- Total externality cost estimated at Rs.36.6bn per annum
- Highest compared to four other thermal power plants
- Notes despite mitigation efforts, nearby communities continue to suffer
By Nishel Fernando
The total externality cost (social and environmental damage) due to the emission of greenhouse gases by (GHGs) by Lak Vijaya Coal Power Plant (LVPP) in Norochcholai has reached Rs.36.6 billion (US$ 244 million) per annum, while burdening the local economy with a cost between Rs.15.7 billion to Rs.16.7 billion per annum, a study showed.
The study was carried out by a panel of experts at Sri Lanka Energy Managers Association (SLEMA), the pioneering energy management institution, dedicated for promotion and knowledge sharing on energy management and efficiency improvement in Sri Lanka.
To exemplify the estimation of externality cost of a thermal power plant, the expert panel selected four thermal power plants in Sri Lanka as case studies, based on technology generation and the type of fuel used, which includes LVPP in Norochcholai, Yugadhanavi Power Plant in Kerawalapitiya, Kelanitissa Power Station in Peliyagoda and Sapugaskanda Power Plant in Sapugaskanda.
As per the study, LVPP recorded the highest externality cost among the four other power plants at Rs.10.23 per KWH followed by diesel powered Kelanitissa Power Station which had an externality cost of Rs.7.55 per KWH.
Heavy fuel oil-powered Yugadhanavi Power Plant and Sapugaskanda Power Plant is estimated to have below Rs.5 externality cost for KWH of power.
The study indicated that externality cost due to emission of greenhouse gases by LVPP doubled from Rs.3.64 per kWh in 2011 to Rs.7.15 per kWh in 2017.
The total externality cost due to emission of greenhouse gases by LVPP was estimated over Rs.132 billion between 2011 and 2017.
The expert panel noted that the externalities of thermal power plants could be attributed to both their local and global impacts.
“Emission of pollutants to surrounding environment resulting in quality degradation of the local environment and costs to the local economy is the local impact whereas the emission of Green House Gases (GHGs) and the consequential contribution to climate change, which is felt by the entire world is the global impact,” they added.
In particular, they pointed out that burning of coal leads to the emission of hazardous gases with many underlying health impacts.
“In coal combustion, there is formation of carbon dioxide (CO2) and carbon monoxide (CO), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and sulphur trioxide (SO3), and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO) and particulate matter (PM). These have been correlated with many health problems directly and indirectly,” the report noted.
In addition to emission of greenhouse gases, the power plant also caused resource depletion in the area, adding to costs.
The ground water withdrawal rate of LVPP is estimated to be 2,100 m3/day for coal yard and ash yard operations and sea water withdrawal is estimated at 175,500 m3/hr for chlorinating to prevent fouling.
The report found that farmers and fishermen in the area have been impacted by lower yield and additional costs, which is estimated to be above Rs. 2 billion per annum. These have been incurred with the commission of the coal power plant.
In addition, the residents in the area also face extra health costs up to Rs.19.5 million per annum due to greenhouse gas emissions.
Although, the LVPP has taken mitigation measures by investing over Rs.1 billion over the years, the expert panel stressed that the local community continues to suffer.
“The LVPP has undertaken several mitigation measures in order to reduce pollution due to coal and ash dust. It must be noted that despite these mitigation measures, nearby communities have experienced the damages continuously,” they added.
LVPP is the largest thermal power station in Sri Lanka located in Norochcholai, Puttalam, towards the southern end of the Kalpitiya peninsula in the North Western Province of Sri Lanka.
It was commissioned in 2011 adding 300 MW to the national grid with an investment of US$ 455 million. Two more units were added to the plant in 2014, increasing the total generation capacity to 900MW.