Cabinet reviews urgent measures to reduce air pollution

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A cabinet meeting in progress

During its weekly meeting on Wednesday, Cabinet discussed further measures which will be taken to reduce air pollution in Ulaanbaatar.

Cabinet agreed to increase the capacity of Thermal Power Plant No.3 by 250 megawatts and extend the electric and thermal transmission systems of the plan. The prime minister instructed energy and finance ministers to implement a project to renew a turbine generator at Thermal Power Plant No.4 with a soft loan provided by Russia.

Ministers accepted the upgrade of the power plants as energy experts determined that the proposed extension for Thermal Power Plant No.3 will increase the plant’s thermal power by 1.5 times and will double the capacity of electric power output, and the proposed update of Thermal Power Plant No.4 will improve the safety of the power system and reduce the current level of toxic smoke produced by the plant threefold.

In his report after the meeting, Minister of Energy Ts.Davaasuren stated that the government is working to promote an electric heating system to help reduce Ulaanbaatar’s air pollution. After the proposed expansions are carried out, 19,000 additional ger district residents will be provided with free electricity at night, and a total of 60,000 ger district households will be provided free nighttime electricity.

10 COMMENTS

  1. It is good that measures are taken. Does this mean that the families of the Ger districts in question have to buy their own electric stoves or heaters, what about cooking then?

  2. Unless the free or reduced electricity is given at times when people most need it, i.e. between 17.00 and 21.00, and 06 and 09.00, it is useless. The way it is done now, free from 21.00 till 06.00, it creates MORE smog, not LESS, because people now make TWO fires in stead of KEEPING THE FIRE GOING at night. And as everybody by now knows, 70% of particle-emissions occur during the first 40 minutes of a fire, ANY fire.
    The main problem is that people who live in connected apartments are trying to make solutions for people who dont. The lack of real knowledge is appalling.
    A similar problem is with our traffic=jams, solutions for which are being thought up by people who drive, or are driven, in cars. Once they would take the bus regularly, and cycle (not OR), they would come up with totally different solutions.

  3. Magnus Holmströmm: Good question. There are low-interest financing plans available at certain banks for district-dwellers to buy electric heaters, and pay in 4-6 months.
    They/we mostly cook electric already partly, we all have an electric water-boiler, a electric frying pan, a rice-cooker. Its the all-night simmering on the stove that we will miss.
    But on a grander scale, we have only enough electricity-generation to implement these measures for 20% of the current connections, and no grid to deliver it anyway. So these measurements, to invest in grid and expand the generation make sense.
    What does NOT make sense is to invest in expanding the existing plants in the city. We will have to borrow expensive money to do that, since no WB, ADB, or EBRD will put any money in fossil fuels anymore.
    So we’d better use the chances forced upon us, and invest in PV and wind.
    But who am I?

  4. Why talk of electricity as the solution to UB’s life-taking and life-shortening air pollution problems, when it’s a known fact that the city’s ger district stoves are the real cause? The World Bank, the UN and other major sources have been saying for years that 80% of UB’s air pollution is from these stoves. It’s a huge area with no infrastructure for any utilities like water, sewage or power. And even IF electric power was provided there, how can these poverty stricken citizens afford expensive electric appliances?
    Their stoves are old, inefficient and burn not only raw, high polluting coal, but anything else than burns, including rubbish and plastic, adding yet more toxic, life-threatening fumes. The ash disposed of is thrown out, whipped up by winds to then mix with the moist, smoke polluted air! A deadly mix.
    Many years ago the WB extensively researched and recommended redesigned stoves that burned efficiently, using smokeless briquettes. The redesign had to involve both both stove and the fuel used, not the stove alone. Raw coal had to give way to smokeless fuel. These findings were that such a redesign would reduce pollution by 80%, while also reducing fuel bills, not to mention reducing the appalling number of deaths directly and indirectly attributed to air pollution, said to be 1 in 10.
    That the government has dragged its feet on this years old state of affairs is nothing short of shameful, and the sooner its boffins get around to resolving the real issue – ‘ger city’ stoves – the better.

    • 100% government fault. What people don’t know is that pockets are being generously lined by obscure ‘forces’ that do not want to see the problem solved. Call me a conspiracy theorist!

      • I can’t imagine what incentive there is for anyone to want to block progress towards getting ger residents cleaner heating/cooking methods. Inept management and simple greed and embezzlement from said funds by certain bureaucrats and/or politicians is more than sufficient to explain the relative lack of progress… no sinister plots are necessary when foolishness and greed are involved 😉

  5. WB and MCC did distribute 150.000 better.good stoves. These stobves did actually reduce the air-pollution. But at the same time we grew from 150.000 to 210.000 stoves, 60.000 new/bad ones.
    Plus, many people are investing in their self0built houses, by adding central heating, with HeatOnlyBoilers, which burn coal. Its these HOB that are to blame for not getting less pollution. They are super-inefficient, and emit up to 4 times the particles of the stove that they replace.
    There are also stories of these improved stoves finding their way out of UB, to the countryside, and then they are replaced with cheaper bad stoves. So be it.

  6. All of which proves that this decades old problem will not be resolved unless legislation is passed to declare UB a Smoke Free Zone. Stoves and domestic HOBs will have to be replaced by models specifically designed to burn efficiently by reducing pollution within acceptable limits.
    This doesn’t necessarily exclude low grade coal, if stove designs reburn pollutants in fumes before they exit, via internal baffles or by siting combustion area to intercept these fumes. Similar modifications have been successfully tested in the past, but in practice failed to ensure the coal used exactly suited this design for maximum heat, minimum pollutants. Failing that, produce high grade smoke-free coal or briquettes, made to specific compositions that meet legally defined standards. These must be subsidised where appropriate. All other fuels banned on penalty of use (£1,000 – 33,000 MNT in UK).
    This is not rocket science but basic common sense as was necessarily enforced by other countries (notably the UK) over 60 years ago.
    It’s useless for the PM to call for more public involvement and responsibility, likewise for the President to recommend declaring a State of Emergency, or creating satellite cities to reduce UBs population. It’s all pie in the sky when 80% of the problem is ger stoves and raw coal misuse – constantly declared as the root cause. This will never go away until the stove and related raw coal problems are resolved. 15 years of tinkering with this problem have been wasted, including billions of Govt. MNT, plus millions of US$ from aid agencies. Over this period, and to their everlasting shame for want of decisive government action, thousands of UB lives have been lost or shortened.
    The President cited Constitution Provision 2.1 of Article 25 to Declare a State of Emergency.
    He needs to read Chapter 2 – Human Rights and Freedoms. Article 16: The citizens of Mongolia are guaranteed the following rights and freedoms: (1) The right to life. (2) The right to a healthy and safe environment, and to be protected against environmental pollution and ecological imbalance.

    • At long last, recognition has been given by the government that banning the use of raw coal is the only way forward.
      Another online news source has posted an article stating “The parliamentary group of the Mongolian People’s Party has informed that the coal supply to Ulaanbaatar will be banned from April, 2019. The Government is to support the establishment of an innovative coal processing plant.”
      Unfortunately no mention is made of what fuel is to replace raw coal, since there has to be an alternative, and it won’t be electricity in such a short timespan little more than a year away.
      Just what is an “innovative coal processing plant” (presumable to produce smokeless fuels?) remains to be seen. Hopefully further news will emerge to announce what is obviously needed, are stoves designed to burn “innovative coals” or more plainly – smokeless fuels.
      If raw coals are to be banned from April 2019, there needs to be an almighty push from government to get the rest of their act together by redesigning, testing, and installing efficient smokeless stoves (within permitted limits), along with legislation to regulate the whole issue, before UB residents – especially those in ger areas – are left with old stoves and nothing to burn in them (apart from wood, dung, plastics, and any other toxic flammable materials that are also used apart from raw coal.
      There’s hope – at long last – that common sense is about to prevail, and UB’s life menacing air pollution is soon to be realistically brought under control.

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