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Patrick El Kallas

MSc in Pure and Applied Physics

MSc in Energy – Heriot Watt university


The Zouk Power Plant: Health Impacts & A Feasability

Study of Solutions

Author: Patrick El Kallas

Date August, 2010

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Table of Contents






1-CarbonCapture and Storage (CCS)……………………………………16

2-Rehabilitation of the Zouk Plant…….…………………………………19

3-Natural Gas………………………………………………………………20

4-Solar Water Heating (SWH)…………………………………..………..22



Appendix A……………………………………………………………....29

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The Zouk plant is a thermal electricity generation plant in the middle of a

populated residential and commercial area in Lebanon. It is purely
responsible to the "Electricite Du Liban" (EDL), which is 100% owned by the
government, and is realistically the official provider of electricity in Lebanon.
Thermoelectric power plants emit massive amounts of toxic air pollutants that
result in significant numbers of deaths and disease. While most new power
plants in both developed and less-developed countries have some modern
pollution controls, in Lebanon, air pollution controls in plants are poorly
applied. Air pollution from thermal power plants is associated with health
outcomes, including infant deaths, asthma and other lung diseases.

In this study, a survey covering rates of pulmonary diseases (asthma,

emphysema and lung cancer) was collected from 500 households within 3km
of the Zouk plant (study area) and 500 households within 15 to 20 km from
the plant (control area). Results indicate that incidence of all 3 diseases was
higher in the study area. Emissions from the Zouk plant are negatively
impacting the health of the neighboring population.

Four possible solutions are discussed: carbon separation and capture,

rehabilitation, natural gas, and solar water heating technology. All four
solutions were found to be feasible. They would all result in reduced
emissions, and thus a reduced impact on the environment, without negatively
affecting plant efficiency. The economic feasibility of the solutions increases if
used together. For example, the economic feasibility of carbon capture
technology is greatly enhanced if plant rehabilitation results in reduced
technical losses. In addition, alternative sources of energy (natural gas, solar)
help to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. Greater awareness of health
impacts from thermoelectric power plants is needed to assure that energy
policy decisions take these external costs into account and prioritize human
health. According to the European EIA (Environmental Impact Assesment)
legislation, thermal power plants are one of the projects that are subject to a
mandatory EIA. It is noteworthy that cleaner energy policy in Lebanon will
likely result in increased foreign grants to the country. More thorough energy
generation would be likely to support clean technologies and make other
alternative sources of energy more cost-effective in the long run. The paper
shows that implementing solutions at the Zouk plant is a necessity not only for
environmental and health reasons, but also to meet the increasing energy
demands of the country that the current energy status quo is unable to fulfill.

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The Zouk Power Plant

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Zouk, Lebanon’s largest thermoelectric power plant, has become problematic

as it is located in the heart of a populated residential area. Environmental
pollution from the power plant is of serious concern. Lebanon, a small country
in the Middle East with no natural fuel resources, must import almost all its
fuel requirements. These include fuel oil, diesel oil and natural gas (to be
used in the future). The Zouk plant runs on fuel oil. The electric power supply
in Lebanon is a State monopoly by law. The Zouk plant is directed by
"Electricite Du Liban" (EDL), which falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of
Hydraulic and Electric Resources. In addition, "Electricite Du Liban" (EDL) is
the sole official provider of electricity in Lebanon and is 100% government-

The electricity supply in Lebanon is highly unreliable, with frequent and

lengthy power cuts being the daily norm. In fact, EDL is only able to provide
around 60% [1] of the total electricity required; with the remaining 40% coming
from backup generation. Following 17 years of civil war, the power sector in
Lebanon is in need of a major rehabilitation program, with the aim of
improving the quality of the power supply, increasing the efficiency of current
power plants and reducing harmful gas emissions.

The energy sector in Lebanon was found to contribute 85% of all carbon
dioxide (CO2) emissions and 96% of all sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions in the
country [2]. The Zouk power plant is a major cause of environmental impacts,
as it is known that thermoelectric power plants pose a serious problem for the
environment, which is the dispersal of ashes from their dumps. In addition,
the main emissions at thermal power plants are (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NO),
sulfur oxides (SO), and so on… These emissions are known to be the culprit
in heating up the atmosphere and resulting in the current environmental crisis
known as global warming.

The consumption of electricity is not harmful to the environment per se, but
the production of this electric energy is a big problem for almost every country
in the world due to harmful gases emitted by the power plants and their
environmental impact on people. For example, a study done on the
environmental and health impact of the “Sostanj”, which is one of the biggest
thermal power plants in Slovenia, located in the bottom of “Saleska” valley,
has shown that this power plant has very negative influences on the
environment and human health such as damaging forests and contaminated

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water, in addition to huge emissions in the air leading to harmful and serious
diseases in the neighboring population [3].

Ash and slag dumps of thermoelectric power plants should be regularly

addressed by biological recultivation. Thus, experts everywhere are
investigating new methods for use in the process of recultivation. In Serbia,
for example, the use of “Bermuda Grass” (cynodon dactylon) on ash and slug
dumps of thermoelectric power plants has become a necessity. Selecting
plant species that can develop a cover to prevent erosion on ash and slag
dumps is a necessity imposed by ash itself, as it is a substance that is sterile,
high in content of phytotoxic elements (toxic to vegetation) and deficient in
nitrogen [4]. However, both extreme temperature and humidity conditions that
prevail on ash and slag dumps make the formation of good biological cover
limited. Ashes arising from combustions have specific weight lower than that
of natural soil, and are subjects to various erosive influences [5]. The shape
of ash particles is spherical, and these particles have also very pronounced
angles that might damage the root system of plants. Ashes fluctuate in the
range of 10.5-10.6 m/sec [5], which puts them in the category of substances
with very high water permeability. Many chemical substances contribute to
the formation of ash relegated to dumps such as aluminum and silicon oxides
in addition to oxides of iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and titanium.
Also, although at relatively lower concentrations, there are certain radioactive
elements in coal, underground water, ash, and plant cultures. Only unburned
pieces of coal present some organic substances. However, there are
enormous ecological problems caused by ash dumping, making the need to
find new methods to reduce these negative environmental influences more
pressing, as existing methods are not sufficiently effective at providing
protection from ash dispersal. Moreover, current methods of biological
recultivation are limited to the summer season. It is, therefore, impossible to
recommend a method with fast results, which makes the issue of ash dumped
from thermoelectric power plants more serious.

Fine particles in the atmosphere such as sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen
oxide (NOX) are formed through chemical reactions in thermal power plants,
where the energy production is taking place. Also, these plants directly emit
particle matter (PM) as well as gases that undergo chemical reactions forming
the fine particles stated above. SO2, NOX and PM emitted in the sky affect the
concentration of PM by increasing its ambient concentration less than 2.5
microns in diameter (PM2.5). An increased mortality from cardiopulmonary
diseases, lung cancer [6] and numerous other respiratory illnesses and
associated morbidity [7] has been consistently linked with the exposure to

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PM2.5. Some modern pollution controls, such as electrostatic precipitators
(ESPs) have been used in both developed and less-developed countries. The
use of flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) can also be used, which can reduce
sulfur dioxide emissions by 89% when it is applied on plants and can lead to
substantial human health risk reductions. However, FGD currently takes
place only in developed countries.

A study done on the health impacts of internationally-financed coal-fired

power plants has estimated deaths due to heart ailments, respiratory disease
and lung cancer attributable to these plants to reach 6000 to 10,700 annually
[8]. However, the deaths estimated in this study represent only a portion of a
larger overall health burden related to air pollution from these power plants.
In addition, air pollution from these types of power plants is associated with
infant deaths, asthma and other lung diseases [8]. More specifically 300 to
700 deaths were caused from lung cancer and a range of 5700 to 10000
deaths from cardiopulmonary causes [8]. These estimates include health
effects occurring inside of a 1000 km radius of these plants [9].

The use of FGD lead to reductions in disease burdens and lead to a mortality
differential of around 4600 deaths annually [8] which shows the effectiveness
of FGD for reductions in disease burdens. In addition, the cardiopulmonary
and lung cancer deaths associated with these power plants were in the
thousands where FGD technologies were in fact absent from plants.
Therefore, the use of air pollution controls in power plants is important in order
to drop the mortality caused by the pollutants emitted from these plants,
otherwise these power plants contribute significantly to the burden of death
and disease in the areas in which they are located.

Thermal power plants in India are also facing problems concerning gaseous
emissions, particle matter, fly ash and other trace atmospheric gases due to
the use of poor quality of coal, which adds to environmental impacts and
many hazardous diseases like Asthma, Tuberculosis, and so on… Thus, the
air quality is affected since many pollutants are in the sky such as carbon
monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NO2) and Ozone (O3),
also known phytotoxic elements or phytotoxicants. In addition, India’s
population, second in the world, has grown progressively from 300 million in
1947 to more than a billion today [10], which affects the lifestyle, and
accelerates the energy demand and the energy consumption as well. As
expected, per capita usage of energy in India will increase to almost 40 million
BTU (British thermal unit) by the year 2010 [10]. The unhealthy increase of
the population, in addition to the use of fossil fuels and the limited use of

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natural gas in most energy activities are increasing emissions, thus leading
India to negative environmental and health impacts.

India’s thermal power plants, such as “Chandrapur” thermal power plant run
on coal. A comparison has been done between Chandrapur and “Ohio” a
thermal power plant located in the US and the results have shown that the
calorific value of Chandrapur coal is only half of that of Ohio coal due to the
poor quality of Indian coal [10] and its high ash content (35-50%).

Thermal power plants in India generate almost 80% of total generated power
for the nation [10]. These plants use diesel oil, as does the Zouk plant in
Lebanon. They also use furnace oil, which results in lower emissions. The
use of diesel oil has increased by 7.54% in India [10]. However, in addition to
the main emissions (CO, NO, SO, etc…) from thermal power plants, there are
some inorganic particles such as fly ash, soot (black carbon) and other trace
gas species, which are responsible for atmospheric acidity, heating up the
atmosphere and producing harmful health impacts. The most important gas
emitted by the thermal plants is Nitric Oxide (NO), since the formation of
photochemical smog is a result of this gas. In addition, this gas contributes to
the acidity in the atmosphere as well as to the formation of tropospheric
ozone, which is one of the main causes for global warming. However,
population exposure to these polluting gases over the entire Indian region
needs to be studied. Furthermore, analyses of energy activities in India, such
as emissions and pollutants will help in decreasing the impact of these
emissions on human and plant health, and on the environment.

In Mexico, emissions from power plants and air pollution are major causes of
environmental impacts. High Sulfur fuel oil is burned to generate electricity in
one of the largest power plants in Mexico, “Tuxpan” [11]. An estimation of
the health impacts due to air pollution from Tuxpan has found that emissions
from this power plant reach annual average concentrations of 0.12 µg m−3 for
Sulfates PM2.5, 0.64 µg m−3 for Nitrates PM2.5 and 3.09 µg m−3 for SO2 within a
120 km radius of the plant [11]. These concentrations are dangerous and
could result in environmental and health impacts for the local population.
Therefore, such issues have to be considered while analyzing different
electricity generation methods, and air pollution control technologies must be
used in such areas.

In addition to Nitric Oxide, Mercury is found to result from various human

activities, such as thermoelectric power plants, and electronic industries.
Being discharged into rivers and oceans, it enters the food chain since it is

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turned into an organic compound (methylmercury), and is then submitted to
biomagnification where concentrations are observed at the top of the food
chain, which comprises fish, which are eaten by humans [12]. Furthermore,
methylmercury is toxic to the developing brain. Studies with children exposed
to organic mercury showed multiple effects on intelligence and poor
performance in attention, speech and memory [13].

Moreover, the occurrence of some diseases has increased in the last

decades, specifically in industrial regions and big cities (e.g.: Beirut, and Zouk
in Lebanon). In the external environment of these cities, the major triggers of
acute Asthma attacks are produced by ozone (O3) and sulfur dioxide (SO2),
which are mainly produced by thermoelectric power plants and industries,
etc… These chemical agents add up to external biological factors (allergens),
affecting mainly populations living under poor housing conditions [14].
Furthermore, in the United States, Asthma incidence among children aged
less than 18 years increased more than twice in areas close to industries and
power plants where O3 and SO2 are produced [15].

However, in studying and analyzing the future energy supply, possible health
hazards are mainly discussed in nuclear power plants, whereas less attention
is paid to the health impacts of thermoelectric power plants. Realistically, the
risk of cancer among workers in thermoelectric power plants has increased in
the last decades [16], which calls for additional studies of power plant
workers, and takes into consideration that electromagnetic fields, could have
some environmental and health impacts [17]. In addition to electromagnetic
fields, some chemical pollutants such as Persistent Organic Pollutants
(POPs), are generated from thermoelectric plants. They also have health
impacts on the population since they enter through the food chain, specifically
in aquatic species [18]. They also affect people through ongoing
environmental exposure by inhaling polluted air.

The two main thermoelectric power plants in Lebanon, Zouk and Jieh, release
good quantities of PCBs (PCB-oil) into the environment. This will affect the
neighboring population exposed to some of the persistent organic pollutants
(POPs), and may result in serious health impacts (e.g.: skin irritation,
respiratory effects, fatigue, blurred vision, headaches, and dizziness) [18].
Furthermore, ominous brown smog can be seen over the capital and around
the Zouk plant. This is uncontrolled and is on the rise due to the limited
permanent measurements of pollutants’ concentrations in the air and because
of the lack of statistics. In Lebanon, near these two power plants, the quality
of the air is extremely polluted due to the use of poor quality fuel that is

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extremely rich in sulfur. The Lebanese government has enacted a law
regarding the use of better quality fuel with less sulfur [19]. However,
importing this fuel and making it available to power plants has not come about
due to political red tape as well as poor coordination between the public and
private fuel sectors. Thus, Electricite Du Liban (EDL) is unable to implement
this decision, and continues to use fuel that does not comply with the
standards set by the government [19] in order to avoid plunging Lebanon into

This study aims to provide data on the health impacts of the Zouk plant and to
provide a detailed study of possible solutions to the problem. These solutions
will be discussed in terms of their environmental benefits, technical knowhow,
economic feasibility and legislative issues involved.

It is hoped that empirical and scientific data on the connection between

Lebanon’s Zouk plant and the negative impact on its populations health and
wellbeing might put added pressure on concerned private and public entities
to create appropriate legislation regarding environmental safeguards, as well
as to put these into effect on the ground.

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A questionnaire, consisting of 12 yes/no items was created to cover the main

pulmonary diseases associated with air pollution, namely lung cancer,
asthma, and emphysema (see Appendix A for sample questionnaire). A
question was included addressing the presence of anyone in the household
who smokes. The study area was deemed to include households within a 3
km radius of the Zouk power plant, while the control area fell between a 15-20
km radius of the plant. It is important to note that initially, control data was to
be collected from national illness incidence rates from the Ministry of Health
(MoH). This was not possible, as there is no database covering specific rates
of disease. Thus, it was decided that the control data would have to be
collected from an area sufficiently removed from direct pollution by the plant.

500 questionnaires were collected from each of the study and control areas.
Selection of households was random, with about 25% of households refusing
to participate in the study. Once completed, numbers of respondents who
had answered yes to items were tallied and the results were demonstrated in
graphs including both numbers and percentages. A full statistical analysis of
the results was not done, as the main objective of the study was to show that
disease incidence is higher in areas proximal to the Zouk plant, and to focus
on practical and technical solutions for this problem. It is also noteworthy that
the attempt to control for smoking was not feasible as nearly all
households/individuals in households were exposed to smoking on a regular


Results indicate that respondents from the study area suffer from all three
diseases (asthma, lung cancer and emphysema) to a significantly greater
degree than respondents from the control area. In addition, residents of the
Zouk area also suffer to a greater degree from other pulmonary diseases
(26.60% versus 12.40% from the control area), and other medical problems
such as cancers, skin infections, headache, dry cough, allergies, and so on.

Table.1 shows the percentage of yes responses to the questionnaire items in

the Zouk and control areas.

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Item % In Zouk area % In Control area
Respondent with asthma history 40.60 15.40
Asthma attack in last 12 months 27.40 9.40
On asthma medication 36.40 12.60
Respondent with allergies 40.80 21.40
Other medical problems 34.60 14.80
Someone in household with asthma 29.60 11.80
Someone in household with history of 35.40 17.40
lung cancer
Someone in household passed away 33.00 12.80
from lung cancer
Someone in household with 26.20 15.40
Someone in household with other 26.60 12.40
pulmonary disease

Figure.1 shows the rate of asthma incidence in both the study and control






Zouk  Area   Control  Area    
Yes   148.00   59.00  
No   352.00   441.00  
Figure.1 Asthma Incidence

When asked whether anyone in the household has been diagnosed with
asthma (item 7 in the questionnaire), 29.60% of respondents residing in the
Zouk area responded yes, compared with only 11.80% in the control area.
Residents of the Zouk area are also more likely to be on medications for
asthma, to have had an asthma attack in the last 12 months, and to suffer
from allergies.

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Figure.2 shows the rate of lung cancer incidence in both study and control


Zouk  Area   Control  Area    
Yes   177.00   87.00  
No   323.00   413.00  
Figure.2 Lung Cancer Incidence

When asked whether anyone in the household had ever been diagnosed with
lung cancer (item 9 on the questionnaire), 35% residing in the Zouk area
responded positively, compared with only 17.40% from the control area. In
addition, residents of the Zouk area were almost 3 times as likely to have
passed away as a result of lung cancer.

Figure.3 shows the rate of emphysema incidence in both the Zouk and control






Zouk  Area   Control  Area    
Yes   131.00   77.00  
No   369.00   423.00  

Figure.3 Emphysema Incidence

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When asked whether anyone in the household suffers from emphysema (item
11 on the questionnaire), 34% of respondents from the Zouk area answered
yes, compared with only 11.80% from the control area.

Figure.4 shows the rate of other medical problems.






Zouk  Area   Control  Area    
Yes   173.00   74.00  
No   327.00   426.00  
Figure.4 Other Medical Problems

In response to item 6 on the questionnaire, 34.60% of respondents in the

Zouk area reported that at least one person in the household had suffered
from other medical problems, including cancers, skin infections, dry cough,
allergies, and headaches. 14.80% of households in the control area reported
similar problems.

Figure 5 shows the rate of other pulmonary diseases in both the study and
control areas.


Zouk  Area   Control  Area    
Yes   133.00   62.00  
No   367.00   438.00  
Figure.5 Other Pulmonary Diseases

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In response to item 12 on the questionnaire, 26.60% of respondents in the
Zouk area reported that someone in the household had suffered from other
pulmonary problems, while only 12.40% of respondents from the control area
reported similar problems.

Overall, residents from the Zouk area were 2-3 times more likely to report
both pulmonary and other medical problems than residents outside the Zouk

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As the results show, the Zouk plant is affecting the health of the neighboring
population by polluting the environment. Harmful gases emitted in the
atmosphere from this plant are likely to increase annually due to the growing
energy demand. There are a lot of possible methods that could minimize the
impact of the Zouk power plant on both the environment and the population.
Taking into consideration the financial situation of the Lebanese government
(public dept is about US$40 billion), many such solutions are likely to become
limited. For example, relocating the Zouk plant is not a viable option due to
unavailability of alternative areas and to cost. Thus, the government needs to
use new and cost-effective techniques while also enhancing the capacity of
the electricity generated to meet the ever-increasing demand. At the
beginning of 2007, a power supply capacity of 2,100 MW was installed by
EDL, of which 1,900 MW consisted of thermal power plant capacity [1].
However, the peak demand for electricity in 2006 had already reached
approximately 2600 MW [20]. Due to several events, the available supply has
been reduced in the past two years. The capacity of the Zouk plant is
currently around 650 MW of which 465 MW are available [1]. The plant
consists of four units that operate all the time with low fuel efficiency covering
at best 60% of peak demand for electricity in the area. In addition, both
technical and non-technical losses are high causing significant increases in
cost since the plant is already operating at peak load without meeting the
demand required. Therefore, in order to meet electricity demands and to
reduce harmful emissions, several actions must be taken, such as reduction
in technical losses and rehabilitation of the plant, in addition to substitution of
fuel through the use of natural gas. Furthermore, the fuel oil used in the plant
known as “RFO 6”, is one of the most polluting petroleum by-products since it
is highly concentrated in sulfur in order to enhance its combustion. Therefore,
since filtration techniques are still missing, a revision of the fuel specifications
must be conducted.

Since the energy sector in Lebanon contributes 85% of all CO2 emissions in
the country [2], and yet no resources can substitute fossil fuels while
increasing efficiency of power plants, then there must be a reduction in CO2
emissions without decreasing the efficiency of the system. There are
currently a lot of methods leading to reductions in CO2 emissions, such as
renewable energy technologies e.g. wind-power, solar energy, biomass, and
so on. Although these are not yet fully viable alternatives to fossil fuels, they
offer significant socio-economic benefits. In the mean time, the process of
CO2 separation is a must for thermal power plants in order to reduce

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emissions from the dumps without loosing the efficiency. In addition to
reductions in emissions, this technique leads to the capture of the CO2
emitted as well as its storage underground or under the sea floor.

1) Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

1.a) Carbon capture and storage consists of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2)
from fossil fuel fired power plants, at a certain temperature, and storing it
underground or in the sea in order to avoid its entry into the atmosphere,
almost without efficiency loss. There are many processes for separating the
carbon dioxide e.g. chemical, physical, both chemical and physical and
cryogenic separation [21]. The mixed absorption method (physical and
chemical) is likely to suit large power plants along with the choice of the best
solvent. For example “Carbonate Looping” is one method that requires a
temperature of 600 Celsius, and in which a reactive lime (CaO) could be used
as a solvent in the flue gas. The CaO reacts with the CO2 forming calcium
carbonate (CaCO3) and releasing heat [22]:

Reaction A: CaO(s) + CO2 (g) → CaCO3 (s)

δrH(po,TO) = −170.5[kJ mol]

After the exothermic reaction A, at a temperature of 900 Celsius, conversely

the calcium carbonate (CaCO3) will be separated from the flue gas and
decomposed into carbon dioxide (CO2) and lime (CaO), using a high
temperature heat exchanger [22].

Reaction B: CaCO3 (s) → CaO(s)+ CO2 (g)

δrH(po,To) = 170.5[kJ mol]

After the endothermic reaction B, new separation takes place between the
regenerated lime and the carbon dioxide, and then (CaO) will be recycled to
the carbonator and reused [23] in the carbonate looping cycle. After heat
transfer to the air flow and steam and water, the flue gas nearly free of (CO2)
will be discharged into the atmosphere and the flue gas rich in (CO2) will be
stored [23]. The major components of the power plants would be combustion
chamber and heat exchangers if we consider the method of Carbonate
Looping for an existing plant with minimal changes.

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1.b) Carbon capture at the power plant

The Zouk is a fuel power plant with a capacity of 650 MW. Taking into
consideration the technical and non-technical losses, the net power of the
plant would be about 465 MW. Therefore, we can assume that the plant will
produce 2.5 million tons of CO2 annually [21]. Thus, the total quantity of CO2
to be stored underground would be 75 million tons in 30 years. Following ISO
standards, the fuel oil burned at the plant should be an international coal with
16% ash, 2% moisture and 1% sulfur. Some equipment is required for carbon
dioxide separation:

• Pressure reduction tanks

• Heat exchangers
• Absorption and desorption columns
• Pumps
• Shift conversion, a catalytic device for converting carbon
monoxide into CO2, which may enhance the efficiency of the
• In order to reduce the water content in the CO2 produced, a
dehydration unit should be included
• To limit losses of the absorbent, a refrigeration system should
be included, especially for methanol processes (if the solvent
chosen is methanol)

The choice of the solvent to be used in the separation process is of utmost

importance and must occur with the greatest care. In addition, through the
CO2 compression station, pressure values have to be monitored (100-150
bar) in order to limit efficiency losses or increase it if possible, which will affect
the cost of electricity generated per kWh [24]. Taking into consideration the
construction cost of the equipment stated above, including all the expenses
related to supply and the cost of the CO2 separation system (if methanol is the
solvent of choice), in addition to the CO2 compressor and shift converser, the
investment cost of this plant will be increased by approximately 23% for
electricity generation.

The distance between the power plant and the CO2 storage site must be as
short as possible in order to decrease cost of transport and to limit
environmental risks as well. For the Zouk plant, both transporting and storing
CO2, are likely to be cost efficient with low environmental risks since the plant
is located exactly on the sea. Therefore, the storage site would be an
offshore storage under the Mediterranean Sea, which means that the storage

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reservoirs would be under the sea floor. The CO2 produced by this power
plant will be transported through pipelines. In addition to the cost of the
equipment (e.g. wells, reservoirs, and pipes etc.) and the construction
expenses, many factors should be taken into consideration with carbon
dioxide transport and storage such as the cost of the land through which the
pipelines pass (especially in case of onshore sites), the safety of the
installations, and the payments associated with geological knowledge of the
storage sites. The investment costs, consisting of construction costs, interest
during construction, operating and maintenance costs, divided by the annual
output of CO2, is equal to the cost price per ton of CO2 transported and

In order to find the cost of the electricity generated with CO2 capture, costs of
transport and storage should be taken into consideration. Thus, 2.5 million
ton/year (t/y) of CO2 are stored under the Mediterranean Sea. The power
plant has an expected output of 465 MW. Assuming that the net efficiency of
the plant is around 33%, then the power plant net output would be 186 MW.
Thus 136 (t/h) of CO2 are emitted from the plant. The cost of CO2 avoided is
about US$70/ton. The cost of MWh from the Zouk plant with carbon capture
systems would be around US$98/MWh (equivalent to 9.8 US¢/KWh). These
costs are slightly lower than those of renewable energy technologies (solar or
wind energy), which also reduce CO2 emissions. It might also be possible to
reduce this figure as several factors may be variable such as: distance from
the power plant to storage site, characteristics of reservoir used for storage,
location of the storage site, and so on. Thermal power plants in Lebanon,
without carbon capture, give a power supply with a cost to the consumer
around (9.8 US¢/KWh), which is in fact too low to cover EDL’s costs [1]. In
relation with service quality and regional standards, Lebanon’s electricity tariff
is high. Although, the average tariff for industry consumers is 10 US¢/KWh,
its actual cost is 21 US¢/KWh at peak hours, which increases the losses of
EDL to about US$20 million per year [1]. These economical losses are mainly
a result of the high technical and non-technical losses at this plant.

Comparing the price per kWh between the power plant with and without
carbon separation, we find that the efficiency of the plant did not change. The
price with carbon capture is greater than the Levelized cost (6.58 US¢/KWh)
from plants without carbon capture. Therefore, with carbon capture, the same
amount of electricity is generated and has the same cost per kWh as the
current tariff, with limited emissions in carbon dioxide.

                                                                   Patrick El Kallas Page 19 of 30  

In addition, the health and environmental impacts of the plant are reduced
since the CO2 emissions are limited. Health and environmental issues are
more problematic than the economical ones. Although adding carbon capture
technology to the plant is costly, it is far more economical than relocating the
power plant for example. The location of the Zouk in a heavily populated area
means that things cannot remain as they are and thus, CO2 separation could
help the Zouk plant in reducing CO2 emissions and limiting health impacts
(hospital, diseases, employee absenteeism, and mortality). Grants are also
likely to be extended to the country if emissions are reduced. Furthermore, as
stated in the Kyoto Protocol, the price per ton of CO2 avoided is approximately
$70, meaning that the emissions reduced as a result of carbon capture
technology can be “sold”, thereby reducing the price of energy generated with
this technology by about 40%.

Carbon capture is a must and should be implemented in order to reduce

emissions, thus limiting the health impacts on the neighboring population
specifically in the neighboring area and the country in general. Adding this
pollution control technique to the power plant will reduce particle air pollution
and deaths. The cost of the carbon capture technique would be significantly
offset by reduced cost to the government related to medical expenses from
the increased rates of illness and death due to the impact of the plant on the
air quality. This would behoove the Ministry of Health (MoH) to work in
conjunction with EDL and other government and nongovernmental institutions
towards the common goal of emission reduction.

In order for carbon capture to be a financially viable option, the efficiency of

the Zouk plant must be addressed. In order to increase the electricity supply,
some technical losses must be reduced by rehabilitation and repair (good
maintenance and operation) of the network, which leads to an increase of the
electricity supply by 100 MW [1].

2) Rehabilitation of the Zouk Plant

Unfortunately, much of the efficiency problem at the Zouk plant is due to

nontechnical losses that are not under the control of EDL. Such losses
include individuals ‘stealing’ from the grid and political issues resulting in
unpaid electricity bills for certain areas of the country, with EDL unable to
disconnect the power supply. However, much can be done regarding
technical losses from the plant.

                                                                   Patrick El Kallas Page 20 of 30  

If maintained properly, the lifetime of the Zouk plant could be extended by 10
years. The rehabilitation can be implemented within 2 to 3 years, with a cost
of US$100 million, including investment required for environmental control
systems [20]. The rehabilitation consists of transporting different fuel that is
closer to the current design values for fuel use in gram/kWh terms. Due to the
difference in the unit size (difference in size between the 4 units), the fuel
consumption design value varies from 215 grams/kWh to 225 grams/kWh [1].
Moreover, the current fuel consumption is above the design by 20% for unit
#1, which reflects an increase in fuel cost. This is due to the lack of
maintenance practices and spare parts. Once rehabilitated, the fuel
consumption and the design value will be equal. Thus, there is no more
deviation from the design value, hence, no more influence on the fuel bill. In
addition, the Zouk plant is operating at reduced capacity, with efficiency lesser
by 20-25% than the design level.

This project is feasible for the Lebanese Government, since US$ 117.5 million
were estimated by the Government’s Public Investment Program to
rehabilitate the plant [1], and the cost of the entire project is estimated to be
US$ 100 million only [20]. In addition, in order to maintain a good
maintenance of the plant, a further US$ 100 million would be needed
annually. The amount of electricity generated would be 1830 GWh/year with
fuel savings of 67,293 tons/year. Therefore, an additional capacity of 87 MW
could be provided from this plant once rehabilitated while achieving savings of
14.3% on fuel consumption per kWh.

Furthermore, in addition to the increase in efficiency and to the enhancement

of the capacity of the system, this project is highly economical, since it has a
payback period of 3 years (12%) and an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 27%.
Due to the improved capacity, a lot of demand can be met which could bring
annual savings of around US$ 60 million.

3) Natural Gas

Lebanon has no natural gas resources. The gas currently available is

liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) imported from Syria through a single licensed
private importer [25]. Since the price of fuel oil is rising, in addition to its
environmental impacts, the Lebanese government has been recently giving
significant attention to natural gas, in order to convert dependency of existing
thermal power plants from fuel oil to natural gas. In the near future, the
natural gas imported could be also used for industrial, residential and

                                                                   Patrick El Kallas Page 21 of 30  

commercial activities. Some old and recent assessments have shown positive
results for both storage and transportation potential.

In March 2005, a natural gas pipeline between Syria and Lebanon was
completed [25]. This pipeline links the Beddawi power plant in northern
Lebanon to the Baniyas plant in Syria. Since the pipeline is near completion,
it is feasible for the Zouk plant to transport its natural gas from the Beddawi
plant instead of transporting it from outside. Therefore a domestic pipeline
should be constructed to link the Zouk plant to the Beddawi plant, with low
cost, since the distance between these two plants is relatively short (<70 Km).
This pipeline could be extended in the future in order to link the Baddawi plant
from the north to the Zahrani plant in the south. The Syrian natural gas will
flow into Lebanon providing 53 million cubic feet per day [25], with the
possibility to increase eventually. Furthermore, in order to meet the demands,
an additional natural gas pipeline should be implemented. This pipeline would
be initially from Egypt, since “The Arab Pipeline”, a pipeline that starts from
Egypt and passes through Jordan, Syria and Lebanon is under construction
after a multilateral agreement between these four Arab countries.
Approximately 100-150 MW of electricity supply are expected from this
pipeline. Combined Cycles Gas Turbines (CCGTs) will be installed and
designed to operate on natural gas. In general, (CCGTs) can also operate on
gas-oil, but with the same energy input the price of gas-oil is almost double of
that of natural gas [1].

Since the cost of a natural gas pipeline is $US 1 million per Km [26], and the
distance from the Baddawi plant to the Zahrani plant is approximately 200
Km, therefore, the pipeline investment cost is approximately $US 200 million.
Assuming that the natural gas pipeline is completed to the Baddawi plant,
therefore, with a capital investment of $US200 million, the completion of the
pipeline for both the Zouk and the Zahrani plants can be ensured. The mean
prices for oil and natural gas are US$ 80/barrel and US$ 7 million/MBTU
respectively (1BTU=1500J) [27]. Assuming that the average of electricity
supply tariff from oil is (9.4 US¢/kWh), after switching to natural gas the
savings expected are substantially greater than the capital investment and
annual maintenance costs. The average of electricity supply tariff from
natural gas would be within a range from US$ 4 to US10$ per MBTU [28],
around (7.22 US¢/kWh) [1]. The oil power plants are one of the most
expensive options for generating electricity. Plants with natural gas are less
costly than oil plants. This alternative source of energy would satisfy the
electricity demand by increasing the efficiency of the system while reducing
CO2 emissions, thus leading to savings of US$92 – US$500 per ton of CO2

                                                                   Patrick El Kallas Page 22 of 30  

[27]. The concept of a natural gas pipeline should be considered, if sufficient
Egyptian gas can be secured through the Arab Gas Pipeline, and no
commercial or political obstacles are seen. This strategy could provide the
Zouk plant with economical, energetic and environmental benefits. Moreover,
EDL should have the ability to properly maintain these plants and overcome
the lack of spare parts to keep the plants at reliable operating conditions. The
use of natural gas instead of fossil fuel will reduce the concentrations of air
pollutants, and help in easing a number of environmental concerns e.g. smog,
green house gas emissions (GHG), solid waste, etc. Natural gas, with no
solid waste, has no impact on water quality, which will also improve the
economical situation in the country since a lot of health and environmental
expenses can be saved. The availability of natural gas in power plants will
intensify the efficiency of the site, improve the quality of production of energy
and reduce total energy consumption and pollutant emissions.

4) Solar Water Heating (SWH)

Lebanon, with no natural resources and a US$ 40 billion debt, has to

overcome the energy demand of its population. Therefore, new efficient
technologies are to be considered as serious potential for the Lebanese
energy sector, in order to decrease the dependency on fossil fuels and to
minimize both environmental and health impacts. Thus, Renewable Energy
could be an alternative energy source for the country. Renewable energy
technologies are plenty (e.g. wind and solar energy, tides and waves energy,
biomass, biogas, geothermal energy etc.). But due to the current energy
status of the country and the economical situation, solar energy would be the
best alternative resource, which may help EDL to offset the electricity demand
and reduce the load on existing power plants. Therefore, the reliance on oil
imports would be smaller, and thousands of tons of fuel/diesel oil would be
reduced, which leads to some savings in the annual cost of fuel imports.

Lebanon is located in a relatively sunny area (2200 kWh/m2.yr) [29]. In

addition, taking into consideration capital investment, availability in the
market, payback period and suitability with the demand studied, Solar Water
Heating (SWH) technology would best suit the situation, due to its feasibility
and simplicity of use [29]. Moreover, utilization of solar water heater systems
was successful and the annual installations of these systems are increasing,
especially for industrial applications [30]. In general, at residential houses,
electric water heaters are used for domestic water heating. According to EDL,
for an average 3 kW electric water heater the consumption is 6480 kWh/yr,
therefore, the cost of electrically heated water is (US$ 0.27/L) [31].

                                                                   Patrick El Kallas Page 23 of 30  

Open cycle and closed cycle are the only available (SWH) systems in the
market. Lebanese water, rich in salts and calcium carbonate, would improve
the lifetime of the systems by forming solid crystals inside them. A typical
installed system (4 m2, 200L) could cost anywhere between ($US 700 - US$
1500) including installation [29], with an average payback period of 3-4 years.
Moreover, one system can meet the water heater needs for a household of
five with a payback period of six months [29]. Therefore, the electric bills
would be decreased, thus the load on the thermal plants and the amount of
fuel used at power plants would also be reduced, and millions of dollars would
be saved. The cost of solar heated water is (US$ 0.24/L), which is less than
that of electrically heated water. In addition, any type of (SWH) system used
will reduce CO2 emissions between 1 to 2 tons per year. (SWH) systems
could save 80% of energy consumed for water heating and contribute to 25%
reductions in annual electricity bills [31]. These reductions in the electricity
bills will motivate people to install (SWH) systems. The Lebanese
government should encourage the use of these systems, and also control and
monitor the market by fixing their prices, thus, leaving no space for business
competitions. Furthermore, incentives must be provided by the government
and local NGO’s, for residents and educational institutions willing to install
these systems [29].

Implementation of (SWH) systems can greatly impact the Zouk power plant
both economically and environmentally. The choice of the system must be
suitable with the area, and has to be good in terms of price and quality (not
the cheapest system nor the best one). A 4-m2 system, the Kypros by
Siemens, would be convenient for the area, with a 200 L hot water tank and
two panels installed. The cost of the system including installation is US$900
[32]. This solar heater produces (3230 kWh/yr.) [31]. Therefore, taking into
consideration that electric heaters produce (6480 kWh/yr.), and that (SWH)
saves 80% of the water heating, then 20% of the electricity needed for each
household can be saved. Therefore each household can save (1296 kWh/yr.)
equivalent to (US$ 172/yr.). In 10 years, the use of 200,000 solar water
heaters will avoid the option of increasing the capacity of the plant (80 MW -
150MW), therefore avoiding cost of investment around US$120 million. And
otherwise, the installation of solar heaters will achieve savings in the total
electricity generated, with a payback period of 5.2 years.

Since (SWH) systems are easy to install, use a renewable energy source,
reduce electricity bill, work quickly and quietly, reduce fuel, and GHG
emissions, it is visible that implementing solar water heater systems can offset

                                                                   Patrick El Kallas Page 24 of 30  

the obstacles facing the Zouk plant evolution. But, despite the success of the
(SWH) project, the government has to adopt laws to ensure product quality
standards for the consumer and the supplier, decrease in the Value Added
Tax (VAT) or remove taxes especially for installations at old houses, and
promote (SWH) systems such as in the media and at universities. These
systems provide job opportunities, and reduce harmful gases that would have
been emitted by the Zouk plant, thus reducing the health bill.


As is evident from this study, solutions to the environmental and health

problems posed by the Zouk plant are available. In addition, some of these
solutions can ease, if not solve altogether, Lebanon’s energy crisis, with
supplies currently far from being able to meet demands. The solutions
posited involve implementing changes to the Zouk plant itself, rather than the
drastic options of closing down or relocation. Although the cost for example of
carbon capture technology is high, it would behoove the Lebanese
government to think in terms of long-term goals, taking into consideration that
the pay back period is around 4.8 years

These solutions will not and cannot come into effect without strong
government backing and support, including financial backing, legislative
changes, enactment of legislation, and continuous monitoring. For example, if
carbon separation and capture technologies are implemented, there must also
be continuous monitoring of air pollution levels by a governmental entity
outside of EDL, as well as a database of information accessible to other
outside entities such as local and international environmental NGO’s. Such a
system makes sure that technologies are working properly and ensures

On another level, the government must bear the burden of resolving any
political and regional issues that hinder the evolution of Lebanon’s energy
sector. For example, cooperation with neighboring countries is essential if
there is to be a reliable source of natural gas.

It is essential that the Lebanese government, and EDL, develop a long-term

vision regarding energy policy. A short-term gains approach, such as
importing low quality fuel high in hazardous sulfur, is resulting in a heavy price
with regards to both the environment and human health. In the long run,
these will have a financial price for the country, such as in medical expenses

                                                                   Patrick El Kallas Page 25 of 30  

for an ailing population for example. In addition, a solution like plant
rehabilitation, although initially costly, can improve the current financial deficits
faced by EDL as a result of technical and nontechnical losses and poor
efficiency. Furthermore, and especially if carbon capture technologies cannot
be implemented immediately due to high costs, rehabilitation will provide a
minimum of filtration techniques, resulting in at least somewhat reduced levels
of emissions.

The population of Lebanon can also bear some responsibility for the energy
situation and the high levels of pollution. Adopting renewable energy
technologies at the household level (such as Solar Water Heating systems) is
a first step towards reducing the energy load on thermal power plants and the
electricity grid, reducing the environmental and health impacts of current
energy generation techniques, and reducing utility bills for the Lebanese
household. Again the government has an essential role to play here as far as
guaranteeing the quality of products on the market, educating the public about
these technologies and the environment, and providing financial aid/

Showing the world that Lebanon is serious about moving towards cleaner
energy and about reducing harmful emissions will likely lead to international
funding towards these goals, and Lebanon can join the world community in
battling global warming and climate change, while also ensuring it’s people
the kind of reliable electricity supply expected in the 21st century.

                                                                   Patrick El Kallas Page 26 of 30  


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                                                                   Patrick El Kallas Page 29 of 30  


Health Survey Questionnaire - Zouk/Control Area Name: ________________

Q.1 Have you ever had asthma?

• NO
Q.2 In the last 12 months, have you had an attack of asthma?
• NO
Q.3 Are you currently taking any medication for breathing problems or asthma?
• NO
Q.4 Does any body smoke inside your house?
• NO
Q.5 Do you have allergies?
• NO
Q.6 Do you have or have you had any other medical problems (e.g. cancer, dry cough, skin
infection, headache, respiration allergy to dust and pollen…)?
• NO
Q.7 Has anyone in your household been diagnosed with asthma?
• NO
Q.8 Have you lived in al Zouk for 10 or more years?
• NO
Q.9 Has anyone in your household suffered from lung cancer?
· NO
Q.10 Has anyone in your household died from lung cancer?
• NO
Q.11 Does anyone in your household suffer from emphysema?
• NO
Q.12 Has anyone in your household suffered from any other pulmonary/respiratory diseases?
· NO

                                                                   Patrick El Kallas Page 30 of 30