Climate Change Mitigation – A globally applicable solution | Daily News

Climate Change Mitigation – A globally applicable solution

We live in a world which believes in energy at any cost and that includes at any cost to economy and/or environment. Such is our craving for energy. We have gone far too long on this journey that what lies next in this yearning for more and more energy is nothing short of destruction. But there seems to be no signs of political leaderships of countries across the world to take that firm step of preventing this. Although this is the message given by more knowledgeable personnel at Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), the ignorant I presume that another article on the topic may change this journey towards a climate change determined miserable world.

We want to emphasise that there could be a more prosperous world where we could generate Energy for the benefit of the Economy and Environment.

When IPCC members met at Incheon, South Korea in October 2018, their main pronouncements could be given in three sentences:

* Repercussions that were earlier predicted for a 2.00C rise in temperature are now predicted for a 1.50C increase.

* Damage to global economy arising from this could be as high as $54 trillion.

* While it is technically feasible to mitigate this, there are doubts about political will across the world.

It is these three sentences which prompted me to bring these words to our dear readership to-day.

What the World Bank Report says

World Bank has put outa document called “South Asia’s Hotspots” evaluating what is in store for six South Asian countries Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Outcomes which would befall the six countries have been predicted in terms of reduction in household consumption. It is based on the hypothesis that average household consumption or living standard is a function of temperature in the country.

For Afghanistan and Nepal the optimum temperature is more than current temperature and for Sri Lanka optimum temperature is 24.750C while current temperature is given as 27.50C. See Figure 1. So, any temperature increase due to climate change will result in a reduction in living conditions in 2030 and 2050 depending on two carbon emission pathways.

Accordingly, Sri Lanka will be the worst affected country in South Asia in 2050 experiencing a temperature increase of 1.0-1.50C under climate sensitive scenario and a precipitation variation of ± 3.9% again by 2050. Reduction in consumption arising from this will be 7.0%. Bangladesh comes second in the evaluation with a reduction of 6.7% in consumption under same climate sensitive pathway and by 2050.

Recently German Watch identified Sri Lanka to be 4th most vulnerable country in the world to climate change related risk having jumped 94 slots (from 98th to 04th most vulnerable country) in a couple of years. Bangladesh had also being in this listing in 2010 as we had mentioned in a recent article.

While these rankings – World Bank ranking and Climate Risk Index ranking – frightened us tremendously, we wanted to find a way out from these vulnerabilities. Any solution for such vulnerabilities needs to commence with finding out the root cause for vulnerability and World Bank report came to our rescue there. In their efforts to find possible routes to reduce vulnerabilities of South Asian countries, they evaluated the six countries in respect of six criteria including average road density in km/10km2. In respect of the first five criteria, there was no specific differentiation between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh on one hand and the other fourcountries on the other hand; but in respect of the sixth, average road density, SL and Bangladesh

had a very specific differentiation as could be seen in the figure above. While all other countries had road densities less than 4km/10km2,SL and BD had much higher road densities. In fact, actual data as given in their table no 4.3 shows these average road densities in km/10km2 to be (i) Bangladesh 5.8, (ii) India 1.6, (iii) Pakistan 1.4 and (iv) Sri Lanka 13.5. In my opinion this clearly identifies the reason behind Sri Lanka been the most vulnerable country in South Asia and 4th most vulnerable country in the world.

If somebody has been reading my articles on climate change and related topics consistently s/he would remember my emphasizing this road construction to be a key reason behind our enhanced vulnerability, over and over again.

It is no surprise at all

One should not be surprised about this finding. In fact, Prof. Ivar Giaever, Nobel Prize Winner in Physics had pronounced that global warming is basically due to excessive construction of highways. As we have always been saying highway construction involves (a) loss of (i) reflection of solar radiation (ii) conversion of solar energy to chemical energy, (iii) absorption of CO2 from atmosphere, (b) laying an asphalt layer on top of the soil leading to global warming and (c) running of thousands of vehicles powered by internal combustion engines liberating greenhouse gases (GHG) and waste energy on these roadways.

Above statements amply demonstrate the fact that we are in this extremely vulnerable situation due to our having built too many roadways and we are using them excessively using the most energy intensive vehicles.

World Bank’s solutions for Sri Lanka

Afterthis analysis about our vulnerability, WB has identified three development strategies to eliminate our vulnerability to climate change. It has identified effectiveness of recommended action by estimating resulting vulnerability after recommended action is implemented by 2050. Enhancing educational attainment by 30% and improving market access by 3% are projected to reduce impact of climate change on living standards to -2.6% and -2.1% respectively from current projection of -7.0% by 2050.

On the other hand, WB report goes on to predict that “increasing non-agricultural employment by 30% relative to current levels could entirely eliminate the burden of changes in average weather on living standards; the overall impact could shift from -7 percent to +0.1 percent”

I was thoroughly excited by this pronouncement and wanted to identify routes we should take. But unfortunately I was stuck very early by one uncertainty that it was not clear whether the recommended 30% increase should be in (a) number of persons engaged in non-agricultural pursuits or (b) percentage of persons engaged in non-agricultural activities, because we were talking about a change we should bring about by year 2050 and population would also change in the interim.

So, we gave up pursuing on WB recommendations and wish WB to clarify this further. It sounds too precious an improvement to ignore especially when the future is predicted to be as bad as been 4th most vulnerable country on the Planet Earth.

Our own solution – A mitigation Solution

In working out a solution, we looked at what we want to achieve from the solution. We noticed that what Sri Lanka needs is a solution which will not only help us by adaptation, but will also mitigate the risks at least partially.

In respect of action against GHG oriented Climate Change, “Sustainable Energy” by Prof. Jefferson Tester, et al prompts a three-pronged attack via mitigation, reduction and removal. (Please see Figure 2 below.) When IPCC decided to carry out a geo-engineering-based action via spraying Sulphur dust from an aeroplane, they were basically trying out a mitigation action. But the action which was estimated to cost as high as $ 1-10 billion per annum did not yield the anticipated result and Prof. Myles Allen of Oxford University has said that “it is completely misleading to say that it is an easy short cut”.

It is in this context of noother mitigation action been available nor proposed, even globally, that we present our own Sri Lankan mitigation solution which is called Highway Solarisation defined as “A dedicated infrastructure using solar energy, collected by PV solar panels installed along and above the highways, for the grid or for powering battery electric vehicles”.

So, the only two routes left out are Capture and Remove; there is no CO2 generated to be captured. If quantification is needed this solution removes via mitigation 1.4 kWhrs to be absorbed by the roadway and reemitted as longwave radiation leading to global warming, for every 1kWhr of electricity generated. These arise from generation of electricity and albedo of the solar panels.

Unlike spraying Sulphur dust which will be there only when it is sprayed, this solution will be there all the time and it could protect the highway from sunlight and rain water – the biggest culprits of damage to roadways to-day.

If one wants to look at losses on the supply side, one could see that this would reduce those losses by 1.8 kWhrs per every kWhr usedin Sri Lanka. The routes in the fuel switching strategy are self-explanatory.

Reduction in CO2 emissions which could be achieved from this will amount to either (i) 0.912 kg of CO2/kWhr if energy generated is used as electricity or (ii) 1.250 kg of CO2/kWhr if energy generated is used for transportation.

So honestly, can there be a better Mitigation Solution than this and can this reluctance to implement the same be due to it being a truly Sri Lankan Solution.

What it could do to the economy

Now that we have evaluated what Highway Solarisation could do to environment in the context of GHG emission trajectories, we can look at what it would do to the economy of the country. Just as much as it could benefit environment on more than one frontier, it could benefit economy also on more than one frontier.

For this we will consider one highway which could be solarized very easily i.e. 96 km extension of the Southern Expressway,being built with a $1.7Billion loan from China Exim Bank at 2% interest with a grace period of 5 years. We would need about Rs. 5.8 billion a yearto pay the interest, at current exchange rates and the toll to be collected may be inadequate, during the 1st few years of its operation, at least. So, the loan will eternally be in the books of the Central Bank. You will see umpteen number of economists preaching that building loan funded infrastructure not producing a tradeable product will only increase our foreign debt accounts; but none of them would tell you how to generate tradeable products on such infrastructure.

That is where this Highway Solarisation comes in handy. It could not only protect the environment from (i) 410kt of CO2every year if the energy is used for main grid or 562kt of CO2every year if the energy is used for transportation and (ii) 630 GWhrs/yr of global warming,but it can also settle the entire Chinese loan on the highway in 20 years. It would have taken another seven years before that to recover the investment on solarand the total time required is 27 years. The electricity it could generate, 450GWhrs is also equal to the total energy we expected from upper Kothmale Project of 150MW capacity.

I strongly believe that this would demonstrate the power of Highway Solarisation to mitigate Climate Change due to fossil fuel usage in Sri Lanka and we still have not addressed the full potential of the solution.

Potential of Highway Solarisation in Sri Lanka

It was in February 2011 that I submitted a proposal to Minister of Science & Technology seeking Rs. 55 million for a comprehensive feasibility to ascertain how much electricity could be generated by Highway Solarisation and the potential for vehicle electrification. (The government paid about Rs. 175 million to a British firm to get a feasibility study done for the SOREMPRO Project of the refinery). The team included qualified and experienced Electrical Engineer, Chemical Engineer (both former presidents of Energy Managers Association), Mechanical Engineer, Civil Engineer, Financial Analyst Environmental Engineer, IT Professional and it was copied to Minister of Environment as well. Environment Minister took it forward up to drafting a cabinet paper when suddenly the minister was swapped with Minister of Petroleum Industries and Minister of Science and Technology was swapped with Minister of Power of Energy.

As for my request, the 60 + page document with separate financial proposal and CVs of consultants came back with a letter from then Chairman of Inventors Commission, Deepal Sooriyaarachchi dated sometime in July, 2011 to say that the Commission did not have enough funds for the study. I, of course, was surprised by the fact that the pages of the proposal had not even been turned and they had taken 5 months to count the money in the kitty to see that it cannot afford Rs. 55 million. Such was how caring the commission had been for Sri Lankan inventors.

Since than I have been keeping count of roads in Sri Lanka which possess appropriate characteristics needed forHighway Solarisation. As I have mentioned in article quoted first, roadways to Jaffna, Mannar, Mulativu, etc. do have a lot of potential implementing Highway Solarisation. My current estimate, on the minimum side, for potential Highway Solarisation is about 3800MWs which would yield about 5700GWhrs per annum.

This matches well with daytime demand for electricity increasing as well and this daytime demand is expected to reach 4726MW in 2030. We also need to remember that efficiencies of photovoltaic solar panels – or output per unit area – is increasing and as we keep on solarizing these roadways, output that could be expected from a given area would also increase.

If this quantum of energy is used with vehicle electrification – buses, vans, cars, three wheelers and motorcycles all included – it can eliminate more than 22000GWhrs of waste energy, 7100kt of CO2 and 2900kt of Newly Formed Water Vapour in addition to another 8000GWhrs which would lead to global warming. It will also eliminate more than $1.5 billion going out to purchase oil for transportation.

Scientific background of the solution

As we have explained at the International Energy Symposium held on 23rdJune, 2015 in Colombo, this Mitigation Solution is the outcome of a Six Sigma DMADV2 (Define, Measure, Analyse, Design, Verify and Validate) Exercise carried out as per methodologies given in “Design for Six Sigma” by Prof. Howard Gitlow, David M. Levine andEdward A. Popovich. Prof. Gitlow has been extremely impressed by the exercise and has contributed to revise initial workings to make it more comprehensive.

While all the first 5 stages have been completed and we have requested for a 3.5km stretch on the Suriyawewa – Mirijjawila Road (Route B562) to carry out the Validation of the solution with a 10MW project and awaiting a final decision.

What such a pilot project of significant dimensions could do to Sri Lanka and other South Asian countries may be beyond comprehension of policy analysts and administrators of Sri Lanka for whom climate change is the juggling of droughts and rains.

Before they could fathom out these differences, real climate change would tip us over beyond the Climate Risk Index No. 1 slot to follow Puerto Rico islet in the Gulf of Mexico area.

While our vulnerability to climate change is been emphasized by both World Bank and Global Watch, there are no signs of any seriousness been attached to their pronouncements.

Here, we have done what a scientist, interested about climate change could do in identifying a Mitigation Solutionand the outcome is far better than the mitigation solution – spraying Sulphur dust into the atmosphere – suggested by IPCC.

This solution based on technologies available to-day – PV solar panels, Battery Electric Vehicles, Batteries for BEVs, charging auxiliaries – is (a) do-able in the short term, (b) profitable even at present, (c) effective in respect of all aspects and most importantly is also reproducible even in other countries.

Politicians, Economists and Administrators should not say that Sri Lankan Scientists have let down the masses who have funded their educationby not showing the way to climate change mitigation; but by not implementing this solution politicians and administrators are letting down the masses who have not only funded their education, but also maintaining them even today.

(Based on a presentation made by the author to Sri Lanka NEXT Forum on 20-10-2018.)


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