Wed. May 29th, 2024

Power is unquestionably vital to our basic existence. Although our Environment faces several problems incurred by the power sector.

One can never neglect the Carbon emissions by Thermal Power plants and other polluting gases in the air causing pollution. The water that gets used to produce Electricity at Hydels or let’s say the water that is used as a coolant to secure our power producing plants.

Not to forget the displacement and degradation issues that the land quietly suffers to serve the unsettling needs of Humanity.

The liquid or solid wastes released into the streams at times or the dangerous nuclear disposal have their significant share to degrade already vulnerable and scarce water sources.

Niti Aayog’s Composite Water Index:

Electricity transmission lines and the distribution infrastructure that carries electricity from power plants to customers also have environmental effects.

Vegetation near power lines may be disturbed and may have to be continually managed to keep it away from the power lines. These activities can affect native plant populations and wildlife.

Approximately 40% of global CO2 emissions, 28% of greenhouse gas emissions in the country, are from electricity generation through the combustion of fossil fuels to generate heat needed to power steam turbines.

Our awareness and increased responsibility towards our Environment has accelerated our efforts to derive the major share of our electricity from cleaner fuels but the afflictions by this Industry on Nature widely persists.

But does Nature has tit-for-tat strategy?

Climate change is now affecting infrastructure systems by changing the weather conditions in which they must operate.

These critical infrastructure sectors are: chemicals, commercial facilities, communications, critical manufacturing, dams, defense, emergency services, energy, financial services, food and agriculture, government facilities, healthcare and public health, information technology, nuclear, transportation, and water and wastewater systems.

In the recent times, Electricity too faces unprecedented challenges from the changing environment and its aftermath.

Environment Research Letters, a recent study published shows that in a warming world, hundreds of additional power plants would need to be constructed in the coming decades simply to make up for this lost power.

However it is to note that our power sector is already under heavy pressures of its own like pending dues of DisComs, reduced productivity, liquidity crunch for power companies, transmission losses, additional produced power lost because of no roll-back by thermal sec.

Currently, only 30-50% of the energy from fuels like coal, gas etc are consumed to produce electricity, the rest gets lost, being indicative of low PLF or plant load factor.

Plant Load Factor is commonly considered as a measure of a power plant’s capacity utilisation.

A low PLF is bad for the power plant as it indicates that the plant is not being used to its optimal capacity. This will increase the per-unit cost of the power thus produced, making it unattractive for purchase by Discoms.

A higher PLF, on the other hand, will generate a greater total output which will reduce the cost per unit of energy generated. The higher the output, the lesser will be cost per unit. The additional energy produced would also result in an increase in revenue of the plant.

In the year 2019-20 the national average thermal power PLF stood at 55.4%, down from 78.6 % in 2007-08. And it even fell down to 51.6% post the COVID-19 strike as it led to shut down of all non-essential commercial activities across the country.

Consequently, the electricity demand from industrial and commercial customers has reduced significantly while the residential demand is expected to have increased, according to CARE ratings.

This has also been clearly highlighted in Niti Aayog’s National Energy Policy(NEP).
With advent of Global Warming, the heat regulation will become difficult.

On the hottest days, some power plants may need to have their outputs curbed or even need to shut down entirely because they cannot keep themselves cool.
This happened to nuclear plants in France and Germany during the surprise 2019 heatwaves.

Even people may tend to switch on their Air Conditioners, triggering further pressures on the capable electricity production and transmission.
Even the increased temperature of water resource may cause it to become unusable for the purpose.

Electric power infrastructure broadly consists of three systems:
Generation is vulnerable to flooding, reduced streamflow, warmer water, and warmer air temperatures, which can all cause a shortage of power supply in the system

Delivery or distribution:
Climate change can cause failures via physical hardware damage or create operational conditions that exceed hardware tolerances. Alternatively, if protection devices are not properly calibrated, then components can overheat.

Preparing for higher peak demand means building additional generation and delivery capacity, but policies aimed at natural resource conservation have targeted building and appliance energy efficiency standards which also offset increases in peak demand.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fifth assessment report (AR5) has made the projections of temperature and water runoffs from the suite of climate models being used to ascertain such climate induced losses.

The electricity sector is both a cause and a victim of climate change, but how much global electricity generation is impacted by warming is very much dependent on the decisions that society makes in the near future.

Mitigation efforts:

Climate change mitigation and adaptation has been a major driving force to modernize electric power infrastructure and include more renewable energy systems.

A boost is required to upscale the renewable energy sources.

Solar PV can be installed on building roofs, whereas centralized systems require their own dedicated land footprint and delivery infrastructure. Solar’s cost has reduced significantly to Rs 1-2/unit.

It will grow important to monitor the reliability of forward linkages.

Usage of energy efficient appliances can reduce use-phase load, load variance, and thus provide benefits to power systems’ stability.

The fact that these risks largely fall on disadvantaged communities means focusing on electricity access is all the more critical to climate equity, inclusive and justice efforts.

By Alaina Ali Beg

I am a lover of all arts and therefore can dream myself in all places where the World takes me. I am an avid animal lover and firmly believes that Nature is the true sorcerer.