ESMP in GRID INTERCONNECTION

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Energy requirement of the world is huge, so is the destruction that comes with the over consumption. The need of the present is to meet the need of the people while posing the least possible threat to the environment too. As such, the Environment and Social Management Plan has come as an integral project and program component to keep in mind the environmental and social concerns during the implementation of any program. According to a report by IUCN, The main content of the ESMP is the list of measures that have been identified for avoiding adverse environmental and/or social impacts, for minimizing them to acceptable levels or to compensate for them. For each mitigation measure the following operational details need to be provided

  • Evidence of their technical feasibility, cultural adequacy, expected effectiveness (in providing mitigation to all affected groups) and sustainability
  • Resources required and estimated costs (including initial investment and recurring expenses), and, where applicable, expected and agreed contributions from stakeholders and beneficiaries (including in-kind contributions);
  • Responsibility for implementing the measure
  • Schedule for implementation along with the requirement that mitigation measures be implemented in a timely manner.(IUCN)

The purpose of the ESMP is to ensure that social and environmental impacts, risks and liabilities identified during the ESIA process are effectively managed during the construction, operation and closure of the proposed project. The ESMP specifies the mitigation and management measures to which the Proponent is committed and shows how the Project will mobilize organizational capacity and resources to implement these measures. The ESMP also shows how mitigation and management measures will be scheduled.

The steps involved in ESMP for grid interconnection are as follows:

  • Identification of potential hazards related with the project, as early as possible in the project cycle, including the site selection process, engineering planning process for capital requests, engineering work orders, product design process, facility modification authorizations, or layout and process change plans.
  • Inclusion of ESMP professionals who are expert on the identification and curbing of potential environmental and social hazards of the proposed project.

The environmental and social hazards of any place is usually identified based on the emission of pollutants, hazardous waste materials, the intensity of harm to the local environment and to the people which can be in the form of property loss, cultural loss to name a few. These hazards can usually be controlled by prioritizing risk management strategies, favoring strategies that eliminate the cause of the hazard at its source, for example, by selecting less hazardous materials or processes, When impact avoidance is not feasible, incorporating engineering and management controls to reduce or minimize the possibility and magnitude of undesired consequences, Preparing workers and nearby communities to respond to accidents, including providing technical and financial resources to effectively and safely control such events, and restoring workplace and community environments to a safe and healthy condition. (IFC)

Potential issues for consideration during different phases of project are as follows:

  • Pre constructional- Resettlement and compensation

-Socio-economic and local community impact

  • Construction Phase- Resettlement and Compensation
  • Socio-economic and local community impacts
  • Traffic and transport
  • Soils
  • Public and occupational health and safety
  • Noise
  • Air quality
  • Waste
  • Water quality and resources
  • Operation Phase- Socio-economic and local community impacts
  • Land use
  • Public and occupational health and safety
  • Landscape and visual impact
  • Decommissioning Phase – Traffic and transport
  • Air quality and noise
  • Public and occupational health and safety
  • Wastes

The main issues to be included in the environmental management and monitoring program may be as follows:

  1. Relevant environmental control standards involving a collation of the control limits against which results from the monitoring programs should be judged.
  2. A required program for the monitoring of releases to the environment at source and also for pollutant concentrations in the surrounding areas in terms of parameters to be monitored, sampling points and frequencies of measurements, as well as methods for sampling and analysis.
  • Protection of construction crew against hearing loss damage bu the use of earmuffs
  • Minimization of wind pick up of dust from exposed unprotected land sufaces by limiting land clearance to minimum area requirements for the constructional activities.
  • Ensuring exposed surfaces are sprayed with water by water browsers as part of regular construction activities.
  • Application of erosion control practices such as regrading, compaction and early re vegetation to promote soil conservation.
  • Transportation of heavy plant and equipment through settlement be done in manner that will not jeopardize the safety of the local people.
  • Equipment and materials to be properly secured when being transported to prevent them from falling and posing potential danger to people.
  • Legally mandated speed limits on the roads and highways to be strictly observed in all settlements.
  • In line with existing practice, the towers have to be clearly marked with a red inscription on white background – “DANGER – 225,000 Volts” to warn off trespassers and prevent them from exposing themselves to the potential dangers of electrocution.
  • Periodic community awareness training to be given to the workforce.
  • Construction workers to be closely supervised to ensure that only the minimum area requirements of access trucks, tower corridor track and tower base areas are cleared of begetation to minimize potential impacts on flora and fauna.
  • Avoidance of herbicides/weedicides for weed control or vegetation clearing so that potential pollution from this source be eliminated.
  • Ensure coordination with the road agency to minimize interference between installation and operation
  • Ensure that contractor do not establish work camps close to any water body to avoid water pollution problems.
  • Establish camp at least 500m from the closest settlement to minimize noise impacts on the community.
  • Provision of mobile toilet facilities at the work camp to avoid the pollution of the environment with human waste.
  • During maintenance of construction machinery/equipment and vehicles care to be taken to avoid accidental oil spills, which could lead to soil contamination.
  • Accidental spillage of oil, fuel and pants will be avoided as much as possible.
  • Any split materials to be quickly mopped up with rags and/or sawdust.
  • Waste oil to be drained into impermeable sumps at the work camp for collection and disposal.
  • Metal wastes to be collected and sold as scrap to dealers who will in turn sell them for recycling.
  • Other sold wastes such as damaged cables and conductors, rags, paper cartons and domestic wastes to be collected and disposed of at appropriate public waste dumping sites.
  • The solid wastes in the form of trees, tree stumps and wooden containers to be gathered together and made available to the local communities as fuel wood.
  • Waste management techniques to be implemented to help keep a clean site and reduce environmental pollution.
  • Emergency response plan to be prepared to manage effectively a wide range of incidents that may occur at the project site, which includes plans for fire, storm, chemical spills, road accident, and other emergency as identified which may affect the project.
  • Take reasonable measures to prevent contamination of water, air, or land as a result of any incident, to reduce such contamination if it is unavoidable and to remediate any contamination that has occurred during the works.
  • Plan and implement the projects under the EPA and EPR rules and regulations of the country.
  • Environmental monitoring to be done to determine the impacts whether t be physical, chemical or biological. (ESMP of Bolgatanga-Ouagadougou Interconnection Project)
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Barriers to installing Biogas

One of the major barriers in installing bio gas components can be the technical constraints. It is important to see the feasibility of installing a large scale biogas program in any place and if it fits in the local constraint. For a productive bio gas plant, it is important to maintain the minimum digester temperature throughout the year, night stabling, water availability. Space is another important consideration. Some of the farmers from higher Himalayas elevation report insufficiency of gas during colder months. These are some of the technical barriers that may come up during the project.

The technical barriers shown by AEPC are as follows:

  • Research & Development: lack of research and development to continuously improve and innovate the technology to improve efficiency and additional end uses for income-generating activities;
  • Orientation of the construction companies: all the companies engaged in plant construction have a profit motif, there is some negligence about the quality control and after-sale-service.

When installing biogas availability of manure and water as input needs to be assured to be close to the plant’s inlet and correct plant operation should be ensured. These can be addressed by user trainings, illustrative manuals, to name a few.

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Sometimes, the installation cost can be too much for the people to be able to afford. At such times, subsidy policies are expected to make the installation possible. The barrier can also be the question of how to scale up and stimulate bio slurry use in the community, which can be a very useful trading opportunity too. Trading appliances can be another hindrance which can be supported by the reduced government taxes.

The financial economic barriers are as follows:

  • “High investment costs required for plant installation, because it is probably the largest investment made by a farmer. Cost reduction without compromising reliability is an important aspect;
  • Farmer’s affordability: the negative growth in agricultural sector and inflation has adversely affected the farmer’s affordability. Lack of adequate income-generating activities and support required for such activity is an important barrier for technology dissemination as biogas;
  • Access to credit: loans for the construction of a biogas plant is difficult to an ordinary farmer as often mortgage is required to advance the loan. Sufficient properties are often not owned.” (AEPC, 2000)

The social barriers is identified to be: Illiteracy. Studies show that 75% of the biogas owners are educated. However, it is very difficult to convince uneducated farmers about its importance.

To address this problem, usually information is disseminated through the radio broadcasts, and information are prepared in printed form with very little text.

BIODEGRADABLE WASTE TO ENERGY

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Any materials that can be decomposed are regarded as biodegradable. Maximum of the waste generated in household level is usually biodegradable, and therefore has the potential of getting converted into energy instead of getting lost as solid waste. Even in the case of Kathmandu, Solid waste management is a huge problem and over 70% of the waste generated is organic waste. The landfill site is a mess because of unmanaged waste disposal and has resulted in problems of leachate  infiltration to odour to outbreaks of diseases. Instead of having problems like these, if we were to take up a more sustainable approach to convert the waste into energy, it would help in reusing these wastes, reducing dependency on the fossil fuels, more managed waste disposal to name a few.

According to the Baseline and Feasibility Assessment of the Waste to Energy Report, 2015, submitted to the AEPC, (Alternative Energy Promotion Center,) the available biodegradable waste produced per day for the community biogas plant from cattle dung, night soil and kitchen are 8.5 per cattle, 0.86 kg per person and 0.34 kg per person respectively. The waste produced per day for the commercial level biogas plant from cattle farm, night soil, kitchen waste are 45.83 kg per buffalo, 7.91 kg per cattle, 0.48 kg person and 0.38 kg per person respectively. The waste produced for the institutional level biogas plant from night soil and kitchen waste are 0.46 kg per person and 0.36 kg per person respectively. Similarly, for municipal level biogas plants, organic solid waste generated is 0.51 kg per capita. Community biogas plant for 4-5 family of 15 m3 size will reduce 9940 kg fuel wood and 10.46 ton CO2 emission per year. Commercial and Institutional biogas plant of 35 m3 size will reduce 1873 kg LPG and 5.59 ton CO2 emission per year. Municipal solid waste of 136 ton per day for Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur districts will reduce 18,764 tonne CO2 per year.

The breakdown of organic matter by anaerobic bacteria produces a mixture of different gases like the methane and carbon dioxide which is referred to as the biogas. The wastes coming from variety of sources like animal manure, plant material, sewage, municipal waste, food waste can be turned into biogas this way. This biogas can then be used as an alternative energy, after converting it into heat or electrical energy. It also exerts far less carbon footprint than the fossil fuels while also managing the wastes in a more sustainable way. The main microorganisms that breaks down these wastes are Psychrophillic bacteria, Mesophilic bacteria and Thermophilic bacteria. According to studies, the gas production potential of cattle is about 0.023-0.040 m3 gas production per kg, that of pig is 0.040-0.059 m3 and that of human excreta is 0.020-0.028 m3.

The subsidy policy of Nepal (2069) recognizes broadly four different types f waste to energy projects. They are commercial, institutional, community and municipal. The municipal solid waste based biogas plant converts municipal waste to energy. The community based biogas plant has a common gas grid system and is built to help convert all the community wastes accumulation to energy. The produced slurry is also shared among the community people for farming fertilization purpose or can be sold to the market too. The plants installed in commercial institutions like firms, farms, hotels, industries are referred to as commercial biogas plant and they are of higher capacity than the household ones. The bio digesters established in institutional places like academic institutions, religious institutions, farms, etc, are referred to as institutional biogas plant.

Because of the ongoing climate crisis, reducing the green house gases emission has become a major concern of the present, and one of the best ways to do that is through the renewable energy technology. The first Clean Development Mechanism was also prepared for the biogas technology and registered with the UNFCCC. The Centre for Rural Technology has also implemented CDM-GS prject in six districts in Terai of Nepal and certified emission reductions have been issued. The Netherlands Development Organization has also initiated ICS carbon projects in seven district of Far-Western region to promote 150,000 improved stoves. But still, according to a study by the Ministry of Finance in 2015, the consumption of traditional, commercial and renewable energy has been 77%, 20% and 3%, which shows how much dependent we are on the traditional energy system. But, the potential of biogas in Nepal is huge, and Nepali farming system is heavily dependent on livestock, and according to the same report, there is technical biogas potential for at least one million household size plants, 57% located in the Terai plains, 37% in the hills and 6% in remote hills. There are about 200 community and institutional biogas plants in Nepal which range from 6-75 m3 and are normally fed from kitchen wastes, toilet waste and livestock manure.

The Basics of Green Climate Fund

GCF

With the changing climate taking its toll on the planet and affecting every sector possible, from environmental deterioration to health hazards to resources depletion to infrastructural damage, it has become the need of the present to go for mitigation measures to prevent the emissions of green house gases which is the main culprit of climate change and to go for adaption to adjust to the change in climates and make communities across the world more resilient to the problems arising from the changing climate. No doubt the whole process requires a lot of investment from government, non government and the private sectors and The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is a fund established within the framework of the UNFCCC for the very purpose, to assist developing countries in these adaptation and mitigation practices. The objective of the Green Climate Fund is to “support projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing country Parties using thematic funding windows” According to UNFCCC, “The Fund is governed by the GCF Bo ard and it is accountable to and functions under the guidance of the COP to support projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing country Parties using thematic funding windows.” The GCF was established by the COP at its sixteenth session by decision 1/CP.16, and is intended to be the main fund for global climate change finance in the context of mobilizing USD 100 billion by 2020.

There various Green Climate Funds Projects in various countries. GCF-EBRD Kazakhstan Renewables Framework in Kazakhstan, Renewable Energy Program #1 – Solar in Mongolia, Egypt Renewable Energy Financing Framework in Egypt, Geeref Next in multiple countries, Accelerating the Transformational Shift to a Low-Carbon Economy in the Republic of Mauritius in Mauritius, Catalyzing private investment in sustainable energy in Argentina – Part 1 in Argentina, SCF Capital Solutions in South Africa, Business loan programme for GHG emissions reduction in Mongolia, Universal Green Energy Access Programme in 5 countries of Africa, Sustainable Energy Facility for the Eastern Caribbean in 5 countries of Latin America, Climate Action and Solar Energy Development Programme in the Tarapacá Region in Chile, Bhutan for Life in Bhutan, Ground Water Recharge and Solar Micro Irrigation to Ensure Food Security and Enhance Resilience in Vulnerable Tribal Areas of Odisha in India, Tajikistan: Scaling Up Hydropower Sector Climate Resilience in Tajikistan, Pacific Islands Renewable Energy Investment Program in Cook Islands, Sustainable Landscapes in Eastern Madagascar, GCF-EBRD Sustainable Energy Financing Facilities in 10 Countries of Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, and KawiSafi Ventures Fund in East Africa in Rwanda and Kenya.

The GCF seeks to have an impact within eight mitigation and adaptation results areas identified by the Fund’s Board. The mitigation areas are energy generation and access, transport, forests and land use, buildings, cities, industries and appliances and the adaptation areas are health, food and water security, livelihoods of people and communities, infrastructure and built environment and ecosystems and ecosystem services. The cross cutting investment priorities that are expected to aid in the mitigation and adaptation areas are transforming energy generation and access, creating climate-compatible cities, encouraging low-emission and climate-resilient agriculture, scaling up finance for forests and climate change and enhancing resilience in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

As the GCFs acts as central fund for the mitigation and adaptation of climate change, developing nations who are parties to the convention are eligible to receive the GCF. The fund can be accessed through implementing entities, accredited international and regional entities. Enhanced Direct Access allows the accredited institutions to design and implement their own program whereas other models allow finance to be accessible only through projects approved by the GCF board. The entities develop of fund proposals and the management and monitoring of projects and programs. Entities are selected on the basis of capacities in driving climate action. According to GCF 101, GCF has introduced a “fit-for-purpose” system to scale them differently according to their capacities and how they address the climate finance needs of different countries and while the scopes of accreditation vary, all entities need to meet a number of basic standards which are based on basic fiduciary standards, environmental and social safeguards and gender consideration.

Despite the highly competitive procedure of selecting the entities, some controversies have arised. For instance, the HSBC has provided nearly US$5.4 billion in financing for coal since 2010 and has still managed to clear the accreditation process, while the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance was relegated because it lacked a demonstrable track record, according to IIED.

MOANA

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To celebrate environment day with a local school, I showed them “Moana”! I believe there is  so much to this movie, and it was a really amazing way to interact with the high school students too! The movie shows how connected these tribal people are to the nature, how when Maui stole the heart of Te Fiti he was doing that to help the human. It was not really with a bad intention. Similarly, we also use natural resources to help ourselves, but sometimes may end up exploiting it to devastation. Like Te Fiti turned to Teka after her heart was gone, our nature will turn evil after we torture her past the point of resilience.

Moana went after what she believed in and that is in a way what each of us are doing too. The movie shows how difficult it is to restore nature once disrupted but not impossible if you care enough!

And it was amazing how the students brought artworks and writing about Moana later 🙂 🙂

Redefining the Human and Nature Connection

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The connection that we have with nature is ever-present, everlasting and it is inherent. The first thing we do after stepping foot in this world is, we breathe. And we continue to do so until we die. Like many times we are not aware that we are breathing, we are not aware that we are constantly connected to nature too. The air that we breathe is always there, the sky and the clouds are there and can be seen from everywhere. Likewise, the majestic sun rise and the sun sets, starting and ending our day always.

For me, it is not about going on a green hike or to the rivers or to the beach to get connected with nature. For me, nature is me and I am nature. We all are creations that evolved from the small prokaryotes wading across the ocean on the earth to become the human we are today. We evolved more to be able to define nature itself, but this does not mean that we belong to nature; this means we are nature, and this is how I see the connection between myself and nature.

Since we started to roam the earth to the present day, we have been evolving on the lap of the earth together with billions of other floras and faunas. Earth has always been spectacular and beautiful, the mighty Himalayas, gushing rivers, oceans that stretch for miles, from tiny macro-organisms to the biggest of creations, nature is nothing but beauty. The most serene of lives we see in the mountains, where the sound of the rustling wind is broken only by the chirping of birds, animals, and people singing. Also, in the coastal areas, where people and oceans go hand in hand, where the people’s heartbeat and the rise and fall of waves is parallel. In the agricultural lands, where people spend all their lives plowing the earth, getting harvest for themselves and caring and revering for the nature that provides for us with immense resources. Even in the city areas, where the skyscrapers obstruct the sky but people look up to get that glimpse and enjoy the rain and the rainbow. All the tribal people had songs dedicated to nature, to marvel its beauty and thank her for the abundance and even in the present time, all the communities across the countries in the world have these songs.

During the hunter and gatherer time, we relied on the resources of the earth, and that has not changed even today. The thing that has actually changed is our number. When we first started using earth’s resources, it was not to harm her, it was to sustain ourselves, and same is the case today. But the fact, that in the past we were few and resources were abundant, unlike in the present times, when we are more in numbers and the resources are limited. If we evolved enough to be able to define nature, we also evolved enough to be able to see what is going on and how we are now at a stage where our actions harm our earth. So now, the only thing that stops us is our greed. A greed blind enough to not see the future full of disasters. The changing climate resulting from pollution has already put the world in danger. All over the world people are putting on efforts for the betterment of the situation of the earth and trying for the transition to clean energy solutions and a more sustainable way of life.

Now a few who are obstructing the process are the ones who profit from the nonrenewable sources.  While the world is trying to shift to solar and wind energy, the fossil fuel enthusiasts are already hurt and reluctant about having to leave so much of possible energy sources on the ground. Because it is not only the energy source for them, it is money. But while they continue to dig up the ground for the oil, millions of other pay the price. According to the scientists, we need to let the remaining fuels remain underground for cleaner air and a lesser risky future. When we pay the fossil fuel industry, it is not just money. The cost of carbon is drought, famine, sea level rise, water scarcity, climate refugees, extreme events, dying corals, wildfire, retreating glaciers, species extinction, infrastructure loss, ecosystem and most of all, our way of life.

Right now, we all feel the connection with the earth. We all are working in our individual sectors, from individuals to government, and coming together for the solutions, which was also evidenced through the historic Paris agreement. But also, a few who still put profit above the earth, for instance, the me first attitude of US President Trump who pulled the US out of the agreement. But again, the majority came to fight back and share the allegiance with clean energy and better future. So like always, earth and human are evolving together, and how we put nature and sustainable development in our agendas will determine the course of our future and determine if the beautiful connection human and nature have will remain in the generations to come or be gone for good.

THE TRINKETS TREASURE….. in Boudhanath

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Travelling always feels like magic. Going to new places, meeting new people, coming face to face with completely different cultures, walking entirely different roads with exclusively different music is like going to a new fairy land. Travelling equals immersing and wrapping oneself up in a shawl of totally different scenario. What better than to have something to remind us of this magical land we went to after we return and take our shawls off? A prayer flag to remember the wind of Himalayas, some sculptures to take a bit of the culture to your living room, a diary to reminiscence the land trodden while waiting for new ones to walk, or photo frames to recollect all the memories. Anything as long as it brings back whiff of the place. That is why, any wonderful places we go to, we find shops or stalls full of different souvenirs to take back home, and the destinations in Nepal are no different. May it be Thamel, Pashupati, Durbar squares, Boudhanath, Namo Buddha, or any other place, they have stalls selling the specialty of the place. These trinkets have a huge business, and I want to unravel what all these trinkets might mean!

SCULPTURES

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The most famous souvenirs to take back are the metal sculptures and the most famous sculptures are the Buddha ones, according to Ashish Shakya from Ashish handicrafts. He has an amazing collection of sculptures, and says that one sculpture alone takes about 4 or 5 person, each being designed a separate job to finish the work. First, the wax is molded, then mud work, then the desired metal, usually copper is placed through the hole, and the casting taken off. The carving, gold plating and face painting finally give the finishing touch to the sculpture. The Buddha sculpture are also of various types, the meditation Buddha, Healing Buddha, Shakya Muni Buddha, etc. These sculptures are also available in various sizes. These hand crafted sculptures are therefore in the bucket list of many tourist wishing to take back a memento of Nepal.

BELL

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The bells vary from very intricately designed to very simple ones, and one of the attractions of any souvenir shops. In Hinduism and Buddhism, bells are used for worshipping, although they may be used in different ways. According to a Buddhist lama I met in Ashish handicrafts, the bell’s dome represents void, or emptiness, which is a core concept of Hinduism, and the sound that bell produces, represents creation from nothingness. So, if buying bell is your choice, you are carrying a serious philosophy in your bag! In Buddhism, the bell comes along with Dorje, which is a symbol of peace and acceptance, a will to help everyone and everything, and this Dorje and bell can also be seen carried by many deities in their sculptures too.

PRAYER FLAGS AND PRAYER WHEELS

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Prayer flags and prayer wheels are really popular souvenir, because they are a really important part of the culture. They are seen during Himalayan trekking, around any Gumbas or Monasteries, and as decorations too. Both the flags and the wheels have important mantras, or inscriptions, written on them, which is believed to bring in positive vibes and power, and ward off evil. They are used mostly for indoor decorations after being bought as a souvenir, and lightens up the room because they are so colorful. Mr Ashish shares that the tourists usually buy smaller prayer wheels and use them in their office desks as stress buster as well as paper holder.

SINGING BOWLS

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The singing bowls are also really famous, as a very meditative and relaxing souvenir. The set consists of a bowl and stick, when the stick is moved against the bowl, it produces a very relaxing and meditative surround sound. It is believed to have healing powers as well. Many shops are dedicated to just the singing bowls, which are also available in variety of sizes.

UTENSILS

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The teacups and other utensils from around the Himalayas are unique in that they are really embroidered, and people buy them to add to that color in their homes. The colors are very bright, like red, orange, yellow, blue, etc. So, you can remember Nepal and it’s vibrant colors while sipping your tea!

SMALL JEWELRIES

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If big sculptures and table show pieces are not your choice, and you would rather wear your travels, then there are choices available from so many kinds of earrings and bracelets. They are of many colors, and also different textures. Sometimes, you can also make your own custom one, with miniature bells, sculptures, or prayer wheels. Or if metal and coppers is not your thing at all, you even have ones made out of clothes or pashminas too!