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Clean Energy News Vol. 12, Number 9, April 4, 2012

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Clean Energy News
Vol. 12, Number 9, April 4, 2011
CE News is a free 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 on our campaign please visit www.cen.org.np
Headlines
•    Mountain Countries Vulnerable to Climate Change : Wake-Up Call for Int’l Community
•    Jatropha Farming Turning into Lucrative
•    Appa Sherpa Worried over Mountains Losing Sheen
•    KMC to Build Underground Parking with ADB's Support
•    Nepal's Whitewater Rapids Threatened by Hydropower
•    Water Level in Kulekhani Reservoir Dips
•    Mapping the Nebraska Grasslands for Biofuel Potential
•    CO2 and Where It Hid in the Last Ice Age
•    Earth Hour Biggest Ever this Year
•    Oceans Heating up for over 100 Years
•    Link Of The Week
•    Did You Know?
•    Media Watch

 
Local News
Mountain Countries Vulnerable to Climate Change : Wake-Up Call for Int’l Community
By Pragati Shahi
At a programme organised to celebrate International Mountain Day on December 11 last year, Nepali cine star Rajesh Hamal expressed his concern about the fate of the Nepali film industry without snow-capped mountains.
“Our film unit was in Pokhara for a film shoot about a year ago in winter. As always, we wanted to shoot a song with the snow-capped Mt Machhapuchhre in the background,” Hamal said. “To my shock, we were greeted by the black-rocky part of this beautiful mountain lacking the snow that used to cover its peak a decade ago.” Hamal’s case is testimony to how the negative impacts of climate change are affecting the lives of people no matter which field they belong to. “I’m not much aware of climate change and why it’s happening. But the changes in landscapes, including the receding snowlines, are distinctly visible in recent years than I experienced during my three-decade film career,” he said. Various reports have stated how rising temperatures across the globe have accelerated the melting of Himalayan glaciers, affecting the lives of around 1.3 billion people living upstream and downstream of the Hindu-Kush-Himalayan region. Change in climatic system, weather and rainfall patterns, among other phenomena, are being observed recently and are having adverse impacts on the lives of millions of people across the country. The findings of the report—The Status of Glaciers in the Hindu-Kush-Himalayan Region—by the International Centre for the Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) publicised in December last year show that 21 percent of the country’s glacial area depleted over the last three decades. In an effort to communicate the issues of mountains and vulnerability of mountain communities to climate change with other mountain countries across the globe, the Government of Nepal is organising a two-day international conference of mountain countries on April 5-6.
Representatives of 55 countries having over-4,000-metre mountains, 25 international organisations and experts are participating in the conference that aims to build a common framework for effective collaboration to allow mountain countries and regions to work together to raise the common concerns on the plights of mountains during international climate change negotiations. “Finding commonalities of the mountain countries will lead us to convergence of ideas and that would ultimately lead to cooperation between these countries,” said Krishna Gyawali, secretary at the Ministry of Environment. A successful organisation of the two-day conference would play an important role in garnering international support at a time when Nepal has shown keen interest in coordinating the Least Developed Countries’ group on climate negotiations for 2013-2014. According to ministry officials, the meeting will make Nepal visible before the international community and would help enhance Nepal’s image and secure support.
http://www.ekantipur.com April 4, 2012
 
Jatropha Farming Turning into Lucrative
As the jatropha (Sajiwan) farming turned lucrative, the villagers in Bharatpokhari of Kaski district have been inclined towards commercial jatropha farming, giving up their traditional farming of paddy, wheat and maize.
Besides, as jatropha farming could also be done in infertile land and it also does not require a careful nursing once planted. The farmers of Bharatpokhari-5 of the district are busy these days planting jatropha saplings. Jatropha farming turning into lucrative. The Government of Finland has been supporting the jatropha farming in Nepal. The Finnish Government has selected six different districts in the country for promoting jatropha farming and making the people self-reliant. The Embassy of Finland in Kathmandu has provided around Rs. 12 million in the area for the promotion of jatropha farming. The Embassy of Finland and Bikash Kendra Nepal, an organization working in jatropha farming, have been implementing various promotional programmes in the village. Jatropha expert and team leader of jatropha extension programme Khem Raj Bhattarai said that the jatropha farming covers more than 800 ropanis of land in this village alone. He said that more than 40 farmers have started jatropha farming in the village. According to him, the farmers will make around Rs. 3 million from jatropha farming in the village this year. He opines that if the government could expand the jatropha farming, it would help substitute the mounting import of the petroleum products and also help the farmers generate incomes. The daily demand for diesel in Nepal is around 55,000 litres. "If we could substitute the import of diesel, it will help protect both environment and expenses in the import of oils," he said. Similarly, farmers in Kalika Village Development Committee of the district have also been motivated towards jatropha farming. Around 60 farmers in the VDC have started jatropha farming in around 80 ropanis of land. Hari Sharma, a farmer in the VDC, said that as monkeys would damage crops, the farmers have been inclined towards jatropha farming. "Monkeys used to destroy rice, maize, wheat, millet and other crops. However, there is no problem with jatropha as they do not disturb it," he said. Jatropha farming had begun in Nepal nearly four years ago. It can be farmed from sea level to 1200-1700 metres above sea level. Jatropha, locally known as sajiyon or ratanjot, is a plant the oil extracts of which have a chemical structure similar to that of mineral diesel. It is one of the perfect bio-diesel crops, as its seeds have up to 40 per cent oil content. Jatropha farming has proved to be an alternative fuel solution in India, Cambodia and parts of Africa. Japan and New Zealand have even conducted successful flight tests using jatropha fuels.
Source: http://gorkhapatra.org.np April 1, 2012
 
Appa Sherpa Worried over Mountains Losing Sheen
Veteran mountaineer Appa Sherpa is worried over the Himalayan peaks losing their snow cover and turning into bare rock faces over the years due to global warming.
Famous mountains of the Himalayas such as Mt. Everest, Mt. Dhaulagiri, Mt. Annapurna and Mt. Machhapuchhre are virtually turning into rocky mountains due to the melting of the snow cover. This has resulted in the mountains becoming ugly piles of rocks. Appa who holds the world record of climbing the world's highest mountain, Mt. Everest, for 21 times, expressed his concerns over the deteriorating environment in the mountains while interacting with journalists here recently. He recently arrived here in connection with the ‘The Great Himalayan Trail’ trek he has undertaken with the objective of drawing the attention of the international community on the adverse impact of climate change on the Himalayas and ways of its prevention. Appa referred to many examples from different places he covered in course of the trek that highlight the adverse effects of climate change on the daily lives and livelihood of the people. As examples of this, he quoted the local farmers who referred to the increase in occurrence of frost in the eastern region including in Ilam which has led to decreased production of cardamom, tea and potato in these areas while many areas in the west have seen an increase in the frequency of soil erosion and landslide, deforestation, denudation of forests, forest fire and increased temperatures. Appa said he could observe the deforestation that has taken place in the Chure region at many places in course of his trek so far.
Similarly, a member in Appa's entourage, mountaineer Dawa Stephen Sherpa said some awareness has been seen among the people of the mountainous region regarding the impact of climate change. The Great Himalayan Trail trekking team has already traveled to the base camps of Mt. Kanchanjunga, Mt. Gaurishankar, Mt. Makalu, Mt Everest, Mt. Annapurna, Mt. Dhaulagiri and Mt. Machhapuchchhre in 75 days. The trek is sponsored by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), DFID, SNV and WWF among other organisations.
Source: http://www.thehimalayantimes.com April 3, 2012
 
KMC to Build Underground Parking with ADB's Support        
By Arjun Poude
In a bid to do away with haphazard parking, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) is preparing to construct underground parking lots at city centers.
The KMC also has plans to renovate and expand some existing parking lots to accommodate the increasing number of vehicles. "We are in the final stage of hiring a consultant to build the parking lots at Ratna Park and Lainchour," Executive Director of KMC, Kedar Bahadur Adhikari, said.  The largest underground parking will span from Mahankal Mandir to Sahid Gate, covering an area of 10,500 sq meters. Similarly, another underground parking will be built in the premises of Social Welfare council. According to Adhikari, the parking spaces will be constructed under the technical assistance of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The ADB had recommended to KMC to develop new parking lots in the city for easing traffic congestion. The parking lots would be built as part of ´Kathmandu Sustainable Urban Transport Project´, said Adhikari. The messy parking in city centers has been a major challenge for traffic management. Increasingly, two wheelers and cars are being parked by their owners along the roads and pavements in main city areas. “Even pedestrians are having troubles walking freely due to messy parking."  
Chief of Department of Urban Development of KMC, Devendra Dangol said that the parking spaces will be constructed under Public Private Partnership model. "The private sectors will be allowed to operate the parking lots for certain period in view of their contribution in the construction," Dongol said. He said that the Ministry for Physical Planning and Works has already approved the proposal for the construction of underground parking. After the construction of underground parking, the KMC will not allow to park vehicles in major business hubs like Sundhara, New Road and Bhotahiti. Likewise, the metropolis has also planned to renovate existing parking lots around core city aread. The KMC plans to renovate parking lot in front of Employees´ Provident Fund. Similarly, the office also said that parking lots around Bir hospital, Tebahal, Khichapokhari, Sundhara and Jyatha would also be renovated. Meanwhile, the ADB has also provided financial assistance to KMC for building pavements in core city areas. "ADB is also supporting us to build sidewalks and put railings along the main roads," said Dongol.
Source: http://myrepublica.com March 31, 2012
 
Nepal's Whitewater Rapids Threatened by Hydropower
The Bhote Koshi river rises in Tibet and cuts a mighty swathe through the Himalayas, carving out gorges as it tumbles into Nepal in a series of thundering rapids.
Regarded as one of the best waterways in the world for whitewater rafting, the river attracts thrill-seekers of all nationalities, keen to test their mettle in the adrenaline-pumping sport. Since the end of Nepal's 10-year civil war in 2006, a surge in popularity has made rafting a multi-million dollar industry and a vital contributor to tourism in the impoverished nation. But many sections of Nepal's famed river network could soon be tamed as the energy-starved country plans a huge expansion in hydro-electricity in the face of a shortage that has brought power cuts lasting up to 16 hours a day. "When people talk about whitewater rafting, they think of the Bhote Koshi river. It is for adventure seekers what Everest and Annapurna are for climbers," said Megh Ale, president of the Nepal River Conservation Trust. "So, it is the world's heritage -- not only Nepal's. We are not against development in itself. But the government should clearly state which river is for what." Experts say Nepal's mountain river system could be generating 83,000 megawatts of power. The nation currently produces a paltry 692 megawatts. Nepal's dire power shortage has crippled industry and dissuaded foreign investment, with crucial infrastructure development having ground to a halt in the years of political paralysis following the 1996-2006 Maoist insurgency. The country has 23 hydropower plants, according to the Independent Power Producers' Association Nepal, but a further 36 have been mooted or are already being built. One plant under construction on the Bhote Koshi will include a gated weir near the Tibetan border, choking the fast flow of water for rafters, many of whom have expressed horror at the threat to their sport. Five major resorts and 21 rafting companies operate along its banks, bringing in more than 100,000 tourists a year and providing hundreds of jobs.
Campaigners have called on the government to take rafting into account when planning locations for hydropower projects. But the energy industry insists generation of power in the impoverished nation should take priority over adventure. "Hydropower development is the need of the hour," said L.B. Thapa, general manager of the Welcome Energy Development Company. "We should ask the right question -- what is the need of our country? Is it energy or rafting?" The Chilime Hydropower Company, which is behind the Bhote Koshi project, insists it would lose half of its capacity and all its profits were it to build further away from rafting hotspots. "We are not against tourism. We believe that the sector needs to flourish," said general manager Prakash Shrestha. "But if we go by the theory of utilisation of water, the first priority should be given to drinking water, second to irrigation, third hydropower and only then rafting." Whitewater rafting was introduced to Nepal in the mid-1970s by foreign diplomats and has been embraced by tourism businesses who now offer packages to holidaymakers lasting up to 12 days. Chudamani Aryal, 37, has spent 16 years as a rafting guide on Nepal's longest river, the Karnali, which flows through dense forest near the Bardiya National Park in the country's south. For him the appeal is clear. "We start off as soon as the sun rises to see crocodiles come ashore to bask in the sun. We come across spotted deer, barking deer and other rare animals like endangered dolphins. "The tourists constantly say 'wow'. We can see the glow of satisfaction on their faces. We should not sacrifice all this for the sake of hydropower development." Indian developer GMR is building a 900 megawatt hydro plant which Aryal believes will severely curtail rafting on the Karnali, reducing its appeal to foreign tourists who may go elsewhere in search of thrills. Tourism contributes more than $1 billion to the economy and the Nepal River Conservation Trust says rafting pulls in more than 20 percent of foreign holidaymakers, counted at a record 719,547 last year. "We have nearly 6,000 streams and rivers. Why can't we spare some for rafting? We need to promote nature-based tourism," said its president, Ale. "Countries that don't have any natural beauty erect buildings to attract tourism. Despite being bestowed with immense natural beauty, we are destroying it."
Source: http://www.ekantipur.com March 30, 2012
 
Water Level in Kulekhani Reservoir Dips
Water level in Nepal’s largest man-made Kulekhani reservoir located in Markhu VDC, Makawanpur, is plummeting to 40-centimeter per day.
Kulekhani Hydro Project sources informed that the reservoir has only 22-meter water level left. According to an employee Yadunath Pudasaini at Control House in Kulekhani Project, though the water level in the reservoir was highest in the last four years it is shrinking at an alarming rate. Pudasaini, however, said that 50-centimeter of water has been saved with the help of sand-filled sacks on the dam. As a result, the water level in the reservoir was recorded at 1,530.36 metres. It has been learnt that Kulekhani reservoir has failed to store water due to sedimentation of sand at its bottom. Officials at the reservoir said the water level was recorded at 1,580.67-meter as of Sunday’s record. If 60-centimeter water is used for power generation each day, the remaining water can last only for 45 days. Officials at Nepal Electricity Authority say load-shedding hours are likely to go up during the dry season due to decrease of water in the reservoir. Currently, 92 megawatt power to 60 megawatt from Kulekhani First and 32 megawatt from Kulekhani Second are being generated. The staffs at Kulekhani Third Project have padlocked the under construction project for the past two weeks.
Source: http://thehimalayantimes.com April 1, 2012
 
International News
Scotland on the High Road to Sustainable Energy
Scotland is on course to smash its renewable energy targets after official figures revealed record-high levels of green power generation.
The Scottish Government's Energy Minister Fergus Ewing welcomed the publication of the statistics that confirms Scotland will beat the 2011 renewables target. Statistics published today show that the amount of renewable electricity generated in 2011 rose 45 per cent on 2010 to 13,750 Gigawatt hours. Assuming gross consumption in 2011 is similar to 2010, that means around 35 per cent of Scotland’s electricity needs came from renewables in 2011, beating the Scottish Government’s target of 31 per cent.
Source: http://www.enn.com March 30, 2012
 
Mapping the Nebraska Grasslands for Biofuel Potential
From David A Gabel
At the moment, America's number one crop for producing biofuel is corn. However, naturally growing plants like switchgrass also have great potential as a biofuel crop because they do not require much, if any, inputs such as watering, fertilizing, or pesticides. To date, it has been difficult to find the ideal location for harvesting the right grasslands to make it economically feasible. To help in this effort, the US Geological Survey (USGS) has developed a new method for mapping grasslands. The maps created will help locate the areas with the highest potential for cultivating biofuel crops, which also require the least amount of energy input and minimal environmental impact.
USGS scientists investigated the grasslands of the Greater Platte River Basin using remote sensing data from satellites. This area covers most of Nebraska as well as parts of adjacent states. The goal was to find the areas best suited for harvesting switchgrass which in turn produces cellulosic biofuel. "This innovative scientific study takes some of the guesswork out of deciding whether it could be feasible to raise a potentially high value crop for biofuels on America's grasslands," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "Using non-food crops for fuel grown on land not now under cultivation is a low-impact step towards America's energy independence." The satellites were used to collect data on the type of vegetation, soils, terrain, weather, and other physical data. The data was analyzed by USGS scientists, taking into account long-term weather changes such as drought cycles, as well as short-term changes such as fire or overgrazing. The US Government is trying to encourage the adoption of nonfood plants to be used to produce cellulosic biofuels such as switchgrass, woody biomass, and other agricultural and municipal wastes. Switchgrass in particular is already widespread on the prairie, and grows on land that is considered unusable for row crop production. It is a deep-rooted, high-reaching plant that grows well in sandy or gravelly soils where corn would not be viable. Solutions to certain technical challenges need to be found for the advancement of cellulosic biofuels. Mapping out the most economically feasible locations for cultivation is big step in bringing this energy source to a competitive market position and moving the United States towards energy independence.
Source: http://www.enn.com April 3, 2012
 
CO2 and Where It Hid in the Last Ice Age
From Andy Soos
Climate theory has it that as atmospheric CO2 concentrations go up it gets warmer and vice versa. So where does it goes when it is not in the atmosphere? Much of the CO2 was hidden in the ocean, which explains its low atmosphere concentration during the last Ice Age 20,000 years ago, a group of researchers have just said. Climate researchers from the Universities of Bern (Switzerland) and Grenoble (France) and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (Germany) found this close connection between CO2 and temperature has existed over the past 800,000 years.
"We have now been able to identify processes in the ocean which are connected to the observed rise in CO2," said Jochen Schmitt, from Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, who led the study, the journal Science reported. There are only a few places where the CO2 can hide. One is the ocean, Another would be as biomass or in geologic formations such as in limestone. A variation of the ocean storage space is whether the CO2 goes into the deep ocean or into the upper ocean. According to Schmitt, during the Ice Age more and more CO2 accumulated in the deep ocean, causing the concentration of atmospheric CO2 to drop, said a university statement. Only at the end of the Ice Age was this stored CO2 transported back to the sea surface through changing ocean circulation and thus emitted back into the atmosphere, the researchers wrote. A new method for isotope measurements has now made it possible for the first time "to reliably decode the fingerprint of the CO2 preserved in the ice," explained Schmitt. Oceans are at present CO2 sinks, and represent the largest active carbon sink on Earth, absorbing more than a quarter of the carbon dioxide that humans put into the air. On longer timescales they may be both sources and sinks - during ice ages CO2 levels decrease to ~180 ppmv, and much of this is believed to be stored in the oceans. A small fraction of the organic carbon transported by the biological pump to the seafloor is buried in anoxic conditions under sediments and ultimately forms fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas.
Source: http://www.enn.com April 4, 2012
 
Earth Hour Biggest Ever this Year
Last night, as Earth Hour beganits monumental journey around the globe, hundreds of millions of people united to demonstrate that we urgently need to take action to protect our planet.
The largest voluntary action for the environment is reaching further than ever before. Earth Hour was celebrated in a record 150 countries and territories and 6494 towns and cities to send the message that our combined efforts are needed to change our future to one that is sustainable. From the International Space Station to the Office of the UN Secretary General, to a passionate teenager who has organized Earth Hour in Libya for the first time, the global movement is inspiring individuals, organizations and governments to take action to address the important environmental challenges that effect us all. "Turning off our lights is a symbol of our commitment to sustainable energy for all," UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon said. "We need to fuel our future with clean, efficient and affordable energy. By acting together today, we can power a brighter tomorrow," he said. The Acropolis in Athens is plunged into darkness to mark Earth Hour.
Source: http://www.enn.com April 4, 2012
 
Oceans Heating up for over 100 Years
By Jeremy Hance
In 1872 the HMS Challenger pulled out from Portsmouth, England to begin an unprecedented scientific expedition of the world's oceans. During its over three year journey the HMS Challenger not only collected thousands of new species and sounded unknown ocean depths, but also took hundreds of temperature readings—data which is now proving invaluable to our understanding of climate change.
Utilizing the temperature data from the HMS Challenger expedition and comparing it to contemporary temperatures, researchers writing in Nature Climate Change found that the oceans' surface— where marine warming is most intense—saw temperature rise on average by 0.59 degrees Celsius (1.1 degrees Fahrenheit) over the past 135 years or so. This implies that oceanic temperatures have been rising for at least a century. "The significance of the study is not only that we see a temperature difference that indicates warming on a global scale, but that the magnitude of the temperature change since the 1870s is twice that observed over the past 50 years," explains lead author Dean Roemmich, University of California San Diego physical oceanographer. "This implies that the time scale for the warming of the ocean is not just the last 50 years but at least the last 100 years." Prior research has shown that 90 percent of the heat added to the atmosphere has ended up in the oceans, at least since the 1960s. Roemmich told LiveScience that this implies, "the ocean temperature is probably the most direct measure we have of the energy imbalance of the whole climate system." While the HMS Challenger took temperatures at over 300 stations with mercury, pressure, and resistance thermometers, today some 3,500 free-floating Argo robotic probes roll through the seas gathering temperature data. Temperatures globally, including both land and sea, have risen about 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.44 degrees Fahrenheit) since the first decade of the 1900s. The rate of warmth has doubled since 1950. Scientists overwhelmingly agree that climate change is occurring due to greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels.
Source: http://news.mongabay.com April 3, 2012
 
Link of the Week
Is Fertilizer To Blame For Global Warming?
Please Visit: http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112507362/is-fertilizer-to-blame-for-global-warming/
 
Did you Know ?

Climate change could reduce the economic value of the services the oceans provide to mankind by almost US$2 trillion a year by 2100, according to a study presented at the Planet under Pressure conference.
 

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)
 
 
 
 
 
 

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