Power, Pollution and Ecological Restoration

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Power, Pollution and Ecological Restoration

India is presently amongst the top ten power generating nations in the world and accounts to approximately 4% of the world’s total electricity generation. India has the per person energy requirement of 0.7 kW approximately. [1] The following kinds of power stations (based on means of production) are presently meeting Indian power requirements:

1.Thermal Power
2.Hydro Power
3.Nuclear Power
4.Renewable Power

Thermal based stations actually satisfy more than 60% of the entire country needs. Thermal power stations are based on coal, gas and oil. Since independence these coal based thermal power stations have been enduring the burden of energy requirement in India. Renewable Power is still unable to contribute effectively, but with the development of technology their contribution has increased substantially. Following kinds (based on means of production) of renewable plants are presently producing electricity within the country:

1. Biogas Plants
2. Biomass Power
3. Solar Photovoltaic
4. Wind Energy
5. Small Hydropower
6. Energy from wastes.

The following table gives the Installed Electricity Generation Capacity in India, 1997 – 2005 (in thousands of megawatts). The data is based on statistics collected by carbon sequestration leadership forum [3]

Geothermal/ Solar/ Wind/ Biomass1.271.511.741.873.81
Conventional Thermal59.6474.5576.6577.9780.90
Total Capacity85.79105.05107.88112.06118.42

Even though we are a developing country and our pressing needs has increased the use of fossil fuels still in terms of Carbon dioxide emission we are far below many of the developed nations. Carbon dioxide emission per capita in India is around 1 tonne against the world average of about 4 tonnes and of about 19 tonnes in case of some developed countries according to data by IEA. Still there is scope for improvement. In India we have reserves of low quality coal Lignite which are used in thermal power plants, they have high ash content and low calorific value, thus they attribute much towards the carbon dioxide emission in the country.

Ecological Conflicts in Generating Plants

A. Thermal Power Plant

The majority of electricity generators constitute the thermal power plants which consume fossil fuels. The fossil fuels are used to boil water which generates steam and that steam in turn rotates the turbine connected to the electric generator. The fossil fuels used have high constituent of carbon which when burnt produce carbon dioxide gas which is released into the atmosphere thus increasing the concentration of green house gases into the atmosphere. Also, it is known that particles as coal contain dilute radioactive elements which burnt release radioactive contaminations too into the air. These radioactive contaminations are considered far worse than even the by-products of nuclear power plants whose radioactive residue is stored at one place. Coal is also known to contain heavy elements like mercury, arsenic which remains suspended in air. The other toxic fumes generated by these plants include Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, perfect combination to cause acid rain.

Besides requiring a huge investment, thermal power plants have a huge dependency over the fossil fuels like coal, it also requires huge amount of water for cooling and generating steam. Most of the thermal power plants are located near the river or huge water reserve. Thus, the hot water residue which is drained into the river disturbs the water ecology and habitat of species living in the water reserve. Besides this, they also have a major impact on the heath conditions and environment of nearby surroundings.

Major steps have been taken owing to the environmental impacts caused by the thermal power plants. Thermal power plants are allocated land area...
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