Flawed Carbon pricing and the cost of global warming

Salman Zafar:

Developed countries have emitted bulk of the carbon since industrial revolution while developing countries such as India and China were emitting less carbon in spite of their vast population due to their lowest per capita consumption. But that trend has now changed with rapid industrialization and economic growth of India and China and other developing economies.

Originally posted on ahilan007:

The climate is changing with increasing global warming caused by man-made Carbon emission. The economic impact of global warming can no longer be ignored by Governments around the world because it is impacting their budget bottom lines. Weather is becoming unpredictable. Even if Meteorological department predicts a disaster 24 hrs in advance, there is nothing Governments can do to prevent human and economic losses within a short span of time but evacuate people to safety leaving behind all their properties. Governments are forced to allocate funds for disaster management every year caused by severe draughts, unprecedented snow falls, and coastal erosion by rising sea levels, flash flooding, inundation and power black outs. We often hear people saying,” we were completely taken by surprise by this event and we have never seen anything like this in the last 50 years” after every naturals disasters explaining the nature and scale of disasters…

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CDM Market in the MENA Region

Illustration: Different types of renewable energy.

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The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is highly susceptible to climate change, on account of its water scarcity, high dependence on climate-sensitive agriculture, concentration of population and economic activity in urban coastal zones, and the presence of conflict-affected areas. Moreover, the region is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions on account of its thriving oil and gas industry.

The world’s dependence on Middle East energy resources has caused the region to have some of the largest carbon footprints per capita worldwide. Not surprisingly, the carbon emissions from UAE are approximately 55 tons per capita, which is more than double the US per capita footprint of 22 tons per year. The MENA region is now gearing up to meet the challenge of global warming, as with the rapid growth of the carbon market. During the last few years, many MENA countries, like UAE, Qatar, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have unveiled multi-billion dollar investment plans in the cleantech sector to portray a ‘green’ image.

There is an urgent need to foster sustainable energy systems, diversify energy sources, and implement energy efficiency measures. The clean development mechanism (CDM), under the Kyoto Protocol, is one of the most important tools to support renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives in the MENA countries. Some MENA countries have already launched ambitious sustainable energy programs while others are beginning to recognize the need to adopt improved standards of energy efficiency.

 The UAE, cognizant of its role as a major contributor to climate change, has launched several ambitious governmental initiatives aimed at reducing emissions by approximately 40 percent. Masdar, a $15 billion future energy company, will leverage the funds to produce a clean energy portfolio, which will then invest in clean energy technology across the Middle East and North African region. Egypt is the regional CDM leader with twelve projects in the UNFCCC pipeline and many more in the conceptualization phase.

The MENA region is an attractive CDM destination as it is rich in renewable energy resources and has a robust oil and gas industry. Surprisingly, very few CDM projects are taking place in MENA countries with only 22 CDM projects have been registered to date. The region accounts for only 1.5 percent of global CDM projects and only two percent of emission reduction credits. The two main challenges facing many of these projects are: weak capacity in most MENA countries for identifying, developing and implementing carbon finance projects and securing underlying finance.

Currently, there are several CDM projects in progress in Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia. Many companies and consulting firms have begun to explore this now fast-developing field. One of them, the UK-based EcoSecurities, opened a regional office in Dubai. The company has offices in Bahrain and Lebanon and is planning for branches in Saudi Arabia and Qatar as well as intermediates in Egypt and Libya next year. The Masdar Company of Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, is the first local company in the region to pursue a CDM project.

The Al-Shaheen project is the first of its kind in the region and third CDM project in the petroleum industry worldwide. The Al-Shaheen oilfield has flared the associated gas since the oilfield began operations in 1994. Prior to the project activity, the facilities used 125 tons per day (tpd) of associated gas for power and heat generation, and the remaining 4,100 tpd was flared. Under the current project, total gas production after the completion of the project activity is 5,000 tpd with 2,800-3,400 tpd to be exported to Qatar Petroleum (QP); 680 tpd for on-site consumption, and only 900 tpd still to be flared. The project activity will reduce GHG emissions by approximately 2.5 million tCO2 per year and approximately 17 million tCO2 during the initial seven-year crediting period.

Potential CDM projects that can be implemented in the region may come from varied areas like sustainable energy, energy efficiency, waste management, landfill gas capture, industrial processes, biogas technology and carbon flaring. For example, the energy efficiency CDM projects in the oil and gas industry, can save millions of dollars and reduce tons of CO2 emissions. In addition, renewable energy, particularly solar and wind, holds great potential for the region, similar to biomass in Asia.

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Renewable Energy Developments in South Africa

Wind mills in Namaqualand, Northern Cape

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The renewable resource with the greatest potential in South Africa is solar energy. The total area of high radiation in South Africa amounts to approximately 194,000 km2, including the Northern Cape, one of the best solar resource areas in the world. South Africa has average daily solar radiation of between 4.5 and 6.5 kWh per m2. Solar thermal heating is the predominant mode of solar energy utilization in South Africa. Eskom is building a 100MW concentrated solar (CSP) power project in Upington (Northern Cape) with financial assistance from the World Bank. The Clinton Climate Initiative is partnering with the Department of Energy to set up a solar park in the Northern Cape, which will add 5GW to South Africa’s electricity generation. Siemens is also currently conducting a feasibility study on a possible 210 MW CSP plant in the Northern Cape to possiblycome online by 2014 and the Industrial Development Corporation is also investigating a CSP demonstration plan. To sum up, there are about 600 MW of CSP projects in different stages of development, with 75 percent of these able to deploy by 2013. In addition, Eskom is constructing a 1,350 MW pumped storage facility to be operational by 2013.
South Africa has one of the highest wind potential in the region with the best areas being the Western Cape and parts of the Northern Cape and the Eastern Cape. The wind power potential in South Africa is estimated at 80.54 TWh which can be realized with an installed capacity of about 30.6 GW.  At present, there are two operational wind projects in the country – 3.2MW Klipheuwel Wind Energy Demonstration Facility (KWEDF) and 5.2MW Darling Wind Farm. The announcement of the Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff has evoked good interest among IPPs with projects underway accumulate to about 1,100 MW of capacity.
South Africa has tremendous biofuel potential when considering the capacity to grow total plant biomass (all lignocellulosic plant biomass. According to conservative estimates, South Africa produces about 18 million tonnes of agricultural and forestry residues every year. However, the only real activity has been US$437 million investment by the South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Energy Development Corporation (EDC) in two biofuels projects that will collectively produce 190 million litres of bioethanol from sugarcane and sugarbeet. Another important biomass energy sector is biogas-from-waste which can potentially generate more than 200 MW of electricity countrywide. There are several big projects in construction and operational phases in different parts of the country. CAE Energy in partnership with Humphries Boerdery, has developed 1.2MW biogas power project near Bela-Bela, Limpopo province, with the plant having produced 10 MWh of electricity since August 2009. Independent power producer Lesedi Biogas Project is planning to build one of the world’s largest open-air feedlot manure-to-power plants, in Heidelberg, near Johannesburg with capital cost of US$ 15 million.
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Organic Waste Management

Most of the organic waste generated in developing countries is dumped into the landfills. It is a sheer waste of such biodegradable waste capable of generating energy to be sent into the landfills. There it is not only responsible for large scale green house gas emissions, but also becomes a health hazard and creates terrestrial pollution.

There are numerous places which are the sources of large amounts of food waste and hence a proper food-waste management strategy needs to be devised for them to make sure that either they are disposed off in a safe manner or utilized efficiently. These places include hotels, restaurants, malls, residential societies, college/school/office canteens, religious mass cooking places, airline caterers, food and meat processing industries and vegetable markets which generate organic waste of considerable quantum on a daily basis.

The anaerobic digestion technology is highly apt in dealing with the chronic problem of organic waste management in urban societies. Although the technology is commercially viable in the longer run, the high initial capital cost is a major hurdle towards its proliferation. The onus is on the governments to create awareness and promote such technologies in a sustainable manner. At the same time, entrepreneurs, non-governmental organizations and environmental agencies should also take inspiration from successful food waste-to-energy projects in other countries and try to set up such facilities in Indian cities and towns.

Contributed by Mr. Setu Goyal, TERI University, New Delhi

Woody Biomass Utilization and Sustainability

Harvesting practices remove only a small portion of branches and tops leaving sufficient biomass to conserve organic matter and nutrients. Moreover, the ash obtained after combustion of biomass compensates for nutrient losses by fertilizing the soil periodically in natural forests as well as fields. The impact of forest biomass utilization on the ecology and biodiversity has been found to be insignificant. Infact, forest residues are environmentally beneficial because of their potential to replace fossil fuels as an energy source.

Plantation of energy crops on abandoned agricultural land will lead to an increase in species diversity. The creation of structurally and species diverse forests helps in reducing the impacts of insects, diseases and weeds. Similarly the artificial creation of diversity is essential when genetically modified or genetically identical species are being planted. Short-rotation crops give higher yields than forests so smaller tracts are needed to produce biomass which results in the reduction of area under intensive forest management. An intelligent approach in forest management will go a long way in the realization of sustainability goals.

Improvements in agricultural practices promises to increased biomass yields, reductions in cultivation costs, and improved environmental quality. Extensive research in the fields of plant genetics, analytical techniques, remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) will immensely help in increasing the energy potential of biomass feedstock.

Bioenergy systems offer significant possibilities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions due to their immense potential to replace fossil fuels in energy production. Biomass reduces emissions and enhances carbon sequestration since short-rotation crops or forests established on abandoned agricultural land accumulate carbon in the soil. Bioenergy usually provides an irreversible mitigation effect by reducing carbon dioxide at source, but it may emit more carbon per unit of energy than fossil fuels unless biomass fuels are produced unsustainably.

Biomass can play a major role in reducing the reliance on fossil fuels by making use of thermo-chemical conversion technologies. In addition, the increased utilization of biomass-based fuels will be instrumental in safeguarding the environment, generation of new job opportunities, sustainable development and health improvements in rural areas. The development of efficient biomass handling technology, improvement of agro-forestry systems and establishment of small and large-scale biomass-based power plants can play a major role in rural development. Biomass energy could also aid in modernizing the agricultural economy.

A large amount of energy is expended in the cultivation and processing of crops like sugarcane, coconut, and rice which can met by utilizing energy-rich residues for electricity production. The integration of biomass-fueled gasifiers in coal-fired power stations would be advantageous in terms of improved flexibility in response to fluctuations in biomass availability and lower investment costs. The growth of the bioenergy industry can also be achieved by laying more stress on green power marketing.

Biomass Resources in Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

The major biomass producing MENA countries are Sudan, Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Jordan. Traditionally, biomass energy has been widely used in rural areas for domestic purposes in the MENA region. Since most of the region is arid/semi-arid, the biomass energy potential is mainly contributed by municipal solid wastes, agricultural residues and agro-industrial wastes.

Municipal solid wastes represent the best source of biomass in MENA countries. The high rate of population growth, urbanization and economic expansion in MENA region is not only accelerating consumption rates but also accelerating the generation of municipal waste.

The food industry in MENA produces a large number of organic residues and by-products that can be used as biomass energy sources. In recent decades, the fast-growing food and beverage processing industry has remarkably increased in importance in major countries in the region.

The Middle Eastern countries have strong animal population. The livestock sector, in particular sheep and goats, plays an important role in the national economy of the MENA countries. Agriculture plays an important role in the economies of most of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Crop residues encompasses all agricultural wastes such as bagasse, straw, stem, stalk, leaves, husk, shell, peel, pulp, stubble, etc.

Advisory and Consulting Services in Waste-to-Energy and Biomass Energy

BioEnergy Consult is committed to the development of sustainable energy systems based on non-food biomass resources and different types of wastes. We provide a wide range of cost-effective services that are specially designed to your needs, be it determining project feasibility, evaluating risks, preparing business plans, designing training modules or arranging project finance.

Please visit http://www.bioenergyconsult.com for more information on our capabilities, and feel free to contact us. We shall be happy to offer assistance in the development of your waste-to-energy, waste management, biomass energy and sustainable development ventures.

Email: info@bioenergyconsult.com