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Clean Energy News Vol. 12, Number 24, August 15, 2012

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Clean Energy News
Vol. 12, Number 24, August 15, 2012
CE News is a weekly e-mail publications that features news, information and events related to clean energy, clean air and climate change. CE News is published by Clean Energy Nepal. For more information about CEN please visit www.cen.org.np
In this Issue

Harnessing of Hydropower potential: Nepal nowhere at the top of South Asian list
• Government to approach ADB for metro DPR
• Strike Ends as Govt, Transporters Reach Deal
• Rain delays Paddy plantation
• South Asia's energy crisis demands collective action
• Arctic sea ice 'melting faster'
• New Solar Power Design Inspired by Telescope Could Produce Twice the Energy
• New Atmospheric Compound Tied to Climate Change, Human Health
• India: Road map for cleaner air
• Pine Trees One of Biggest Contributors to Air Pollutio

• Link Of The Week
• Did You Know?
• Media Watch
• QUIZ Of The Week # 522
• Answer Of Quiz Of The Week # 521


 

National News
Harnessing of Hydropower potential: Nepal nowhere at the top of South Asian countries’ list  
        
By Ashok Thapa

Nepal lies at the bottom of the list of six South Asian countries in terms of harnessing the commercially feasible hydropower potential, according to a study conducted by the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA).

The country has so far been able to exploit a meager 1.53 percent of the total hydro electricity potential. The average power harnessing in the six countries — Nepal, Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Sri-Lanka and Bangladesh — is 23.15 percent.

Nepal has a commercially feasible potential of 43,000 MW, but has an installed capacity of 659 MW. In terms of commercial feasibility, Nepal, however, stands at third position.
Sri Lanka tops the list, utilising 54.93 percent of its potential, followed by India with 46.48 percent, Bangladesh 30.46 percent, Pakistan 11.11 percent and Bhutan 6.20 percent. Bangladesh has the lowest potential of 755MW and has harnessed just 230MW, according to the NEA study.

According to the NEA study, the public sector’s contribution in overall power generation in South Asia stands at 70 percent on an average. In Nepal, the public sector’s contribution is 76 percent. According to the report, Nepal has the highest public-private participation in hydropower generation in the region. In the total power generated, public sector (NEA) has 72 percent contribution, independent power producers have 24 percent and NEA subsidiaries have 4 percent contribution. NEA’s subsidiaries include Chilime Hydropower project. Shrestha said IPPs were constantly making efforts to go hand-in-hand with the public sector in hydro energy generation. Sri-Lanka stands second in terms of making joint efforts with the private sector. In Sri Lanka, the private sector has 14 percent role.

Source: e-kantipur
 
Government to approach ADB for metro DPR

By Ramesh Shrestha

The government is all set to approach the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the preparation of a detailed project report (DPR) of a metro railway system and feasibility study of a North-South railway link.

The Ministry of Physical Planning, Works and Transport Management is preparing to propose the ADB for this within a week.
In a bid to cater to the demand of mass transport system, the government has planned to a build metro railway system or Mass Rapid Transit System (underground and elevated railway) in the Capital. Korean consulting companies in joint venture with local partners are conducting a feasibility study of the metro railway.

The North-South link is conceived for connecting two neighboring countries as part of Trans-Asia Railway Network. In December last year, Nepal had agreed to be a part of the railway network that will connect the country with railway networks of Europe, enabling uninterrupted movement of people and goods. India and China had also agreed to participate in the Trans-Asia Railway link.

The government has been working on the metro plan for the last three years. According to the preliminary inception report prepared by consulting firms, the metro system in Kathmandu will have five lines with a combined length of 67km. Four lines are planned to be built inside the Ring Road, with the one running around the Ring Road will be 27.35km long. Chungsuk Engineering Company, Korea Transport Institution, Kunhwa Consulting and Engineering Company, Korea Rail Network Authority and two local companies— Building Design Authority and Environmental and Research Management Consultant—are preparing the feasibility study report.
The proposed metro network will have 31 stations with its main terminal at Ratnapark, according to the inception report. The metro will cover almost all major bus stops such as Kalanki, Satdobato, Koteshwor, Chabahil, Narayan Gopal Chowk, Gongabu of the Ring Road and New Baneshwor, Singha Durbar and Thamel.

Source: e-kantipur
 
Strike Ends as Govt, Transporters Reach Deal

By Bhoj Raj Poudel

The transporters have ended their two-day-old strike of public transport after the government agreed to form a task force to study their demand to annul a provision which allowed traffic police to fine motorists up to Rs 1,000 late Saturday night.

During Saturday´s talks, the government agreed to address 14 of the 15-point demand put forward by the transporters. On the most contentious point – annulment of delegation of authority to the traffic police to fine motorists between Rs 200 to Rs 1,000, the two sides agreed to resolve the issue after a field study by the task force comprising representatives from both the sides.
Four transport unions including National Federation of Nepal Transport Entrepreneurs (NFNTE), All Nepal Transport Workers Association, Nepal Yatayat Workers Association and Nepal Yatayat Independent Workers´ Association had jointly declared indefinite strike from August 10, accusing the government of failing to address the problems of transport entrepreneurs.
Commuters, who relied heavily on the public transports, were severely affected by the two day strike. The entrepreneurs had called nationwide strike demanding for annulment of the provision for slapping fines of Rs 200 to Rs 1,000 for every single violation of traffic rules. Additionally, the transport entrepreneurs have urged for annulment of Metropolitan Traffic Police Division´s decision to reward 15 percent of revenues collected as fine from drivers to traffic police who was involved in fining the violator.

Hundreds of thousands of commuters suffered as public vehicles such as micro-vans, tempos, buses and taxis stayed off the road due to the strike for the second day Saturday. The second round of talk between government and transport entrepreneurs had ended inconclusively on Friday afternoon.
The transporters had then threatened to stop even the private vehicles from operating from Sunday to press their demands.

As black-plated vehicles — a broad categorization of public transport vehicles — stayed away from regular service, Nagdhunga checkpoint, the main entry and exit point to and from Kathmandu Valley, recorded only 200 private vehicles passing through on Friday and it was almost same on Saturday as well. Normally, 3,000-5,000 vehicles use the Nagdhunga point every day, according to Metropolitan Traffic Police at Nagdhunga.

Source: Myrepublica
 
Rain delays Paddy plantation      
By Sangam Prasain
Paddy transplantation has been done on only 84 percent of the total paddy fields as of August 10 compared to 100 percent last year, thanks to poor monsoon.
Given most of the farming dependent on monsoon rains, poor rainfall coupled with chemical fertiliser shortage is likely to cut paddy production notably this year.
After good monsoon for the last two years, rainfall remained poor this year.
Officials at the Ministry of Agriculture Development hoped that the transplantation would spill over until mid-August in some regions, with forecast of some late August rainfalls.
However, transplantation across the country is expected to remain below 93 percent this season, which agro economists said is a huge loss for the country’s agriculture sector.
As on August 10, the transplantation has been done on 1.28 million hectares of land against 1.53 million hectares in the corresponding period last year, a drop of 19.61 percent.
This year, the country’s agriculture sector suffered two major setbacks — acute chemical fertiliser shortage and late monsoon. Pant said the drop in plantation means production will go down. Besides, the unavailability of chemical fertilisers, a vital farm input, will also play a key role in reducing productivity.
Ministry statistics show paddy transplantation on hills and mountain regions stood at 90 percent and 86 percent, respectively compared to 100 percent a year ago. Paddy is cultivated on 356,222 hectares in hills and 58,863 hectares in mountain region.
The plantation period in the hill and mountain regions has already been over, while plantation will continue for some three-four days in some places in Tarai, the ministry officials said. The Tarai region, which constitutes of over 71 percent (865,234 hectare) paddy fields, has 81 percent transplantation rate.
In terms of development regions, transplantation in the mid- and far-western regions has been done on 98 percent land. The far western region has recorded 96 percent transplantation. The eastern and central regions have the most disappointing results. Paddy transplantation in these two regions has been completed on only 75 percent and 74 percent of the total paddy fields.
According to the ministry statistics, transplantation in Saptari, Mohattari, Siraha and Dhanusha and has been done on 35 percent, 40 percent, 45 percent and 47 percent of the land, respectively. In these districts, paddy is cultivated on 60,000, 34,776, 61,000 and 65,000 hectares of land, respectively.
However, paddy cultivation in Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari progressed faster. Paddy transplantation in these districts has been done on 90 percent, 95 percent and 80 percent of the total fields. The figures were at 75 percent, 60 percent and 50 percent, respectively, last week.
Source:e-kantipur
International News
South Asia's energy crisis demands collective action

By Navin Singh Khadka

The colossal collapse of India's power grid, twice in as many days last week, highlights how severe the consequences can be if nations do not address their energy demand and supply situation.

Hundreds of millions of people were without electricity, there were massive traffic jams on the roads as signals broke down, and factories and businesses came to a stand-still.
But it is not just India that is struggling with a massive gap in power demand and supply. Crippling power cuts and shortage of energy supply are hurting growth in other South Asian nations such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. And the situation is likely to get worse as the demand for energy increases in these countries, according to the Asian Development Bank.
While these nations have unveiled ambitious plans to overcome the situation, some analysts say the solution may actually lie in them pooling together their resources and supplies through a cross-border network.

South Asia is rich in energy resources, ranging from renewables such as hydro-electricity and solar power to fossil fuels such as coal and gas. Nepal, Bhutan, India and Pakistan have huge hydropower potential, while Bangladesh holds significant gas reserves.India's coal deposits have been the engine for the country's economic growth, while those of Pakistan are yet to be mined. Some Pakistani coastal areas have also been identified as having the potential to harness wind power.

Energy experts say all these resources pooled together through an interconnected grid could help South Asia secure its energy supplies.

However, the idea of combining resources has not gained traction in the region. The efforts for such a collaboration have been slow, mainly because of geopolitics and the lack of infrastructure such as cross-border transmission lines. There have been calls for South Asian nations to pool their energy resources. India's Minister of State for Power, KC Venugopal, admitted during a regional power conference last year that "the issue of cross-border trading was a complex one involving market, technology and, most importantly, geopolitical issues".

Hydropower development entails using water resources, a sensitive subject in South Asia's national and regional politics.Neighbouring countries often look at each other suspiciously. The classic case has been that of Nepal and India. They have signed agreements to build various hydropower projects on Nepalese rivers. But those files have been gathering dust because of controversies on water-sharing, the environment and population displacement.

Despite these issues, some key developments have started to take place. Experts point to the increasing amount of hydropower Bhutan is supplying to India. Three Bhutanese hydro-electric projects contribute a significant chunk of power to India's national grid. The Himalayan kingdom has also begun work on new hydropower projects totalling more than 11,000 MW. Most of it is said to be meant for the Indian market.
India and Nepal are also working on cross-border power transmission lines. And officials say India and Pakistan have been holding talks for grid inter-connectivity.
But officials involved in negotiations say this might be a painfully slow and long journey. And unless South Asian governments really want to solve their differences, the region's power crisis looks set to become perennial.

Source: BBC
 
Arctic sea ice 'melting faster'

By Roger Harrabin

Arctic sea ice is vanishing much faster than generally expected, according to preliminary data from European Space Agency satellite Cryosat.

UK scientists combined results from Cryosat, which uses radar to measure ice thickness, with data from Nasa'sIceSat, which uses lasers.
Their preliminary analysis suggests an annual ice loss of up to 900 cubic km a year from 2004. Projections of Arctic ice melt vary widely. But the new results are some 50% higher than projected in most scenarios.

The ice loss is pronounced in areas to the north of Greenland where thickness has fallen from 5-6m a decade ago to around 3m last year. The analysis was done by Dr Seymour Laxon, reader in climate physics at the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling. He said the figures might change slightly when all the data had been analysed but that the broad thrust of the research showed a clear and dramatic thinning of the sea ice.
At the end of last summer 7,000 cubic km of ice remained. The satellite figures were cross-checked against data from planes over-flying the Arctic and submerged buoys sending sonar signals to measure ice thickness. DrLaxon said the results were thought to be accurate within 10cm (3.5in).

"We have to be cautious until our data has been properly analysed as part of a climate model, but this does suggest that the Arctic might be ice-free in summer for a day at least by the end of the decade," he told BBC News. "But the past is not always a guide to the future."

The Arctic is warming much faster than the rest of the planet and the loss of sea ice affects populations.
The light-coloured sea ice bounces back warmth into space. If it disappears, the Arctic Ocean will absorb more heat.

That will cause more warming which will in turn contribute to sea level rise. It may also affect Europe's weather because of the link between sea ice and the jet stream which dominates some of our weather patterns.

There are many uncertainties. Scientists cannot be sure how much of the Arctic warming is natural and how much it is being driven by manmade climate change.
Last month a Nasa news release headlined news of an "unprecedented Greenland Ice Sheet Surface melt". Images showed that in July, 97% of Greenland's ice sheet experienced some degree of melting at the surface in July.

Many readers assumed that manmade climate change was being blamed. But Laura Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist, confirmed in the same news release that melting events of this nature happen naturally on average every 150 years.
"If it continues it will be worrisome," she said.
 
New Solar Power Design Inspired by Telescope Could Produce Twice the Energy

Researchers have designed a new solar power module that uses a curved mirror to focus sunlight onto a 5-inch glass ball that then spreads the light evenly across a solar panel, leading to twice the power output of traditional solar panels when combined with high-efficiency solar cells.

The design was inspired by telescope technology and the high-efficiency solar cells used by space agencies.
The module also tracks the sun and rotates with it to increase its efficiency. The whole module is mounted on a steel 10-ft by 10-ft rotating frame that moves with the sun.

“The tracker is fully automated,” Blake Coughenour, a graduate student in the UA’s College of Optical Sciences, explained. “The system wakes itself up in the morning and turns to the East. It knows where the sun will rise even while it’s still below the horizon. It tracks the sun’s path during the day all the way to sunset, then parks itself for the night.”

One of the most interesting parts of the system is the mirror. The researchers came up with a dish-shaped mirror design that works very well for concentrating sunlight specifically for photovoltaics, as opposed to a solar thermal system.

“Most mirrors used in solar power plants are used for thermal generation by focusing light onto a long pipe used to heat water into steam. This requires the mirrors to be shaped like a cylinder. What we have learned here at the Mirror Lab is how to bend the glass to high accuracy so as to focus to a point or a line.”

The panels are created out of solar cells that are usually only used in spacecraft. These cells capture a wider range of the solar spectrum than regular cells. The ball lens is coated to maximize transparency for the suns rays. When put together with the mirrors, this system works very well to concentrate light on the the solar cells, but it also concentrates a bunch of heat. So the researchers designed a cooling system consisting of fans and a radiator that keeps the array within 36 degrees of the outdoor temperature.
Since the heat generated is itself a valuable resource the researchers are also “working on a way to use the mirrors to create an eco-friendly furnace that works like a toaster oven to burn a mold into a flat sheet of glass.”

From tests done by the researchers, a tracker featuring two mirrors generates enough energy to power two homes, but they hope to place eight mirrors on each module.
They say that “an array of sun trackers on an area measuring about seven by seven miles (11 x 11 km) would generate 10 GW of power during sunshine hours – as much as a big nuclear power plant. This technology has a lot going for it that makes it super promising.”
“Unlike conventional power plants that use steam to power turbines, Angel’s photovoltaic prototype uses no water, making it especially suitable for desert regions,” the University of Arizona reports. ”The materials are cheap to produce and by concentrating sunlight with mirrors the plant’s footprint is smaller than that of PV panel-based plants.”

Source: Cleantechinca.com
New Atmospheric Compound Tied to Climate Change, Human Health

An international research team led by the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Helsinki has discovered a surprising new chemical compound in Earth's atmosphere that reacts with sulfur dioxide to form sulfuric acid, which is known to have significant impacts on climate and health.

The new compound, a type of carbonyl oxide, is formed from the reaction of ozone with alkenes, which are a family of hydrocarbons with both natural and human-made sources, said Roy "Lee" Mauldin III, a research associate in CU-Boulder's atmospheric and oceanic sciences department and lead study author. The study charts a previously unknown chemical pathway for the formation of sulfuric acid, which can result both in increased acid rain and cloud formation as well as negative respiratory effects on humans.

"We have discovered a new and important, atmospherically relevant oxidant," said Mauldin. "Sulfuric acid plays an essential role in Earth's atmosphere, from the ecological impacts of acid precipitation to the formation of new aerosol particles, which have significant climatic and health effects. Our findings demonstrate a newly observed connection between the biosphere and atmospheric chemistry."

Typically the formation of sulfuric acid in the atmosphere occurs via the reaction between the hydroxyl radical OH -- which consists of a hydrogen atom and an oxygen atom with unpaired electrons that make it highly reactive -- and sulfur dioxide, Mauldin said. The trigger for the reactions to produce sulfuric acid is sunlight, which acts as a "match" to ignite the chemical process, he said.

But Mauldin and his colleagues had suspicions that there were other processes at work when they began detecting sulfuric acid at night, particularly in forests in Finland -- where much of the research took place -- when the sun wasn't present to catalyze the reaction. "There were a number of instances when we detected sulfuric acid and wondered where it was coming from," he said.
In the laboratory, Mauldin and his colleagues combined ozone -- which is ubiquitous in the atmosphere -- with sulfur dioxide and various alkenes in a gas-analyzing instrument known as a mass spectrometer hooked up with a "flow tube" used to add gases. "Suddenly we saw huge amounts of sulfuric acid being formed," he said.

Because the researchers wanted to be sure the hydroxyl radical OH was not reacting with the sulfur dioxide to make sulfuric acid, they added in an OH "scavenger" compound to remove any traces of it. Later, one of the research team members held up freshly broken tree branches to the flow tube, exposing hydrocarbons known as isoprene and alpha-pinene -- types of alkenes commonly found in trees and which are responsible for the fresh pine tree scent.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more than 90 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions are from fossil fuel combustion at power plants and other industrial facilities. Other sulfur sources include volcanoes and even ocean phytoplankton. It has long been known that when sulfur dioxide reacts with OH, it produces sulfuric acid that can form acid rain, shown to be harmful to terrestrial and aquatic life on Earth.
Airborne sulfuric acid particles -- which form in a wide variety of sizes -- play the main role in the formation of clouds, which can have a cooling effect on the atmosphere, he said. Smaller particles near the planet's surface have been shown to cause respiratory problems in humans.

 
India: Road map for cleaner air

By SujayMehdudia

Petroleum Ministry seeks setting up of an inter-ministerial group to draw up an action plan for pollution issues.

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry has sought setting up of an inter-ministerial Committee (IMC) with representatives from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the Ministry of Heavy Industries, Urban Development and Public Enterprises and the Ministry of Environment and Forests to draw up a roadmap for reduction of pollution.

The Ministry has stated that with a time lag in implementation of sound vehicle inspection and maintenance, vehicle retro-fitment and retirement, garage certification and traffic management, mere improvement of fuel quality was not enough to achieve the desired results. “It is time to evolve an appropriate roadmap and supervise implementation of measures to reduce the pollution levels,” it has stated in a note circulated among various stakeholders.

The note pointed out that as per the source apportionment studies conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in six cities, vehicular emission is not the only major contributor to overall pollution as road side dust, construction activities, domestic combustion, use of diesel generator sets and bio mass burning also contribute significantly to the pollution levels going northwards.

The Petroleum Ministry said while the oil industry has kept its commitment of supplying BS-IV quality auto fuels to reap the full benefits of the upgraded fuel quality, more important and immediate need was to ensure improvement in vehicle engine technology to reduce emission levels and deliver higher fuel efficiency.
“Measures like retro-fitment of pollution control devices in old vehicles, phasing out of old vehicles, mandatory periodical inspections and maintenance requirements are also requirement to be taken up simultaneously,” it has stated.

It further pointed out that a decision had been taken to progressively expand coverage of BS-IV fuels in at least 50 cities by 2015, adding that inclusion of all State capitals and cities with population of more than one million and on-attainment cities as identified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests will be emphasised while selecting the additional cities for extension of BS-IV auto fuels.
 
Pine Trees One of Biggest Contributors to Air Pollution

Pine trees are one of the biggest contributors to air pollution.
They give off gases that react with airborne chemicals -- many of which are produced by human activity -- creating tiny, invisible particles that muddy the air. New research from a team led by Carnegie Mellon University's Neil Donahue shows that the biogenic particles formed from pine tree emissions are much more chemically interesting and dynamic than previously thought. The study provides the first experimental evidence that such compounds are chemically transformed by free radicals, the same compounds that age our skin, after they are first formed in the atmosphere.

These findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, can help make climate and air quality prediction models more accurate, and enable regulatory agencies to make more effective decisions as they consider strategies for improving air quality.

Link of the Week
Energy Profile of Nepal
Please visit: http://www.reegle.info/countries/nepal-energy-profile/NP
 
Did you Know ?
According to the Natural hazards risk atlas 2012, compiled by risk analysis firm Maplecroft, emerging economies in Asia, including India and the Philippines, face the greatest financial risk from natural disasters. The atlas has ranked following countries at most risk:
Bangladesh, Philippines, Dominican Republic, Burma, India, Vietnam, Honduras, Laos, Haiti
 
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 # 497
Facebook has recently released its Carbon Footprint. According to the release, Facebook's annual emissions were …………… metric tons of CO2 equivalent in 2011.
a) 234,000
b) 285,000
c) 190,000
d) 314,000
 
While sending your answer please mention “Quiz of the week#” in the subject line and please send your answer in cenews@cen.org.np
One lucky winner will get an attractive prized from Clean Energy Nepal.
Answer of the week # 496
While more than 80 percent of the people in the country still depend on traditional cooking methods fraught with serious consequences to health due to indoor air pollution, the center for alternative energy promotion center (AEPC) has shared good news that at least .................................... households are now free from such risks as they have been provided improved cooking stoves.
a)    621,826
 
The following participants submitted the correct answer.

Arbin Shrestha

Rakesh Guragain
Ranjan Bajagain
Meena Bohora
Heera Kaji Majarjan
Isha Dhakal

Ranjan Bajagain is winner of this week. Please contact CEN office within one week with your identity card.

Congratulations to the winner and thanks to all the participants.
 

Prepared by: Suman Udas and Pabitra Basnet
Edited by: Bhushan Tuladhar

Clean Energy Nepal (CEN) is an independent, not-for-profit organization working in the field of Energy and Environment.

CEN: 140 Bublbule Marg, Thapagaon, Kathmandu, Nepal. Tel: 977-1-44464981