How Can Biogas Production Improve Wetland Health? A GREE Energy Case Study
Wetlands are highly productive ecosystems that provide a wealth of positive social, environmental and economic impacts. From roles in carbon sequestration (removing and storing carbon from the atmosphere) to creating habitats for a plethora of flora and fauna, wetlands can do it all.
Protecting and restoring the productivity of these environments is vital for protecting our water systems, preventing the spread of pollution and preserving our natural carbon storage systems. GREE Energy, an investee of Water Unite Impact, is at the forefront creating renewable biogas energy. Their business combats industrial water pollution and climate change, thereby protecting valuable wetland environments.
Indonesia is home to 26% of the world’s tropical peatlands. It is estimated that these peatlands store between 13.6 gigatonnes (Wetlands International) and 40.5 gigatonnes of carbon (Ministry of Agriculture).
Wetlands are often the first to be struck by the effects of global warming. Rising temperatures cause them to release their stored carbon, thereby creating a positive feedback loop. Water pollution is the primary culprit in catalysing this cycle, leading to warmer temperatures and less productive wetlands.
Restoring aquatic and wetland integrity is important in maintaining carbon cycles in addition to preventing the further spread of pollutants. Pollutants in water systems can be easily spread due to the natural connectivity of water and the mobility of the animals that inhabit these ecosystems. Indonesia is a victim of water pollution, particularly pollution that stems from industrial activity and industrial pollutant dumping.
In the Lampung and Central Kalimantan regions of Indonesia where GREE Energy is active, 75% of the rivers are seriously polluted. The primary pollution input, classified as point source pollution, is produced by domestic primary food producers who create wastewater, the sum of which is equivalent to the waste of 319 million people (GREE Energy 2022).
The effects of water pollution are detrimental to life. In terms of local fauna, the fish population of the Citarum River in West Java, Indonesia. decreased by 60% in 2008. This was mainly attributed to contamination by industrial waste. Water pollution damage is not limited to nature; water pollution goes hand-in-hand with waterborne diseases, such as tuberculosis and diarrhoea, which are some of the primary causes of mortality in developing countries, particularly in infants (Do et al. 2018) (Garg et al. 2018).
GREE Energy’s model of generating renewable biogas energy generates impacts across the water and energy sectors through their biogas plants. The Hamparan Project began progress by dredging the site - GREE Energy removed the silt and other materials from the bottom of bodies of water around the site. This is not only an important process for biogas facilities, but also helps to create a more productive ecosystem, helping to prevent the spread of contaminants through treating the polluted water.
Prior to GREE Energy’s involvement, the Hamparan mill generated large amounts of methane emissions. The emissions were caused by inefficient wastewater management as wastewater was processed in open lagoons, causing emissions to be released into the atmosphere. This project aimed to solve this problem whilst also tackling the prevailing issue of unstable and unreliable electricity supplies and frequent electricity cuts, damaging any industry that relied on the energy infrastructure in the area.
GREE Energy has already treated the equivalent of 330,000 people’s pollution and aim to target 85% of industrial water pollution in the areas in which they are active.
Inefficient wastewater processing is a recurring problem across developing nations. The issue is often infrastructural, often combined with a negligible flow of capital aimed to solve the problem. Another investee of the Water Unite investment vehicle, Sanivation, are also working to solve this issue in Kenya, working with water utilities and local governments to implement City Wide Inclusive Sanitation Plans with the accompanying infrastructure to improve sanitation practices.
Providing a service that caters solutions for a wide variety of sectors and an accompanying diverse selection of sustainable development goals is no easy feat. Through providing a means to access renewable, reliable biogas energy, GREE Energy have also provided a solution that protects Indonesia’s wealth of wetland and peatland environments from pollution and degradation, ensuring their carbon productivity.
Do, Q.-T., Joshi, S. and Stolper, S. (2018) “Can environmental policy reduce infant mortality? evidence from the Ganga pollution cases,” Journal of Development Economics, 133, pp. 306–325. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdeveco.2018.03.001.
Garg, T. et al. (2018) “(not so) gently down the stream: River pollution and health in Indonesia,” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 92, pp. 35–53. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jeem.2018.08.011.
GREE Energy - Hamparan (2022) Gree Energy. Available at: https://www.gree-energy.com/project/hamparan/.
Ritchie, H., Roser, M. and Rosado, P. (2022) Indonesia: CO2 Country Profile, Our World in Data. Available at: https://ourworldindata.org/co2/country/indonesia.
Water.org. 2022. Indonesia's water crisis - Indonesia's water problems in 2022 Water.org. Available at: https://water.org/our-impact/where-we-work/indonesia/.