Biomass and hydropower potential and demand in the Uganda Albertine Rift Region
Cisirika, Katcho Karume
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This study assessed the hydropower potential in the Albertine Rift Region and suggested electricity as an alternative to reduce the pressure on biomass. Hydrological and topographical conditions of the region were analyzed in GIS environment, in order to identify potential hydropower sites. River flow measurements were used to estimate capacity of each site in power generation. A total of 51 potential sites were identified with an aggregate minimum potential (river runoff) power generation capacity of 896 MW. This study also assessed the current trend of biomass consumption in Uganda Albertine Rift Region, and explored possible solutions for sustainable development of these resources in the future. The biomass trend was first assessed by analyzing satellite images (a total of 45 satellite images) for the years 1984, 1990 (taken as control point), 1995, 2000, and 2003. Results showed that under current conditions, Ugandan Rift Region biomass consumption rate may induce depletion of the resource to the minimum value around 2018. Sustainable resource management constraints biomass consumption to be proportional to the production before 2006 up to 2020 and constant afterwards. The biomass dynamics was investigated by solving Schaefer’s model improved by Holling’s model for Uganda Albertine Rift Region conditions, assuming that in absence of harvesting and at low densities, the biomass resources grow at the intrinsic rate. When the stock is at equilibrium, the surplus production is basically cut, while if the stock is growing, surplus production is consumption plus net growth of the biomass resource. Moreover, the behaviors of the consumers of the Ugandan Albertine Rift region biomass do mimic two effects proposed in the Supruce Budworm model with the use of Holling’s type III consumption equation. First, they tend to increase their dependence on the forests when the forest density increases and also the population of people depending on forests seems to grow when the forest densities increase. Holling (1959) disc equation assumes the principle of time budget, that is, consumers spend their time on two major activities; namely, searching for desirable species and processing their harvest. This equation was used to develop a model for the dynamics of biomass in the Uganda Albertine Rift Region. To avoid overdependence on biomass, a deliberate policy needs to be strengthened to take advantage of the abundant hydro-potential in the districts and other renewable energies. A shift in the present energy matrix towards renewable energy sources and measures to improve energy efficiency will greatly contribute to solving a broad range of issues. The low cost of some Small Hydropower schemes may prove more economic than extension of the existing Uganda national electric grid to isolated areas like in Uganda Albertine Rift Region. Liberalization policies should be encouraged so that the private sector is more involved in energy production and delivery. These hydropower plants are relatively cheap to develop in international terms. Key words: Biomass, consumption, growth rates, land-use, Uganda, environment, dynamics, hydropower, energy.