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Diesel generator sets playing havoc with Valley air: Study

KATHMANDU, SEP 02 -

Diesel generator sets that are increasingly being used for the daily power needs in households and offices have been found emitting more harmful gases than vehicles in the Kathmandu valley, according to a report.

A study, ‘Diesel for Power Generation: Inventories and Black Carbon Emissions in Kathmandu Valley,’ has found that the annual diesel consumption for captive power generation from generator sets in Kathmandu was around 70,715 kilolitres, which accounted for 59 percent of the total diesel sale in the city in the fiscal year 2011-2012, the study said. It added that the annual emission of carbon monoxide (CO) and black carbon from the diesel generators was 1,181 and 135 tonnes respectively, while the total installed capacity for power generation was around 198 MW, which is equivalent to 28 percent of the total energy supplied by the Nepal Electricity Authority to the national grid.

While the transportation system in the Valley is highly dependent on imported fossil fuels (petrol and diesel), the rise in power cut hours since 2008 led to the demand for diesel generators to shoot up.

According to the report, there are around 200,000 such generator sets across the country.  Anjila Manandhar of Clean Air Network Nepal (CANN), an NGO and one of the researchers, said the recent growth in the use of diesel generators for power consumption by all sectors, particularly during the dry season when the country faces severe power shortage, has contributed significantly to pollution, with the air containing harmful substances and black carbon that have serious impacts on the public’s health and the local climate. “There has been an unprecedented rise in the import of diesel generators since the year 2008-2009 when the country starting witnessing an acute power crisis with load-shedding going up to as long as 18 hours a day.

The study conducted by CANN, with technical support from Kathmandu University, and supported by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment and the World Bank, focused on a more detailed collaborative data in the city. It based its report on field visits, questionnaires, detailed information on the operation of diesel generator sets and fuel consumption and capacity, brand, model and efficiency of the generators.

The research was carried out in various sectors such as manufacturing industries, the commercial sector, government/NGOs/INGOs/diplomatic missions and hospitals.

Toran Sharma, an environmentalist and expert in air pollution monitoring and mitigation, said the growing demand for diesel-run generators has led to a significant rise in the emission of harmful pollutants.

For instance, 30 gm carbon dioxide is emitted per kilowatt per hour from diesel generators, which is significantly high compared to vehicular emission standards. “The emission from diesel generators can be compared with the transport sector. However, only more scientific studies can show how much each of these sectors are contributing to pollution,” Sharma said. Though the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment has set standards for diesel generators, the rules are often flouted in lack of effective monitoring.

“For the time being, it must be ensured that the emission standards of the diesel generators must comply with the current Indian emission standards,” said Prashant Khanal, a member of the researching team. Major cities in India have been using the less polluting low sulphur diesel fuel (Euro IV diesel) for generator sets.

Posted on: 2013-09-03 09:23


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