Friday, February 8, 2008

Norochcholai Coal Power Plant – Do we need it? Or Not

In order to fulfill the future electricity demand and reduce the production cost of electricity unit Sri Lankan government is building a coal power plant in Norochcholai. Norochcholai is situated in Puttalam district. In previous Saturday our students who follow Total Environment Quality Management visited there and did a simple EIA (only for practice EIA procedures).

The Norochcholai area is not very populated area, but there were many farmlands including tobacco farms and fisherman houses in that area. Raigam Slattern and government Slattern were in the near by area. Agriculture, animal husbandry and fishing are main livelihood of the people in that area.

Now the first phase of the coal power plant project is being done. The initial construction of 300 MW power plant (it is proposed to expand the capacity up to 900 MW). The project output will be 1658 Gwh of Annual Energy to national grid to fulfill the ever increasing demand for electricity.

Actually we are very too much late to install a coal power plant. Literature survey I did over internet show me that the using coal power for power generation is further not used by developed countries. That means they continue their older plants but no more new ones. However, this factor is not a very much strong argument to say “NO FOR COAL POWER PLANT”. Because we are not a developed country and we do not have any of coal powered thermal plant in country. I strongly believe that we need this cheap power generation technology to reduce the cost of energy production.

When I say I like this coal powered thermal plant to be build, one of my friend Dinuka asked me, “What is your opinion if you are a neighbor or victim of the project area ” This is somewhat tough question to reply. But if government bodies doing Social Impact Assessments and resettle us in proper place with enough compensation and use clean coal power thermal plant technologies, there is no point to disagree with the project.

If some one against this project because of environment pollution, first of all they must be protest about air pollution by vehicles, ground and surface water pollution from service stations. People will laugh at the writer, inexperienced chemical and process engineering Student who compares vehicles and 300 MW power plant. However, do not forget there are several hundred thousand vehicles in Sri Lanka and most of them are not in proper conditions. After you, travel in Colombo city roads in a bus, bike, or any vehicle with open window; use a tissue and rube your face. You can see huge amount of dust on it. That is carbon and other dust particles. There are many invisible gases and particles such as COx, NOx, SOx …etc. While having island wide distributed pollution mechanism and we are making controversial on this project which is situated near by ocean.

There are many reasons behind the against on this project. Political agendas, financial tactics of other technological giants (who are specialized in diesel power plants, wind power,…. etc); however every one put environment pollution as the main point. There are other points such as officers corruptions, depletion of coal in world, coal is not available in Sri Lanka, …etc.

But there is strong argument which I also agreed. The power generated by this plant must be used for development of our country. Not behalf of foreign investors. So there must be plans to set up and boost local investment in BOI Zones and sell them energy at lower cost but not to the foreign investors.

Anyhow we must be hurry to set up strong mechanism to ensure environment protection at the best and to realize the development dream of the country.

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Sam said...

Good post.
As long as I know, first time this coal plant was planned to setup in down south somewhere. And Buddhist monks in that area, like always, oppose to anything new, and they move the plan to current location. And the Christian priest wanted to show that they also have voice, they organize the new campaign. Even though it sound ridicules it may seems, that is how things roll in Sri Lanka. Few years back I talked to one of those Organizers and that is how I got know the agenda behind all that.

What about if you are someone live in an area with a fossil fuel power plant around? There is such area already in Sri Lanka. That is calling Kelaniya. Land price is up and people live happily – girls are pretty too. What is the deal?

How about if you are sick in a hospital there is no electricity because some environmentalist decide “beauty of village” is more important than having working x-ray machine in a hospital. Or someone was too selfish to relocate.

Power generated by the plant is THE investment – it should not be charity. Customers can be anyone. It can be local company or a foreign company. Anyway, right now there is no such a thing call local investment in anywhere in the world. Our companies operate in Africa, Indian companies operate in UK. UK companies, well.. they sell all their stuff to Indians.

Anyway why should we sell electricity for lower cost? Do you want me to work like a dog every day, so I can pay my taxes, so the government can donate electricity to bunch of assholes that didn’t even wanted to have the power plant in their neighborhood in the first place? Don’t make any sense.

Thushara Subasinghe said...

Thank you SAM,

Good comment