Farm stubble fuels NTPC’s Dadri plant
To Help Delhi, Neighbours Breathe Easy
New Delhi: In a first of its kind move, state-run NTPC has started using farm stubble as fuel at one of the units at its Dadri power plant, a move that is expected to help Delhi and its neighbourhood breathe easy by stopping farmers from burning crop residue — a major contributor to winter smog — and supplementing farm income as well as creating rural jobs.
“We (the Modi government) have done what we have said. It is helping the environment. It is helping the farmers by giving them additional revenue. It is developing an ecosystem of rural entrepreneurs and start-ups,” power minister R K Singh told TOIon phone from Abu Dhabi, where he is attending an international renewable energy conference.
Known as ‘biomass’ co-firing in industry parlance, it is possible to mix farm residue pellets with coal up to 10% of the total fuel used in a power plant without affecting heating efficiency or tariff. Usually, residue that are least preferred as cattle fodder and burnt by farmers are used to make pellets.
The power ministry had announced the step in Novem-
TOXIC AIR: ber 2017 when north India was reeling under a bad spell of smog produced by crop burning in the entire region. “On an average, one acre of cropping yields about two tonnes of stubble or straw… NTPC will buy stubble at Rs 5,500 per tonne, which will yield an additional income of approximately Rs 11,000 per acre for farmers,” Singh had said while announcing the policy on November 16, 2017.
Though details of price or quantity being used at Dadri were not available, company sources said NTPC was expanding the move to its other power plants as well but it would take some time to establish a regular supply chain of pellets.
NTPC has invited EOI (ex- pression of interest) for sourcing pellets for its power plants across the country and will hold a workshop on skilling on the new entrepreneurial avenue before calling for bids. This is expected to encourage collection and storage of agricultural residue and spur investments in facilities for manufacturing pellets.
Company sources said ash generated from burning of agro residue-based fuel in power plants got absorbed in electrostatic precipitators and did not cause air pollution. Also, the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emitted from their combustion was absorbed in the next crop cycle by photosynthesis, which did not increase the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
A significant chunk of farmers continues to burn farm stubble, even though they know it contributes to Delhi's air pollution