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An evaluation of solar powered irrigation as carbon offset projects
KTH, School of Chemical Science and Engineering (CHE), Chemical Engineering and Technology, Energy Processes.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2878-8656
2016 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Carbon offsets have been developed as one tool to incentivise investments by developed nations in climate change mitigation activities in developing countries. The carbon offsets can be used towards the countries’ own mitigation targets but are also meant to benefit developing countries by providing a pathway to clean development.

Photovoltaic water pumping (PVWP) technology is a solution to use PV for irrigation, which can be used to restore degraded grasslands and help farmers adapt to climate change. Restoration of degraded grasslands increases the production of grass and will therefore increase the amount of carbon in the soil, a process that may mitigate climate change. However, poor farmers often have limited access to irrigation technology and this thesis assesses how carbon offsets may bring revenues to increase adaption of PVWP technology in remote areas of the Chinese grasslands.

PV modules can be used to mitigate climate change in different ways; the most common is to produce electricity to replace fossil fuel power capacity. The novelty of this thesis is that it assesses the alternative mitigation possibilities for the PVWP project proposed here. Further, consideration of water constraints that limit the applicability of the technology and a framework to assess the trade-offs between potential downstream water impacts and environmental co-benefits of the project add to the novelty of this thesis. Policy barriers for the project will also be considered.

 Used to restore severely degraded grasslands, PVWP projects show high carbon sequestration potential and successfully compete with grid electricity as carbon offset projects. A case is analysed and it shows that the carbon market could play a role in increasing the feasibility of PVWP projects. However, water issues make project implementation very site-specific and some indicators to determine feasibility is proposed to be blue water availability, evaporation recycling ratio and water productivity. Water use must also be looked at with respect to climate, food and energy security, calling for a nexus approach to evaluate the project suitability. In May 2016, grassland management projects are excluded from the Clean Development Mechanism to the Kyoto Protocol, and this limits project implementation to the voluntary markets.

Abstract [sv]

Avhandlingen är ämnad att läsas av beslutsfattare inom klimatområdet samt aktörer på de olika klimatkompensationsmarknaderna.

Klimatkompensation har utvecklats som ett verktyg för att stimulera industriländers investeringar i klimatprojekt i utvecklingsländer. Klimatkompensation kan användas för att nå industriländernas egna klimatmål men är också tänkta att gynna utvecklingsländer genom att tillhandahålla en ”ren” utvecklingsmöjlighet.

Solcellsdrivna vattenpumpar (eng. photovoltaic water pumping: PVWP) är en teknik för att använda solceller för bevattning. Tekniken kan användas för att restaurera degraderade gräsmarker och för att hjälpa jordbrukare anpassa sig till klimatförändringarna. Restaurering av gräsmarker ökar produktionen av gräs vilket medför ökad mängden kol i marken, en process som kan mildra klimatförändringarna. Men fattiga bönder har ofta begränsad tillgång till bevattningsteknik och denna avhandling utvärderar hur klimatkompensation kan ge intäkter för att öka användningen av PVWP i avlägsna delar på den kinesiska slätten.

Solceller kan användas för att mildra klimatförändringarna på olika sätt och vanligast är att producera el för att ersätta fossila bränslen. Det är därför viktigt att titta på alternativkostnaden för PVWP-projekten som föreslås här. Vidare begränsar vattentillgången projekten och ett ramverk för att tydliggöra avvägningar mellan vattenrelaterade problem och miljömässiga fördelarna med ett projekt är nödvändigt. Klimatpolitiska styrmedel sätter också upp vissa begränsningar för projekten.

Om PVWP används för att återställa mycket degraderade gräsmarker, visar projekten hög klimatnytta och de kan framgångsrikt konkurrera med solel till nätet som klimatkompensationsprojekt. En fallstudie visar att klimatkompensationsmarknaden skulle kunna spela en viss roll för att öka antalet PVWP-projekt. Däremot gör vattenfrågan projektens geografiska plats viktig och indikatorer för att avgöra genomförbarheten föreslås vara ”blåvattentillgång”, ”förångningsåtervinning” och ”vattenproduktivitet”. Vattenanvändningen måste också ses i förhållande till klimat, mat- och energisäkerhet, vilket kräver en nexusstrategi för att utvärdera projekten. I skrivande stund (maj 2016) är projekt rörande skötsel av gräsmarker exkluderade från mekanismen för ren utveckling (CDM) till Kyotoprotokollet och detta begränsar projekten till de frivilliga klimat-kompensationsmarknaderna.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2016. , 86 p.
Series
TRITA-CHE-Report, ISSN 1654-1081 ; 2016:29
Keyword [en]
carbon offset, carbon sequestration, clean development mechanism, climate change adaptation, desertification, solar power water pumping
National Category
Other Chemical Engineering
Research subject
Chemical Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-188562ISBN: 978-91-7729-057-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-188562DiVA: diva2:946801
Presentation
2016-08-30, Seminarierum plan 6, Teknikringen 42, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Demonstration and Scale-Up of Photovoltaic Solar Water Pumping for the Conservation of Grassland and Farmland in China
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, AKT-2010-040Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth
Note

QC 20160711

Available from: 2016-07-11 Created: 2016-06-14 Last updated: 2016-07-12Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Potential for carbon sequestration and mitigation of climate change by irrigation of grasslands
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Potential for carbon sequestration and mitigation of climate change by irrigation of grasslands
2014 (English)In: Applied Energy, ISSN 0306-2619, E-ISSN 1872-9118, Vol. 136, 1145-1154 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The climate change mitigation potential of irrigation powered by a photovoltaic water pumping system (PVWPS) to restore degraded grasslands has been investigated using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2006 Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories for Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use. The purpose of this study is to develop a generic and simple method to estimate the climate change mitigation benefit of a PVWPS. The possibility to develop carbon credits for the carbon offset markets has also been studied comparing carbon sequestration in grasslands to other carbon sequestration projects. The soil carbon sequestration following irrigation of the grassland is calculated as an annual increase in the soil organic carbon pool. The PVWPS can also generate an excess of electricity when irrigation is not needed and the emissions reductions due to substitution of grid electricity give additional climate change mitigation potential. The results from this study show that the carbon sequestration and emissions reductions benefits per land area using a PVWPS for irrigating grasslands are comparable to other carbon sequestration options such as switching to no-till practice. Soil carbon in irrigated grasslands is increased with over 60% relative to severely degraded grasslands and if nitrogen fixing species are introduced the increase in soil organic carbon can be almost 80%. Renewable electricity generation by the PVWPS will further increase the mitigation benefit of the system with 70-90%. When applying the methodology developed in this paper to a case in Qinghai, China, we conclude that using a PVWPS to restore degraded grasslands for increased grass production and desertification control has a climate change mitigation benefit of 148 Mg (1 Mg = 1 metric ton) CO2-equivalents (CO2-eq) per hectare in a cold temperate, dry climate during a 20 year process of soil organic carbon sequestration and emissions reductions. Leakage due to an increase in N2O emissions from the additional biomass production and introduction of nitrogen fixing species is included in this result. The most important conclusion from our case is that if soil carbon sequestration is lower than 24 Mg CO2-eq per hectare including leakage, then the climate change mitigation benefit is larger if PV is used to produce electricity for the grid.

Keyword
Grassland conservation, Irrigation, Soil organic carbon, CO2 emission reduction, Carbon sequestration
National Category
Other Natural Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-158265 (URN)10.1016/j.apenergy.2014.08.025 (DOI)000345725800110 ()2-s2.0-84909587682 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
Note

QC 20150109

Available from: 2015-01-09 Created: 2015-01-07 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
2. PV water pumping for carbon sequestration in dry land agriculture
Open this publication in new window or tab >>PV water pumping for carbon sequestration in dry land agriculture
2015 (English)In: Energy Conversion and Management, ISSN 0196-8904, E-ISSN 1879-2227, Vol. 102, 169-179 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper suggests a novel model for analysing carbon sequestration activities in dry land agriculture considering the water-food-energy-climate nexus. The paper is based on our on-going studies on photovoltaic water pumping (PVWP) systems for irrigation of grasslands in China. Two carbon sequestration projects are analysed in terms of their water productivity and carbon sequestration potential. It is concluded that the economic water productivity, i.e. how much water that is needed to produce an amount of grass, of grassland restoration is low and that there is a need to include several of the other co-benefits to justify the use of water for climate change mitigation. The co-benefits are illustrated in a nexus model including (1) climate change mitigation, (2) water availability, (3) downstream water impact, (4) energy security, (5) food security and (6) moisture recycling. We argue for a broad approach when analysing water for carbon sequestration. The model includes energy security and food security together with local and global water concerns. This makes analyses of dry land carbon sequestration activities more relevant and accurate. Without the nexus approach, the co-benefits of grassland restoration tend to be diminished.

Keyword
Emission reduction, Nexus approach, Photovoltaic water pumping, Soil carbon sequestration, Supplementary irrigation, Water productivity
National Category
Energy Engineering Chemical Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-173134 (URN)10.1016/j.enconman.2014.12.056 (DOI)000358809400018 ()2-s2.0-84945466530 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
Note

QC 20150918

Available from: 2015-09-18 Created: 2015-09-07 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
3. The elephant in the room - A comparative study of uncertainties in carbon offsets
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The elephant in the room - A comparative study of uncertainties in carbon offsets
2016 (English)In: Environmental Science and Policy, ISSN 1462-9011, E-ISSN 1873-6416, Vol. 56, 32-38 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The clean development mechanism (CDM) is a flexible mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol, which makes it possible for developed countries to offset their emissions of greenhouse gases through investing in climate change mitigation projects in developing countries. When the mitigation benefit of a CDM project is quantified, measurable uncertainties arise that can be minimised using established statistical methods. In addition, some unmeasurable uncertainties arise, such as the rebound effect of demand-side energy efficiency projects. Many project types related to land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) have been excluded from the CDM in part because of the high degree of statistical uncertainty in measurements of the carbon sink and risk of non-permanence. However, recent discussions within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have opened up for the possibility of including more LULUCF activities in the future. In the light of this discussion, we highlight different aspects of uncertainties in LULUCF projects (e.g. the risk of non-permanence and the size of the carbon sink) in relation to other CDM project categories such as renewables and demand-side energy efficiency. We quantify the uncertainties, compare the magnitudes of the uncertainties in different project categories and conclude that uncertainties could be just as significant in CDM project categories such as renewables as in LULUCF projects. The CDM is a useful way of including and engaging developing countries in climate change mitigation and could be a good source of financial support for LULUCF mitigation activities. Given their enormous mitigation potential, we argue that additional LULUCF activities should be included in the CDM and other future climate policy instruments. Furthermore, we note that Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) are currently being submitted to the UNFCCC by developing countries. Unfortunately, the under-representation of LULUCF in comparison to its potential is evident in the NAMAs submitted so far, just as it has been in the CDM. Capacity building under the CDM may influence NAMAs and there is a risk of transferring the view on uncertainties to NAMAs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2016
Keyword
Carbon sequestration, Clean development mechanism, Emission reduction, Land use, Land-use change and forestry, Nationally appropriate mitigation actions, Rebound effect
National Category
Other Environmental Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-180934 (URN)10.1016/j.envsci.2015.11.004 (DOI)000369195700004 ()2-s2.0-84946887767 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, AKT-2010-040Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth
Note

QC 20160126. QC 20160304

Available from: 2016-01-26 Created: 2016-01-25 Last updated: 2017-11-30Bibliographically approved

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