To help tackle air pollution issues, the Ministry of Power has issued a policy that calls for using 5-10 percent of biomass pellets alongside coal for power generation in thermal power plants across the country.
Responding to a query in the Lok Sabha, Union Minister of Power R.K. Singh informed the House that the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has written to all states and union territories across the country and asked them to promote the use of biomass pellets at all of their thermal power plants, whether public or private.
The Power Minister added that the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) has already invited tenders for the procurement of 500 tons per day of agricultural, residue-based biomass pellets and 500 tons per day of agricultural, residue-based briquettes for power generation.
The initiative is expected to help curb the deterioration of air quality in Delhi by providing farmers in adjacent states with an alternate to burning their crop residue.
The tenders will be for a two-year period with a maximum price of ₹5,500 (~$85.32) per metric ton for agricultural residue based biomass pellets and ₹6,600 (~$102.3) per ton for pellets of agricultural residue based torrefied biomass pellets and briquettes, news agency PTI reported. If the NTPC can attract enough bidders for the tender, it will open up new avenues of growth for agricultural residue usage in power plants across the country.
According to CEA data, electricity generated through biomass fell by 11 percent year-over-year from 4,136 BU in 2016 to 3,674 BU in 2017. Biomass made up just 0.29 percent of total energy generation in the country last year.
There is a fundamental shift underway in India’s power mix as the country transitions to renewables from fossil fuels. Installations share of coal declined significantly to just 19 percent in 2017 from 62 percent in 2016. A lack of power demand was also a factor in lower coal installations.
Recently, Mercom also reported that water scarcity is an issue of increasing concern for India’s thermal power plants. A report by World Resources Institute (WRI) found that about 40 percent of the thermal plants in India that rely on freshwater for cooling purposes are in water-stressed areas and more are expected to move into that category in coming years.
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