Smart site selection can create hydropower greener

Hydroelectric dam

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Even though the new hydroelectric dam is intended to provide green energy to the development, they could overwhelm areas rich in plant and animal species. But such collateral damage suggests strategic site selection, a new study.

In a worldwide effort to expand green, renewable energy resources, new hydropower development has been seen as an economical, flexible and reliable source of energy. A recent study has identified about 2000 potential new hydroelectric sites that will not affect existing environmental protection areas and will cost cheaper electricity. Development of these sites can produce almost current global hydropower.

But as green as hydropower may sound, it is not without environmental costs. The flood destroys the habitat of the species, can overwhelm or replace rivers and drains, and will decompose the vegetation that is submerged by reservoirs, releasing methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Excess methane may also affect , As it has the potential to increase temperature and accelerate species extinction.

Nowadays, regulators and planners know that hydropower reservoirs contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, but the impact of biodiversity is still ignored. Now, a new study published Natural scientific report This demonstrates that careful selection of future hydropower projects may limit biodiversity impacts.

Big benefit from careful choices

Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) Industrial Ecology Program and the Netherlands Environment Assessment Agency and Utrecht University have sought to know where hydropower projects can be developed, at least with the impact of biodiversity.

To find the answer, they combined a high-resolution, location-specific, technical assessment with the newly developed Life Cycle Impact Assessment Model to look at the biodiversity impacts of hydroelectric projects for both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

The study used geographic information system data to take into account the composition of existing species and local environmental conditions in each When calculating the effects.

These devices allowed them to weigh the effects of the 1938 potential future hydroelectric reservoirs on the effects of biodiversity due to land occupation, water consumption, and methane emissions.

“Globally, 3.9% of worldwide hydropower potential accounts for 51% of terrestrial biodiversity impacts. In other words, we can avoid half the terrestrial biodiversity impacts from new hydropower development if we only have global hydropower potential Let’s develop the remaining 96%. ” Said Martin Dorber, the paper’s first author and a postdoc at NTNU.

By creating only 50 percent of global hydrological potential, 97 percent of biodiversity impacts on terrestrial species can be eliminated, he said.

Francesca Veronas, a professor of the Industrial Ecology Program and co-author of the study, said that the types and numbers of differential species can vary fundamentally from place to place. The computer model used for this study should be capable of that variation, she said.

“It is very important to develop models that are able to assess impacts in a spatially differentiated way, because species diversity and composition between regions is so different,” she said.

Ignoring the impact of biodiversity can be a problem

There were also huge differences in the scale of damage caused by projected hydropower development.

For example, the reservoir with the highest terrestrial biodiversity effect was approximately 1.5 million times the effect of the reservoir with the lowest terrestrial biodiversity effect, when calculated as per effect. (kWh) produced.

Researchers also found that trade-offs could have an impact on terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity, as the creation of reservoirs with low terrestrial impacts would not automatically mean that aquatic biodiversity impacts would also be low, and vice versa.

When researchers looked at the biodiversity impacts of various projects and compared the expected methane emissions from the reservoirs on a per kilowatt-hour (kWh) basis, they found no correlation between the two.

“This means that if mitigating climate change is the main motivation for increasing hydropower production, there is a possibility that other potential biodiversity impacts are ignored,” Dorber said.

“But it is very important to be as comprehensive as possible to assess the environmental impacts,” Veronas said. “There are potential trade-offs between the various sustainability development goals of the United Nations, such as providing clean and inexpensive energy and protecting biodiversity. If we want to reduce these trade-offs, we must take into account all possible impacts Gotta keep, not just adapt to reduce one of them. “

Nevertheless, “our results reflect careful selection of the future. Doria said that reservoirs have a great potential to limit the effects of biodiversity and can help achieve more sustainable renewable energy development.

Underwater land: Estimating the use of hydroelectric land

more information:
Martin Dober et al. Controlling the biodiversity impacts of future global hydroelectric reservoirs by strategic site selection, Scientific report (2020). DOI: 10.1038 / s41598-020-78444-6

Quotes: Smart Site Selection Hydropower Greener (2021, 14 January) can be obtained on 14 January 2021 from https://naveenbharat.org/news/2021-01-smart-site-hydropower-greener.html

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