So… What is the Human Toxicity Potential of a Hydro? National Trust find out

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The graph above represents the Life Cycle Analysis of three hydros (Hafod y Llan 650kw and Hafod y Porth 100kw  – blue and red lines) GWP = Global Warming Potential. ARDP – Abiotic Resource Depletion. AP = Acidification Potential. FRDP =fossil Fuel Resource Depletion. HTP= Human Toxicity Potential

The title of this blog suggests an exotic impact from our recent hydro development but as reported in the earlier blog we have been working with Bangor University and Trinity University Dublin to understand  a whole plethora of potential impacts as part of a holistic  Life Cycle Assessment of our two recently completed hydros at Hafod y Llan and Hafod y Porth as part of the National Trust Renewable Energy Investment Program. As you can see from the graph above generating your own renewable energy from a hydro is significantly less impact-full than normal grid electricity. But also this process has been especially insightful in understanding where the opportunities are to lower the impact even further! Thanks especially to John Gallagher for this work

(Abstract from the recently published paper) “Globally, the hydropower (HP) sector has significant potential to increase its capacity by 2050. This study quantifies the energy and resource demands of small-scale HP projects and presents methods to reduce associated environmental impacts based on potential growth in the sector. The environmental burdens of three (50–650 kW) run-of-river HP projects were calculated using life cycle assessment (LCA). The global warming potential (GWP) for the projects to generate electricity ranged from 5.5–8.9 g CO2 eq/kWh, compared with 403 g CO2eq/kWh for UK marginal grid electricity. A sensitivity analysis accounted for alternative manufacturing processes, transportation, ecodesign considerations, and extended project lifespan. These findings were extrapolated for technically viable HP sites in Europe, with the potential to generate 7.35 TWh and offset over 2.96 Mt of CO2 from grid electricity per annum. Incorporation of ecodesign could provide resource savings for these HP projects: avoiding 800 000 tonnes of concrete, 10 000 tonnes of steel, and 65 million vehicle miles. Small additional material and energy contributions can double a HP system lifespan, providing 39–47% reductions for all environmental impact categories. In a world of finite resources, this paper highlights the importance of HP as a resource-efficient, renewable energy system.”

John Gallagher *, David Styles , Aonghus McNabola , and A. Prysor Williams

School of Environment, Natural Resources, and Geography, Bangor University, Bangor LL57 2DG, Wales
Department of Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering, Trinity College, Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland
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