Monday, April 26, 2010

On Thermal Power Plants in our backyard

Dear Energy Professional, Dear Colleagues,

There were important issues related to thermal power plants, so on this day, I would like to share with you here-in this blog page.

I worked all my professional life in thermal power plant construction, design, marketing, sales, project management, and in proper operation since my graduation as a mechanical engineer in year 1973.

Like myself and many other ME graduates in the energy sector, we received training in mechanical engineering for years, it should not be expected us to be against to thermal power plant operations for electricity generation and creation of more power for the society.

We construct power plants, make basic and detail designs, try to build properly, without damaging the nearby environment, operate smoothly and friendly with the environment. Our nation paid us to get trained for this purpose, allocated limited resources to educate us to work as engineers to contribute to our society, and we do our best for our nation to create more energy, more power, and better environmental conditions.

It is my sincere feeling that it is unreasonable even funny to be against thermal power plants, meaningless, even it is an absurd situation.

For those who do not understand the energy business, say hoteliers, environmentalists, or medical doctors, you still need electricity, since hoteliers will need for your hotel air conditioners, to run the filter circulation in your pool, if you are a doctor / or surgeon, you would need electricity for the operation table devices, for the lamps to illuminate, for the sterilization of the equipment, at least for the lamp, for heating, for your computer to work.

We must design better thermal power plants, with least harm to the environment, at the most appropriate place; make all the filters big enough to collect almost all outgoing dust and sulphur, NOx etc. in the works.

Solar power plants do not operate at night, wind power plants do not operate if there is no wind. Solar and wind power plants do not work, without engaged to the equivalent capacity of thermal power plants which would be kept at hot stand-by.

"The wind and the sun are enough for us” is a ridiculous expression, and it is pronounced by those who do not know the energy technology.

Not only the solar and the wind, we need thermal, hydraulic, nuclear plants each with appropriate proportion, with the best available design, in environmentally least damaging design, and with the local engineering staff to construct and operate.

A society can not develop without energy generation, without electricity production, and we can not raise the level of prosperity.

It is necessary for our own household comfort and cultural activities, we can not watch opera, cinema, TV, nor access to PC without electricity, we can not drive on the freeway without traffic lights, we can not live in warm, properly illuminated and comfortable environment in our home at night.

Energy production is essential, it is mandatory to increase electricity generation for everyone. Everybody wants more electricity, but no one wants power plants in his/her backyard, even wind power plants since they create a lot of noise.

If each location agitates against the construction of the power plant by adapting NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard) attitude. Our economy has suffered immensely as a result of power shortage. Thus there is a need to overcome the shortage. However, when we look at existing thermal power plant, agitators cannot be blamed for having the NIMBY attitude.

The public administrations and the investors give all kinds of assurances to overcome the problems of fly ash, SO2, Particulate Materials not to exceed maximum limits, etc. Many of their convincing responses may remain only on paper. We have seen instances violating the environmental norms despite having sophisticated environmental equipment to reduce emissions and concerned authorities looking the other way round.

How do we solve this dilemma?

It will be solved for sure with local engineering. Investors will install the power plants in the proper place, with the best friendly design with the environment, give confidence to the nearby local people, with big filters to work properly, with appropriate deep sea discharge, and control air pollution, and investor will not deceive people,

"I've written the EIA report, it is here in my office, if you wish to read and review, come over here" - this is a funny statement as once advised by a local investor. You should create an internet web page, you put your EIA reports there in pdf format, we all read, and write our objections if any.

From economically bankrupt country (Greece), a relatively small contracting firm (Metka) comes to Turkey, and investor RWE from Germany places the contract to construct a turn-key 770 MWe combined cycle power plant in Denizli province Honaz county Kaklık village, at an inappropriate location on the airport landing corridor.

Yet the same foreign contracting company gets another turn key contract in Samsun province Terme county Kozluk village, from an Austrian investor OMV to construct new 870 MWe capacity combined cycle power plan.

These are absurd cases. Risk assessment of the investors is not correct. It is not so easy to finalize these contracts without local reaction, without heavy headache, and loss. Our companies have engineering capability to construct natural gas fired combined cycle power plants turnkey basis, complete with basic and detail engineering design, equipment sourcing, mechanical fabrication, site construction, start up, commissioning, and full operation.

It is our natural right to defend our local employment rights at every legal platform, and protect our engineering jobs.

We have another absurd case in Amasra. There is only one simple, immature, somewhat funny EIA report for the investment project.

Some MPs say "Whatever's necessary for Bartin will be done". It is an incomprehensible expression for hiding behind. My former auto mechanic was saying the same when I asked more details of the car repair, and I quickly found another mechanic to explain me better.

In internet environment, a local group created a new web page named as emerged to voice the local reaction. We would like to congratulate them.

Investor does not have a web site to explain the project, but people of Amasra BARTIN have one to react. It is very nice web page currently in initial stages but later in time, we are sure that it would be better. There are certain things made already incorrect, so we have to fix them in advance not to leave them to next future generations to solve.

For Yalova 100 MWe imported coal firing thermal power plant investment, both the investor and the local people have web pages. Investors are to convince the local highly educated retiree population that they will construct the power plant with least harm to the nearby environment; they should restore confidence not to repeat the old ignorant rouge practice of the past, install big filters in the best and non-stop operation to run, with proper deep sea discharge, all with maximized local engineering.

We are the engineers of this country, we are the people of this country to serve our society to upgrade the well being of our nation, not to match with foreign companies who try to finish the job and escape, and we are here to serve all our lives.

In Gerze county YAYKIL village for 1200 MWe capacity imported coal firing thermal power plant investment project, which is planned on a mostly green forest land, the investment advisor with academic credentials said, "We shall construct the best thermal power plant, if we do not- then, the State will make the controls and if necessary the plant will be closed," This is an incorrect expression. This statement is the inauspicious expression of academic isolation in the ivory tower.

The Public authority can not close a power plant, even it is deemed necessary, due to ever growing energy demand in the local market. The Authority issues a small fine, not to deter the situation, and that pollutant plant goes on running with huge pollution to nearby environment, as it is the case in Afsin-Elbistan-A plant, in TunçBilek Plant, in Yatağan Plant.

The environment is an important issue not to be left alone to the respective ministry only. We are all responsible. Local civil societies, local NGOs as well as Chambers of Engineers, are all responsible for proper design, proper site selection, proper construction and operation of the thermal power plant, in regulatory, supervisory and corrective actions.

Afsin Elbistan-A unit is operated almost without proper dust collectors for many years. It is beyond the limits of comprehension. In order to describe the existing situation, one can not find the words to say. MENR, EMRA, Ministry of Environment, SPO, the Treasury were unable to stop that men-made disaster for many years. The latest WB credit of 280 million Euros with extraordinary repayment conditions were returned to the creditor since the authority could not make the proper tendering to WB norms.

In Afsin-Elbistan B power plant, the ash dam is still missing, the ashes are kept in next to the plant in open area, when the wind blew the whole mess is all around. This investment is not completed for many years, it is a great mistake. People lost their faith to thermal power plants as well as their confidence to public initiatives in similar investments.

Rehabilitation plans of the old aging plants are still pending. The “OEM expert company award procedure” is unfair and very expensive. It is award without competition. If there is no competition in public tendering then corruption is unavoidable. The foreign OEM companies repeat their old mistakes over and over.

The most of the thermal power plant rehab programs are almost 10 years old, and not completed yet, and the plants are almost idle. This work should be finalized quickly and properly, or privatized and to be given to new private owners to handle the rehabilitation job soon.

To be against the thermal power plants is a sort of advising people “not to make babies” in order to avoid “child diseases”. It is similarly absurd to suggest both cases.

Economic development of the society is directly related with more generation of energy and electricity. So that is not only the work of engineers, and cultural and social well being of our nation is work and responsibility of all citizens.

May God bless them with wisdom for all those who need. May God save you and forgive you for making any mistakes in your risk assessment. God bless you all.

Haluk Direskeneli, Ankara based Energy Analyst,


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