• Search
    Latest News
  • ESG on need for new Power Station

    General misconception in some local circles is that the environmentally friendly thing is to oppose the new power station but this is an overly simplistic argument that fails to address the realities of the present power station in Gibraltar and the problems they are causing.

    -At present we have three power stations in Gibraltar that due to their size are not covered by EU or local legislation namely the large plant directive which governs how power stations are operated and how their emissions are controlled in the rest of Europe.
    By falling outside this directive they are completely unregulated with regards to emissions controls and mitigating measures i.e. they are legally allowed to pollute as much as they want due to a legal loophole.

    -Furthermore these power stations are situated next to massive residential areas both in the North district (Gibelec) and in the south district (OESCO and MOD Power station) which means that together with their unregulated emissions and illegal noise levels they are constituting a health hazard to all the residents of these areas and dramatically lowering their quality of life. Indeed our local monitoring stations and pollution modelling studies demonstrate that these power stations are causing Gibraltar to fail air pollution standards established by the EU with regards to Nitrogen Oxides and particulates.

    -Our power stations burn diesel fuel which is demonstrated to produce large amounts of harmful particles, (soot), which have a particle diameter of less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5’s), these are classed as carcinogenic and are so fine that they can easily penetrate most barriers eg brick walls. This means that the residents of the north and south district are being exposed to very harmful pollutants in terms of very fine soot which is a carcinogen plus Nitrogen oxides which is a respiratory irritant and thus aggravates asthma, allergies, and other respiratory diseases.

    Why do we support the new power station?

    – By building a single power station this now means that it is covered by the large plant directive. This requires the power plant to have continuous monitoring at source of all emissions from it plus pollution mitigation measures like scrubbers and filters have to be built into the design of the plant to keep emissions within EU requirements which is not happening at the moment in Gibraltar.
    The new power station also requires IPPC certification which means that the best available technology has to be applied to all aspects of the plant this is with respect to emissions as well as the efficiency of the engines generators etc which will allow better efficiency levels for the plant and more efficient use of fuel as opposed to the present very dated equipment and technology being used.

    -The proposed location of the new power station is the best location available in Gibraltar with regards to distance from major residential areas as well as wind dispersal modelling for the emissions given our predominant easterly and westerly winds. There are some who are against the location for aesthetic reasons but this purely subjective opinion has to be balanced against the obvious benefits to the residents of the north and south district in terms of a substantially better air quality and healthier living conditions. According to pollution dispersion models of the new power station as presented in its environmental impact assessment there will be dramatic pollution reduction due to the application of best available technologies, scrubbers and filters and stack heights all of which will be in compliance with EU directives.

    -There is also some objection to the new power station on the grounds that it is very near the nature reserve. It is true that it is near the nature reserve but the reality is that the power station is being built on a tarmaced former parade ground and therefore no green areas or trees will be destroyed for its construction. While we accept that the closeness to the nature reserve is of some concern this has to be weighed against the present extreme closeness of the current power stations to residential areas and people and the health effects these are now having on our population and a reasoned judgment made on this.

    Renewable energy and the new power stations.

    -The reality at the moment is that there is an immediate requirement for more generating capacity and that the present power station arrangement is harming the health and quality of life of thousands of Gib residents in the north and south district so a solution is needed immediately. Our vision for the immediate future is that the new power station which should apply Best Available Technology and be fully EU law compliant should be built as soon as possible and we believe should have been completed by the end of 2010 as promised in the last GSD manifesto.

    -Government claims to be looking into the possibility of using turbines to harness the straits currents , while the idea is very good the reality is that there are no commercially available sea current turbines at the moment and all the present projects are very small scale experimental prototype schemes so any such project is at best at least ten or more years away, so to delay the new power station to wait for these projects to come on line is unrealistic given the present harm being done to people living around our old power stations.
    Gibraltar lacks the land area to install wind turbines to contribute in a significant way to electricity generation and certainly not enough to cancel the new power station given the present and future energy needs of Gibraltar, and in any case there are also strong voices against wind turbines in Gibraltar due to migratory bird routes as well as aesthetic reasons which also have to be taken into account.

    – We propose that a gradual implementation of renewable energy projects should be energetically followed and investment provided once the new power station is produced, this will give us the cushion of time needed to implement the newer renewable energy technologies as they become commercially available and would allow us to gradually reduce the demand on the new power station as the years progress. We believe that a great opportunity to start on these renewable energy projects has been missed by failing to provide our new air terminal with a solar panel roof incorporated in the design of the building.
    The site of the new air terminal is ideal for this project as it is away from the rock and the effects of the Levante cloud and due to the proximity of the runway no tall structures can be built around it allowing maximum use of the sun. We could have had a dual purpose building, that is a state of the art air terminal and a state of the art solar panel roof which would make it a renewable energy power station with no noise, emissions, moving parts and a projected lifespan of some thirty years in which to produce thousands of Megawatts of clean renewable energy which could have been sold to consumers to recuperate the cost of the air terminal. This could have been ready and producing renewable energy as from next year.

    Like this idea are many others which could be co-opted into current building programmes and existing infrastructure to bring about greater use of available renewable energy technologies and in this way also help reduce the draw of energy from the existing old stations and future replacement one. The ESG has also raised the best practice option of purchasing energy from Spain but this should be green energy given this is being generated close by. However we all know the reality of this becoming available to us in the foreseeable future.

    The ESG considers the Chamber of Commerce call for debate on this issue and on whether a replacement power station should go ahead is out of place and touch with reality. As expressed above, the new power station is urgently needed due to the intolerable impact from all three aging units.

    It’s not a question of energy cost but of public health, law and the environment.