Sunday, October 17, 2021

World Bank “classifies” Morupule B as a health hazard

The bungled up Morupule  B power plant  that  was built at a cost  of P12 billion has a potential to jeopardise the country future plans to invest in coal fired power stations after the plant failed to meet the required greenhouse  gas emissions international standards, fresh information passed to Sunday Standard recently shows.

The Chinese constructor, Chinese Electrical Equipment Corporation (CEEC) is said to have failed to put up the recommended monitoring stations for Ambient air quality measurements to curb ambient (outdoor air pollution) which is a major cause of death and disease globally.

The custodian of the power station, Botswana Power Corporation (BP) has since admitted that currently the power station greenhouse emissions is not meeting the international standard as a result of the of the project which was not built according  to specifications.

In its report ‘’ Energy and Extractives Global Practice  Country Department ,Africa Region” World Bank which offered partial credit guarantee to  the project indicated that the problem that has resulted in the coal fired powered station greenhouse gas emissions not meeting the international standard was a result of engaging a contractor that has no  experience in Circulating fluidized bed (CFB) technology.

The world is drumming up to CFB a relatively new technology that has shown in a number of researches that it has the ability to achieve lower emission  of pollutants as the world  turns to clean energy.

According to World Bank report the BPC rushed to engage a Chinese firm which had no proven experience with the CFB technology. 

The bank  further  indicated that the main problem with BPC  assessment was that it endorsed the contractual arrangements for the power plant as satisfactory based on the experience of a subcontractor for general design of the boilers.  

“The assessment did not establish that the contractor itself had such proven experience with CFB technology. Given the central role of the contractor in delivering the overall plant the lack of contractor’s experience with CFB technology created a high risk for the project.  BPC in their bid evaluation and contract award underestimated the importance of this fundamental requirement on the qualifications of the contractor”, stated the report.

The developmental bank further castigated the construction of Morupule B giving more insight on the powered coal station failure to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions which is major contributor to climate change.

The bank argued in its report that there was no low-carbon growth strategy study initiated during the project a concept that has its roots in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Changed Nations (UNFCCC) adopted in Rio in 1992.

The bank is convinced that in the absence of low carbon growth strategies during construction of the power station a move defeated the whole intention of encompassing low-emission and climate-resilient strategy.

 At the same time, the bank also fears that the emissions from Morupule A may be causing occasional local accidence of Botswana air quality standards for ambient sulphur dioxide concentration.

According to the report, the CCS was only implemented at a pilot project despite promise from the government through the then Mineral, Energy and Water Resources Minister Ponatshego Kedikilwe who allayed fears of anticipated non friendly carbon emission from the power station.

Kedikilwe had promised that possible remedies were put in place to lessen carbon emissions coming out of the plant.

 “As you might be aware, we have been in constant touch with Japan, which produces large quantities of coal to produce electricity, but with little emission to cause health hazards to the inhabitants. They would be assisting us with their modern technologies on how the operations of the plant work for the safety of our nation,” promised the then minister.

The bank report also noted that there was only one out of four monitoring stations for Ambient air quality measurements  that were supposed to be installed.  According World Bank  the remaining monitoring stations  were not even installed in 2017 despite that its absence posed a health hazard as result of ambient(outdoor air pollution).

According to the World Health Organisation the ambient (outdoor air pollution) is a major cause of death and disease globally. WHO indicated that the  health effects range from increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits, to increased risk of premature death.

According to WHO an estimated 3 million premature deaths globally are linked to ambient air pollution, mainly from heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and acute respiratory infections in children.

BPC RESPONDS

The power utility Chief Executive Officer Stefan Peter Schwarzfischer   admitted that as a result of the bungled project that was undertaken by Chinese company the power station failed to meet the required greenhouse emissions international standard.

He indicated that the failure to meet the required standard of the controversial power station which was not built according to the specification.

Schwarzfischer indicated that they are intending to rectify the problem related to green house emissions from Morupule B which estimated to take four years to rectify the problem.

He   was convinced that during the four years they will be able to resolve the problem since the country has committed itself to reducing green house emissions by 2036.

He indicated that this has a potential to reverse the country commitment towards reducing the green house emission.

He however could not want to be drawn in discussing World Bank stern warning that Morupule B failure to meet greenhouse emissions international standard has a potential to jeopardise the country intention to invest in coal power station.

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