Archive for the 'hydropower' Category

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World Bank Indefinitely Postpones Inga 3 Project

Photo retrieved from: www.internationalrivers.org

“The World Bank has just made a surprise decision to indefinitely postpone the board discussion of its support for the huge Inga 3 Dam in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Bank’s board of directors was scheduled to vote on February 11 on a US$73 million grant to prepare for the project. Opposition from local and international NGOs has been mounting, and civil society groups are now urging the Bank to fundamentally reconsider the Inga 3 project.

As proposed, the Inga 3 Dam would generate power for mining companies and the South African market, not for the more than 90% of the DRC population that has no access to electricity. In a letter to the World Bank, a coalition of 12 Congolese NGOs asks that the needs of the local population be prioritized in a comprehensive assessment of the country’s energy needs and options. If the Inga 3 Dam were to go ahead, they state, at least 50% of the power generated by the dam should serve the energy needs of the population.

Danny Singoma, Executive Director of the Congolese NGO CENADEP, comments: “The project assumes that the revenues from the power exports will benefit local people. These kinds of development have never worked in our country, where there is so much corruption and no accountability to the citizens by those in power.”

The DRC has a large potential of clean local energy sources such as solar and micro-hydropower. Rudo Sanyanga, Africa Program Director for International Rivers, comments: “Decentralized energy is the only feasible way of meeting the energy needs of the majority in such a vast country with limited capacity for maintaining huge infrastructure.”

Read more: International Rivers

 

Glacier Hazards and Risk Mitigation

“Pakistan is located at the junction of the world’s three largest mountain ranges— Karakorum, Himalayas and Hindu Kush. The region has a total coverage area of 3500 sq.km and Pakistan hosts 8 out of 14 highest peaks of the world. A large part of the area remains covered by piles of snow round the year. Scientists and climate advocators call the region the Third Pole outside of the polar region.

An inventory study conducted by International Center for Integrated Mountain Development(ICIMOD) in the five Hindu Kush-Himalayan(HKH) countries of Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan, has identified a total of 15,003 glaciers, covering an area of about 33,344 sq.km, and 8,790 glacial lakes, of which 203 have been identified as potentially dangerous

 

Baltoro Glacier, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, retrieved from DeviantArt

In 2005 water Resource Research Institute (WRSI) of Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) in collaboration with ICIMOD prepared a glacial inventory, identifying 5218 glaciers with an average coverage area of 15041 sq.km. The study has recorded 2420 glacial lakes of which 52 were identified as potentially dangerous.

Outburst floods of such glacial lakes pose great threat to the downstream low lying areas. The northern and north western parts of Pakistan, mostly Chitral in KPK district and Gilgit Baltistan are hosting these larger glaciers. As climate change intensifies, risk and frequency of Glacial Lakes Outburst Floods (GLOF) is expected to increase in future. Many other research papers have also indicated that the glaciers in Karakorum and Himalayas which also have a regional sharing with central Asian region is susceptible to climate change, and these glacier are going through rapid changes.”

Read more: Dardistan Times

U.S. pushes for outside oversight of World Bank, opposes push toward ‘big hydro’

Photo retrieved from: www.washingtonpost.com

“The United States is demanding stricter oversight of World Bank projects amid concern that the bank has slipped in how closely it guards against violence, forced resettlement and other conflict associated with the works that it funds.

In a blow to plans set by World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, the United States recently approved an appropriations bill that orders the bank’s U.S. board member to vote against any major hydroelectric project — a type of development that has been a source of local land conflicts and controversies through­out the bank’s history. The measure also demands that the organization undertake “independent outside evaluations” of all of its lending.

The demand coincides with a spate of disputes between the World Bank, civil society groups and the United States over past bank-funded projects that have been linked to killings of villagers and forcing people from their land. The cases include still-unpaid reparations from a Guatemala dam project from the 1970s in which hundreds of villagers were killed, concern about forced relocations in Ethiopia, and funding for a palm oil and food company whose operations in Honduras in recent years were the scenes of deadly fighting between workers and security guards.”

Read more: The Washington Post

 

Development Follows Devastation from Brazilian Dam

Photo retrieved from: www.ipsnews.net

“Valdenor de Melo has been waiting for 27 years for the land and cash compensation he is due because his old farm was left underwater when the Itaparica hydroelectric dam was built on the São Francisco river in Brazil’s semiarid Northeast.

“I’ll get them, I’m confident,” he told IPS, although he is worried it will be after he retires as a farmer. But the 60-year-old at least has a solid brick house, where he lives with part of his family in a purpose-built farming village where all of the homes look alike.

The Melo family is one of the 10,500 families displaced in 1988, according to official data, by the reservoir of the Itaparica dam, which generates 1,480 MW of electricity.

But the real number of people forced off their land by the dam is nearly double that – close to 80,000 people, Russell Parry Scott, an anthropologist from the U.S., wrote in his book “Negociações e resistências persistentes”, published in Portuguese. The book is based on studies carried out at the Federal University of Pernambuco in Northeast Brazil, where he is a professor.

Melo’s undying hope is based on the process that began with the construction of the dam and the 828-sq-km reservoir, which submerged four towns as well as riverbank fields along a 150-km stretch of the border between the states of Bahía and Pernambuco.

Unlike other hydropower plants in Brazil, the Itaparica dam triggered a successful, organised movement by the rural families who were displaced.”

Read more: IPS News

 

Noam Chomsky slams Canada’s shale gas energy plans

Canada’s rush to exploit its tar sands and shale gas resources will destroy the environment “as fast as possible”, according to Noam Chomsky.

In an interview with the Guardian, the linguist and author criticized the energy policies of the Canadian government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

He said: “It means taking every drop of hydrocarbon out of the ground, whether it’s shale gas in New Brunswick or tar sands in Alberta and trying to destroy the environment as fast as possible, with barely a question raised about what the world will look like as a result.”

But indigenous peoples in Canada blocking fossil fuel developments are taking the lead in combatting climate change, he said. Chomsky highlighted indigenous opposition to the Alberta tar sands, the oil deposit that is Canada’s fastest growing source of carbon emissions and is slated for massive expansion despite attracting international criticism and protest.

Read More: The Guardian

 

The L.A. Aqueduct at 100

A hundred years ago — Nov. 5, 1913 — 40,000 people gathered in Sylmar to watch the water arrive for the first time via the Los Angeles Aqueduct from the Owens Valley. It took 5,000 workers five years to complete the $23-million project, which was excavated with dynamite, hand shovels and mule power in rocky canyons and searing desert expanses.

We hope you enjoy this preview of what’s coming Monday, when The Times takes a look back at the aqueduct’s controversial history.

What to look forward to? More archival photos, film and front pages, plus modern photography and an aerial video tour at this page, beginning Monday.

Watch the Series: LA Times

India, China ink key accord on river information

Photo retrieved from: www.ooskanews.com

“The Memorandum of Understanding on trans-border rivers was inked after talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in the Great Hall of the People here.

According to sources, the agreement is a “major diplomatic achievement” as it is the first time that China has agreed to acknowledge India’s rights as a lower riparian state.

India’s consistent raising of the issue of China’s dam building activities on the Brahmaputra river, known as Yarlang Tsangpo in China, has helped in Beijing becoming more accommodating this time, they said.

This time the agreement takes into account the environmental concerns of India on the Brahmaputra, including the damage to flora and fauna due to China’s dam building upstream. Beijing says its dams are run of the river dams.

According to the agreement, the two sides “recognized that trans-border rivers and related natural resources and the environment are assets of immense value to the socio-economic development of all riparian countries”.

Both sides also agreed to flood-time exchange of hydrological data on 15 more days – from “May 15 instead of June 1 to Oct 15th”.

Advancing the date by 15 days, at a time when the melted glacier ice of the Tibetan plateau begins to flow downstream, is also a major achievement, the sources said.

“The two sides agreed to further strengthen cooperation on trans-border rivers, cooperate through the existing Expert Level Mechanism on provision of flood-season hydrological data and emergency management, and exchange views on other issues of mutual interest,” the agreement states.

Read more: Daily News

 

Mekong Dams Put Cambodian Food Security At Risk

Photo retrieved from: www.internationalrivers.org

“Cambodia’s per capita consumption of inland fish is among the highest in the world and its people depend on fish for nearly three-quarters of their protein intake. But information released by the Cambodian Fisheries Administration (FiA) may be a game-changer for the future of the Mekong River.

A report financed by the Danish development agency Danida, Oxfam and WWF shows how the combined effects of mainstream dams in Cambodia and population growth could reduce the country’s consumption of fish from 49kg to as little as 22kg per person per year by 2030 that is an astounding 55% reduction. The report makes clear that dams are a matter of national security rather than simply an environmental concern.Cambodia’s per capita consumption of inland fish is among the highest in the world and its people depend on fish for nearly three-quarters of their protein intake. But information released by the Cambodian Fisheries Administration (FiA) may be a game-changer for the future of the Mekong River.

Bad news about the impacts of dams on food security and health in the Mekong region is not new: several reports have documented how dams result in reduced fish yields by fragmenting and changing the hydrology of critical habitat.

But the Cambodian FiA report is different. First, it used a nationwide survey of food consumption in Cambodia the first of its kind designed by the National Institute for Statistics. The survey sampled 1,200 households to estimate fish consumption and the role of fish in people’s diets.”

Read more: International Rivers

 

German Sun Beats Swiss Water

Photo retrieved from: www.ipsnews.net One of several water dams on Grimsel Pass in the Swiss Alps. Hydropower used to be profitable, but now revenues have shrunk drastically.

“The energy source that covers 55 percent of the country’s energy supply faces drastically reduced profitability, as electricity prices have sunk 20 percent again compared to the preceding year.

In the light of this market environment, the biggest Swiss energy producers Alpiq, Axpo, BKW and Repower are less willing to invest in optimising and enlarging their infrastructure. Repower has announced a 35 percent cut in investments in the next 10 to 15 years.

Andreas Meyer, media person at Alpiq, told IPS that the massive subsidies for renewable energy have destabilised the market, putting in question the profitability of hydro and thermal power stations and blocking further investments. Currently, Alpiq runs a divestment programme. The company is worried that the price deterioration will continue.

Further development potential of Swiss water power is disputed. While the government estimated four to five terrawatt hours, the World Wildlife Fund assessed only 1.5 terrawatt hours. In any case, the potential is quite low.

Nevertheless, Switzerland subsidises small hydropower stations with a capacity of less than 10 megawatt massively, irrespective of their efficiency and the ecological damage they may cause.

Due to the subventions, small water power projects have become cash cows. The WWF demands that these subsidies be stopped. “Building new power stations at previously unspoilt waters is absolutely silly,” water expert at WWF Switzerland Christoph Bonzi tells IPS. Today, 95 percent of Swiss water is used for energy production.”

Read more: IPS

 

China and India ‘Water Grab’ Dams Put Ecology of Himalayas in Danger

Photo retrieved from: www.earthfirstnews.wordpress.com

“New academic research shows that India, Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan are engaged in a huge “water grab” in the Himalayas, as they seek new sources of electricity to power their economies. Taken together, the countries have plans for more than 400 hydro dams which, if built, could together provide more than 160,000MW of electricity – three times more than the UK uses.

In addition, China has plans for around 100 dams to generate a similar amount of power from major rivers rising in Tibet. A further 60 or more dams are being planned for the Mekong river which also rises in Tibet and flows south through south-east Asia.

Most of the Himalayan rivers have been relatively untouched by dams near their sources. Now the two great Asian powers, India and China, are rushing to harness them as they cut through some of the world’s deepest valleys. Many of the proposed dams would be among the tallest in the world, able to generate more than 4,000MW, as much as the Hoover dam on the Colorado river in the US.

The result, over the next 20 years, “could be that the Himalayas become the most dammed region in the world”, said Ed Grumbine, visiting international scientist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Kunming. “India aims to construct 292 dams … doubling current hydropower capacity and contributing 6% to projected national energy needs. If all dams are constructed as proposed, in 28 of 32 major river valleys, the Indian Himalayas would have one of the highest average dam densities in the world, with one dam for every 32km of river channel. Every neighbour of India with undeveloped hydropower sites is building or planning to build multiple dams, totalling at minimum 129 projects,” said Grumbine,  author of a paper in Science.”

Read more: Earth First!