1. UPDATE-Following the news on 22nd January 2014 regarding the Commission’s proposal of a binding GHG emissions reduction target of 40%, a share of 27% renewable energy- without an energy efficiency target has been rejected by the European Parliament as of yesterday (05/02/14) and shows that “political will to support clean renewable energy solutions to the climate issue is strong” according to Rainer Hinrichs-Rahlwes, President of the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC). 

    It is now up to the European Council who will meet in March and June to discuss climate and energy issues to ensure a positive way forward for European technologies and meet the EU’s promise to cut its GHG emissions by 80-95% by 2050.

    The press release can be found at-

    http://www.erec.org/fileadmin/erec_docs/Documents/Press_Releases/EREC_Press_Release_EP_rejects_Commission_2030_proposal.pdf 

     
  2. Romania announced yesterday (03/02/14) that they will be the first country within the Danube River Basin (DRB) to accept the sustainable guidelines put together by the ICPDR (International Commission for Protection of the Danube River).

    The proposal will suspend the construction of small hydropower development in protected areas across the Carpathian Mountains in order to protect rivers and ecosystems of high biological diversity and ecological value. The decision comes as a result of a petition started by the WWF, which you can sign at

    http://www.raurileromaniei.ro/salveaza-raurile/

    (Although you do have to a Romanian citizen!)

    That received over 18,000 signatures for the Romanian government to legally protect mountain streams, which constitute the habitat of many endangered species.

    More information can be found here-

    http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/environment/romania-bans-small-scale-hydropower-plants-in-protected-areas/article/368767

    The paper entitled "Sustainable Hydropower Development within the Danube Basin" commissioned by the ICPDR outlines the guideline principles for sustainable hydropower development and how to mitigate the negative impacts of hydropower. It also outlines the difficulties between achieving renewable energy targets, shown in the screenshot image, and adhering to environmental guidelines but ensures that from a study such as this it will ensure the "timely achievement of renewable energy targets….whilst also ensuring the achievement of environmental and water management objectives". 

    The final screenshot image shows a simple decision making matrix regarding possible hydropower development and existing regional/national legislations or agreements. It is hoped that this will ensure a balance is achieved between energy targets and environmental objectives.  

    I feel encouraged that those areas of high environmental sensitivity and ecological value are conserved as this must be our prime objective when considering our drive to achieve these renewable energy targets, and can only hope that this will not deter those from investing in the hydropower sector but rather ensure that any project discussed will take into account all of the environmental consequences as a result. 

    More information can be found at- 

    http://wwf.panda.org/?212401/WWF-starts-a-campaign-to-save-the-mountain-rivers-of-Romania#

    http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/where_we_work/black_sea_basin/danube_carpathian/our_solutions/freshwater/sustainable_navigation/past_events/danube_campaign/?214358/Living-rivers-in-Romania-may-be-protected-by-law-after-a-WWF-campaign

    http://www.icpdr.org/main/

    and 

    https://www.icpdr.org/main/activities-projects/guiding-principles-sustainable-hydropower

    where you can access the ICPDR  guidelines on Sustainable Hydropower Development paper in the Danube River Basin.  

     
  3. This post comes as a result of an email I received from ESHA’s Dutch partners within the RESTOR Hydro Project that have recently had an article published in the M&L Magazine of the Flemish ministry of Monuments & Landscapes and Archaeology concerning the recent successful renovation of Tide Mills in Rupelmonde and Bergen Op Zoom in the Netherlands. 

    The article itself is in Dutch and although I do not speak a word the first image pictured here is fairly self explanatory, showing the location and quantity of tide mills within certain EU countries and the height of the tide reached at these locations. The quality of the image is poor I know and I have tried my best to enhance it with no joy, but I think that the message is still portrayed successfully. 

    Tide mills can generally be found wherever the tidal movement creates a difference in level of at least one meter. This is because the rising tide pushes the water up in a large reservoir, which is subsequently closed off with a sluice. When the tide is out the sluice gate is opened to let the flowing water put the water wheel in motion. For this reason it is not uncommon to find them situated along tidal rivers in land.

    As the second image shows, centuries ago watermills were used to grid grain, rye, bark and other substances- although to date most have been destroyed or are no longer functioning as they have lost their original mechanics. 

    http://www.tidemillinstitute.org/27.html

    The final image is a lego representation of a working tide mill, with the rising tide stored within the reservoir by a sluice gate and then waiting for the tide to fall below the level of the water wheel at which time the sluice gate is opened and the flowing water turns the wheel. Simple! Credit to 74louloute’s brilliant design which along with many others can be found here- 

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/74louloute/

    The RESTOR Hydro project run by ESHA will continue to identify and map disused/abandoned/derelict tidal mills within Europe in order for possible renovation in order to generate hydro-electric power. 

     
  4. As of 20th January-

    This highly encouraging story is a result of the Mwenga Hydro-power project from the Mufindi District, based in the Iringa Region of central Tanzania. 

    The project is a 4MW plant that supplies 14 villages- (Isipi, Lulanda, Iyegela, Ibwanzi, Nandala, Ihanu, Kilosa, Ikanga, Kidete, Mlevelawa, Ikanin’gombe, Igoda Luhunga and Mkonge.) home to an estimated 24,000 people, with electricity as part of a 125km distribution network that has been constructed as part of the project.

    The project supports public institutions in the area including 15 schools, 9 clinics as well as 11 village and ward offices and of course households.

    The Mwenga Hydro Limited Financial Controller- Deograsias Masawe, said that from the use of existing TANESCO tariffs and an innovative and unique cellular phone based pre-paid vending system it creates

    a sustainable business model once sufficient customers are connected and are productively using electricity within their daily lives”.  

    Con-financing for this project was obtained from both the European Union and Rural Energy Agency, although the article fails to mention how much of the $10 Million came from this source. 

    In any case it is encouraging to see so many people benefit from a small hydro-power project and will hopefully send a good message to others, creating a “snowball” effect within neighbouring regions in rural areas regarding the positives of renewable energy. 

    More details can be found at 

    http://www.ippmedia.com/frontend/?l=63914

    Although I was unable to find their source from the Guardian. 

     
  5. This post is a follow up from an earlier post that further analyses the results shown in the Impact Assessment accompanying the new Climate and Energy Framework for 2030 as published by the European Commission, on behalf of EREC- the European Renewable Energy Council (the umbrella organisation for the companies within the Renewable Energy House). I have selected some figures within the document as well to discuss. 

    The following abbreviations will be used within this post- GHG’s (Greenhouse Gases), EE (Energy Efficiency), RES (Renewable Energy Sources). There are four “enabling policy scenarios” that were assessed by the European Commission representing a range of different ambitions. These are, from least to most ambitious,

    • GHG40 (or “GHG-only” scenario) with a 40% GHG reduction target.
    • GHG40/EE with a 40% GHG reduction target and ambitious Energy Efficiency policies. 
    • GHG40/EE/RES30 with a 40% GHG reduction target, ambitious Energy Efficiency policies and a 30% Renewable Energy Source target.
    • GHG45/EE/RES35 with a 45% GHG reduction target, ambitious Energy Efficiency policies and a 35% Renewable Energy Source Target.  

    To summarise what was previously mentioned in an earlier post, the European Commission’s White Paper proposes a domestic GHG reduction target of 40%, a share of 27% renewable energy and leaves energy efficiency without a target altogether. 

    EREC have stated that these choice of scenarios as discussed in this Impact Assessment are “Highly questionable”. EREC are confused as to why the GHG emissions reductions are limited to 45% as a maximum figure when this would only achieve an 80% reduction of GHG emissions by 2050.

    This target would be undermining the official EU position to reduce emissions by 80-90% and reports such as the IPCC 5th Assessment Report and the UNEP Emission Gap Report put into question whether targets reaching the lower end of his target will allow the world to keep a temperature rise below 2°C. 

    As Figure 11, and others as well, show that the Impact Assessment does not always provide information and comparisons between all of the enabling policy scenarios. The reasons for which I am unsure, but I am positive that the employment rate shown in Figure 11 would be increasingly higher given the GHG45/EE/RES35 scenario included. 

    There is also no pre-set target for Energy Efficiency in any of the scenarios, despite the fact that energy efficiency is considered as one of the “no-regrets options” in the 2050 Energy Roadmap. Details of which can be found here-

    http://ec.europa.eu/energy/energy2020/roadmap/index_en.htm

    Figure 7- showing the Fossil Fuel Import Savings is fairly self explanatory, with the most ambitious targets evidently creating the most savings. On the overall period 2011-2050, a 30% RES target would save about €1.1 trillion on fossil fuel imports compared to a GHG-only scenario. Those savings would even amount to €1.4 trillion if the EU were to set a target of 35% RES.   

    Figure 8 shows the millions of life year savings (The quality adjusted life year is a measure of disease burden, including both the quality and the quantity of life lived) due to lower PM2.5 concentrations (fine particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometres). Setting a RES target brings significant health impacts, reducing life-years lost by 6.7 million in the case of a 30% RES target and even 8.8 million in the case of a 35% RES target, when comparing to the GHG-only scenario.

    I am unsure whether the proposals within the European Commission’s White Paper (a domestic GHG reduction target of 40% and a share of 27% renewable energy) will have a chance to be altered, but something that I am sure of is that the implications as a result of these targets will seriously affect the world’s climate.

    It seems that these targets are not ambitious enough and will have detrimental consequences for the world’s climate looking forward to 2050. As the world’s weather becomes more extreme it could be argued that in fact it may be all just part of a long cyclical climatic process that we do not fully understand yet. However, I feel now is the time that we have the chance to plan and change our energy usage towards renewables as the IPCC 5th Assessment Report and the UNEP Emission Gap Report show that-

    "the lack of adequate action up to 2020 will need to be corrected by increased action after 2020". 

    Whether these Climate and Energy targets can be attributed as “increased action” only time will tell. 

    More details can be found on EREC’s website under the breaking news section. 

    http://www.erec.org/

     
  6. I know that this isnt in the EU but I thought it was very interesting and worth writing about the potential effects of building any type of renewable energy without careful environmental impact assessments, and environmental analysis before such a project is developed.

    As the title and picture clearly illustrate the reservoir of the newly built 4.8MW Aleo Electric Project-2 (2km from Manali, in the Himachal Pradesh state of Northern India) burst as the 12,000 cubic meter capacity reservoir was filled for the first time since construction. 

    The local villagers have claimed that the reservoir was constructed on land previously used as the dumping site for the 192MW ADHLP power project- http://www.snpower.com/projects-and-plants/india/allain-duhangan/

    This clearly illustrates that although the generation of renewable electricity should be encouraged, detailed and developed environmental impact assessments and carefully planned projects must go hand in hand with one another. More info on this story can be found at- http://hillpost.in/2014/01/small-hydropower-reservoir-in-manali-bursts-on-testing/97539/ 

    This news although deeply worrying for many will provide a clear argument for those green activists who have been opposing hydro-power projects within the Himachal Pradesh region of Northern India. This will provide added food for thought if coupled with the argument that wrong development models of hydro-power projects are the cause of natural disasters such as the devastating floods that struck Uttarakhand and Kinnaur in June of last year. There is yet strong conclusive evidence to prove this but it is something to seriously consider when in the development stage of such projects. More information can be found here

    http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-07-03/chandigarh/40350982_1_hydro-power-projects-green-activists-seli

    This also comes coupled with the news on the 20th January 2014 that the Norwegian government has expressed a willingness to invest in hydro-power applications in the Himachal Pradesh region. More information can be found at- 

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Norwegian-govt-to-invest-in-hydro-power/articleshow/29085543.cms

    It will be interesting to see whether these recent developments may deter such future investments. I hope not, I do not feel that this should discourage the development of small hydro-power to generate renewable energy. But rather encourage the careful development and ensure detailed environmental impact assessments are carried out to make sure that these setbacks do not result in endangering the lives of those that live in close proximity of such projects. As in the long run that will only cloud people’s perceptions of the renewable energy sector (and rightly so, if it means the catastrophic loss of life!) Which is one of the largest challenges facing the renewable energy sector and it progression to reach energy targets in the future.    

     
  7. As the above screenshot illustrates, the EU will provide 50m of funding for 11 new projects aiming to promote innovate solutions for water related challenges under Horizon 2020. These include-

    1. BIOMETAL DEMO (Biometal Demonstration Plant for the Biological Rehabilitation of Metal Bearing- Wasterwaters- 2.9m).
    2. DemEAUmed (Demonstrating Integrated Innovative Technologies for an Optimal and Safe Closed Water Cycle in Mediterranean Tourist Facilities- 4.1m).
    3. DEMOWARE (Innovation Demonstration for a Competitive and Innovative European Water Reuse Sector- 6m).
    4. DESSIN (Demonstrate Ecosystem Services Enabling Innovation in the Water Sector- 6m) 
    5. INAPRO (Innovative Model and Demonstrateion Based Water Management for Resource Efficiency in Integrated Multitrophic Agriculture and Aquaculture Systems- 6m)
    6. MARSOL (Demonstrating Managed Aquifer Recharge as a Solution to Water Scarcity and Drought- 5.2m)
    7. R3Water (Demonstration of Innovative Solutions for Reuse of Water, Recovery of Valuables and Resource Efficiency in Urban Wastewater Treatment- 5.3m). 
    8. SAID (SmArt Water Management with Integrated Decision Support Systems- 2.2m). 
    9. SmartWater4Europe (Demonstration of Integrated Smart Water Supply Solutions at four sites across Europe- 6m).
    10. WaterPiPP (Water Public Innovative Procurement Policies- 1m).
    11. WEAM4i (Water and Energy Advanced Management for Irrigation- 5.2m).

    A more detailed description of the projects can be found here- 

    http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-14-34_en.htm

    These projects met today (24.01.14) at a one day information event in Brussels. More information will follow. 

     
  8. The images above show yesterday’s press release from the European Commission regarding renewable energy targets for 2030, with the top image direct from the EC and the other from EREC- the European Renewable Energy Council who are the umbrella organistaion for the renewable companies within the Renewable Energy House. In summary the proposal includes a binding greenhouse gases emissions reduction target of 40% and a binding EU-level target of 27% for renewable energy,and does not mention energy efficiency.

    Many are astounded are the Commissions decision as it is “undermining its own findings.. and has opted for less growth, fewer jobs and more spending on fossil fuel imports” says EREC’s president, Rainier Hinrichs-Rahlwes. This is due to the findings from the impact assessment released on the same day that announced that with a target of 30% for renewables about 600,000 more jobs would be created and 258 billion of fossil fuel imports would be saved.     

    This will result in investments being sent further away and will weaken the industrial leadership of Europe and increase our dependency on fossil fuel imports. South America and Asia will most likely benefit as a result. I think I’ll start polishing my Spanish as all the jobs in the renewable sector flow away from Europe and wash up upon warmer climates.  

     
  9. The screenshot image shows a recent paper on the public consultation (between 18.12.13- 14.02.14) of the State Aid Guidelines on renewable energy technologies for 2014-2020. I was a fly on the wall for a recent meeting between many of the big players within the Renewable Energy House (EREC, EGEC, EUREC, ESHA, EPIA, AEBIOM, ESTELA) where feedback was collated and the paper discussed.

    It was generally agreed that the general quality of the paper is poor, with a lot of references incorrectly labelled resulting in an unclear interpretation which deprives stakeholders from contributing. 

    Major points within the paper that organisations would like to see changed/omitted from the document would be the maximum duration of aid for schemes would be 10 years- (when many renewable energy schemes may take longer than this to get built it could discourage projects to get off the ground), the difference between deployed and less-deployed technologies is something that a lot of people would like changed as the Commission’s definition that a share of at “least 1-3%” in electricity production at EU level defines deployed technologies, and those with a smaller share being considered as less-deployed. Many organisations at the meeting would like to see this changed and will propose the principles mentioned in the EIB lending criteria as an alternative. 

    The paper can be accessed below and hopefully the comments discussed within the meeting will result in changes within the document. Many though are skeptical.   

    http://ec.europa.eu/competition/consultations/2013_state_aid_environment/draft_guidelines_en.pdf

     
  10. The two screenshots illustrate the Mill GPS Database Project which aims  to “have at one point in time all mills worldwide locatable”. Now this may be a little ambitious, but the results so far are promising. The project is in cooperation with the TIMS- The International Molinological Society, which produces KMZ files from excel spreadsheets that can be directly uploaded to Google Maps and Google Earth producing the results seen in the screenshots above. 

    The map contains information on the various working conditions of waterwheels, watermills, former watermills, turbines, windmills of various condition, animal and man driven mills all with photos for added information. 

    Further information can be found at-

    http://gpsdatabase.molinology.org/introduction.html