Thermal plants to be told to use crop residue

Thermal plants to be told to use crop residue

The Centre is mulling over making use of crop residue mandatory in thermal plants for generating electricity and, thereby, reducing air pollution from stubble burning. PTI file photo for representation.

Though the National Thermal Power Corporation, a state-run generating company, has already started the process of procuring crop residue on a large scale, same may have to be followed by other coal-fired thermal power stations across the country, said an official in the Ministry of Power.

The NTPC successfully conducted a test of biomass co-firing at its Dadri thermal power plant, near Delhi, and now the company wants to extend this experiment to remaining plants, the official said.

Stubble burning is not limited to the northern parts of the country and is becoming rampant in other areas as well due to mechanised farming. To end the menace of stubble burning by farmers, the government wants all thermal power plants to procure crop residue or agriculture waste from farmers and utilise it for generating power along with coal, said the official.  

Biomass co-firing has the potential to reduce emissions from coal-fuelled generation without much cost escalation, he said.

Earlier, the Ministry of Power suggested to the thermal power plants to use crop residue along with coal to generate power to ensure lower stubble burning and air pollution.

The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) in November last year issued an advisory to all public and private power generating companies to endeavour to use 5 to 10 % biomass pellets primarily made of agro residue, along with coal.

The CEA issued this suggestion following smog in Delhi, which increased allegedly due to stubble burning in northern states.

Less carbon

According to a Power Ministry estimate, India generates about 145 million tonnes a year of surplus agro residue and this can generate 18,728 MW of electricity in a year.

With coal-based generation of 1,96,098 MW, about 100 million tonnes of agro residue can be absorbed in coal-based power plants through 10 % co-firing with non-torrefied pellets, reducing carbon emission, said an official.