ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING AND ASSESSMENT, vol.58, no.1, pp.61-77, 1999 (SCI-Expanded)
One of the primary adverse environmental impacts associated with power generation facilities and in particular thermal power plants is local air quality. When these plants are operated at inland areas the dry type cooling towers used may significantly increase ambient concentrations of air pollutants due to the building downwash effect. When one or more buildings in the vicinity of a point source interrupt wind flow, an area of turbulence known as a building wake is created. Pollutants emitted from relatively low level sources can be caught in this turbulence affecting their dispersion. In spite of the fact that natural gas-fired combined-cycle power plants have lower air emission levels compared to other power plants using alternative fossil fuel, they can still create significant local air pollution problems. In this paper, local air quality impacts of a natural gas-fired combined-cycle power plant located in a coastal area are compared with those of another natural gas-fired combined-cycle power plant having identical air emissions but located in an inland area taking into account differences in topography and meteorology. Additionally, a series of scenarios for the inland site have been envisaged to illustrate the importance of plant lay-out configurations paying particular attention to the building downwash effect. Model results showed that different geometrical configurations of the stacks and cooling towers will cause remarkable differences in ambient air pollutant concentrations; thus it is concluded that when selecting a plant site, a detailed site-specific investigation should be conducted in order to achieve the least possible ambient air pollution concentrations with the given emissions.