Clean Energy News Vol. 12, Number 3, January 25, 2012
Clean Energy News
Vol. 12, Number 3, January 25, 2012
CE News is a free weekly e-mail publications that features news, information and events related tp clean energy, clean air and climate change. CE News is published by Clean Energy Nepal. For more information on our campaign please visit www.cen.org.np
• Nepal Leads Biogas Collaboration
• Driving License to be Suspended for Frequent Violators
• Flyover Construction to Begin Within This Fiscal Year
• West Seti, Upper Karnali are National Interest Projects: PM Bhattarai
• Micro Hydro Projects: Political User Groups Dirtying Their Hands
• Ex-Minister ‘Smells Rat’ in Thermal Plant Plan
• China Releases More Detailed Air Pollution Data
• Green light for climate policy
• Biofuel Breakthrough
• Globally, 9 of the 10 Warmest Years on Record Occurred Since 2000
• Climate Plan Aims to Help Ecosystems Adapt to Change
• Link Of The Week
• Did You Know?
• Media Watch
• QUIZ Of The Week # 506
• Answer Of Quiz Of The Week # 505
Nepal Leads Biogas Collaboration
By Smriti Mallapaty
Nepal is looking to scale up its flagship household biogas programme, which has made forays into other developing countries in Asia and Africa.
Initiated in 1992 with support from the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV), Nepal has installed over 240,000 household biogas plants with a thermal energy capacity of 444 megawatts and greenhouse gas savings of 367,409 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. Biogas plants break down biodegradable matter to produce mainly methane. In Nepal, they are fed with cow dung and human waste and the output burned in cooking stoves, while the solid residue is used as farm fertiliser. Nepal country director for SNV, Rem Neefjes, attributes the success of the programme to simple, uniform biogas technology and coordination among government, private sector and microfinance institutions. Nepal’s model has been replicated in various Asian countries, including Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Bhutan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, according to Khagendra Nath Khanal, assistant director at the Biogas Sector Partnership (BSP-Nepal). "We are the second largest power generator in Nepal after hydropower," said Khanal. Several African countries are benefiting from Nepal's experience, said Paul Hassing, senior advisor of the African initiative, Biogas for Better Life. "In terms of the level of marketing of the biogas sector, it is fair to say that Nepal is still some 10 years ahead of developments in certain African countries," Hassing said.
Nepal's sharing of its knowhow on household biogas systems "is one of the best examples of south-south cooperation," said Saroj Rai, senior renewable energy advisor at SNV and former executive director of BSP-Nepal. "Biogas technology is more sophisticated in developed countries in Europe and America, but it is so expensive that you can’t make it viable here, even with subsidies," Rai said. Neefjes observed that the Nepal model is easy to replicate because of similarities among developing countries. "Countries at the same level of development learn much quicker from each other than countries at different stages of development." Nepal is now ready to expand its biogas sector to cover commercial, industrial and institutional use and address growing concerns of energy security and waste management, Samir Thapa, senior energy officer at Nepal’s Alternative Energy Promotion Centre, told SciDev.Net. For this, it hopes to benefit from south-south collaboration by learning from such countries as Bangladesh, China, India and Thailand.
Source: http://www.scidev.net January 24, 2012
Driving License to be Suspended for Frequent Violators
By Shreejana Shrestha
How often have you violated traffic rules? If you have already violated them more than four times, then beware because the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division (MTPD) can now suspend your driving license for up to six months.
In a move to better regulate traffic in the Valley, traffic police are going to suspend a driving license for six months if it has been marked five times for traffic rule violation. “Those who have already infringed traffic rules four times will now have to be extra careful to avoid a license suspension,” said DIG Ganesh Raj Rai, chief of MTPD. He, however, added that traffic police will not punch a hole in the license without critically evaluating the nature of the traffic rule violation. “MTPD will punch the driving license only after taking into account the nature of the violation,” he said. MTPD will recommend to the Department of Transport Management (DoTM) to punch the driving license if passenger vehicles are found carrying people on the roof, jumping the red light, overtaking from the left side, getting into an accident through overspeeding or if the person at the wheel is drink-driving. DIG Rai accused DoTM of not implementing the existing provision in the Transportation Act on license suspension for traffic rule violation. He informed that the division will soon write to DoTM to implement the suspension provision at the earliest. The new MTPD decision will not be subject to any time frame. “A violation occuring at any time will be counted as a violation,” Rai said. As per this decision, holes punched in a driving license that is going to expire after a certain time won´t be replicated in the new-issued license. But MTPD and DoTM will keep records of frequent violations and holes punched in licenses. The division has already punished 578,469 people in the Valley for violating traffic rules, including drink-driving, between December 16, 2011 and January 19, 2012.
MTPD catches 2,817 in 50 days for drink-driving. MTPD has already punished 2,817 people for drink-driving and collected Rs. 2.31 million in fines since December 3. The division has been taking diverse action such as arresting offenders, slapping a penalty of Rs. 1,000 and detaining them for a day. “We slap a Rs 1,000 fine if someone is found drink-driving but we remand them in custody for a night if they are drunk and not in control of themselves,” DSP Rai said. Traffic police on duty are found examining manually for drink-driving for lack of breathalyzers. Rai said that the division needs 200 breathalyzers for the Valley.
Source: http://myrepublica.com January 22, 2012
Flyover Construction to Begin Within This Fiscal Year
By Ramesh Shrestha
The Ministry of Physical Planning and Works has said the construction of underpasses or flyovers planned for Kathmandu’s five busiest junctions will begin within the current fiscal year. At present, the government preparing final designs.
Kalimati, Tripureshwor, Thapathali, New Baneshwor and Old Baneshwor junctions have been selected for the construction of grade-separated underpasses/flyovers. These structures are aimed at reducing traffic congestion for at least next 20 years. “We are awaiting the detailed design to start construction within the current fiscal year,” said Tulasi Prasad Sitaula, secretary at the ministry. He added that the construction would be carried out using government resources. The actual cost will be ascertained after finalising the detailed design, type of structures to be built and detailed project report, according to the ministry. The Bridge Project under the Department of Roads is undertaking work related to the proposed underpasses/flyovers by hiring a consultant—a joint venture between Salt Test and Abhiyan Consulting. The consultant had proposed two to five options for each junction. The Bridge Project has also asked the Central Regional Road Directorate, Kathmandu, to accommodate the grade-separated intersection plan in its 10-lane road improvement work in the Maitighar-Tinkune section, as the New Baneshwor junction falls within this section. Grade separation is a method that is adopted to improve traffic flow at busy junctions by constructing tunnels, ramps, underpass roads or flyovers. “Selection of final designs has almost been completed,” said Naresh Man Shakya, senior divisional engineer at the Bridge Project. He said the best applicable designs for each junction would be approved after needful modifications by an international expert.
The consultant is all set to hire a Canada-based Bangladeshi expert for the evaluation of the designs. The Bridge Project has also said that it will consult with stakeholders, including ministries concerned, traffic police, Kathmandu Metropolitan City, security agencies and transport entrepreneurs, before finalising the designs. Officials at the department said the construction of these two- to four-lane underpasses/flyovers was expected to complete within five years at most. Meanwhile, the department is also considering amending plans for Kalimati and Tripureshwor junctions for lack of spaces, according to an official at the department. “According to studies, several houses are required to be dismantled at Kalimati Chowk and King Tribhuwan’s statue at Tripureshwor should be removed as per the existing plans,” the official added.
Source: http://www.ekantipur.com January 20, 2012
West Seti, Upper Karnali are National Interest Projects: PM Bhattarai
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai on Sunday said that the West Seti and Upper Karnali hydropower projects would be operated in favour of national interest.
Speaking to CA members of Seti, Karnali and Mahakali zone, PM Bhattarai assured them that the government doesn’t have any intention to move any hydropower projects against the national interest and spirit of local people, RSS reports. Similarly, UCPN (Maoist) leader Khadga Bahadur Biswakarma had also said that as Upper Karnali project can be developed locally, the project should not be given to foreign companies. Saying that agreement with Indian hydropower company, GMR was against the interest of Nepal and it should be scrapped Biswakarma also opined that the West Seti and Upper Karnali hydropower projects can be developed under the partnership between the public, private and cooperatives.
Source: http://www.nepalnews.com January 23, 2012
Micro Hydro Projects: Political User Groups Dirtying Their Hands
By Bhadra Sharma, Pragati Shahi
Politically motivated community user groups are found indulging in malpractices while constructing the government subsidised micro hydropower projects in remote districts.
A probe team formed to study troubled micro hydro projects concluded that the politically motivated community user groups have been promoting irregularity. “Many groups are politically motivated and their influence was seen in the selection process of companies to provide subsidy,” said Bharat Poudel, senior engineer of Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC), who recently returned inspecting construction sites in Rukum. The Poudel-led team comprising AEPC account chief Laxman Gautam, Tara Shrestha of Rural Energy and Rural Livelihood, Nirjana Chanda of Rural Energy Fund and Rana Bahadur Thapa were on the week-long project inspection. According to the investigators, constructions of the micro hydro projects are in limbo. Against the target set by AEPC, a donor funded semi-government body tasked to construct 75 micro hydro projects in Rukum, only three community user groups have formally started construction work but only to get the short end of the stick later. AEPC has warned that it will block funds to the remaining projects unless the local consumers act in a transparent way and rise above their petty interests. “We have asked them to follow the due process while selecting companies and act transparently,” said Poudel. Among the projects running in Rukum, AEPC has released Rs 7,556,250, out of the total subsidy of Rs 25,428,573, to the 61-kW Kyangsikhola micro hydro project and a similar amount of subsidy to Lukum micro project. “We have heard that the community groups received budget from the government to construct micro hydro projects. But there is no progress. We are concerned that the projects bit the dust due to their negligence,” said Ajay Magar, a local of Rukum.
Rural Energy and Rural Livelihood (RERL) has warned of withdrawing its funds if the government failed to utilise money allocated for the micro hydro projects within 2012. “RERL has already informed us that it will not wait beyond 2012,” said Poudel. According to Magar, politicians, consumers groups, contractors and companies are engaged in blame game to serve their interests. Like Rukum, progress remains unsatisfactory in the remaining 16 districts. “We have been receiving similar complaints regarding the misuse of funds and formation of community consumer groups by political leaders,” said Ananda Raj Maskey, component manager of Rural Energy Fund (REF). In a bid to power the districts where the national grid is not expected to reach in near future, AEPC with the support from various development partners launched mini and micro hydro projects in 2009 in 13 remotest districts—Humla, Jumla, Kalikot, Dolpa, Mugu, Rolpa, Rukum, Jajarkot, Bajhang, Bajura, Achham, Dailekh, Darchula and in remotest VDCs identified by the government. Development partners have been providing subsidy and technical assistance to develop mini and micro hydro projects with installed capacity ranging from 10 kW to 500 kW. The subsidy covers around 60 percent of the total project costs and the remaining to be borne by the communities themselves.
source: http://www.ekantipur.com January 23, 2012
Ex-Minister ‘Smells Rat’ in Thermal Plant Plan
Former Energy minister Gokarna Bista alleged that the government’s plan to install new thermal plants was induced with the ‘interest of commission’.
The plants can be set up at a cost of Rs 4.5 billion, but the government has allocated around Rs 12 billion, he said at a programme here on Monday. “I smell a rat in the government’s plan.” The government is planning to install new thermal plants with a generating capacity of up to 200 MW. Despite several alternatives available to address the ongoing power woes, the government has not thought explored them, the former minister said, adding that the government has not come up with concrete plan to control electricity leakages and irregularities in the power sector and not even thought that electricity could be imported at a low cost. “Instead of mulling over a number of alternatives available, the government’s plan to install new thermal plants is guided towards misappropriating billions of rupees from the state coffers,” Bista said. “The plan is purely to misuse state funds.” On the government’s move to discontinue the measures to control leakages that were introduced during his term, he said the government has instead introduced ‘commission programme’ that could put the country’s economy in doldrums. He also said the power generated through thermal plants would cost Rs 30 per unit for the consumers. Bringing down power leakages to 20 percent from the current 29 percent and improving Nepal Electricity Authority management could save Rs 3 billion revenue, he added.
Source: http://www.ekantipur.com January 24, 2012
China Releases More Detailed Air Pollution Data
For the first time on Saturday, Beijing officials released data disclosing the amount of minute particles polluting the air in what Reuters has called “of the world’s most heavily polluted capitals.”
According to the Xinhua news agency, the Beijing Environment Protection Monitoring Center revealed that a monitoring station in the city detected 0.003 micrograms of fine particular matter of 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter (PM2.5), which equates to an air-quality rating of “good.” The Associated Press (AP) notes that this was the first time Chinese environmental authorities publically released data on PM2.5 levels, covering particles that are roughly 1/30th the width of the average human hair. Due to their tiny size, they are more likely to penetrate deep into a person’s lungs, and that, according to the AP, makes them “a more accurate reflection of air quality than other methods.” Officials are releasing hourly PM2.5 readings originating from a monitoring station located approximately four miles west of Tiananmen Square, the Monitoring Center’s website said on Saturday, according to the AP. However, readings taken at a U.S. Embassy site, located in the eastern part of downtown Beijing, said that the PM2.5 levels were “moderate” at noon Eastern time and “good” at 4pm Eastern time. Previously, Beijing officials only released levels of airborne PM10 particles, or particles that were at least 10 microns across, BBC News reported. Saturday’s PM2.5 release came as the result of an online campaign seeking China to improve and reform their monitoring system, the British news organization added.
Those first publicly-released measurements came on “a day where you could see blue sky” following “a week of smothering smog,” thanks to a sky-clearing northern wind, the AP reported. Likewise, Lucy Hornby and Wan Xu of Reuters called Saturday “a clear crisp day that contrasted with the thick smog earlier in the week.” “It shows that the government is responding to popular concerns about air pollution,” Environmental Consultant Steven Andrews, who has studied Beijing air pollution since 2006, told Hornby and Xu. “It’s a recognition by the government that the way it was monitored and reported in the past didn’t reflect people’s perception of how serious the problem is,” he added. In a separate interview with the AP, Andrews said he was “suspicious” of the reported PM2.5 level. “In all of 2010 and 2011, the U.S. Embassy reported values at or below that level only 18 times out of over 15,000 hourly values or about 0.1 percent of the time,” Andrews told the wire service. “PM2.5 concentrations vary by area so a direct comparison between sites isn’t possible, but the numbers being reported during some hours seem surprisingly low,” he added. According to Reuters, Chinese experts have previously criticized the U.S. Embassy statistics, which are posted online through the social network Twitter on an hourly basis, as “unscientific.”
Source: http://www.redorbit.com January 22, 2012
Green light for climate policy
By Ioane Burese
Cabinet has approved the National Climate Change Policy.
In an Information Ministry statement, Foreign Ministry Ratu Inoke Kubuabola said as a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Fiji is obligated to develop policies and strategies according to international and regional climate change programs to facilitate national approaches to climate change issues. Ratu Inoke said the National Climate Change Policy was based on the Climate Change Policy Framework for Fiji, which was approved by Cabinet in 2007. He said the policy would guide efforts for an effective and integrated approach to climate change issues in Fiji. "It will guide the development of strategies and assist in the formulation and delivery of projects and initiatives," he said. Ratu Inoke said the next step would be the development of a new Climate Change Law, which, when drafted, would be taken to Cabinet for approval.
Source: http://www.fijitimes.com January 23, 2012
By Paula Leighton
Brown seaweed's potential as a vast source of biofuels has been highlighted with the announcement that scientists have found a way of converting all its major sugars into ethanol.
A team reported in Science today (19 January) that it has engineered a microbe that will convert the sugars to ethanol, overturning one of the main obstacles to making the use of brown macroalgae, or seaweed, as a biofuel feedstock competitive. The prospective ethanol yield from brown seaweed is approximately two times higher than that from sugarcane and five times higher than maize, from the same area of cultivation. But its full potential cannot be reached because of the inability of industrial microbes to break down alginate, one of the three most abundant sugars in brown seaweed, commonly known as kelp, which is the most widely grown seaweed in the world. Now, researchers based in Chile, France and the United States say that they have developed the first microbe capable of fermenting all the major sugars found in a common species of brown seaweed (Saccharinna japonica). "This [development] makes [brown seaweed] a viable biomass for the production of renewable fuels and chemicals," Yasuo Yoshikuni, co-author of the study and chief science officer at Bio Architecture Lab (BAL) Inc a US company that has built four seaweed farms off the coast of Chile told SciDev.Net. The team engineered Escherichia coli bacteria, which has the natural ability to metabolise glucose and mannitol the other two main sugars in brown seaweed and Vibrio splendidus a microorganism containing all necessary genes to metabolise alginates. As a result, the scientists were able to get a yield of bioethanol directly from seaweed equivalent to 15,000-20,000 litres per hectare per year. An analysis by the US Department of Energy has previously reported that, if technical barriers were overcome, brown macroalgae could produce 19,000 litres per hectare per year. Brown seaweed "does not compete with food crops or terrestrial plants for land and fresh water, and seaweed aquafarming can absorb excess nutrients in the ocean [which can cause oxygen depletion]", said Yuki Kashiyama, head of BAL Chile.
Source: http://www.enn.com January 22, 2012
Globally, 9 of the 10 Warmest Years on Record Occurred Since 2000
The global average temperature last year was the ninth-warmest in the modern meteorological record, continuing a trend linked to greenhouse gases that saw nine of the 10 hottest years occurring since the year 2000, NASA scientists said on Thursday.
A separate report from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the average temperature for the United States in 2011 as the 23rd warmest year on record. The global average surface temperature for 2011 was 0.92 degrees F (0.51 degrees C) warmer than the mid-20th century baseline temperature, researchers at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies said in a statement. The institute's temperature record began in 1880. The first 11 years of the new century were notably hotter than the middle and late 20th century, according to institute director James Hansen. The only year from the 20th century that was among the top 10 warmest years was 1998. These high global temperatures come even with the cooling effects of a strong La Nina ocean temperature pattern and low solar activity for the past several years, said Hansen, who has long campaigned against human-spurred climate change. The NASA statement said the current higher temperatures are largely sustained by increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is emitted by various human activities, from coal-fired power plants to fossil-fueled vehicles to human breath. Current levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceed 390 parts per million, compared with 285 ppm in 1880 and 315 by 1960, NASA said.
Source: http://www.enn.com January 20, 2012
Climate Plan Aims to Help Ecosystems Adapt to Change
By Staci Matlock
The debate over the causes of climate change continues to rage, but federal, state and tribal agencies aren't waiting around for the argument to be settled. They believe climate change is here, and they're working on ways to help wildlife, land and communities adapt.
Two federal agencies and a state wildlife department have developed a broad plan for helping ecosystems become more resilient as the climate changes. The National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy was released Friday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the New York Division of Fish and Wildlife and Marine Resources. The public has until March 5 to comment on the plan. "It is clear from current trends and future projections that we are now committed to a certain amount of changes and impacts, making climate adaptation planning a critical part of responding to this complex challenge." Massive wildfires, rising sea levels and increasing numbers of catastrophic natural disasters such as floods and drought are all symptoms of a changing climate, according to scientists. While all those events have happened repeatedly in the past, the severity and frequency of them in the last decade are what worry climate watchers. Impacts of climate change vary by region. In the Southwest, scientists are seeing a long-term trend toward less snowpack in the mountains, faster snowmelts, warmer winter night temperatures and drier summers.
The strategy outlines seven broad goals for helping plants, wildlife, fish and ecosystems adapt as the climate changes. The agencies promoting the strategy say it provides a basis for "sensible action" to protect natural resources and help the people who depend on them. Congress called on the federal government in 2009 to study the impacts of climate change and develop a plan for helping ecosystems and wildlife be more resilient. The strategy is one step. The website for the Wildlife Adaptation Strategy is packed with the latest studies, international reports and information on what states and tribes are doing to plan for climate change. One link (www.cakex.org/case-studies) goes to the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange, where groups and governments can check out what other communities are doing. The San Francisco Bay Area, for example, is dealing with rising sea levels. Prolonged drought and increasingly frequent wildfires are challenges for the Jemez Mountains, where The Nature Conservancy is working with land managers, biologists and others on adaptation plans. A report on their work around New Mexico is available at http://nmconservation.org. Increasingly, local governments are already planning with climate change in mind. City of Santa Fe officials and city water staffers are currently modeling water resources and use into the future, taking into account projected changes in water supplies due to climate change.
Source: http://www.santafenewmexican.com January 21, 2012
|Link of the Week|
Birds are finding it increasingly difficult to adapt to Europe's warming climes
|Did you Know ?|
The EPA's report listed the top 100 "big emissions sources" in U.S., 96 of which were power plants. The top 20 were largely made up of coal plants.
|Media and Event Watch|
Every Monday 8:30 pm on Nepal FM 91.8 MHZ “Climate Change Mero Bhawisya Mero Chaso”
Every Sunday at 7:30 am on Radio Sagarmatha 102.4 MHz "Batabaran Dabali"
Every Monday at 5:30 pm (re-telecast every Tuesday 11 am) on ABC Television “Climate Change
Every Alternate Friday at 2 PM on ENPHO Hall – “Green Discussion” Organized by Clean Energy Nepal, Nepalese Youth for Climate Action anGrnd Green Youth Network
Every Friday on The Himalayan Times “THT Green Plus”
Environment Cycle Radio F.M.104.2Mhz (ECR FM)
|QUIZ of the Week # 506|
One improved stove emits …………… ton less carbon dioxide annually as compared to the general stoves.
While sending your answer please mention “Quiz of the week#” in the subject line and please send your answer in email@example.com
One lucky winner will get a T-shirt with an Environmental Message from Clean Energy Nepal.
|Answer of the week # 505|
As per the Climate Change Policy 2011 and National Adaptation Programme of Action 2010, ……………………… per cent of the total funds need to be spent on local level activities.
Khem Raj Bhandari
Sangeeta Pandey is the lucky winner for this week. Please contact the CEN office within a week with your identity card.
Congratulation to the Winner and thanks to all participants.
Prepared by: Suman Udas and Pabitra Basnet
Edited by: Bhushan Tuladhar
To contribute articles, news items, or event announcements for the next issue, send an email with the complete details and URL source to firstname.lastname@example.org and to view the archives of ce-news http://cen.org.np/ce-news
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