Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hazelwood, Morwell, Australia

Hazelwood  Thermal Power Plant 8x200 MWe

Dear Readers,


Today we shall review the experience of a thermal power plant (TPP) operation on the other end of the world, a huge thermal power plant situated 150-km's east of Melbourne, Australia. The Hazelwood 8x200Mwe output capacity local coal/lignite-firing thermal power plant was built in early 1970's.


The plant was privatized in 1996. The parent company International Power (GDF Suez and Mitsui) paid U.S. $2.35 billion for the 1600 MWe (1470 MWe net) thermal power plant. The new owner paid the price, continued operation, generated electricity, sold to the grid, and earned money.


Since the purchase in 1996, the new owners had introduced an $800 million rehabilitation program to upgrade the plant. They paid $85 million for new dust collectors and stack sulfur retention (flue gas desulphurization, FGD) installations. It is our fair estimation that they should be paying more than $200 million for adequate environmental equipment. The money spent for rehab was not enough for the necessary environmental protections.


Today Hazelwood is still on the list of the world’s most polluting TPPs based on CO2 emission per generated kW-hour electricity. The desired environmental emissions figures have not yet been fulfilled. However, the plant has received extensions for the rehab period and was also granted an extension to operate until 2030. Had the plant not been privatized it was scheduled for closure in 2005 because of the huge, ongoing air pollution as well as water and land pollution.


Hazelwood TPP is built next to the Morwell open-pit lignite coal field. On 20 January 2014 an underground fire broke out in the Morwell coal field and lasted for 40 days. The air was highly polluted; the town of Morwell was evacuated. Huge environmental disaster occurred in the area. If there is a malfunction, a fire, an explosion, a breakdown, or an operational stop, there is always a human reason, some human negligence. As there is an underground fire in Morwell, there was some human negligence or error behind this disaster.


Which TPP's are the most air polluting in the world?


Here is the list of the world’s worst CO2 emitters per kW-hour as of 2013, based on the recent environmental report released by the EU Energy Commission:


1) U.S., Gallagher Indiana 600 Mw; 2) Poland, Belchatow 1090 Mw; 3) Australia, Hazelwood 1,600 Mw; 4) Greece, Agios Dimitrios 1,500 Mw; 5) Greece, Cardia 1,250 Mw; 6) Greece, Megalopolis 850 Mwe; 7) Bulgaria, Maritza Iztok 1-2-3, 3000 Mwe; Drax and Eggborough in England; Italy Brindisi South.


Which TPPs are Germany’s worst polluters?


From the same report:

Frimmersdorf 2413mw A, Janschwal 3000 MWe, Weisweiler 2293 MWA, Neurath 2100 MWe, Niederausse 3864 Mwe, Boxberg 1900 MWe, Schwarze Pumpe 1600 MWe, Lippendorf 1866 MWe, Scholven 2300 Mwe. (Ref.SpiegelOnline April-2014)


It is difficult to understand why the West Niederausse plant, which was an example of the latest technology, is in this worst-polluting plants list. Niederausse has received the "worst polluting" plant title due to its relatively high CO2 stack emission per kW-hour electricity generation. One could argue that in Germany, stack emission requirements are lowered to such levels that it justifies the incredibly high subsidies applied to renewable energy investments.


We have Afsin-Elbistan-A and Tuncbilek TPPs on the list of the world's top 100 worst polluting plants. In Turkey, the public authority adopted the "Large Combustion Plants Directive" (BYTY for short in Turkish) in 2010, with low emission requirements with which all high-capacity thermal power plants must comply. State-owned thermal power plants are under no emission or pollution obligation to comply with these directives until 2018. This period will be extended another three years.


Most of the coal-firing power plants in Germany under new European emission norms are not better than our plants in Turkey. We know that 40% of electricity production in Germany today is provided through domestic coal. German TPPs are burning coal with dust filters initially designed too small to meet the new norms. Most of them had no FGD systems to stop sulfur emissions.


Investors have no incentive to put more money into rehabilitating old power plants, since there is no return on investment. On the other hand, it is more rational to put money into renewable technologies, as the money creates more employment, more production, more export goods, and in the end creates clean energy without pollution. Power plants are sold to private investors, with the expectation that the new owners would invest money in rehabilitation, comply more to the new, strict environmental norms, and further reduce stack emissions. However these expectations were not fulfilled.


The owners asked for another time extension for rehab investments; they were reluctant to invest the money necessary for new bigger environmental equipment. They almost blackmailed the regulatory authority by warning to shut down the plant, threatening not to feed electricity to the national grid.


Since there is no return on rehab expenditures for old privatized power plants these expenditures are only made through regulatory or legal force.


German plants with poor environmental records are on the Polish border in the east or on the French border in the west, where most of the prevailing wind blows toward neighboring countries. So German citizens are less affected by the flue gas emissions, since dust emissions from stacks move to neighboring countries where people have no recourse. In Germany, dirty thermal power plants are in operation in remote lands far from cities, far from monitoring environmentalists.


In almost every part of the world private investors receive political support in their new power plant constructions. Local people on farm lands were the victims of these policies. Land, air, water, river, and sea environments were highly polluted. Brazilian rainforest has been heavily damaged. People in nearby agricultural lands that had high expectations for local employment were cheated. They lost their land and their environment. Trust was lost. Local resistance in every nearby community started organizing to stop or legally block any new power plant investments.


Thermal power plants are designed to fire the coal of nearby open-pit fields. However, it is recommended to eradicate the non-combustible substances such as rocks, stones, and soil—something that can be accomplished through simple eye screening and hand picking for selection and extraction. This procedure greatly improves operation and reduces breakdowns, stops, and unnecessary emergency repairs.


In the past, coal was fed into the coal mills at the Soma thermal power plant as received, without extracting rocks and stones. The average calorific value at the inlet of the combustion chamber was less than 1900-2000 kCal/kg, much less than boiler design figures.


Inflammable materials, rocks, and stones were fed into coal mills, pulverized, and fed into the combustion chamber but could not be burned since they have no calorific value. They were released from the stack as fly ash particulates, were not captured by small dust filters, and increased nearby air pollution. The bottom ash increased, was fed into the ash dam which then had a much shorter life span than expected.


The Soma TPP then employed unqualified labor to screen (by hand) inflammable rocks and stones at the conveyor exit from mine fields, to increase the calorific value to the2500-2800 kCal/kg range; efficiency was increased, availability was also increased. The load on coal pulverization mills was reduced, internal energy consumption was reduced, as was less fly ash, less dust, fewer emissions, and less bottom ash, and performance was improved.


We all wish that our coal facilities were equipped with water floating (lavuar) systems to clean the coal and separate it from the non-combustible rocks and stones. So we create higher calorific value coal to feed into combustion chambers so that we operate boilers more efficiently and with fewer failures, less fly ash, and less bottom ash.


Following the assets sales by private operators, power plants are expected to begin large-scale rehabilitation with better instrumentation, bigger dust filters, and more effective sulfur capture. However, they are not.


Buyers are generally reluctant to put money toward plant rehabilitation. They do not want to put money into bigger and better environmental equipment, which are known not to generate returns. They want more time extensions for such investments. They operate old plants at maximum capacity while polluting the environment, generating electricity, selling to the grid, and earning money.


Regulatory agencies are helpless. Environmental protection investments are not meeting expectations. Plants are aging fast and degrading rapidly, leading to more plant failures, more mine fires, more accidents, inefficient operation, and a reduction in capacity. Investors demand more grant time extensions for rehab investments and more exemptions for meeting EU environmental norms. The first priority is high income in privatization, but clean environmental norms are not met in the short term.


Turkey local coal reserves constitute the majority of the young lignite resources, with high humidity (35-55%), high-volatile (38-68%), high sulfur (1-3%), containing highly alkaline (0.025 to 0045%[4]) and low calorific value (1100-2500 kcal/kg LHV).


We have power plants with long proven successful operation with available local coal. They are designed  in direct or indirect pulverized coal firing or in circulating fluid bed (CFB) combustion designs.


As a result of the brutal competition in the public auctions of the plant sales, the emergence of too high prices, the initial owner of the property (privatization authority), can be named very successful.


Though proposals are expected to cover concrete rehab programs upfront, they are unfortunately unfulfilled in the end.


New owners prioritize earnings and repayment plans, but they avoid rehab and renovation expenditures. Environmental sensitivity over the medium and long terms as well as economic goals concerning the well-being of society are not allowed. That tendency is everywhere.


Our access to primary energy resources may be negatively impacted by our sensitive geography and evolving political events. Domestic lignite sources are to be exploited in more and more efficient new thermal power plants. It is essential that energy generation increases.


What experience have we gained from these observations?


We feel that it is wise to demolish old, degraded thermal power plants, sell them for scrap, replace them with new and better efficient plants of cutting edge design and the latest technology that can be manufactured domestically. In the long term, building a new modern power plant is cheaper than to purchasing an old plant and trying to rehabilitate it. With the new, modern, higher-efficiency power plants, we shall have better availability, better efficiency, and optimal compliance with the expected EU environmental norms.


Oberstdorf, Germany, 14 April, 2014

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of ODTÜ Alumni and Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Turkish Opera News and Our Recommentations for 2014 Summer Festivals.

Dear Readers,

A city's modernity and wealth are closely related with its number of opera houses and the quality of opera companies. The first opera house in Ottoman empire was built in 1904 in Izmir, Symirna Opera house, a replica of Paris opera house, but a bit smaller parter with four balconies. Symirna opera house was burned down in great fire of 1922. Verdi's Rigoletto was on stage in Symirna Opera house in year 1917.

We have Alhambra Opera House, and "Ahmet Adnan Saygun Cultural Center" in Izmir for opera performances. There is one more new opera house in construction in Bostanli, Karşıyaka, a nice venue on the seashore, where acoustic solutions are applied from Oslo opera house in Norway.

Ankara State Opera house is small with 600 seating capacity. It was build as an exhibition hall in 1940s, turned into opera and theatre performances. Leyla Gencer Opera Hall, TürkOcağı are other opera halls in the capital city. Bilkent Symphony Hall, Odtü KKM, Hacettepe, Şura, Congressium halls are also used for opera performances in Ankara.

In this regard, Istanbul is very poor. There is only Süreyya Opera House in Kadikoy. Fulya, Zorlu Center, Bakirkoy are not available for regular opera activities. Haliç Congress Center, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Irene Church are available for only limited time frame in specific festivals.

Antalya Haşim İşcan Cultural Center is a new beautiful venue for opera.
Mersin opera is in the historical building, with some stage limitations, but the opera company is young with very talented singers.

Samsun AKM opera house has a new building. Their opera program is also very attractive for the newcomer opera lovers.

A metropol, without an opera house, should not be presumed to be a rich, advanced, modern city. Without an opera house, it is just a mediocre dwelling with lots of people. Let us review the opera programs in our opera houses.

Izmir has all great classic works.
Donizetti "Don Pasquale", Handel "Agrippina" Verdi "Aida" Puccini "Madame Butterfly", Bellini "La Sonnambula" should not be missed.

In Ankara we have fantastic program,
Verdi's "Rigoletto", Puccini "Tosca", Verdi "Macbeth", and "Attila", Strauss "Die Fladermaus", Mozart opera "Don Giovanni" and "Abduction from the Seraglio"
George Bizet's Carmen, is new, on 26-30 April, and 7-12-19-21 May 2014.

Istanbul Sureyya opera house, we have a great selection,
Gaetano Donizetti's "The Elixir of Love" on 11-12 April,
Mozart's "The Opera Director",
Richard Strauss "Ariande on Naxos" on 16-18-19 April, ,
Handel's " Glulio Cesare",
Offenbach's "The Tales of Hoffmann",
Benjamin Britten's "The Turn of the Screw",
Rossini's "La Senerentola", on 10-15-16-17 May,

Samsun opera we have a new, exciting, talented, young opera team there.
Giocomo from Puccini "Madame Butterfly" and "La Boheme"
Mozart "Die Zauberfloete" or "the Magic Flute", 17-April, 15-May.
Franz Lehar "Die Lustige Witwe", or "the Merry Widow", on 7, 12 April, 12-May,

In Mersin, in historical environment in town hall cultural center,
Puccini "La Boheme" and "Madame Butterfly",
Bizet's "Carmen" are in program.

In Antalya, in new cultural center,
Verdi "La Traviata", and "Macbeth",
Puccini "Tosca",
Mozart "The Marriage of Figaro", and "Don Giovanni",
Ali Hoca "Tulip Craze",
Hendel's "Hercules" on 6,8,10 May.
I believe that each opera house program has to be carefully followed and watched. Internet tickets are available online. One attendance is not enough. We should see all cast performances.

Tentative dates of 21st Aspendos (30-August, 20-Sep) and 5th Istanbul (3-17 June) opera festivals in summer season are released but we do not know the final program, as well as the names of performances and companies yet. Elsewhere, it is all listed months before, unfortunately in Aspendos and in Istanbul, these details are still not made public.

However there is no harm for our guess for tentative- possible festival programs, here are our list for favorite operas we wish to see,

For 21st Aspendos Festival (30-August-20 September)

Giuseppe Verdi's "Aida" - İzmir
Giuseppe Verdi's "Attila" - Ankara
Gaetano Donizetti's "The Elixir of Love" - İstanbul Sureyya
Puccini "Madame Butterfly" - Samsun
Bizet's "Carmen" - Mersin
Puccini "Tosca", - Antalya

For 5th Istanbul Opera festival, here are our recommendations,

Puccini "Madame Butterfly", and Bellini "La Sonnambula" - Izmir
Strauss "Die Fladermaus", Mozart "Abduction from the Seraglio"- Ankara
Richard Strauss "Ariande on Naxos" -Istanbul
Franz Lehar "Die Lustige Witwe", or "the Merry Widow"- Samsun
Puccini "La Boheme" , Mersin
Mozart "The Marriage of Figaro", and "Don Giovanni",- Antalya

These are our selections, nothing related with the opera authority to choose. Classical operas of 19th century are my favorites. My favorite composers are Puccini, Verdi, Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti and Wagner. I believe that these operas will be in all our local festival programs.

Last but not least, tickets should be not less than 100 TL, and tickets should be sold through internet minimum 30-days prior to performance to enable everyone- locals, foreigners both- easy to reach. Opera festivals are expensive and they should pay their expenses.

Operas composed by "Richard Wagner" are very suitable for the environment in Ankara nowadays. Wagner's anti-semitic, nationalistic tunes give intellectual messages to diplomatic circles. Wagner operas are to played in original German language with 19th century dialect to keep the high powerful dramatic effect.

In Ankara Opera house, Wagner's "Tannhäuser" opera should be in the repertoire. Other Wagner operas should also be performed, i.e. Walkure, Parsifal, Flying Dutchmen.

When a German businessman arrives to your city, you should take him to a Wagner opera if available. You can not impress a German businessman with wine and dine, or on a yacht tour, but Wagner opera in your city will shock him for sure.

Opera tickets are available to purchase online. In Ankara and Izmir in 15 days, in Istanbul you can get your tickets 30-days prior to performance. Tickets are on sale at 09:30 hours in the morning. So you should be ready on your pc screen at that time to purchase. Tickets are sold within 5-10 minutes. During winter months, it is great pleasure for us to go to opera performance in an another city.

Then we should look for business meetings, seminars, professional events in those cities so that we can have opportunities for opera.
One attendance is not enough to understand an opera performance. We should see all teams in cast. One night on the left, the other night on right side, once in balcony. Front center seats are not good, since sometimes singers are on the floor and you can not see them.

Balconies are to be avoided. If you find no seat on floor, then buy in balcony, but check the available seats in parter. When lights go out, look for an empty seat. Singers do not like to perform to empty seats, so ushers would lead you to the empty seats at front. However Opera is best watched from center at rear seats.

Opera should not be attended unprepared. You should listen to the music at home, at work, while driving car, with cassette, CD, iPod, mp3 player, youtube, spotify, nonstop at least 2-3 times a day. Each note should sound in your head from beginning to the end. You do not need to have conservatory education in order to enjoy opera performance.

On opera night, you should have a dark suit, with appropriate necktie. That is dressing code for men. You should not wear jeans or football fan t shirt. That is not only disrespect to the environment but also to yourselves. Ladies know what to wear for sure.

Go early to the opera house, at least one hour before performance, enjoy the environment, see your colleagues, purchase the opera program. Newcomers may speak to each other, they may review their iphone screen from time to time, ignore them. That could be their only experience once in their life time. Do not take any picture, do not look at your iPhone. In Munich opera house, it is like high criminal act if you create any small noise during performance.

There are a number of local new Turkish Opera compositions in performance, but as long as they cannot be placed on international Opera houses, these new compositions are to be classified/ judged in separate. We have no equivalent classical composer as Puccini, Wagner, Verdi or Mozart. This is not a shortcoming. Classical ages have passed long ago. We all hope that not a classic but modern composers in the future are expected to appear.

However we have gorgeous young Opera Performers of classical composers, we have great artists. Economic décor, and costume with competent professional choir, the Conductor and the staff, all had excellent work performed on three nights. I would like to congratulate them all one by one. I admire their voices.

In Milan LaScala Opera, audience send flowers to artists, then artists try to grab them one by one without missing, the artists taking flowers. LaScala audience is so cruel with no mercy to lower class performers. If you are an artist, director, or even a conductor, if they do not like the performance, they stop applause and start shouting "boos". Our artists do not deserve such nasty treatment. They deserve long round of applause.

In Germany, there are daily tour busses in front of Opera houses carrying middle aged or retired opera funs from nearby small towns. They start early in the morning, make shopping in the big city, watch the evening Opera, return home. We may also arrange such daily tours from nearby towns to Opera.

You do not need to applaud the singer after each aria performed. You may not understand when to applaud so it is better to wait until the end. In the end, you will get the clue to applaud, send flowers, take pictures.

Buy program booklet, but do not try to read on the last minute to follow the performance. Do not try to read digital translations, get prepared earlier, read the synopsis from internet, know the subject earlier, leave yourselves to enjoy the music. The most of classical opera music is so familiar to yourself, surely you've heard if before somewhere.

When you get intermission, get to drink a cup of black coffee which would keep you awake. It would be easy to drive afterwards. You should better spend half an hour in a nearby café. By drinking black coffee or hot orchid better, and also it is good to spend some time to wait the crowd disperses, also it is easier to find a taxi. In most of cities, better to get metro to return home.

We wish all the best for all Opera lovers.

Ankara, 11-April, 2014

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of ODTÜ Alumni and Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

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