Low emission energy systems may lead to water conflict when lacking design


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Agriculture & Climate Change, UK (Commonwealth Union) – The recent economic crisis brought about by the pandemic lockdowns, together with the Russia – Ukraine conflict recently led to a fuel crisis in most parts of the world. The energy crisis has led to more of a focus on renewable energy, with more people increasing investments in solar panels. High costs and efficiency of many renewable energy sources have been a key setback in transitioning to renewable sources, however with more consumes of these energy sources and with increased into enhancing the efficiency of renewable energy is likely to expand its usage.

A new study that was published recently in Nature Sustainability has discovered that the application of hydropower dams to produce low emission energy may lead to issues for other economic sectors like food production if smart designs are not employed.

Gaining access to sustainable electricity is a need to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals, however more than 700 million persons across the globe still have limited reliable electricity access. The renewable energy sources like hydropower, wind and solar are seeing an elevated demand to fulfill the increased requirement of global electricity demand and climate objectives, with energy planners and investors making rapid moves to lower carbon dioxide emissions from electricity production.

The most frequently used renewable energy presently is hydropower, which makes up 40 percent, with 55 percent obtained from solar and wind. The major benefit of hydropower is its flexibility, with its ability to promptly gives it the ability play the role of the vast battery maintain a balance of the grid if wind and solar power is insufficient. Its strategic operation permits system to reply more on those intermittent energy sources according to the study.

However, a study which the University of Manchester experts led has observed that operating hydropower exclusively with this goal may have a negative effects on other sectors like food production depending on the present way most hydropower dams are utilized with the production of a continuous supply of ‘baseload’ energy.

The study puts a spotlight on ways power generation systems are implanted in complex human–natural systems in which alterations impact water, food and the atmosphere to differing degrees. The study indicates that the smart diversifying of renewable energy sources and linking them strategically can make way for the formation of low emission resource systems that the global battle to diminish climate change.

In Ghana, the researchers made use of a design tool helped by artificial intelligence to demonstrate ways balanced management and investment strategies could assist in calibrating good roles and locations for hydropower, bioenergy, solar and wind energies. The researchers discovered that the solution is an enhanced with the approach of strategic thinking on a national level along with careful multi-sector evaluations.

When refraining from multi-sector conflict of hydropower reoperation is an objective in the beginning, and lessened with advanced system-scale design methods, great solutions can be discovered that lower emissions and also guarantee other economic sectors receive water as required according to the researchers.

The study further indicated that moving through trade-offs to lower greenhouse gas emissions needs significant policy and operational integration from governments, possibly involving multiple ministries – However not many nations have the ability to make such a negotiation. This design tool is to assist planners to consider the possibly down side to water, food and ecosystems of inappropriately re-operating energy systems to exclusively raise intermittent renewables. Instead, it assists in investing in power systems in a way balancing multisector performance while lowering CO2 emissions.

“This new strategic planning approach helps to reduce emissions country-wide without leading to increased water conflict,” said Professor Julien Harou, Chair of Water Engineering.


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