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Thermal pollution is the act of altering the temperature of a natural water

body, which may be a river, lake or ocean environment. This condition chiefly
arises from the waste heat generated by an industrial process such as certain
power generation plants. The concept is most frequently discussed in the
context of elevating natural water temperature, but may also be caused by
the release of cooler water from the base of reservoirs into warmer rivers.

Thermal pollution is one parameter of the broader subject of water


pollution.

HEAT TRANSFER PERCENTAGE IN THERMAL AND NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS:

Modern fossil-fuel plants are able to convert only about 40% of the energy
released by burning coal, oil, or gas into electricity. Of the remaining 60%,
about three-quarters or 45 % of the total is transferred from the low pres-
sure steam to cooling water in the condenser and one-quarter or 15% of
the total is carried up the stack in the exhaust gas or is lost in the plant's
mechanical systems. Due to lower operating temperature limits a nuclear-
fueled plant is less efficient and is usually designed to convert only 33% of
the energy released by nuclear fission into electricity. Of the remaining
67%, about 62% of the total is transferred to cooling water in the condenser
and 5% of the total is lost to mechanical inefficiency.

EFFECTS OF THERMAL POLLUTION:

(1). ON AQUATIC LIFE:

Temperature is one of the most important and influential water quality


characteristics to life in water and has been described as the ecological
"master factor". Other characteristics of water such as dissolved oxygen level
and pH are functions of the temperature.

(a) Heat death: Experiments have shown that, depending on the initial
water temperature, a relatively small temperature increase - less than
10°F, may cause aquatic test animals to go from 0% to 100%mortalities
.Under normal operating conditions, steam-electric power plants heat
condenser cooling water in excess of 10°F. Direct, heat induced death in
fish is thought to be a result of change in cell chemistry.
(b) Modification of Life Processes: Temperature plays a major role in the
reproductive cycle of aquatic organisms. Most fish depend on a
temperature increase to act as a signal to begin migration and spawning
in the spring. In addition, the incubation period of fertilized fish eggs is
temperature dependent and is generally shortened as the temperature
increases. Therefore, the life cycle of a species could be upset by a
sustained artificially induced temperature increase since the young fish
might hatch too early in the spring to find natural food.

(2). EFFECT ON PLANT LIFE:


Phytoplankton - microscopic algae that produce food directly by
Photosynthesis, are the base of the aquatic food chain. Food production
by phytoplankton is decreased by a temperature increase and the
amount of food available to animal species is therefore lowered. The
grazing rates of zooplankton upon phytoplankton increase as
temperature increases and since phytoplankton are adversely affected
by a temperature rise, zooplankton may be affected indirectly.
Algae growth is normally stimulated by a moderate rise in temperature if
there is an adequate supply of nutrients such as organic waste.
This accelerated growth may result in "red tide" or other forms of
undesirable algae blooms many of which produce foul odors, taste, and
substances which may be toxic.

GLOBAL ENERGY ISSUES

There are two possible paths to provide energy services to the people:

1) The hard/unsustainable path continues with heavy reliance on


unsustainable

resources- fossil fuels and nucle ar power. This leads to serious pollution
problems and

disposal problems of radioactive wastes.

2) The soft/sustainable path relies on energy efficiency and renewable


resources to
meet the regions energy requirement. This is a radical depart ure from
what most energy

planners in the region are considering. Local area planning with an


emphasis on

renewable sources of energy and improvement in end use efficiency


ensures

sustainable development.

The centralised planning approach is adopted currently for resource


management and

energy policy decisions. There is a need to mo ve towards the softer


path, to ensure

sustainable development for the present and for the future.

Renewable energy ensures supply security and diversity, and unlike


fossil fuels or

nuclear power avoids exhausting the planet's resources and causing


other negative

environmental impacts and represent the sustainable way of producing


and using

energy. Renewable such as wind, geothermal, solar and farm grown


energy crops

contribute today less than 2% of global energy supplies. The World


Energy Council

(WEC) projects a total contribution from a ll the renewable energy


sources in the range

of 20 - 50 % of the world primary energy supply by the middle of the


next century.

Renewable energy (mainly bioen ergy) currently provide nearly 14% of


the total global
energy needs, but use of bioenergy is not very satisfactory all over.

In the developing world wind, water, s un, waste and crops have begun
to make

significant contribution to meet heat and power needs. The renew ables
are likely to play

an increasing role in coming years, largely because of their ability to help


combat global

warming and other environmental problem causing concer n to the


international

community. A recent UN study concluded that, in certain


circumstances, renewables

could account for as much as 60% of the worl d's market by the mid-
21st century. This

potential however depends on a number of factors such as stimulating


a market,

addressing the barriers to renewables' deployment and raising


awareness of the

benefits and opportunities these clean energy sources offer.

The principle types of renewable energies available today are:

Biomass Energy

Hydro power

Wind power

Solar Energy

Municipal waste

Industrial waste

Wave energy
Tidal power

Geothermal heat