Green game over

Fuming diesel gensets to power Commonwealth Games stadiums

By Ruhi Kandhari
Published: Wednesday 15 September 2010

Green game over

carbonThe opening and closing ceremonies for Commonwealth Games at the Jawaharlal Nehru (JLN) Stadium will flaunt two things— glitter and smoke.

To ensure reliable power for stadiums, the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee has bought diesel-run generators with a combined capacity of about 40 MW—the power consumed by the Delhi airport. The result will be significantly higher emissions during the games. The JLN stadium gensets have an installed capacity of 8.5 MW, said A K Jain, chief electrical engineer of the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) who has charge of 10 games venues. The Major Dhyan Chand Stadium will use 3.5 MW capacity gensets, the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Stadium, 3 MW, and the Indira Gandhi Stadium, 8.5 MW.

There is no explanation why the organising committee plumped for diesel when there is enough grid power to meet requirements of the games. "Adequate power has been allotted to Delhi for the games, but they never approached us for power allocation," said an official of the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC).

He said the Capital's Metro and airport depend on the grid and use generators as standby. Diesel gensets as a back-up option could be considered legitimate, but the Commonwealth Games stadiums have only one source of power—diesel generators, which will be used consistently without using grid power.

The Delhi government is ignoring the effect of the toxic diesel fumes on athletes and spectators, the official said.

High on nitrogen

"There is a clear disconnect between the government's investment in improving air quality with monitoring and forecasting facilities and use of diesel gensets for the games," said Anumita Roychowdhury, associate director of the Delhi non-profit Centre for Science and Environment. "It is already an enormous challenge to control vehicular pollution and now we have these additional diesel generators. The government should have a clear strategy to meet air quality standards," she added.

According to an estimate by the Bengaluru non-profit, International Energy Initiative, thermal power plants that feed the grid emit 7.2 grammes of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), a pollutant, against each unit of power generated. Under prescribed pollution norms, diesel gensets can emit 9.2 grammes NOx against each unit power generated. "High emissions of NOx are particularly associated with diesel. Fumes from gensets, even if they meet the standards, will cause enormous pollution around games venues due to the sheer quantum of diesel used," Roychowdhury said.

Diesel worth Rs  9.6 crore

The DERC official said one litre diesel generates about three units of power; nearly 2.4 million litres of diesel will be used during the games. The gensets will emit 6,432 tonnes of CO2; the diesel will cost Rs  9.6 crore.

CPWD's stated reason for using diesel gensets is that if there is power failure from one source, shifting to back-up would disrupt the games. "We did not want any glitches on account of power for the sporting events, so we decided to use only gensets for the duration of the games," said Jain.

G Beig of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) in Pune, who has developed air quality forecasting system, called SAFAR, for the games, said he was surprised to hear about use of diesel gensets since the games organising committee had said it will use smokeless LPG gensets. Power industry sources said LPG gensets are not available in Delhi and diesel is the only fuel that can be used. IITM will monitor and forecast the air quality in Delhi during the games.

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