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Jan 18, 2012
The Scoop on Energy
It seems that coal keeps taking a beating, not only in the United States, but all over the world. Environmental activists are jumping in the streets of Myanmar after government officials scrapped a planned 4,000 megawatt facility.
The country's electricity minister said the Yangon Electricity Supply and the ministries of energy, industry and electrical power had already given the go ahead for the project. The cancellation was because environmental concerns over what a plant of that size would do to the environment.
What? A government actually taking environmental concerns over the all-mighty dollar? The plant was good-to-go, and Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding was set to build the project and even had a memorandum of understanding from the government, but local residents came forward in opposition to the plant.
The bulk of the electricity would go out of the area to a special economic zone. The residents did not want a plant built and polluting their area, especially if they weren't going to be getting the electricity. Adding insult to injury is that most of the companies located in the special economic zone would be owned by foreign investors as well.
Investors were shocked by the sudden turnaround since they had traveled to Myanmar only days before, but were optimistic that the plant would go online eventually with a different type of fuel. The electricity supply board has said that a natural gas power plant or the economic zone could be connected to the national power grid.
That isn't to say that a smaller coal fired plant won't be built there. The government is looking into a smaller 400 megawatt supplemental power plant powered by coal. That is still in the planning stages and government officials are gathering information on the environmental impact of a smaller plant.
It's not everyday that I find out that big business ends up taking the fall because of the efforts of grassroots local efforts. This is just one of several examples where coal power is being hit hard. The low cost of natural gas and coal's environmental issues are causing many places to consider alternative sources.
Coal is still the cheapest way to make electricity, which is why many countries build the plants despite their environmental impact. As the cost of natural gas decreases and companies find more efficient ways of energy production, coal is quickly becoming the dinosaur of the energy world.
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