Odisha Clarifies its Stand on the Use of Biomass in Captive and Cogeneration Projects

The Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) has ruled that the guidelines prescribed by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) must be followed to estimate electricity generated from biomass in coal-based thermal plants, including captive and cogeneration projects.

The Commission directed that blending of biomass in coal-fired thermal plants, including captive cogeneration projects, should be between 5% and 10% as per the guidelines of the Ministry of Power.

Jindal Steel Limited (JSL) petitioned the use of biomass in captive projects and import of renewable energy from other sources through open access to be treated as total consumption and considered for renewable purchase obligation (RPO) compliance.

The Commission noted that the import of scheduled renewable power through open access was to be treated as consumption by Jindal Steel for RPO compliance only.


It directed the State Load Despatch Center (SLDC) to consider the total scheduled import of renewable energy through open access by the petitioner’s project in a particular time block and furnish the data to the Odisha Renewable Energy Development Agency (OREDA).

Background

Jindal Steel, in its submission, said that to comply with its non-solar RPO targets, it intended to use biomass as a fuel to the extent possible in its captive power project. The company pointed out that the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) had issued an advisory for utilizing biomass in coal-powered thermal plants. CERC had also determined a methodology for estimating electricity generated from biomass in cogeneration projects, but Odisha had not adopted it.

The petitioner submitted that OERC had ruled that a captive project may sell surplus power to distribution companies while meeting the RPO.

Jindal Steel said that the current meter could only read the net export or the net import data of the captive generating project in a particular time block. If the project was importing a specific amount of renewable power, simultaneously exporting conventional power generated by its captive project, the total renewable energy was not accounted for by the SLDC.

OREDA noted that the Commission considered approving CERC’s methodology to estimate electricity generated from biomass in coal-powered thermal power projects. OREDA also said that the Commission could consider the petitioner’s request to import renewable energy from other sources through open access to be treated as its consumption.

Commission’s analysis

The Commission observed that the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy had clarified that power generated from biomass-based cogeneration projects was renewable energy and was eligible for meeting non-solar RPO.

It said that the draft OERC (Procurement of Energy from Renewable Sources and its Compliance) Regulations, 2021 was being finalized. The methodology prescribed by CERC to estimate electricity generated from biomass in coal-powered thermal power plants would be followed.

The Commission observed that the CEA had indicated that NTPC had successfully demonstrated the co-firing of a 7% blend of biomass pellets with coal in its Dadri power project. It could be replicated in other thermal plants.

The state regulator said that the methodology prescribed by CERC should be followed to estimate electricity generated from biomass in biomass co-fired thermal plants, including captive and cogeneration projects. The Commission directed that biomass blending in biomass coal-fired thermal plants, including captive cogeneration, should be 5% and 10%.

The Commission ruled that the import of scheduled renewable power through open access was to be treated as the consumption of the petitioner’s plant for RPO compliance only. Accordingly, it directed the SLDC to consider the total scheduled import of renewable energy through open access by the petitioner’s plant in a particular time block and furnish the data to OREDA.

In May this year, the Ministry of Power decided to set up a national mission on the use of biomass in coal-powered thermal power plants. The mission aims to address rampant air pollution caused by the burning of farm stubble and reduce the carbon footprint in thermal power generation.

Subscribe to Mercom’s real-time Regulatory Updates to ensure you don’t miss any critical updates from the renewable industry.