coal power plant   BY H.D.N.C. Pathirana Former Deputy Director Geological Survey of Sri Lanka

Power and Energy minister said plans are under way to launch construction work on the 500 MW Sampur coal power project at Trincomalee, a joint venture between the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and the National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd (NTPC) of India. The project has been approved by the board with out completing a feasibility report according to the former minister which Sunday times reported.

The project report has been referred to the Attorney General for approval. When approval is obtained, the Ministry will give the green light for the CEB and the NTPC to go ahead with the project.

Construction work on the Sampur project is scheduled to commence this year and its power generation will be linked to the national grid by mid 2016, the present Minister told the Sunday Observer.

It is reported in the Indian news paper that coal India chairmen has agreed to supply the imported coal to their power plants on cost basis. I do not know what concessions Srilanka gets agreeing to this deal from India and whether they would supply good coal from another country or the Indian coal which has high ash content of 45%

Coal is cheap, plentiful and dirty — as cheap as dirt, as plentiful as dirt, and as dirty as dirt. But Indian Coal is very dirty because of its complex origin and contains more impurities compared to other Coal deposits in the world .According to the reports published the origin of Indian coal is through drift theory, as a result of which the coal matter is intimately mixed with mineral matter causing deterioration in its quality. Coal of most of the other coal producing countries originates through insitu theory in which the possibility of deterioration of the quality is far less during its formation stage. Indian coal due to its origin has some inherent ash content and some extraneous ash content. The inherent ash cannot be taken away because it is embedded in the coal in such a fine manner that you just cannot take it off. Extraneous ash can is taken care of by washing. The wash-ability curve shows that to reduce ash below a certain limit, there is too much of rejects in it and each percentage of ash reduction in the coal will cost enormous amount of money.

The heat combustion usually represented by (GSV) known as gross calorific value. The average of total coal supplied to the Indian power sectors during the past few years has been the order of (GSV) 4900Kcal/Kg. This is far below the imported coal which often exceeds 6900 Kcal/Kg.

A 500 megawatt coal power plant needs 1.430,000 ton of Coal 146,000 tons of limestone and 2.2 billion gallons of water annually.

If lime stone is one of the requirement in the 500 megawatt coal power plant is it available in Trincomalee or has to be transported from some where? I understand the KKS cement factory the production going to re commence by end of this year which was defunct for some time due to terrorism in the north. Since we are short of Lime stone for our own requirements in the country whether this too may have to be imported?

2.2 billion gallons of water is required annually for the 550 mega watt plant is there enough water in the area. ? During my days at the geological survey it was the work of our department who did the foundation investigations and water supply for most Corporation and Boards in the country.

The research done in USA on a 550 mega watt coal plant where the ash content is far less compared to the Indian Coal and collection of data annually gave the following results. The impact on the environment and the off side effects are given below for information to the reader

10,000 tons of sulphur dioxides. Sulphur dioxide (SOx) is the main cause of acid rain, which damages forests, lakes and buildings.

10,200 tons of nitrogen oxide. Nitrogen oxide (NOx) is a major cause of smog, and also a cause of acid rain.

3.7 million tons of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main greenhouse gas, and is the leading cause of global warming. There are no regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S.

500 tons of small particles. Small particulates are a health hazard, causing lung damage. Particulates smaller than 10 microns are not regulated, but may be soon.

220 tons of hydrocarbons. Fossil fuels are made of hydrocarbons; when they don’t burn completely, they are released into the air. They are a cause many health issues asthma and lung cancer

720 tons of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas and contributor to global warming

125,000 tons of ash and 193,000 tons of sludge from the smokestack scrubber.

A scrubber uses powdered limestone and water to remove pollution from the plants exhaust instead of going into the air, the pollution goes into a landfill. This ash and sludge consists of coal ash, limestone, and many pollutants, such as toxic metals like lead and mercury.

225pounds of arsenic, 114 pounds of lead, 4 pounds of cadmium, and many other toxic heavy metals. Mercury emissions from coal plants are suspected of contaminating lakes and rivers in northern and northeast states and Canada. In Wisconsin alone, more than 200 lakes and rivers are contaminated with mercury. Health officials warn against eating fish caught in these waters, since mercury can cause birth defects, brain damage and other ailments. Acid rain also causes mercury poisoning by leaching mercury from rocks and making it available in a form that can be taken up by organisms

Trace elements of uranium. All but 16 of the 92 naturally occurring elements have been detected in coal, mostly as trace elements below 0.1 percent (1,000 parts per million, or ppm). A study by department of environment of Oak Ridge National Lab found that radioactive emissions from coal combustion are greater than those from nuclear power production.

The 2.2 billion gallons of water it uses for cooling is raised 16 degrees F on average before being discharged into a lake or river. By warming the water year-round it changes the habitat of that body of water.

Sampur the 550 mega watt plant prospect is located in the Trincomalee district in the North East of Srilanka. There are many villages to the South of this plant such as Seruwila, Somapura Mahindapura mostly Sinhalese and also Tamil and Muslim Villages where their lively hood depend on Paddy cultivation. The acid rain due to emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide will destroy the paddy fields and the hot water discharge from the plant definitely has an impact on ground water and the environment. Just imagine the pollution with 35 to 45% ash content if Indian Coal is being used. Therefore selecting a site is very important so that it will not affect the livelihood of the people and just not giving to the demands to the countries with vested interests.

When the world had 42% coal fired electricity, Sri Lanka had nil. When the world had 16% hydro, Sri Lanka had 45% which reflected the use of abundant water resources. Yet there was no price advantage to the consumer. The unit price of electricity is the determinant factor to the consumer in selecting the source of energy being used by the country, Hydro power costs 3-3 cents nuclear 3.5 cents natural gas 3.7 cents coal 4,1 cents and wind 4.6cents per /kwh respectively in the US according to a study in 2012.

Whether the Sampur power plant will help the consumer is a big question? What I believe is that Sampur power plant is more beneficial to India politically and economically than to Srilanka

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