Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The World's Only Carbon-Negative Country

River in Bhutan
Low fossil fuel use and a strong policy to protect forests makes it unique:
Run on Buddhist principles of respect for nature, Bhutan is the only country among 194 U.N. members to have formally told the United Nations this year that it is now "climate negative" -- soaking up more greenhouse gases more than it emits.
Bhutan, a tiny Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas is also noteworthy as the only country in the world that calculates its Gross National Happiness.

Maintaining carbon neutrality will be "a big challenge" said Yeshey Penjor, who lead Bhutan's delegation to the U.N. climate talks last week in Bonn.

A key resource in reaching this goal is hydropower:
Bhutan's main plan to meet future energy demand is to exploit hydropower -- aiming to add 10,000 megawatts of capacity to an existing 1,500 MW in a nation where several mountain peaks are above 7,000 metres (22,970 ft).

That plan, which depends on foreign aid, would also enable exports to neighbouring India. Taking those green exports into account as helping to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels, Bhutan would be able to achieve its carbon goals.
There are challenges, however, as the water resources are already stressed by competing demands. Hydrokinetic turbines have an advantage over traditional dams because there is no water diversion--power generation taps gravity-fed rivers and streams as the water flows to its ultimate use. Hydrovolts has received inquiries from Bhutan for turbines, and we look forward to helping them with their twin goals of reducing poverty through sustainable development and staying carbon neutral.
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