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Option for environmentally friendly energy sources  

Polin Kumar Saha and Irin Afrin Lopa     | Published: August 20, 2019 22:13:35 | Updated: August 21, 2019 21:47:17


Among all the natural resources, air is being polluted mainly by the conventional ways of energy production with vehicle emission, industrial discharge and burning of fossil fuel or non-renewable resources.

Power generation is one of the key components for enhancement of economic activities of a country. The Bangladesh government has indicated in the motto of "Vision 2041" that the nation will emerge as one of the developed nations by 2041. To achieve Vision 2041, increased power generation will play a vital role.

In Bangladesh, the major sources (more than 60%) of our energy come from natural gas-based power plant, which is obviously a non-renewable energy source, and its use in the power plant cannot be sustainable in the long run. Other sources of our energy include furnace oil, diesel, coal, water, solar power and some imported power. Commercialisation of wind power has of late been tried. Among all these energy sources, water, wind and solar energy are renewable energy and we can depend on these energy sources for the future. Use of hazardous waste or biomass is still at a primary stage. On the other hand, the energy from oil, natural gas or coal is not environment-friendly. Coal-based power plants produce electricity by burning coal in a boiler to heat water to produce steam. The steam under a tremendous pressure, flows to the turbine which spins a generator and produces electricity. The steam is cooled, condensed back into water and returned to the boiler to start the process again. In each year a typical (500 MW) coal power plant creates more than around 125,000 tons of ash and around 200,000 tons of smoke from the stack which causes air, water, soil pollution, and degrade our ecological (both aquatic and terrestrial fauna & flora) habitat.

Bangladesh has been experiencing air pollution since 2010. It has been listed as the second worst country in curbing environmental pollution. Air pollution is increasing gradually due to overgrowth of population and development of industrial sector. Burning coal for electricity generation releases toxic elements and CO2 and small particulate matter (PM10& PM2.5). Imported of coal by marine vessels in the future for a large coal-based plant will worsen the environment. Air pollutants are increasing our breathing problem with short- and long-term health effects. High level of SO2 can lead to acid rain, which may damage crops, forests, soils, lakes and degrade the environment and ecosystem.

The DoE (Department of Environment) guideline for industries (1995) and environmental pollution in compliance with ECA 1995 has sorted out many problems related to industrial and development projects. The Asian Development Bank guidelines (1993) have also included industrial rules and regulations. These guidelines help ascertain the potential impacts arising out of coal-based power plant.

If we have to depend some more time on the existing traditional power plants, then we must consider Chimney height's standard and incorporating modern equipment strictly. Public awareness programmes can also be very helpful to mitigate air pollution caused by the power plant. Collecting a fixed amount of fees on air pollution can also be an effective way to minimising environmental crime in this sector. If any parameter exceeds its standard level, the government can impose a certain amount of fees on each unit of those parameters.

Solar power can be an evidence-based trend in renewable and sustainable energy. This power plant project termed as an environment-friendly initiative because it does not generate any pollutant or effluent. There is no thermal plume except a minor heat produced in the panels. No water would be required for cooling or electricity generation except a very small quantum to be needed for periodical PV panel cleaning which is also non-consumptive. The government of Bangladesh must think of environmentally friendly and sustainable energy sources for our future generations. We should gradually phase out coal-based power plants and replace those with green and renewable technology and energy. The environment must be saved in order to save the future of mankind.

polin@eecsbd.com; itph. lopa@isotechgrp.com

 

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