Acid Deposition and Energy Use

Acid Deposition and Energy Use

The history of human culture can be viewed as the progressive development of new energy sources and their associated conversion technologies. Advances in our understanding of energy have produced unparalleled transformations of society, as exempli­fied by James Watt’s steam engine and the discovery of oil. These transformations increased the ability of humans to exploit both additional energy and other resources, and hence to increase the comfort, long­evity, and affluence of humans, as well as their numbers. Energy is related to human development in three important ways: as a motor of economic growth, as a principal source of environmental stress, and as a prerequisite for meeting basic human needs. Significant changes in each of these aspects of human existence are associated with changes in energy sources, beginning with the discovery of fire, the advent of agriculture and animal husbandry, and, ultimately, the development of hydrocarbon and nuclear fuels. The eventual economic depletion of fossil fuels will drive another major energy transi­tion; geopolitical forces and environmental impera­tives such as climate change may drive this transition faster than hydrocarbon depletion would have by itself. There is a diverse palette of alternatives to meet our energy needs, including a new generation of nuclear power, unconventional sources of hydrocar­bons, myriad solar technologies, hydrogen, and more efficient energy end use. Each alternative has a different combination of economic, political, tech­nological, social, and environmental attributes.

Energy is the common link between the living and non-living realms of the universe, and thus provides an organizing intellectual theme for diverse disci­plines. Formalization of the concept of energy and identification of the laws governing its use by 19th century physical scientists such as Mayer and Carnot are cornerstones of modern science and engineering.

The study of energy has played a pivotal role in understanding the creation of the universe, the origin of life, the evolution of human civilization and culture, economic growth and the rise of living standards, war and geopolitics, and significant environmental change at local, regional, and global scales.

The unique importance of energy among natural resources makes information about all aspects of its attributes, formation, distribution, extraction, and use an extremely valuable commodity. The Encyclo­pedia of Energy is designed to deliver this informa­tion in a clear and comprehensive fashion. It uses an integrated approach that emphasizes not only the importance of the concept in individual disciplines such as physics and sociology, but also how energy is used to bridge seemingly disparate fields, such as ecology and economics. As such, this Encyclopedia provides the first comprehensive, organized body of knowledge for what is certain to continue as a major area of scientific study in the 21st century. It is designed to appeal to a wide audience including undergraduate and graduate students, teachers, academics, and research scientists who study energy, as well as business corporations, professional firms, government agencies, foundations, and other groups whose activities relate to energy.

Comprehensive and interdisciplinary are two words I use to describe the Encyclopedia. It has the comprehensive coverage one would expect: forms of energy, thermodynamics, electricity generation, climate change, energy storage, energy sources, the demand for energy, and so on. What makes this work unique, however, is its breadth of coverage, including insights from history, society, anthropology, public policy, international relations, human and ecosystem health, economics, technology, physics, geology, ecology, business management, environmental

science, and engineering. The coverage and integra­tion of the social sciences is a unique feature.

The interdisciplinary approach is employed in the treatment of important subjects. In the case of oil, as one example, there are entries on the history of oil, the history of OPEC, the history of oil prices, oil price volatility, the formation of oil and gas, the distribution of oil resources, oil exploration and drilling, offshore oil, occupational hazards in the oil industry, oil refining, energy policy in the oil industry, the geopolitics of oil, oil spills, oil transportation, public lands and oil development, social impacts of oil and gas development, gasoline additives and public health, and the environmental impact of the Persian Gulf War. Other subjects are treated in a similar way.

This has been a massive and extremely satisfying effort. As with any work of this scale, many people have contributed at every step of the process, including the staff of Academic Press/Elsevier. The project began through the encouragement of Frank Cynar and David Packer, with Frank helping to successfully launch the initiative. Henri van Dorssen skillfully guided the project through its completion. He was especially helpful with integrating the project formulation, production, and marketing aspects of the project. Chris Morris was with the project throughout, and displayed what I can only describe as an uncanny combination of vision, enthusiasm, and energy for the project. I owe Chris a great deal for his insight and professionalism. I spent countless hours on the phone with Robert Matsumura, who was the glue that held the project together. Chris and Robert were ably assisted by outstanding Academic Press/Elsevier staff, especially Nick Panissidi, Joanna Dinsmore, and Mike Early. Clare Marl and her team put together a highly effective and creative marketing plan.

At the next stage, the Editorial Board was invaluable in shaping the coverage and identifying authors. The Board is an outstanding collection of scholars from the natural, social, and engineering sciences who are recognized leaders in their fields of research. They helped assemble an equally impressive group of authors from every discipline and who represent universities, government agencies, national laboratories, consulting firms, think tanks, corpora­tions, and nongovernmental organizations. I am especially proud of the international scope of the authors: more than 400 authors from 40 nations are represented from every continent and every stage of development. To all of these, I extend my thanks and congratulations.

Cutler Cleveland Boston University Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Acid Deposition and Energy Use

Energy generation and use are strongly linked to all elements of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental. The history of human development rests on the availability and use of energy, the transformation from the early use of fire and animal power that improved lives, to the present world with use of electricity and clean fuels for a multitude of purposes. This progress built on basic scientific discoveries, such as electromagnetism and the inventions of technologies such as steam engines, light bulbs, and automobiles.

It is thus abundantly clear that access to afford­able energy is fundamental to human activities, development, and economic growth. Without access to electricity and clean fuels, people’s opportunities are significantly constrained. However, it is really energy services, not energy per se that matters. Yet, today some 2 billion people lack access to modern energy carriers.

In addition to the great benefits, the generation, transportation, and use of energy carriers unfortu­nately come with undesired effects. The environ­mental impacts are multifaceted and serious, although mostly less evident. Emissions of suspended fine particles and precursors of acid deposition contribute to local and regional air pollution and ecosystem degradation. Human health is threatened by high levels of air pollution resulting from particular types of energy use at the household, community, and regional levels.

Emissions of anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHG), mostly from the production and use of energy, are altering the atmosphere in ways that are affecting the climate. There is new and stronger evidence that most of the global warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities. Stabilization of GHG in the atmosphere will require a major reduction in the
projected carbon emissions to levels below the present.

Dependence on imported fuels leaves many countries vulnerable to disruption in supply, which might pose physical hardships and economic bur­dens; the weight of fossil fuel imports on the balance of payments is unbearable for many poorer coun­tries. The present energy system of countries heavily dependent on fossil fuels geographically concen­trated in a few regions of the world adds security of supply aspects.

From the issues indicated here it is clear that major changes are required in energy system devel­opment worldwide. At a first glance, there appears to be many conflicting objectives. For example, is it possible to sustain poverty alleviation and economic growth while reducing GHG emissions? Can urban areas and transport expand while improving air quality? What would be the preferable trade-offs? Finding ways to expand energy services while simultaneously addressing the environmental im­pacts associated with energy use represents a critical challenge to humanity.

What are the options? Looking at physical resources, one finds they are abundant. Fossil fuels will be able to provide the energy carriers that the world is used to for hundreds of years. Renewable energy flows on Earth are many thousands of times larger than flows through energy markets. Therefore, there are no apparent constraints from a resource point of view. However, the challenge is how to use these resources in an environmentally acceptable way. The broad categories of options for using energy in ways that support sustainable development are (1) more efficient use of energy in all sectors, especially at the point of end use, (2) increased use of renewable energy sources, and (3) accelerated development and deployment of new and advanced energy technologies,

including next-generation fossil fuel technologies that produce near-zero harmful emissions. Technologies are available in these areas to meet the challenges of sustainable development. In addition, innovation provides increasing opportunities.

Analysis using energy scenarios indicates that it is indeed possible to simultaneously address the sus­tainable development objectives using the available natural resources and technical options presented. A prerequisite for achieving energy futures compatible with sustainable development objectives is finding ways to accelerate progress for new technologies along the energy innovation chain, including re­search and development, demonstration, deploy­ment, and diffusion.

It is significant that there already exist combina­tions of technologies that meet all sustainable development challenges at the same time. This will make it easier to act locally to address pollution problems of a major city or country while at the same time mitigating climate change. Policies for energy for sustainable development can be largely motivated by national concerns and will not have to rely only on global pressures.

However, with present policies and conditions in the marketplaces that determine energy generation and use such desired energy futures will not happen. A prerequisite for sustainable development is change in policies affecting energy for sustainable develop­ment. This brings a need to focus on the policy situation and understand incentives and disincentives related to options for options for energy for sustainable development.

Policies and actions to promote energy for sustainable development would include the follow­ing:

• Developing capacity among all stakeholders in all countries, especially in the public sector, to address issues related to energy for sustainable development.

• Adopting policies and mechanisms to increase access to energy services through modern fuels and electricity for the 2 billion without.

• Advancing innovation, with balanced emphasis on all steps of the innovation chain: research and development, demonstrations, cost buy-down, and wide dissemination.

• Setting appropriate market framework condi­tions (including continued market reform, consistent regulatory measures, and targeted policies) to en­courage competitiveness in energy markets, to reduce total cost of energy services to end-users, and to protect important public benefits, including the following:

• Cost-based prices, including phasing out all forms of permanent subsidies for conven­tional energy (now on the order of $250 billion a year) and internalizing external environmental and health costs and benefits (now sometimes larger than the private costs).

• Removing obstacles and providing incentives, as needed, to encourage greater energy efficiency and the development and/or diffu­sion of new technologies for energy for sustainable development to wider markets.

• Recent power failures on the North American Eastern Seaboard, in California, London (United Kingdom), Sweden, and Italy illus­trate the strong dependence on reliable power networks. Power sector reform that recog­nizes the unique character of electricity, and avoids power crises as seen in recent years, is needed.

• Reversing the trend of declining Official Devel­opment Assistance and Foreign Direct Investments, especially as related to energy for sustainable development.

This is a long list of opportunities and challenges. To move sufficiently in the direction of sustain­ability will require actions by the public and the private sector, as well as other stakeholders, at the national, regional, and global levels. The decisive issues are not technology or natural resource scarcity, but the institutions, rules, financing mechanisms, and regulations needed to make markets work in support of energy for sustainable development. A number of countries, including Spain, Germany, and Brazil, as well as some states in the United States have adopted successful laws and regulations designed to increase the use of renewable energy sources. Some regions, including Latin America and the European Union, have set targets for increased use of renewable energy. However, much remains to be done.

Energy was indeed one of the most intensely debated issues at the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), held in Johan­nesburg, South Africa, in August/September, 2002. In the end, agreement was reached on a text that significantly advances the attention given to energy in the context of sustainable development. This was in fact the first time agreements could be reached on energy at the world level! These develop­ments followed years of efforts to focus on energy as an instrument for sustainable development that

intensified after the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in 2000. These goals are set in areas such as extreme poverty and hunger, universal primary education, gender equality and empowerment of women, child mortality, maternal health, HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, and environmental sustain­ability. However, more than 2 billion people cannot access affordable energy services, based on the efficient use of gaseous and liquid fuels and electricity. This constrains their opportunities for economic development and improved living stan­dards. Women and children suffer disproportionately because of their relative dependence on traditional fuels. Although no explicit goal on energy was adopted, access to energy services is a prerequisite to achieving all of the MDGs.

Some governments and corporations have already demonstrated that policies and measures to promote energy solutions conducive to sustainable develop­ment can work, and indeed work very well. The renewed focus and broad agreements on energy in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and at the 18th World Energy Congress are promising. The formation of many partnerships on energy between stakeholders at WSSD is another encouraging sign. A sustainable future in which energy plays a major positive role in supporting human well-being is possible!

Progress is being made on many fronts in bringing new technologies to the market, and to widening access to modern forms of energy. In relation to energy, a total of 39 partnerships were presented to the United Nations Secretariat for WSSD to promote programs on energy for sustainable development, 23 with energy as a central focus and 16 with a considerable impact on energy. These partnerships included most prominently the DESA-led Clean Fuels and Transport Initiative, the UNDP/World Bank-led Global Village Energy Partnership (GVEP), the Johannesburg Renewable Energy Coalition (JREC), the EU Partnership on Energy for Poverty Eradica­tion and Sustainable Development, and the UNEP- led Global Network on Energy for Sustainable Development (GNESD).

With secure access to affordable and clean energy being so fundamental to sustainable development, the publication of the Encyclopedia of Energy is extremely timely and significant. Academics, profes­sionals, scholars, politicians, students, and many more will benefit tremendously from the easy access to knowledge, experience, and insights that are provided here.

Thomas B. Johansson Professor and Director International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics Lund University Lund, Sweden

Former Director Energy and Atmosphere Programme United Nations Development Programme New York, United States


Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands Petten, The Netherlands

1. Introduction

2. Acid Deposition, Its Effects, and Critical Loads

3. Processes in the Causal Chain: Emission, Transport, and Deposition

4. Emissions from Energy Use

5. Abatement and Trends in Emission

6. Acid Deposition

7. Benefits and Recovery of Ecosystems

8. Future Abatement

9. Conclusion


acid deposition The removal of acidic or acidifying components from the atmosphere by precipitation (rain, cloud droplets, fog, snow, or hail); also known as acid rain or acid precipitation.

acidification The generation of more hydrogen ions (H +) than hydroxide ions (OH-) so that the pH becomes less than 7.

critical level The maximum pollutant concentration a part of the environment can be exposed to without significant harmful effects.

critical load The maximum amount of pollutant deposi­tion a part of the environment can tolerate without significant harmful effects.

deposition Can be either wet or dry. In dry deposition, material is removed from the atmosphere by contact with a surface. In wet deposition, material is removed from the atmosphere by precipitation.

emissions The release of primary pollutants directly to the atmosphere by processes such as combustion and also by natural processes.

eutrophication An increase of the amount of nutrients in waters or soils.

nitrification The conversion of ammonium ions (NH4) to nitrate (NO-).

nonlinearity The observed nonlinear relationship between reductions in primary emissions and in pollutant deposition.

pollutant Any substance in the wrong place at the wrong time is a pollutant. Atmospheric pollution may be defined as the presence of substances in the atmosphere, resulting from man-made activities or from natural processes, causing effects to man and the environment.

Acid deposition originates largely from man-made emissions of three gases: sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and ammonia (NH3). It damages acid-sensitive freshwater systems, forests, soils, and natural ecosystems in large areas of Europe, the United States, and Asia. Effects include defoliation and reduced vitality of trees; declining fish stocks and decreasing diversity of other aquatic animals in acid-sensitive lakes, rivers, and streams; and changes in soil chemistry. Cultural heritage is also damaged, such as limestone and marble build­ings, monuments, and stained-glass windows. De­position of nitrogen compounds also causes eutrophication effects in terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The combination of acidification and eutrophication increases the acidification effects. Energy contributes approximately 82, 59, and 0.1% to the global emissions of SO2, NOx, and NH3, respectively. Measures to reduce acid deposi­tion have led to controls of emissions in the United States and Europe. Sulfur emissions were reduced 18% between 1990 and 1998 in the United States and 41% in Europe during the same period. At the same time, emissions in Asia increased 43%. In areas of the world in which emissions have decreased, the effects have decreased; most notably, lake acidity has decreased due to a decrease in sulfur emissions, resulting in lower sulfate and acid concentrations. However, systems with a long response time have not seen improvement yet and very limited recovery has also been observed. Emissions should therefore be further reduced and sustainable levels should be maintained to decrease the effects and to see recovery. This will require drastic changes in our
energy consumption and the switch to sustainable energy sources. Before renewable energy sources can fulfill a large part of our energy needs, the use of zero-emission fossil fuels must be implemented. This should be done in such a way that different environmental impacts are addressed at the same time. The most cost-effective way is to reduce CO2 emissions because this will result in decreases in SO2 and NOx emissions. When starting with SO2 and NOx emissions, an energy penalty compensates for the emission reductions.

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