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Description of Operations and Processes in Power Generation Industry

Discuss About The Comparison Of Models For Marginal Biofuels?

The air we breathe the sun that gives warmth and the clouds that bring the showers are all elements of environment. Where the environment is not taken care of, it results in a number of stakeholders being harmed, and the leading one in this are the humans. This marketing it important to take care of the environment1. Due to the rising awareness on the issues surrounding environment, particularly the negative impact caused on the environment, which results in its detriment, responsibility has been imposed on the regulatory bodies to safeguard the environment2. As a result of this, different regulations have been imposed, where the purpose is to protect and safeguard the environment. These regulations are particularly applicable on the industries, which are known for polluting the environment as a regulatory measure, and acts as guidance for the other industries3. This study focuses on the work done by the power generation industry, and its impact on the environment.

There are different ways of power generation and the top two ways include the electric power generation and the thermal power generation. There is a heavy reliance of the power generation industry on the heating and on the conditioning services. The electric power is generated through central station generators, located in remote areas, which are far from the consumption point. Based on the type of power generation, the particular processes are undertaken.

To turn on the light, simply a switch has to be flicked. To get water, a tap has to be turned. No efforts have to be made for breathing the air. These are all the different gifts which are given to us through the nature. Imagining the life without these elements is not even possible now4. But it takes a lot more for the light to come than just flicking a switch. Per se a lot of “background activities” are undertaken for the light to reach the bulb on flicking a switch. These background activities are undertaken in power generation and by the entire industry dedicated towards power generation.

In Singapore, there is no single source for generation of power, and includes natural gas and waste, along with the other means like solar and wind power generation. Some power generation plants use oil fired thermal, some gas, and the others use waste to energy as the source of power generation. There will be a continued reliance on fossil fuel even in the next decade for power generation in the nation due to the substitute energy sources being able to be deployed to limited extent and nuclear power not being in the agenda of the nation in near future5.

Environmental Aspects, their Impacts and Prioritisation

There are a number of environmental aspects which have a possibility of significantly impacting the environment due to the power generation activities and these include:

CO2 emissions are the key polluter which have a negative impact over the environment, and affects the entire ecosystem6. The priority on this is due to the same resulting in global warming, which is the key theme in any and all regulations across the globe, and also included in concepts like corporate governance and corporate social responsibility7.

Global warming and climate change due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, owing to burning of fossil fuels coupled with deforestation8.

Depletion of natural resources is linked with sustainability9.

Depletion of marine life due to the naturally occurring natural gas steeping from ocean floor. This is coupled with poisoning and the risks of ruptures and leaks in pipelines10.

Hampering biodiversity due to the extinction of different flora, fauna and marine life.

Waste accumulation from nuclear reactors is often radioactive, which causes a negative environment impact for years to come11.

Indirect land use impacting bio-fuels is related to the unintentional result of CO2 emissions being released owing to the land use changes12.

Dislocation of individuals living near reservoirs, due to the depletion of the ecosystem, forcing in the tribal and aboriginal individuals being affected gravely.

Disruptive aquatic ecosystems and bird life due to high pollutants in the air.

Major release of carbon dioxide at construction and flooding of reservoir.

Adverse impact over the river environment due to heavy metal and chlorine in the cooling water discharges13.

Risks of terrorism and sabotage when hydroelectricity is used.

Catastrophic failures in rare cases of dam wall affecting the life nearby.

Geothermal plants having major impact on local ecosystem.

Earth tremors caused due to removal of ground water and accelerated cooling of rock formations.

Solar power resulting in creation of solar cells made of silica, extraction of which requires fossil fuel, resulting in CO2 being produced14.

Fracking or hydraulic fracturing due to use of shale gas15.

General population safety due to the possibility of natural gas pipelines, spread across thousands of miles, corroding and weakening over time. In case of rupture in these pipelines, there is possibility of explosions. Example of this can be seen in the corrosions in pipes resulting in the Massachusetts explosions. Another example is of New Mexico where 12 people were killed due to explosion in 200010.

Nuclear power posing routine health risks, along with the greenhouse has emission owing to the nuclear fission power

hale gas concerns regarding population, for instance groundwater poisoning.

Use of other modes like coal again contributes to carbon emissions.

In comparison to the other nations, which are major polluters due to reliance on coal, Singapore refrains from using coal as a source of power generation, but this continues to be an alternative source. The info graphic presented below further highlights the use of sources used by different nations for power generation. This shows the reliance by Singapore on the natural gas for power generation, which is a major contributor of carbon emissions16.

The key environmental impact due to the power generation industry working in Singapore is the carbon dioxide generation. This is due to the fact that Singapore relies on natural gas for its power generation. When the natural gas is burned, carbon dioxide is produced. Carbon dioxide traps the heat in the upper atmosphere and this results in greenhouse has, which is a major cause for global warming, as per The Natural Gas Supply Association. As per the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) 2012 report, Singapore had the biggest carbon footprint per person in the region of Asia Pacific. For meeting the demands of resources, 3.5 planets would be needed17.

This view does not bode well with the government due to their report that emission in the nursing using carbon as a form of power generation is higher in comparison to Singapore. Vivian Balakrishnan, the erstwhile environment minster responded to this by stating that the manner in which Singapore utilizes its resources, the way the transportation system is organized and the way energy is generated, the nation has done far better in comparison to others. Around 80% of the power generation of the nation comes from natural gas which is the cleanest fossil fuel as per Energy Market Authority17. Yet, it cannot be denied that power generation is the key source of carbon emissions in the nation, and due to the limited capacity of the nation to make effective use of the alternative energy sources, reliance is placed heavily on the imported fossil fuel for powering the nation.

Due to the increased CO2 levels, the global warning is caused, which in turn causes climate change. When fossil fuels are burnt to generate power, the greenhouse gas emissions are caused. The need for energy is not only rising in Singapore but across the globe. The projected population growth highlights the urgent need to deal with the greenhouse gas emissions. There is also the depletion of natural resources in terms of deforestation, impact on biodiversity, marine life, wildlife and bird life being affected due to the changes in environment and the emissions. Due to the waste accumulation, biodiversity is hampered. The marine life in particular is impacted due to activities like fracking, which in turn impacts the entire ecosystem, including the humans. Even the other modes of power generation are coupled with their shortfalls, resulting in carbon dioxide emissions.

Risk Matrix

Likelihood

Unlikely

Likely

Very Likely

Consequences

Minor

Serious

Disaster

25

The remaining risks have been put in a risk assessment matrix, to better analyse their gravity, and the same is attached in Appendix 1.

One cannot deny the fact that power is the main driver to the human progress. For maintaining economic development and the way of life, there is a need for constant access to power and that too at affordable prices. Due to the impact of power on the personal welfare and also on the economic effectiveness, there is a need for maintaining strict quality standards by the power suppliers for providing their services and that too at competitive costs. This requires adherence to extremely high performance ratios. There is also a need to effectively collaborate for developing infrastructure which could guarantee the supply on both medium and long term. Further there is a need to be respectful to the environment, especially owing to the reluctance of the society in continuing to rely on the power generation techniques which are polluting. In order to do so, there is a need to manage the investments and the operating costs in an effective manner. The different power generation sources have to be integrated effectively and this is both for the micro grids to the full scale conventional fuelled plants. There is a need to adopt the IT techniques which could improve the efficiency and effectiveness of services18.

Amongst the different energy options, solar energy is the most promising one for the nation. By switching to the other modes of power generation, the emissions related to CO2 can be curbed, which is the key cause of concern for Singapore. There is also the option of switching to the coal as a source of power generation in place of natural gas, but this method is also coupled with high emissions. The other option which could help in dealing with the negative impact of the power generation industry on the environment is cogeneration, which is the generation of electricity and heat through the same process19 Again, this process would help in reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases like the CO2. The next manner of bringing down the environmental impact is to create more energy with lesser CO2 emitters, by adopting the lower CO2 emission solutions.

One could also make use of shale technology, and the earlier stated solar energy as these are the new technologies, which can bring down the negative impact stated above. Shale gas for the purpose of power generation has already enabled US in achieving major reducing in the CO2 emissions in the past years. This could prove to be of help for Singapore also. Solar power has already seen a major ramp up in the nation in the recent past due to rising efficiency and falling costs in harnessing the power of sun4.

Another pollution controlling technology in context of the power generation industry is the shift towards fuel mix. At present, the majority of fuel of the nation comes from the Malaysian and Indonesian natural gas pipelines. Though, by improving upon the technology for harnessing and also storing the electricity, greater reliance on renewable sources are expected, particularly the solar energy. In context of solar energy, it has already been announced by the government of Singapore that the electricity demand would be met through solar means by 2020 to 5%. Fuel mix would also drive developments in the clean technology in context of shale gas extraction and burning goal, which are both cheap and abundant sources. However, both of these are coupled with limitations due to the groundwater poising through sale gas and coal resulting in carbon emissions. In line with the regulations of Singapore, there is a need to bring worth and support the policies based on the economic principle of taxing the negative externalities. For instance, the present road use tax for congested roads, cigarette taxation imposed on passive smokers, and emissions from car for pollution created20.

From the different alternatives discussed above, the best two options for controlling the pollution, management impacts and complying with the regulations of the nation, are reliance being placed on solar energy and cogeneration. The reason for focus on these two measures stems from the fact that both of these help in reducing the carbon emissions. The different regulations which would be fulfilled with this reduction include the Environmental Pollution Control Act and the Environmental Pollution Control (Air Impurities) Regulations21.

This is the best time for investments to be made in the alternative energy sources, particularly the renewable energy sources like solar energy. As stated earlier, solar power is being increasingly used in Singapore for the purpose of power generation and is in line with the more conventional sources. As peer Alvin Yeo, who held the post of director of industry development of the Energy Market Authority, there has been a nineteen fold jump in the nation in the solar powered energy, which is further supported by a number of government initiatives. Solar energy is relied on more and more due to its abundance and due to it being a clean energy solution. These help particularly in checking the carbon emissions. It also helps in hedging the energy spending due to the low prices being locked for longer periods in comparison to the other sources, particularly the ones with fluctuating prices4.

Singapore is particularly well suited for the solar energy due to the perennial sunny climate. There has been a major fall in the prices of solar panels due to the entry of China as a producer in the market of solar panels20. Solar energy is the most promising opportunity for the nation as a power generation source, particularly due to the fall in the solar photovoltaic panel prices, and this has made solar energy economical in comparison to the electricity which is derived from the fossil fuels. The SolarNova programme has also been brought forth to accelerate the solar development and to promote the solar demand across the agencies16.

Though, in making use of solar power, care would have to be taken, as this mode of power generation is also coupled with its disadvantages. When the solar cells are created, they are made primarily of silica from the sand. When the silicon is extracted from silica, it often requires the usage of fossil fuels. However, the newer manufacturing processes of the same have helped in elimination of the CO2 production. Also, there is the problem of upfront costs to environment due to production but the clean energy offered through solar power cannot be denied across the lifespan of solar cell. Thus, more or less, the demerits of solar energy are cancelled out.

In order to generate energy and power in a more responsible manner, reliance could be placed on cogeneration, where both heat and electricity are generated from the very same process which helps in getting a higher amount of useful energy in same fuel amount. In the majority of power plants which are across the globe, 2/3rd of energy which is produced gets wasted in form of excess heat. As a result of this, the fuel is not made use of to the max of its efficiency. When cogeneration is adopted, a part of the heat generated through the burning of fuel gets captured and is recycled for the other processes or for the purpose of building heat. This helps in extracting higher sum of useful energy from the same fuel, resulting in higher fuel efficiency. This in turn results in the fuel consumption being reduced, which causes emissions of carbon dioxide to be reduced19.

Cogeneration technology is basically the energy efficient solution for the facilities which required electricity and thermal energy. The investment in such technology would help in reducing carbon emissions and also in saving costs. This technology is already being used at Singapore Refinery site since October 2017 at Pioneer Road. This has resulted in energy efficiency of the refinery being increased by 4-5% which has brought down 265 kilo tonnes of CO2 emissions each year19.

Conclusions

Thus, from the discussion undertaken in the previous segments, it becomes clear that power generation in Singapore is coupled with a number of negative environmental impacts and the leading one in this is the carbon dioxide emissions, which create ripple effects and result in different a number of issues like global warming, depletion of wildlife and natural resources, disrupting the biodiversity and even causes threat on the life of general public. Due to these reasons, it becomes crucial to deal with this issue; and for this purpose, different pollution control measures could be deployed. The best options in this regard however have been covered in detail in the recommendation segment and these two are the reliance being placed on solar energy and cogeneration. Through the adoption of these two measures, the carbon dioxide emissions, which are the key cause of concern from the present day power generation activities in the nation, can be given away with. This would also help in bringing down the costs associated with power generation in the nation.

References

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Gray WB, editor. Economic costs and consequences of environmental regulation. Oxon: Routledge; 2018 Jan 18.

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Finenko A, Cheah L. Carbon Dioxide Reduction Potential in Singapore’s Power Generation Sector. Energy Procedia. 2014; 61:527 – 532.

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Edwards R, Mulligan D, Marelli L. Indirect land use change from increased biofuels demand. Comparison of models and results for marginal biofuels production from different feedstocks., EC Joint Research Centre, Ispra. 2010 Sep.

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Jeffrey Hays. Environmental Issues in Singapore: Global Warming, Sumatran Fires. Recycling and the Illegal Animal Trade. [Internet]. Singapore: Facts and Details. 2008 [updated 2015; June cited 2018 Feb 05]. Available from: https://factsanddetails.com/southeast-asia/Singapore/sub5_7a/entry-3795.html

The future of the global power sector. [Internet]. London: Deloitte. 2015 [June cited 2018 Feb 05]. Available from: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/Energy-and-Resources/gx-power-future-global-power-sector-report.pdf

Joshua Wong. Generating power responsibly. [Internet]. Singapore: The Straits Times. 2017 Dec 11 [cited 2018 Feb 05]. Available from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/how-will-singapore-power-the-future

Euston Quah and Christabelle Soh. Dynamic future in power generation. [Internet]. Singapore: The Straits Times. 2014 Oct 29 [cited 2018 Feb 05]. Available from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/dynamic-future-in-power-generation

Ministry of Environment. Chapter 1 Overviews of Environmental Issues and Environmental Conservation Measures in Singapore. [Internet] Japan: Ministry of Environment. 2012 [cited 2018 Feb 05]. Available from: https://www.env.go.jp/earth/coop/oemjc/singa/e/singapore_e_1.pdf

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