Bangladesh opens coal-fired power plant near mangrove forest

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Bangladesh will soon start burning coal at a large power plant near the world’s largest mangrove forest. The country often experiences power outages and power outages = blackout. The government expects the new power plant to increase the reliability of electric power.

But, environmentalists say there are cleaner sources of energy the country should use instead of burning coal.

The plant will produce about 1,300 megawatts of electricity, as much as Bangladesh’s largest coal-fired power station produces.

The new power plant will burn around 4.7 million tonnes of coal. He will free nearly 15 million tonnes of residual carbon dioxide each year. Carbon dioxide emissions cause global warming.

Around 12,000 tonnes of charcoal will be shipped by boat through the mangrove forest, called the Sundarbans, each day.

Sundarbans means “beautiful forest” in Bengali. The coastal zone of trees has grown over thousands of years. The Ganga, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers flow through the region, which is rich in sediment that helps the forest grow.

Some environmentalists, scientists and locals fear that pollution from the new plant will damage the ecosystem of the Sundarbans.

Bangladesh is home to 168 million people and is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Because the land is low and flat, it is easily damaged by storms and rising sea levels. Last month, a major storm killed 24 people and left 10,000 homeless.

Boats sit near homes in the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, near the Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant project in Rampal, Bangladesh, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Al-emrun Garjon)

Bangladesh is one of the least emitting countries in the world. His government says it plans to reduce its total emissions by 22% by 2030.

In October, about 80% of the country experienced an 8-hour blackout when electricity went out. Grid collapsed. Such breakdowns, sometimes up to 10 hours a day, are particularly detrimental to the country’s industry.

Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, energy adviser to Bangladesh’s prime minister, said the new power station will help the country tackle its energy problems.

Bangladesh wants poor countries to receive money to help them adjust to the adverse effects of a warmer world. A World Bank report estimated that Bangladesh could suffer $570 million in damage annually from extreme weather events linked to climate change.

Other energy sources

Bangladesh has two active coal-fired power plants. Some experts say the country does not need a third party. They argue that cleaner energy sources are available.

Renewable energy already powers millions of Bangladeshi homes.

Saleemul Huq is director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development, a research organization in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.

“Bangladesh actually has one of the fastest growing countries solar home systems,” he said. Wind power, he added, is another technology that Bangladesh could use.

Anu Mohammad is an economist and environmental activist based in Dhaka. He suggested the exploration and production of natural gas as a less polluting and better choice than coal.

“Mangrove forests are a natural barrier to sick effects of climate change,” he said, adding: “There are many alternatives to the production of electricity. But there is no alternative to Sundarbans.

I am Caty Weaver. And I’m Andrew Smith.

Julhas Alam, Al-Emrun Garjon and Sibi Arasu reported this story for The Associated Press. Andrew Smith adapted it for VOA Learning English.

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words in this story

mangrove -not. an area of ​​tropical trees that grow with roots above ground and grow in swamps or shallow water

Blackout -not. a period when all electrical power is off, producing dark conditions at night

emissions -not. gases released into the atmosphere

sediment -not. material, such as dirt and rocks, that sinks to the bottom of a liquid or body of water

Grid -not. the network of power lines for transporting electricity through a geographic area

solar –adj. relating to the sun

sick –adj. harmful or negative

alternative -not. other choice or option

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