Friday, June 13, 2014

Plans move forward for Mongolia’s first hydroelectric power plant

Mongolia, which is located in a watershed of Asia, is losing its rivers due to global warming and mineral deposit mining. However, we are using fresh water for our toilet bowls, washing our cars in clean river water, and watering lawns with our drinking water. Even though water-saving initiatives, such as collecting and using snow and rain water and reusing grey water have come out, up until now, there has been no implementation of these practices.

The Governor’s Office of Orkhon Province has planned to build a 100 megawatt hydro accumulation power plant, cooperating with Marcus Industry of Slovakia. This project is reported to be different from hydroelectric power plants which block waterways.

The hydroelectric power plant will be built on 148.1 hectares issued for building an industry and technology park in Orkhon Province. This plant will generate electricity using grey water from Orkhon Province’s sewage treatment plant, not fresh water from a river. The first water basin will be built lower, at the industry and technology park, and the second will be built on top of a nearby mountain. The basins will be connected with underground pipes and four 25 megawatt turbines will be installed.

We asked for some clarification on the issue of Mongolia’s first hydroelectric power plant from an advisor of the Orkhon Province governor’s office.

Four Slovakian specialists conducted a feasibility survey for establishing a hydroelectric power plant in Orkhon Province. Did they present the results?

Engineers of Erdenet Power Plant looked into building this kind of low-capacity plant years ago. We got the idea from them and we sent a request to the Minister of Economic Development and specialists and authorities in the Renewable Energy and Policy Department reviewed and discussed it. Based on our estimates of increased electricity consumption, we agreed on a plan to establish a hydroelectric power plant in cooperation with the National Renewable Energy Center of Mongolia, under the Ministry of Energy and based on hydro accumulation power plants of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Currently, a team from the Czech Republic and Slovakia is cooperating with the National Renewable Energy Center of Mongolia and has arranged to make a draft and prepare for building the plant.

How will investment be solved? Will Marcus Industry establish a concession agreement?

A huge amount of capital will definitely be needed in order to implement such a big project. So we will solve the funding issues through foreign investment. The joint team said they will transfer the plant to the Ministry of Energy as soon as they build it. Investment will be financed by Ex-Im Bank of the Slovak Republic.

The lower basin is going to be placed not so far from the Zun River. Will there be any changes to the river?

Our province’s sewage treatment plant has the capacity to purify 20 thousand cubic meters of wastewater a day. Next year, new sewage systems equipped with French technology and facilitation will come to Mongolia. Thus, the capacity of sewage systems will increase, and 40 thousand cubic meters of wastewater will be purified and supply the hydroelectric power plant. We have a goal of supplying our electricity consumption with it.

The hydroelectric power plant won’t be established in the Zun River. The basin will be built far from the river. There won’t be any changes to the waterline. There won’t be any negative impact on the environment since the pipes will be installed underground. We have become acquainted with the technology of producing electricity using grey water in the Czech and Slovak republics. They are producing electricity using eco-friendly, secondary raw material, “grey water”, in a cheap way.

For instance, the Czech Republic built a basin 1,520 meters above sea level and established a hydro accumulation power plant which generates 650 megawatts of power. Also, Slovakia built a plant with four times that capacity using the flow of the Dunai River. From this experience, we are taking the first step towards establishing a hydro accumulation power plant. The wall of the basin will be made of ferro concrete and membrane, or bead board. It is so reliable to use membrane and bead boards, since they are stainless.

It is impossible to use a water powered plant in winter. What will you do?

This is a really important question. There is a way to keep the basin from freezing. The foreigners have already found it. Even if the water in the basin doesn’t freeze if it is moving, the surface of the water will definitely freeze. So, the surface of the water will be covered with 20 cm thick bead board, since the board keeps a constant heat of ten degrees. This is one way to decelerate freezing.

Who will use the electricity produced at this plant?

Besides supplying province consumption, it is planned to be distributed to Erdenet Power Plant. The Erdenet plant buys 180 megawatts of electricity per day from the hydroelectric power station of Gallut Lake in the Russian Federation. This plant will play an important role in saving money spent on buying electricity. Our plant used to produce 25 megawatts of electricity besides heat. The Ministry of Energy is paying more attention to increasing the electricity supply.

As a result, our plant will be expanded and a project to produce 50-80 megawatts of electricity per day will be implemented. If we can build a hydro accumulation power plant, we don’t have to buy electricity from Russia.

We will also have funds to improve our province if we can sell electricity to the Erdenet plant and not buy electricity abroad. Other provinces have the chance to produce electricity and earn money. The advantage of the hydro accumulation power plant is after it covers its expenses, it will produce almost free electricity.

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