Vineyards On Depleted Ash Dams Of Thermal Power Plants – OpEd


Today your writer will try to review an untold evaluation of post-operation utilization of already depleted ash dam fields near old existing thermal power plants.

Ash dams are necessary for thermal power plants. Whether you fire either hard coal or low quality lignite, you generate lots of fly ash and bottom ash in the end. You have to dispose that ash by any means. If it is fly ash, you capture them through big capacity electrostatic precipitators (ESP) prior to entering high stacks, collect and then transfer to nearby cement plants to be added into cement production. Local price is around 18- 20 US Dollars per ton CIF delivery at cement plant.

If it is bottom ash, then you mix it with available nearby water, and pump them all to nearby ash dam. Ash dam is a man made water dam. You circulate the water and transfer the bottom ash from thermal power plant to the dam. These ash dams are built by the contractor during thermal power plant construction and they are used during life cycle of the thermal power plant operation.

In the end, the thermal power plant ages, gets old, needs rehabilitation. At the same time your ash dam gets filled with incoming bottom ash. At first you insert some cement into the ash dam so that you cover the bottom of dam, to insulate the dam from infusion of unnecessary material to underwater resources. Then the upcoming bottom ash fills the ash dam, where ash goes down, water remains at top for water recirculation.

Finally your ash dam gets full, having no more bottom ash keeping capacity. If our thermal power plant is still in operation, at that time you have to build a new ash dam to keep the new bottom ash.

What happens after you fill the ash dam? What can you do on depleted ash dam fields?

You put 1 or a maximum 2 meters of agricultural soil on top of depleted ash dam fields, and plant suitable trees. Ash lands especially volcanic ash lands are suitable for vineyards to grow good quality grapes for wine production. Ash dam is a men-made ash field for vineyards. That is the same case everywhere. Some of the world famous vineyards of California are not only on volcanic ash fields but also on depleted man-made ash dams, or on similar municipality refuse dump areas.

In Elbistan, Turkey, administration raises pine trees. This is simple solution but not so feasible. In Soma thermal power plant, on the first depleted ash dam, administration plants olive trees and produces excellent virgin olive oil. Yatagan ash dam capacity is almost complete. There are new depleted ash dam fields waiting for agricultural utilization.

The Sugozu thermal power plant administration is planning to grow Cabernet Sauvignon grapes for nearby wine factory in future. Grapes are already planted around ash disposal land, however I do not feel that neither land and nor environment suitable for Cabernet Sauvignon production. It is highly recommended that the administration should check local grapes. We would expect them to plant local grapes. Elbistan and Tufanbeyli are suitable for OkuzGozu grapes, Kangal for Bogazkere, Cayirhan is suitable for KalecikKarasi, Can Canakkale is suitable for local KaraLahna/ Çavuş/ Kuntra grapes.

Soma is allocated for olive trees for sure and their virgin olive oil is extraordinary. Yatagan can follow Soma experience and Yatagan administration should plant olive trees on their almost depleted ash dam fields.

Thermal power plants are long term operations, you learn while you operate. All long term future strategies are to be considered. The plants are to be operated with long term programs. Privatization procedures are to enforce sufficient capacity ESPs, FGDs in full operation at all times, as well as post agricultural utilization of depleted ash dams near old thermal power plants.

Haluk Direskeneli

Haluk Direskeneli

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP, Entergy), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

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