The World Bank

Thermal Power - Rehabilitation of Existing Plants Industry - Pollution Prevention Guidelines


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Pollution Prevention Guidelines to provide technical advice and guidance to staff and consultants involved in pollution-related projects. The guidelines represent state-of-the-art thinking on how to reduce pollution emissions from the production process. In many cases, the guidelines provide numerical targets for reducing pollution, as well as maximum emissions levels that are normally achievable through a combination of cleaner production and end-of-pipe treatment. The guidelines are designed to protect human health; reduce mass loadings to the environment; draw on commercially proven technologies; be cost-effective; follow current regulatory trends; and promote good industrial practices, which offer greater productivity and increased energy efficiency.

Table of Contents

  • Industry Description and Practices
  • Waste Characteristics
  • Pollution Prevention and Control
  • Target Pollution Loads
  • Treatment Technologies
  • Emissions Guidelines
  • Monitoring and Reporting
  • Key Issues
  • Sources

Key Issues

The range of circumstances in which the rehabilitation of an existing thermal power plant may be considered is extremely large. It is neither possible nor desirable to attempt to prescribe specific evironmental guidelines for all of the different cases that may arise in the World Bank’s operational work. Hence, this document focuses on the process that should be followed in order to arrive at an agreed set of site-specific standards that should be met by the plant after its rehabilitation.

At the heart of this process is the preparation of a combined environmental audit of the existing plant and assessment of alternative rehabilitation options relevant to the future impact of the plant on nearby populations and ecosystems. The coverage of the environmental assessment component of the study will depend on the rehabilitation activities involved and may be similar to that required for a new thermal power plant when major portions of the plant are being replaced or retrofitted. The amount of data required, the range of options considered, and the coverage of the environmental analysis will typically be less than appropriate for a new plant. At the same time, the initial environmental audit should not be restricted to those parts of the existing plant that may be affected by the rehabilitation.

It should review all the major aspects of the plant’s equipment and operating procedures in order to identify environmental problems and recommend cost-effective measures that would improve the plant’s environmental performance. The time and resources devoted to preparing the environmental audit and assessment should be appropriate to the nature and scale of the proposed rehabilitation. It would, for example, not be appropriate to carry out an extensive environmental assessment in cases involving minor modifications or the installation or upgrading of environmental controls such as a wastewater
treatment plant or dust filters or precipitators. For larger projects, such as the installation of flue gas desulfurization (FGD) equipment, the environmental assessment might focus particularly on the range of options for reducing sulfur emissions and for disposing of the gypsum or solid waste generated by the equipment.

It is, however, recommended that an environmental audit be undertaken in almost all cases. Experience suggests that such investigations will often pay for themselves by identifying zero- or low-cost options for energy conservation and waste minimization. In addition, such an audit may indicate ways in which the project could be redesigned in order to address the most serious environmental problems associated with the plant.

Major rehabilitations that imply a substantial extension (10 years or more) of the expected operating life of the plant should be subject to an environmental assessment similar in depth and coverage to one that would be prepared for a new plant. In such cases, the plant will normally be expected to meet the basic guidelines that apply to new thermal power plants for emissions of particulates, nitrogen oxides (NOx), wastewater discharges, and solid wastes. Where the rehabilitated plant would be unable to meet the basic guidelines for sulfur dioxide (SO2) without additional and potentially expensive controls, the environmental assessment should review the full range of options for reducing SO2 emissions, both from the plant itself and from other sources within the same airshed or elsewhere in the country.

On the basis of this analysis, the government, the enterprise, and the World Bank Group will agree on specific measures, either at the plant or elsewhere, to mitigate the impact of these emissions
and will also agree on the associated emissions requirements.

Any rehabilitation that involves a shift in fuel type—i.e., from coal or oil to gas, as distinguished from a change from one grade or quality of coal or oil to another—will be subject to the same basic emissions guidelines as would apply to a new plant burning the same fuel.

Environmental Audit

An audit of the environmental performance of the existing plant should do at least the following:

  • Review the actual operating and environmental performance of the plant in relation to its original design parameters.
  • Examine the reasons for poor performance to identify measures that should be taken to address specific problems or to provide a basis for more appropriate assumptions about operating conditions in the future—for example, with respect to average fuel characteristics.
  • Assess the scope for making improvements in maintenance and housekeeping inside and around the plant (e.g., check for excess oxygen levels, actual emissions levels, fuel spills, coal pile runoff, fugitive dust from coal piles, recordkeeping, monitoring, and other indicators of operation and maintenance of thermal power plants).
  • Evaluate the readiness and capacity of the plant’s emergency management systems to cope with incidents varying from small spills to major accidents (check storage of flammables, safe boiler and air pollution control system operation, and so on).
  • Examine the plant’s record with respect to worker safety and occupational health.

The report on the environmental audit should provide recommendations on the measures required to rectify any serious problems that were identified in the course of the study. These recommendations should be accompanied by approximate estimates of the capital and operating costs that would be involved and by an indication of the actions that should be taken either to implement the recommendations or to evaluate alternative options.

The management of the plant or the borrower should submit the report on the environmental audit to the World Bank Group, along with a statement of the steps taken to address the problems that were identified and to ensure that such problems do not recur in the future. Implementation of the actions outlined in the statement will be treated as one of the elements of the site-specific requirements for the project.

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