestock are the second-largest source of methane emissions in the U.S., behind crude oil and natural gas, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But the EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions estimates do not yet account for methane emissions coming from man-made reservoirs.
Part of the reason is that, generally, very little is known about reservoirs and their emissions, especially in temperate regions, such as in the U.S., where few studies have been conducted.
In 2012 study, researchers in Singapore found that greenhouse gas emissions from hydropower reservoirs globally are likely greater than previously estimated, warning that “rapid hydropower development and increasing carbon emissions from hydroelectric reservoirs to the atmosphere should not be downplayed.”
Those researchers suggest all large reservoirs globally could emit up to 104 teragrams of methane annually. By comparison, NASA estimates that global methane emissions associated with burning fossil fuels totals between 80 and 120 teragrams annually.
But how much reservoirs contribute to global greenhouse gas emissions is “still a big question mark,” because the issue remains relatively unstudied and emission rates are highly uncertain, said John Harrison, an associate professor in the School of the Environment at the Washington State University-Vancouver whose research focuses on how reservoirs can be managed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“So I don’t think we really know what the relative greenhouse gas effect of reservoirs is compared to other sources of energy in the U.S.,” he said.
Research at Harsha Lake may help scientists better understand how reservoirs contribute to climate change.
In a study published in August, Townsend-Small and researchers from the EPA found that Harsha Lake emitted more methane into the atmosphere in 2012 than had ever been recorded at any other reservoir in the U.S.
“When you compare the annual scale of the methane emission rate of this reservoir (Harsha Lake) to other studies, it’s really much higher than people would predict,” EPA research associate and Harsha Lake study lead author Jake Beaulieu told Climate Central.
Scientists have long thought reservoirs in warmer climates in the tropics emitted more methane than reservoirs in cooler climates, but the research at Harsha Lake shows that may not be the case, Townsend-Small said.
“We think this is because our reservoir is located in an agricultural area,” she said.
Methane is generated in reservoirs from bacteria living in oxygen-starved environments.
“These microbes eat organic carbon from plants for energy, just like people and other animals, but instead of breathing out carbon dioxide, they breathe out methane,” Townsend-Small said. “These same types of microbes live in the stomachs of cows and in landfills, which are other sources of methane to the atmosphere.”
Runoff from farmland around Harsha Lake provides more nutrients in the water, allowing algae to grow, just like numerous other reservoirs surrounded by agricultural land across the country.
Methane-generating microbes feed on decaying algae, which means that lakes catching a lot of nutrient-rich agricultural runoff generate a lot of methane.
“There are a very large number of these reservoirs in highly agricultural areas around the U.S.,” Townsend-Small said. “It could be that these agricultural reservoirs are a larger source of atmospheric methane than we had thought in the past.”
Emissions from reservoirs in all climates could be underestimated because of a discovery Beaulieu’s team found at Harsha Lake: The area where a river enters a man-made lake emits more methane than the rest of the lake overall.
Nobody has measured that before, Beaulieu said.
Most other research studying reservoir methane emissions doesn’t account for how emissions may vary across the surface of a lake, he said.
The EPA is about to begin a more comprehensive study measuring methane emissions from 25 reservoirs in a region stretching from northern Indiana to northern Georgia, with sampling beginning next year, Beaulieu said.
That study will help the EPA eventually include reservoir methane emissions in its total estimates of human-caused methane emissions.
Until that and other studies are complete, scientists can only speculate on the impact hydropower is having on the climate.
“We’re still in the very early days here of understanding how these systems work with respect to greenhouse gas production,” Harrison said.
Monday, October 27, 2014
The 4th edition of the Global Green Economy Index (GGEI) is just published. It is claimed to be an in-depth look at how 60 countries perform in the global green economy, as well as how expert practitioners rank this performance. The publishers inform that, “like many indices, the GGEI is a communications tool, signaling to policy makers, international organizations, the private sector and citizens which countries are successfully orienting their economies toward greener growth pathways and which ones are not. Importantly, the GGEI also generates perception values, offering unique insights into how communications and information exchange can be leveraged to further advance green economic growth”. While Sweden tops the performance list, India ranks at 49 among the 60 countries that were studied.
The highlights from the 2014 Global Green Economy Index results include:
Germany (perception) and Sweden (performance) top the 2014 GGEI, confirming a trend observed in prior editions of strong results by Germany and the Nordic states. Besides performing well on both the economic and environmental areas of the GGEI, these nations display consistent green leadership and receive global recognition for it;
Covered for the first time in this edition, Costa Rica performs extremely well, ranking third on the GGEI performance measure behind Sweden and Norway and receiving strong recognition on the perception survey, an impressive result for such a small country;
Like in 2012, Copenhagen is the top green city as ranked by our survey of global experts, reinforcing the continued strength of the Danish green brand. Tracked for the first time this year, Vancouver and Singapore also rank in the top 10 of green cities.
Many of the fastest growing economies in the world rank poorly on the GGEI performance measure, highlighting an urgent need to reorient their economies to greener growth pathways. Regionally, these countries are mostly in Africa (Ghana), the Gulf (Qatar, United Arab Emirates), and Asia (Cambodia, China, Thailand, Vietnam);
There are concerning results related to more developed countries as well – notably Australia, Japan, the Netherlands and the United States – where perceptions of their green economic performance dramatically exceed their actual performance on the GGEI. These countries appear to receive more credit than they deserve, an information gap that requires further exploration;
Despite its leadership founding the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), South Korea continues not to register as a green country brand on our survey and performs poorly, ranked 39th out of 60 on this year’s GGEI. Despite better perception results, Japan also performs poorly on the 2014 GGEI, ranked 44th out of 60;
While the United Kingdom performs adequately in most areas of the GGEI, it doesn’t excel on any one topic, possibly due to inconsistent political rhetoric and policy related to green economy there. While gradually improving in each successive GGEI edition, the UK still lags behind its northern European and Nordic competitors;
Five European nations - Austria, Iceland, Ireland, Portugal and Spain – reveal performance scores that exceed their perception ones significantly – signaling an urgent need for better strategic communications and information exchange of their green merits and associated investment opportunities;
The GGEI results reveal a similar observation for a variety of non-European states - including Ethiopia, Mauritius, Rwanda in Africa and Colombia, Chile and Peru in Latin America – again suggesting a need for these states to better position their green economies on the international stage.
I am yet to make an analysis of this report. However, thought to share with you these briefs as soon as the report was released. The report can be accessed at http://dualcitizeninc.com/GGEI-Report2014.pdf
Hope you will find it useful.
Thanks and regards,
India's development has reached a defining moment. The govt., with the intention of making India investment friendly, has put the environment virtually at a Clearance Sale. The latest in the series are as follows.
Thanks and regards,
1. Now green clearance even without acquiring necessary land for projects. This has been happening illegally already. Now, the companies get legal route to destroy our environment even without fulfilling the basic criteria for investments...
‘Full land acquisition not a must for green sanction’
Clara Lewis & Vijay Pinjarkar,TNN | Oct 27, 2014, 02.19 AM IST
NAGPUR/MUMBAI: Full land acquisition will no longer be a pre-requisite for a project seeking environment clearance (EC). The Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has said credible documents will be considered adequate by the environment appraisal committees (EAC) and state environment appraisal committees (SEAC) while scrutinizing proposals.
The MoEF also made seeking environment clearance for development projects within 10km from national parks and wildlife sanctuaries easier. The proposals will now be directly dealt by the National Board for Wildlife standing committee, led by Union environment minister, instead of the state wildlife boards. The ruling is in line with the Modi government giving a leg-up to infrastructural projects and reducing "unnecessary rules" that hindered "general growth". It is likely to expedite works relating to mining, road widening, irrigation, industries, power plants and installation of transmission lines.
In an office memorandum issued early this month, the MoEF has said that in case the land for a project is proposed to be acquired through government intervention, then a copy of preliminary notification issued by the state government concerned for land acquisition as per the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, can be submitted. In case the land is being acquired through private negotiations with land owners, then credible document showing intent of the land-owners to sell it for the proposed project is to be submitted.
The office memorandum has been issued as there were no guidelines on the criteria to be followed with regard to the extent of land needed to be acquired to obtain an EC for a project. All EACs/SEACs had been applying different criteria. The MoEF has warned that the EC will be invalid in case the actual land for the project turns out to be different from the one considered at the time of appraisal and mentioned in the EC. The Confederation of Indian Industry welcomed the move and said it will help fast-track the clearance process.
If land for a project is being acquired through govt intervention, then a copy of preliminary notification issued by the state can be submitted. If it is being acquired through private negotiations, then a document showing intent of the land-owners to sell it for the project is to be submitted.
1. India's fast paced mission to clear remaining good forests and wildlife continues in full swing. Now, wings of state wildlife boards clipped...
MoEF clips wings of state wildlife boards
Vijay Pinjarkar,TNN | Oct 27, 2014, 03.40 AM IST
NAGPUR : The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has made seeking environment clearance for development projects within 10km from national parks and wildlife sanctuaries easier by approaching the National Board for Wildlife directly instead of the state wildlife boards. The proposals will now be directly dealt by the NBWL standing committee headed by union environment minister.
MoEF has clarified that the need of NBWL standing committee's recommendation for projects outside the limits of national parks and sanctuaries is not governed by the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. "Any proposal for environment clearance outside parks need not be taken up for processing at the state level. Wherever applicable, such a proposal will be referred to the ministry itself and then NBWL," said ML Srivastava, deputy inspector general of forests.
As reported by TOI on September 15, the NBWL now comprises retired forest officials who, wildlife experts claimed, "can easily be manipulated to toe the government line". Many experts who have spent decades in wildlife conservation seem to have been deliberately kept out. There is no representation from Central India which has 13 tiger reserves and over 30 wildlife sanctuaries.
The new ruling is in line with the Modi government giving a leg-up to infrastructural projects and reducing "unnecessary rules" which hindered "general growth". The implications, however, will be huge and environmental losses can only be gauged once the process is set into motion. The rule is likely to expedite works relating to mining, road widening, irrigation, industries, power plants, installation of transmission lines etc.
Vidarbha will feel the benefit and loss of this move straightaway. The controversial four-laning of 37-km NH7 by National Highway Authority Limited (NHAI) between Mansar and Khawasa will now be out of the purview of state board for wildlife (SBWL). The road widening has already been granted environment clearance way back in 2006. Now many project proponents will bypass SBWL.
The road widening cuts Mansinghdeo wildlife sanctuary and also Central India's biggest tiger corridor between Pench-Nagzira-Kanha-Tadoba. Maharashtra's chief wildlife warden Sarjan Bhagat has already forwarded the proposal to SBWL in August with a condition to follow Wildlife Institute of India recommendations.
MoEF issued a memorandum on October 26, asking states to advise the projects proponents accordingly. The ministry stated that it had issued a circular on February 27, 2007 based on a December 4, 2006 Supreme Court order on a PIL (460/2004).
The last line of the circular stated that projects will be granted EC subject to proponents obtaining clearance under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. However, MoEF says "the phrase obtaining clearance under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, may be read as prior clearance from the standing committee of NBWL". "It implies that till now the circular was being misinterpreted by the state forest departments. It is a good move as SBWL meets once a year or even more. This delays the projects," said one of the proponents.
With the fresh MoEF directive, NHAI officials feel four-laning of stalled NH7 will be expedited as matters will be solved in Delhi. However, Bhagat said it is true that NH7 road widening proposal will not be placed before SBWL now, but said, "If NBWL has cleared road widening on MP side considering WII recommendations, it will have to follow the same principle on Maharashtra side. Law of land should prevail."
On MP side, NHAI has scaled down its demand for forest land from 71 hectares to 36 hectares. If MP chief Narendra Kumar is to be believed, NBWL has already cleared road expansion subject to WII recommendation which calls for elevated structures in vulnerable forest patches.
With a view to facilitating early decision-making by the standing committee of NBWL in respect of development projects requiring wildlife clearance and located within 10km of national parks & sanctuaries following procedure has been decided.
* While prescribing terms of references (TORs) for projects requiring wildlife clearance, henceforth, additional TORs shall be mandatorily incorporated.
* Copies of such TORs issued to projects will be endorsed to wildlife division in the ministry.
* After examining the proposal for EC, the expert appraisal committee will make appropriate recommendations and if need felt may invite chief wildlife wardens of states concerned to give views on the proposals.
* The wildlife division in MoEF will record NBWL recommendations and return to the impact assessment division for further processing and approval of EC to the project.
Sunday, October 26, 2014
Ordinary human beings often say great words, but we ignore them. In the contrary, ordinary talks of celebrities make big headlines. Our minds are tuned to follow what sells even if that is not any real worth...
Have a Great Sunday!!
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Access to electricity in India contributes marginally to country's GHG emissions. Green energy could reduce it drastically!
In my today’s analysis section, sharing below news about an interesting study conducted by Sonali Pachauri of the Austria based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). The author claims that improving household electricity access in India over the last 30 years contributed only marginally to the country's total carbon emissions growth during that time. However, low carbon energy options would have made this contribution still very marginal.
In my opinion, the inequitable distribution of electricity access between urban and rural areas needs to be urgently addressed with more locally produced renewable energy sources that would make it easier to distribute locally. In fact, the amount of electricity we produce at the moment is sufficient to provide basic electricity security to all households of the nation. However, around 400 million people are still deprived of this facility.
Renewable sources would help make access possible for all those who have not been covered, and reduce the carbon emission further. However, our policy makers are hell bent on burning coal through centralized systems of production.
India also needs to work sincerely on energy austerity measures rather than just thinking about increased production and distribution.
Hope you will find this post an interesting read.
Thanks and regards,
Access to electricity in India has no impact on climate change
LONDON: Improving household electricity access in India over the last 30 years contributed only marginally to the country's total carbon emissions growth during that time, according to a new study.
While increased energy access is widely agreed to be an important goal for development efforts, such as the UN Sustainable Energy for All Initiative, the climate impacts of increased access to electricity have been unclear.
The study is the first to examine the impact of electricity access on carbon dioxide emissions using two sources of retrospective data.
"This study shows that the climate impacts of expanding access are in fact very small," said Shonali Pachauri, from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis ( IIASA) in Austria, who conducted the study.
However, she added, expanding low-carbon energy technologies in developing countries would bring many co-benefits beyond climate mitigation.
While India still lacks electricity access for much of its population - around 400 million people - the country has vastly increased access in the last 30 years, researchers said.
From 1981 to 2011, household electricity access in the country improved from around 25 per cent to between 67-74 per cent of the population, an increase of approximately 650 million people.
"India is at a similar stage to many other developing countries in terms of energy access, So we believe that these findings will be applicable on a broad scale to other developing countries," said Pachauri.
Using two data sources, the study found that improved electricity access in India from 1981 to 2011 accounted for approximately 50 million tonnes of CO2, or 3-4 per cent of the rise in total national CO2 emissions.
Since electrification also tends to lead to increased wealth and participation in the economy, it can also lead to additional increases in emissions from indirect energy use through consumption.
Pachauri found that when she took these factors into account, household electricity use would account for 156 to 363 million tonnes CO2, or 11 to 25 per cent of emissions growth in the country.
However, even with increased electricity use, Indian households still use less electricity than Chinese households, and less than 10 per cent of households in the US.
Researchers said that even though the emissions growth from expanded energy access is small, low carbon energy sources have additional benefits for developing countries and should be encouraged.
"Energy access is fundamental to development: it brings improvements to all aspects of life, including education, communication, and health," said Pachauri.
The study was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
- PTI Oct 20, 2014, 02.24PM IST