Hydro association: Reservoir emissions reporting premature

A multi-state non-profit group that reports greenhouse gas emissions proposes to include emissions from reservoirs in its reporting, prompting the National Hydropower Association to call for more research before such a policy is established.

The Climate Registry, which measures and publicly reports emissions of greenhouse gases, supports both voluntary and regulatory emissions reduction programs that are consistent across borders and industries. It sets standards for the measurement, verification, and public reporting of greenhouse gas emissions throughout North America.

The organization is developing an industry-specific protocol for the electric power sector and proposes to require that fugitive carbon dioxide and methane emissions from hydropower reservoirs be included in the registry’s greenhouse gas inventory.

The Climate Registry notes arguments by some that the organic carbon stored in plants and soils in flooded areas decomposes to carbon dioxide and methane. The registry said it recognizes different landscapes and regions contain different amounts of stored organic carbon in soils, so the potential for gas production varies from one reservoir site to another.

In comments filed on the draft protocol for the electric power sector, the hydropower association said it believes additional research of reservoir emissions is needed before establishing policies or dismissing the issue. NHA proposed the Climate Registry remove references to reporting reservoir emissions.

�Setting measurement standards now, before we understand the issue fully or even have agreement on measurement methodologies, would be premature and could prove counter-productive to the development of climate-friendly waterpower resources,� NHA Executive Director Linda Church Ciocci said.

NHA: Reservoirs not solely for hydropower

NHA noted that few reservoirs in the U.S. are solely devoted to hydropower generation. Reservoirs also can provide recreational sites, flood control, water supply, fish and wildlife ponds, navigation, and fire protection.

�Any analysis of reservoir emissions should take into account all a reservoir’s uses, rather than attributing possible GHG to hydropower generation alone,� Church Ciocci said.

NHA said it believes that a comprehensive national study is the next appropriate action, rather than a measurement protocol based on what it calls uncertain science.

Thirty-nine U.S. states, the District of Columbia, three Native American tribes, six Canada provinces, and two states in Mexico established The Climate Registry. Members voluntarily commit to annually measure, independently verify, and publicly report their greenhouse gas emissions. Several private and governmental hydropower operators participate in the organization. (HNN 1/8/09)

The draft protocol, which proposes a methodology for estimating emissions from hydropower reservoirs, is available from the organization’s Internet site, www.theclimateregistry.org. The Climate Registry said it expects to adopt the final electric power sector protocol in June.

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