Impact of coal on air quality empirically quantified in new study

2018/09/09 17:08:34 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
CNA file photo

CNA file photo

Taipei, Sept. 9 (CNA) The drop in coal use for power generation was the main reason for improvements in air quality recorded in Taichung, Nantou County, Yunlin County and Chiayi County from January to June, according to a Facebook post by an expert in environmental engineering.

A comparison of average levels of PM2.5, which measures the concentration of airborne particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers, indicates that the air quality index for the first six months of the year was lower in 20 of Taiwan's 22 cities and counties than the average for the same period from 2013-2017.

Tsuang Ben-jei (莊秉潔), professor of Environmental Engineering at National Chung Hsing University, posted the data compiled by the Environmental Protection Administration on his FB page Saturday, as evidence that air quality in the areas looked at is improving.

According to the data, the average PM 2.5 level in Taichung stood at 29 micrograms per square meter from January to June, 34 in Nantou, 31 in Yunlin and 33 in Chiayi, representing a decrease of 5 micrograms per square meter in Taichung, 4 in Nantou, 4 in Yunlin and 3 in Chiayi, compared with the average results for 2013-2017.

Tsuang attributed the improvement to the substitution of coal for liquid natural gas in electricity production, with Taichung Power Plant, a coal-fired power station, reducing its power-generating capacity by 10 percent, 2,419 gigawatts hour (GWh) over the same period.

About 70 percent of the decrease in the electricity output was made up for by Tongxiao Power Plant, a gas-fired power plant in Miaoli County, the professor said.

Tsuang said that his argument is also corroborated by the fact that Taichung, Chiayi, and Nantou received less rainfall from January to June this year than average precipitation for the same period 2013-2017, as this eliminates the possibility that airborne particles were washed away by the rain thereby reducing PM2.5 concentration.

(By Wu Hsin-yun and Shih Hsiu-chuan)
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