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Stop New Fossil Fuel Projects!
Starting at the beginning of the 20th century, there are two existing coal-fired power plants operating at full capacity of 100 and 270 Megawatts (MWs), respectively. The first plant was built by Cambodia Energy Ltd, a local subsidiary of Malaysia’s Leader Universal Ltd, which was launched in 2014. The second plant was built by a joint venture between Cambodia International Investment Development Group (CIIDG) and China-based Erdos Hongiun Electric Power Co., Ltd. This second coal-fired power plant came online in 2015 and is being developed with a multi-million USD power generation capacity sufficient to produce 700 MW of electricity to support local electricity consumption. The possibility of this expansion depends only on the availability of imported coal from Indonesia, Cambodia’s main coal exporter and one of the world’s leading coal producers.
This is not over yet as the demand for electricity consumption increases, so the supply must be made available. In order not to depend only on importing electricity from border countries, domestic production must be expanded. On top of the two existing coal-fired power plants; currently, the Royal Government of Cambodia is planning another third coal-fired power plant to be built in the same area. It will mark the third approved coal-fired power generation facility in the UK located in the southern coastal area of Sihanoukville. The entire project was handed over to Japanese firm Toshiba Plant System and Service Cooperation (TPSC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Japanese electronics manufacturing giant Toshiba, will build the turnkey power plant for Cambodian Energy II Co Ltd (CEL2), the plant will operate at full capacity of 150 MW once completed. The construction will be carried out in full cooperation with TPSC Engineering Malaysia and TPSC from Thailand. The contract was awarded by Cambodia Energy II Company Limited, a subsidiary of Malaysia’s Leader Universal Holdings that operates the first existing coal-fired power plant as mentioned. Electricity generation will be purchased by Electricité du Cambodge (Electricity of Cambodia), a state-owned enterprise operated under the full direct supervision of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the revenue and profit manager; and the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the energy and electricity policy maker, of the Royal Government of Cambodia. TPSC and its group companies will be responsible for the overall project, including engineering, supply of equipment, construction work, installation, testing and commissioning. TPSC will manage the entire project and engineering, its Malaysian branch will be responsible for procurement of equipment and its Thai branch will handle construction. At another development site, Pöyry, a Finnish engineering company, was awarded a contract to provide assistance with the design review of the pants, site supervision, assurance and quality control services, project management and commissioning of the power plant.
There has been a contentious global debate about stopping the ongoing trend of fossil fuel projects. That is, the use of fossil fuels for energy production must be eliminated at all costs to preserve the well-being of the environment. The real question that got me thinking is “Why should the third approved coal plant be stopped?” when relevant to Cambodia’s energy sector. To provide comprehensive answers to these questions, the real costs of burning coal to produce energy, mainly in the form of electricity, must be identified. The advantages of burning fossil fuels such as coal for the country’s economy can be seen less than its disadvantages for the environment and ecology are elaborated as follows:
First, coal dust contributes to heart and lung disease, as well as endangering aquatic life and reducing water quality as coal seeps from the storage tank. It looks worse when the coal carrier was completely submerged in water. Other means of transporting coal on land can also be dangerous to humans, land animals and plants when transported improperly.
Second, coal is recognized as a non-renewable and unsustainable source of energy production with limited availability of total global coal reserves lasting only 134 years at the current rate of consumption and could release almost 2000 Gt of CO2 emissions if all were used . Coal has been recognized as the deadliest source of electricity on earth killing up to 280,000 people per 1000 terawatt hours of electricity produced given the fact that burning coal alone is responsible for 46% of CO2 emissions worldwide and accounts for 72 % of the total. greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector. CO2, once released into the sky, traps heat from the sun in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing temperatures to rise overtime.
Third, coal, when burned, generates CO2 the most among many other poisonous gases, such as nitrogen oxide (NO) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), all of which are harmful to health and air freshness. Nitrous oxide released from a quantity of burning coal, along with SO2, cause acid rain when the two gases come into contact with rainwater. The effects of acid rain on the ecosystem can be found in fish and wildlife most clearly seen in the aquatic environment. Acid rain also releases aluminum as it flows through the soil into lakes and other irrigation systems. Plants and animals, some species, are acid toxic, are sensitive to acid, this sensitivity causes danger to their lives as some species that live in water including fish and frogs can live below a specific pH level. When acid rain damages the pH level in the water, although some types of species are acid resistant, this does not mean that the other animals or plants they eat are one. Another effect of acid rain on trees and plants can be seen with dead trees and plants. Acid rain removes nutrients and minerals from the soil causing the death of plants and trees that rely most on those elements for their life evolution. Acidic rain destroys the sustainability of infrastructure and construction over a long period of time. This problem can be seen in Cambodia as a country with glorious civilization left from ancient times, thousands of Buddhist and Hindu temples were built thousands of years ago and till today, many temples are seen in very bad condition, and some of others have been completely. collapsed. Acid rain is one of the main causes of this architectural destruction not to mention human activities and natural disasters. All these are just some of the effects among many others that can be easily captured.
Fourth, despite causing acid rain, nitrogen oxide along with carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide trap smoke in the atmosphere in the form of smog and haze. Breathing toxic air effects on human health, mainly by causing fatal respiratory diseases such as asthma, aggravates (exacerbates) a pre-existing respiratory disease and provokes the development or progression of chronic diseases including lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema. Coal is a major contributor to air pollution that kills about 7 million people a year, and coal mining, preparation, transport and burning are extremely polluting, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). When it comes to air pollution and environmental destruction, coal is the worst fossil fuel among others. CO2 and carbon monoxide (CO) released from a certain amount of completely and incompletely burned coal respectively, after being released into the atmosphere, weaken the ozone layer and block sunlight in the earth’s atmosphere resulting in global warming. Thus, the more greenhouse gas emissions are released into the sky, the hotter the world will be. As long as the ozone layer is not fully functional, the earth will be hotter by attracting more ultraviolet light that causes sunburn. At a time when global warming reaches its peak causing drought, then when crops and plants will face difficult seasonal conditions to grow, it results in decreasing food supply in opposition to the increasing demand for food.
Fifth, another major consequence like what the world is currently experiencing is sea level rise. Those of the icebergs floating on the surface of the Arctic Ocean and possibly the entire North Pole will melt sequentially as the temperature continues to rise to the maximum point. The same phenomenon applies to the large icebergs on the continent of Antarctica that consists of the South Pole. These major global natural disasters will then cause devastating floods that will kill hundreds of thousands of lives on earth.
Sixth, environmental sustainability is worsened by the clearing of forests for land concessions and the construction of coal plants. Deforestation destroys the best producer of oxygen (O2) and absorber of CO2, leaving many families displaced. Peoples are forced to leave in the form of migration to the urban area resulting in overcrowding of the urban population leading to the process of urbanization which later causes social insecurity and instability. With that being said, coal is harmful to all living things on earth, ranging from animals, humans and plants. Health will be reduced and people’s welfare will then be reduced by using more and more coal.
Seventh, coal plant stations indirectly affect the tourist destination. Since almost all of the coal plant is based in the coastal area of Sihanoukville, the coastal tourist attraction area is devastatingly polluted by coal plants that reduce the air quality causing domestic and international visitors to reconsider their change of destination. touristic. Then the Kingdom’s financial income from the tourism sector will be cut. The residents of the area are also affected by the polluted air they breathe every day.
Eighth, moreover, importing coal, as in the case of Cambodia, leaves the country overly dependent on foreign exporters. This consequence of the political economy makes the country of origin highly dependent on the availability and access to consume coal, otherwise the country would fall into a deep energy problem.
However, coal is a good use for energy and is economically profitable; however, it is extremely bad for the environment and lives on planet earth. Therefore, countries should reconsider the licensing of any coal-related projects in the form of exploration, production, import and consumption, and shift to rely more on renewable and sustainable sources of energy production.
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