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Created on: 2017-02-03 12:52:14
Last update: 2017-09-13 16:13:00 BankTrack
Yann Louvel, Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator, BankTrack
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The Çırpılar power plant is a proposed coal-fired power plant to be located in the Çanakkale province, near Çırpılar, Turkey. It would be fuelled by a new open-pit lignite (brown coal) mine, which would cover an area of 845 hectares. The plant would consume 3.5 million tonnes of lignite per year, and produce 200MW of thermal energy. Storage for 465,000 tonnes of coal would be developed, covering an area of around 90 football pitches (36.5 hectares) on the edge of the pristine Mount Ida.
The Çırpılar coal power plant project is one of 15 new coal projects planned in the Çanakkale region of Turkey. It has been in pre-permit development stage since May 2015 when the project sponsor, Taşzemin İnşaat (a subsidiary of Taşyapı Holding), submitted its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
The area where the project is planned is qualified as agricultural land, meaning a decision by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock on change of use is necessary. This decision can only be issued once the EIA is approved by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, which has not yet occured as of September 2017.
However, the project has been discussed twice, most recently in December 2016, by the Soil Protection Council of Çanakkale and considered inappropriate, because ponds established by public funds for irrigation of arable land have been designated as the source of cooling water for the coal plant.
However the Soil Protection Council of changed its mind by July 2017, releasing a new decision stating that the project was not inappropriate, although no changes had been made to the project plans. The project sponsor has added this decision to the current EIA report as an annex, although the final decision on the suitability of the area for non-agricultural land use still lies in the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock. The impression given in the current EIA report that the Soil Protection Council's approval justifies their project plans is misleading.
After the announcement in January 2017 of the project’s evaluation and assessment meeting, a coalition of local communities, environmental associations, national NGOs and Turkish citizens mobilised to object to the project. In a very short time 65 village leaders in the region, among 75 in total, submitted letters of objection and more than 50,000 individuals signed a petition, initiated by TEMA foundation, to cancel the project. Moreover, a mass social media campaign started and became so popular that the issue found its way to national media outlets despite the current busy political agenda in Turkey. The meeting was delayed and rescheduled for 13 September 2017.
What must happen
The project should be cancelled, as its EIA is not appropriate. However, given current Turkish energy policies, there is a chance that the project will proceed despite the problems in its EIA.
The Paris Climate Agreement goals require a managed decline of fossil fuel production. The construction of new coal-fired power plants is not compatible with this goal. Banks must immediately stop financing new coal-fired power plant developents anywhere in the world. As such, banks should steer clear of financing this project.
The project could have severe impacts:
- on the region’s drinking water reservoir, Yenice-Gönen streamlet, only 2 km away from the project area;
- on 28,606 ares of arable land on which more than 12,000 people are dependent;
- on eco-tourism, as the area hosts thousands of local and international tourists every year visiting Mount Ida, which is known for its oxygen sources and biodiversity.
In 2010 19 coal-fired power plants were in operation in Turkey responsible for more than a fifth of Turkey's CO2 emissions. The Canakkale region in Turkey is one of the main hotspots for new coal-fired power plant developments in Turkey, with 16 projects with a total capacity of 15,000MW now proposed. This specific plant would emit 3 million tonnes of CO2 per year. Having more than 70 new coal power plants by 2023 in total in Turkey, as is new planned, would add 200 million tons of CO2 emissions, on top of 68.7 million tons in 2012, which would make Turkey one of the world’s major emitters and a ticking climate bomb right next to the EU.
The levels of toxic particles and NO2 in the air over the entire Canakkale region and beyond would increase the risk of diseases such as stroke, lung cancer, heart and respiratory diseases in adults, as well as respiratory symptoms in children. This leads to premature deaths from these causes. SO2, NOx and dust emissions contribute to toxic particle exposure.
The project also risks the pristine environment of Mount Ida and its vast biodiversity. In 2015, local authorities in the area submitted an application to include the mountain in UNESCO's World Heritage list.
Health and pollution impacts:
- As the project’s EIA acknowledges, the lignite to be extracted and used for the power plant is quite low-rank (1,080 calories) with a high level of ash (53%). As lignite has a much lower energy potential than hard coal, three times more lignite is needed to be combusted for the same amount of electricty production. For this reason, more pollutants get emmited by a lignite power plant than a hard coal plant . Turkish lignite has low caloric value and high levels of ash, humidity and sulphur; thus, it causes more air pollution.
- Moreover, recent studies clearly demonstrate that the cumulative impact of planned coal power plants in the Çanakkale region may cause asthma for 4,440 children and 36,000 adults.