Thursday, May 29, 2014

Is there any relation between the Soma mine disaster & thermal power plants?

Dear Readers,

We should keep in mind that the majority of our existing local thermal power plants do not use high calorie coal from underground mines. Open-pit lignite coal with a low calorific value is most commonly used to power existing thermal power plants in generating electricity. The design for power plants firing imported coal is completely different. Here, imported coal comes from the nearest sea port.
Only at the Çatalağzı- B thermal power plant do we fire byproduct wastes of the hard coal "water floating enrichment" process, which has an approx. 3000 kcal/kg LHV (lower heating value). Here, hard coal is water washed, enriched, and delivered to the steel industry, and the remaining poor quality byproduct waste is delivered to the thermal power plant, since it cannot be utilized elsewhere.
You cannot burn imported coal in a thermal power plant which is designed to fire poor quality lignite, similarly you cannot fire poor quality lignite in a thermal power plant that is designed to fire imported coal. The plant designs are completely different.
The Soma Eynez underground mine produces high calorie lignite with a 4000-6000 kcal/kg LHV which is then delivered to iron and steel industries in Aliağa and other nearby industrial zones. The high quality coal is also used for household heating in the winter. We have some use of this high quality coal at thermal power plants but consumption remains very limited.
There is no direct relationship between the high quality coal of Soma Eynez and the nearby Soma thermal power plant. The Soma thermal power plant Unit-B uses poor quality 1500-2200 kcal/kg LHV lignite from open-pit lignite mines elsewhere in the region, mostly from the Soma Deniş open-pit coal fields. This low calorie, poor quality lignite cannot be utilized anywhere other than at the thermal power plants that are designed to fire this lignite coal.
Elbistan Kışlaköy and Çöllolar, Soma Deniş,  Yeniköy, and Kemerköy are similar open-pit coal mines that feed the nearby thermal power plants. On the other hand, at the Çayırhan coal town, there are newly opened underground quarries that are fully mechanized in their mining work. In our country there are a few new locations where we extract high quality coal from underground mine fields in a mechanized fashion and deliver the fuel to adjacent thermal power plants.
The newly commissioned Adularia Yunus Emre Thermal Power Plant, consumes coal from the mines nearby. Here, the underground mine fields produce cheaper mine mouth coal prices with full mechanization and qualified technicians that are employed according to strict safety standards.
Since the nearby open-pit coal fields are about to be depleted in Tunçbilek  Derin  Sahalar (Deep Field), Yatağan Turgut and Yeniköy Karacahisar, next on the agenda of these operations will be their further expansion underground in the search for new mechanized coal investments. Prior to their licensing and investment incentives, we should encourage full mechanization in their new investment spending.
However, each coal field has specific characteristics in that mechanized underground operation may not be suitable at all times. For mechanized investment many parameters are to be evaluated. Investors are to investigate proven reserves, geological structure, hydrogeological situation, as well as properties of rocks, coal thickness, depth, width, slope, etc.
In these new underground mine ventures, we should encourage fully-mechanized operations if applicable, and try to avoid labor-intensive coal production. It would be best if we stayed away from labor-intensive fields that employ shovel production for a while. We know that each coal field site has its own unique design and planning. In this regard, making generalizations is not recommended. The public authorities should impose regulations on expropriation permits and environmental criteria in order to promote safer working environments.
In the Elbistan Çöllolar open-pit low calorie lignite mine fields, we faced the misfortune of landslides due to ignorance of safe working standards. This resulted in casualties, whose causes are yet to be clarified.
The Yeniköy and Kemerköy open pit coal excavations have depleted the coal fields, and their natural structures have changed. Here, land filling, leveling, and planting for agriculture purposes remain unfinished.
Moreover, the Yatağan fields produce coal with high levels of radioactivity and continues to have problems in solving on-site ash dam accumulation. Other thermal power plants and coal mines are mostly open pit. With this method, the soil on top of the mine field is removed and the extracted coal is sent to nearby power plants with conveyor belts, buckets, etc.
Mechanized practices are more easily applied in open fields. We do not face the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning as can be the case with deep underground labor intensive mining. But here, outdoor operation problems are different and can include landslides and mine subsidence. Random and widespread coal fires are another danger. Different safety measures are necessary in open-pit coal mines.
In low calorie coal firing thermal power plants, the first ignition in the boiler combustion chamber is provided by fuel oil burners (no.6). This design is made to burn the low calorie lignite in bulk quantities. In these boilers you cannot fire natural gas in lieu of fuel oil (no.6).
Currently we have reached an overall 65-GWe installed capacity. However, this figure is misleading seeing that it includes thermal power plants that are no longer in operation. For example, Afsin-A, with a 4x340 MWe capacity, is in operation but with one unit only, and this unit only has a 70% availability. Its other three units do not work.
The Afsin-B plant has the same four-unit capacity, but here only two-units are running, the other two-units are defective, they do not work.
Their repair has not been completed for the last 2-years. Tunçbilek 1-2-3 does not work. Soma-A does not work. The Hopa plant with a 2x25 MW capacity also does not work.
The Kemerköy-Yeniköy thermal power plants have 50% availabilities, meaning that they are operating at half of their total capacities. Nonetheless, we incorporate all of these inoperative unit capacities in our total installed capacity figures. This is not correct. We are fooling ourselves. Our thermal power plants have completed their normal lifetimes. They have low efficiencies and low availabilities. They are unable to run uninterrupted. Serious rehabilitation programs should be enforced.
In fact, more precisely, it would be better to remove all of these old thermal power plants, demolish them, and sell their scraps in a short amount of time. It is much more efficient, more profitable, and more feasible to install new thermal power plants which are designed with new technology, new environmental equipment, bigger dust filters, better flue gas desulphurization, and bigger ash dams.
We know that it is difficult to find financing after a privatization auction. Project finance is always difficult. Investors face project financing problems prior to taking full ownership of an energy investment. 
Since the plants are sold with full ownership, there are other investment options to choose from. In the extreme case, at Kemerköy seaside plant, you could build a Ro-Ro sea port, a marina-style summertime vacation resort.
You could build a new thermal power plant for fire imported coal, or imported LNG, or investigate if you could build a nuclear power plant. Plant transmission lines are already available. High-voltage switchgear facilities are ready. All you have to do is to apply for investment incentives and licensing in accordance with Energy Market Law No. 6446. These investment and production licenses are mandatory.
The investor will need a period of 24-36 months for the receipt of the necessary licenses. The investor can continue electricity generation at the old plant to ensure cash inflow until obtaining these licenses.
We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims. Our hearts go out to those families whose loved ones passed in the Manisa Soma mine tragedy. Our thoughts continue to be with the people of Soma County.

Ankara, 29 May, 2014
Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public and, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP, Entergy), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as a 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 METU Alumni and the Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Soma should be the last disaster !!

Dear Readers,
On Tuesday May 13, 2014 at around 15:00, we were faced with the greatest human loss from a man-made disaster in our modern history. The largest accident to occur in recent years took place in the Soma county of the Manisa Province in the Eynez Region, below the earth in the Karanlık Dere (Dark Creek) Soma coal mines. The disaster began with underground mine fires that spewed out dense carbon monoxide, poisoning and killing hundreds of miners as well as mining engineers.
While evaluating the current disaster situation, we should approach the causes of the accident with great caution. Without having detailed technical information, it is too early to come to a final, accurate conclusion as to what initiated the accident.
We understand that in lieu of serious costly renovation investments, operation preferred extreme forced air circulation in the underground coal field tunnels, blowing excessive clean air with high capacity forced air fans into the mine fields which are 420 meters below sea level. Forced draft fresh air ventilators were overloaded, suction side induced draft fans were similarly overloaded. Both fans consumed huge amounts of energy from the underground high voltage transformer. The transformer was overloaded, overheated, and eventually caught fire in the end. This is what we know now. All other unconfirmed speculation remains hearsay.
We were told that the main transformer combusted, creating an underground fire that blocked access to all emergency exists and halted the elevators, thus preventing escape. At the time of the accident at 15:00, two different groups were on site due to a shift-change. Around 700+ miners were trapped underground. All were exposed to and suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning.  
Initial descriptions of the accident in which the transformer exploded (or caught aflame) have brought about increased confusion. In mining practices, transformers should be manufactured and supplied according to highly regulated safety standards. They have a low probability of combustion, even under extreme workloads. Underground high voltage transformers are isolated in protective concrete enclosures that shield the mine from all fire accidents.  
In addition, all electrical wiring and equipment is manufactured and supplied in accordance with certified explosion-proof (flame-proof) standards. To further reduce the possibility of fires, a "dry-type" of the explosion-proof high voltage transformer is selected. Thus we feel that the explosion of any transformer has a low probability, due to the typical highly protective mechanical features of the normal operation practices.
A team of local engineers from the Turkish Chamber of Electrical Engineers went to the mines where the accident occurred the following day to investigate the situation. They apprised that there was an underground fire which ignited the coal mines, thus creating carbon monoxide which in turn poisoned the miners.
Fresh air ventilation systems were disrupted as mechanical routing was not activated. Automation systems and escape elevators were not in operation. Fresh air could not be pumped below -700 meter elevations. The effects of the fire, smoke, and carbon monoxide were seen in widespread burns and poisoning.
Underground instruments made to detect toxic and explosive gases within the fresh air ventilation system were inadequate, obsolete, and non-renovated. Combustion starting in the underground mine fields was composed of deadly carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and methane gases that were responsible for a large number of deaths. There are rescue workers still in the mine but hope for those still trapped inside is diminishing.
The rescue operations were extremely difficult due to the fires inside the mine. Emergency elevators should have been in operation and a stand-by power supply should have been available.
Until the year 2007, the mine was operated by a state-owned company named "Aegean Lignite" enterprises, which was criticized for its high operation costs. Later, the mine operation was privatized.
Operation is now profitable. It pays a 25% fee to the Treasury on supplies mined. The new owners declare that their coal price is now at 24 US dollars per metric ton of coal with a 4000 kcal/kg lower heating value, which corresponds to 1.50 US Dollars per MMBTU at mine mouth delivery. But at what cost? Is it because of the low wages of the workers? Limited renovation investments? Out-dated equipment? Blocked or inoperable detection instruments?
The Izmir Branch of the Chamber of Mining Engineers released a public statement that the accident/explosion was caused by gas that was created when the transformer overloaded and consequently ignited. In these types of fire accidents, toxic gases that can induce poisoning make it so that workers cannot approach the source without masks and protective glasses. 
Cheap cables which are manufactured by countries in Eastern Europe and the Far East, emit noxious gases when burned. The underground mining area is currently closed to any technical inspections and investigations. We understand that Turkish Coal Enterprise has already transferred their "dry-type" transformers to the new owners for upgrading and renovation.
Throughout the world, most new buyers of privatized coal fields and private buyers of thermal power plants do not pay for the rehabilitation, renovation, or upgrading of the plants. Instead they continue to operate with existing equipment, pay more to public relations, pay less to workers, generate income, and postpone the replacement of equipment with better and bigger capacities. They avoid spending money on upgrading the plants or mine fields, they dig deeper into the mines, sell to the plants, and generate electricity and income.
Regulating agencies are helpless everywhere. Environmental expectations of the society are not met. Plants are operated at extremely high load conditions, so in the end, mine field are depleted quickly, thermal power plants rapidly degrade, and businesses age swiftly.
For these reasons they face mine fires, mining accidents, inefficient procedures, capacity reduction, restricted availabilities, low efficiency, a high number of interruptions, and many halts on operations. When rehabilitation expenditures are delayed, we notice continuous demands for time extensions for renovations, requests for exemptions from the responsibilities to invest in environmentally-sound equipment, and the avoidance of environmental emission-limitation norms. Societies' expectations for better operations, a cleaner environment, and higher salaries are not met.
In privatization, in the asset sales of power plants or in the leasing of mine fields, society expects a better environment, better job and safety standards, healthy and safe workplaces, and better plant and mine operations. These are also not met. We wish that we had been taught our lesson after all of these unpleasant, painful events. We select our politicians to better regulate these operations, for more secure, modern, and healthier workplace environments, complete with better functioning secure working conditions. In the end, we are all responsible for monitoring these plants and mine fields 24/7, through our public officials as well as our local NGOs.  
On behalf of the Turkish Weekly family, we extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and our sincere wishes for the safe evacuation of the remaining miners. We send our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who passed in the Manisa Soma mine collapse. Our thoughts are with the people of Soma County and we pray for those who are still trapped inside.

Ankara, 16 May, 2014

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public and 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 a 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 METU Alumni and the Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.
Journal of Turkish Weekly                                                                 ​​

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Carmen Opera in Ankara State Opera House

On 7,12,19,22-May 2014
Opera by Georges Bizet,
A personal Opinion

Dear readers,

The events in Carmen opera took place in 1830's in Spain. French writer Prosper Merimee novelist-narrator, listened to the story direct from the death sentence convict DonJose in the dungeon. Opera libretto was co-authored by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy. Georges Bizet composed the memorable music.

Critics have never liked the first performance as staged in Paris, since the topic is contrary to prevailing morality norms for that period. Story was about a Seductive, flirtatious, sarcastic, beautiful woman, and a man who loves her to death.

Opera was first staged on 3-March 1875, and Bizet has died after 3-months. Subject is universally accepted today, it does not bother anyone. It is the leading of the world's most performed and beloved operas.

Movie shooting plot at the beginning as well as at the end, with exhibitionistic review sends the message to accentuating the audience that  "this is not real life we have shown, it is the work of role players who create a scene".

Today, the role of Carmen, is best played by sopranos Elina Garanca and Angela Gheorghiu. Premier evening we listened an incredible new young voice in Ankara opera house.

Mezzo-soprano "Perihan Asuman Karayavuz" who lives in Milan Italy, becoming a true Diva. Her theatrical talent, her dance ability, "Carmen" aria dominance throaty voice were all perfect, on the last two stagings.

Mezzo-sopranos Ferda Yetiser and Nesrin Gönüldağ will take the stage in the coming days for the same character.

Besides the main character in Carmen, the role of Micaela by "Esin Tanilli" and "Tugba Mankal", "Gorkem Ezgi Yildirim" in the role of Frasquita, "Ezgi Karakaya" as Mercedes , they all played great. Roles sang beautiful, theatrical features were very good.

DonJose character was played by Spanish tenor "Enrique Ferrer", on Premier night, and he gave the right image. Tenor "Lorenzo Arranz Moka" appeared for the same character on the scene on the night of April 30. They both played very realistic murder scene.

We noticed great orchestra and choir performances. I congratulate the individual members. On 26 and 30 April nights, orchestra was directed by our world famous Conductor Rengin Gökmen.

As stage-curtain is raised, then a movie shooting takes place with introduction of generics at the backstage curtain. Ballet and ballerina dance in the role of beautiful Carmen and her lover DonJose, while movie camera shoots the scene. In the end of opera, again movie camera approaches the couple again, explaining that all is fiction.

Later in the first act, young working girls in the tobacco factory, clash with security forces, which makes obvious references to todays' local events. The second act starts with flamenco dance, we watch feet of dancers through half open curtain, with flamenco music coming from loudspeakers at both ends. Then the stage turns into a modern disco platform for flamenco dancers, with flamenco guitar tunes coming from loudspeakers which enrich the colorful lively environment.

Escamillo character enters the stage at this point in the second act, like a rock star, Baritones İnanç Makinel (on 4/26), and Cem Baran Sertkaya (on 4/30) had extraordinary performances with their powerful voices. With Glittering confetti, with pulldown lowered projectors, various colorful music hall attractions, an exciting discotheque environment has been created.

Third and fourth acts played together. Due to additional features as movie shooting and disco scene, opera inevitably prolonged, so the remedy was to remove the third intermission. Rather than to prolong the play, since it is more than 3-hours long originally, one should try to shorten on the contrary.

On the Premier night, in the last act, Carmen character had a yellow color wig on her head. DonJose character in high degree of anger, snatched then lay down Carmen, drowned Carmen with yellow wig and furry stole pillow, killed the character. He then pulled his knife and killed himself. This was new introduction, but is was not a correct interpretation.

DonJose's death-suicide was unnecessary, it was not correct. We feel that the "original final" should not be changed. At the second staging on the evening of April 30, we has the inevitable end, Carmen was killed by drowning as well as knife stabbing, and DonJose had terrible suicide again.

Nowadays, directors introduce new interpretations into opera performances, they change time periods, environments, they keep the main themes of the original text. We believe in playing the original main themes of staging. We're are not ready for radical changes in the main text.

Moreover with umbrella in hand walking on the mountain slope by smuggler convoy would not be realistic. Umbrellas around gave the opposite effect which was to give scenes a mountaintop, but it could not be detected in parter seats, but could be noticed only in the balcony.

There are inaccuracies in Carmen dancing with castanets. Castanets sound comes from below, but at least Carmen should have them in her hands of Carmen,  to pretend playing. Her Flamenco shoes steps up to the platform with her hands, was not right to hit.

All mothers and fathers of children of the Children's Choir filled balcony and parter margins. Video and audio recordings were made in abundance, they cheered and applauded their children like crazy at the end of the play. Many years before I was one of them. I watched the scene from the balcony many times while my son was on the stage singing in the choir. I've watched each opera many times. Now the new stage mothers and fathers filled the opera. They will be opera lovers soon. Children's choir conductor had a very pleasant management and did a nice caring.
Let us make a little bit more criticism in line with the mentality of people of this country,

"Carmen is a pretty girl. Why does DonJose kill her? That is why we have so many woman murders here in this country. Domestic violence, force against women are to be stopped, these examples are to be intervened. Local male with incorrect orientation, seeing these negative examples on the stage wants to stab his wife who goes to divorce. We need to regulate these negative cases, murder and violence themes under a regulatory agency to be enforced separately. "
Please get prepared and do not be surprised if such review, or comment comes at all, even for such a worldwide proven master piece by all, dating since 1875's.

Houston Grand Opera house in Texas USA will play Carmen opera in May, as first announcements and reviews are received at our end. Similarly there are some changes in staging but the final is same as originally drafted. The same opera will be on stage Cincinnati, Barcelona, Beijing, Hamburg and Berlin all this year.

Theatrical performances of artists and their sounds are excellent.
The decor is reasonable, we have dazzling costumes.

Young Director Recep AYYILMAZ had performed a herculean work for such a classic opera staging of this great production. This Opera is long, we have intense characters, scenes are crowded, story is well known, it is much loved classical work.

Our director will have serious criticism for his new modern interpretation and for his modified "end". I heartily congratulate our young director for his courage and inspiration he created.
We are looking forward to see his new staging works in future.
If there is no review, no criticism, it is not good.
We critics are not supposed to like all performances.

Opera will take the stage again on 7,12,19,21 days of May. Try to see if you have the opportunity to do so. Please do write to me if you have any comments. Greetings and best regards

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.

Ankara, May-07, 2014
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