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氣候危機威脅眾多行業,但對這個行業來說是機遇

Eric Roston, 彭博社 2019年11月20日

許多人將冰川融化及冰川盆地的出現看成壞事,而瑞士研究者則在其中看到了水力發電和淡水存儲的機遇。

一項新的全球研究發現,冰川為水壩建設帶來機遇,將在水力發電及淡水存儲領域發揮積極作用。圖片來源:Sean Gallup—Getty Images
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許多人將冰川融化及冰川盆地的出現看成壞事,而瑞士研究者則在其中看到了水力發電和淡水存儲的機遇。

上周三發表于《自然》雜志(Nature)的這項研究,目前還主要停留在理論層面。該研究對全球185,000座冰川進行了考察,并從環境、技術及經濟因素出發,對這些地方建造水壩進行水力發電及淡水存儲的可行性進行了評估。如果上述冰川均得到開發,其產生的電能將相當于2015年全球總用電量的7%或全球水壩發電量的35%。

“我們不可能在每座冰川都建造水壩,這種做法既不可持續,也不可取。”作者強調說。這種浩大工程在虛擬土木工程研究方面的價值,以及“對國家能源供應潛在的巨大貢獻不容忽視,尤其是在亞洲高山地區,”這里由于高山聳立,冰川覆蓋廣泛,又被稱為地球“第三極”。

除了水力發電潛力巨大,作者還發現,冰川盆地可以容納當前冰川徑流48%的水量。這對干旱地區意義尤為重大,它可以用來儲備淡水,以應對未來的水資源短缺。

185,000座冰川中,1,000座的發電潛力占到了總量的三分之一,其中最大的十個可以建造水壩的冰川位于美國、中國、加拿大和尼泊爾。

長期以來,研究者一直預測水電行業的成本將會上升,受極端天氣和裝機容量下降的影響,這一擔憂已經成為現實。

而大型水電項目在立項、融資、開工前,往往都會經歷大量的論證,也會聽到很多反對聲音,因而研究者在挑選壩址時首先考慮的不是營收潛力最大化,而是最小化對環境的影響。該團隊對各處的建造成本進行了粗略預估,評估項目包括大壩壩體、發電站、運營及電力輸送。根據測算,60%水力發電站的理論峰值生產成本低于50美分/千瓦時。

未參與該研究的哥倫比亞水務中心(Columbia Water Center)的主任厄普曼努·拉爾表示:“不確定性很高,而且從政治上講,大多數國家都不太可能允許建造新的水庫。”(財富中文網)

譯者:馮豐

審校:夏林

Many look at the world’s melting ice and see glacier basins as half-empty. Swiss researchers see them as half-full of opportunities for hydropower and freshwater storage.

The largely theoretical study, published at last Wednesday in the journal Nature, examined 185,000 glaciers around the world and determined where environmental, technical and economic factors would allow for the building of dams to harness both the power of glacier melt and the value of water itself. If all such sites were tapped, the amount of electricity generated would equal 7% of the world’s total electricity consumption in 2015, or 35% of the world’s output from dams.

“Building a dam at every glacier location is neither realistic, nor sustainable, nor desirable,” the authors emphasize. The value in such an ambitious exercise in virtual civil engineering is worth considering given, the potentially “important contributions to national energy supplies, particularly in High Mountain Asia,” a region with so much ice it’s informally called the Third Pole.

In addition to the massive amount of hydropower, the authors found the glacier basins could hold a combined 48% of the runoff from current glaciers. That’s especially important in arid regions, where such reserves serve as a hedge against future water scarcity.

Almost a third of the potential power comes from 1,000 of the 185,000 sites, and the 10 largest glacier basins that could be dammed are in the U.S., China, Canada and Nepal.

The hydropower industry is already facing long-predicted higher costs, as operators expect to struggle with both extreme weather and falling capacity in the coming years.

Large hydropower projects, however, are rarely planned, financed and built without considerable debate and opposition, which is why the researchers selected sites with an eye towards minimizing environmental impact instead of maximizing potential revenue. The team generated rough cost estimates for each location that included the dam itself, power stations, operations and transmission to the nearest grid. About 60% of the theoretical maximum of plants could have production costs below 50 cents a kilowatt-hour.

“The uncertainties are high,” said Upmanu Lall, director of the Columbia Water Center who was not involved in the study, “and it is rather unlikely that, politically, new reservoir construction will be allowed in most countries.”

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