Govt in fresh push for power from clean coal technologies

As India aims to increase its power capacity in the next 15 years, a significant portion of the capacity is expected to come from coal itself


About 60% of India’s installed power capacity is coal-based. Photo:  Rajkumar/Mint
About 60% of India’s installed power capacity is coal-based. Photo: Rajkumar/Mint

New Delhi: The central government has invited proposals on research, development and demonstration of power generation with clean coal technologies.

India is the world’s third largest coal producing country and the fourth largest coal importer. It is expected to increase its coal production to about 1 billion tonne by 2020.

About 60% of India’s installed power capacity is coal-based. As India aims to increase its power capacity in the next 15 years, a significant portion of the capacity is expected to come from coal itself. However, India has been focusing on clean coal technologies in line with its commitments related to climate change. Under the Paris climate agreement, India has pledged to focus on clean coal technologies such as shifting towards supercritical technologies for coal-based power plants.

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To develop such technologies, the department of science and technology of the central government has 7 February called for proposals for clean coal research and development. The last date for submitting such proposals is 7 April and the duration of the project is three years.

“The country continues to significantly rely on coal for electricity generation, and this abundant and affordable fossil fuel accounts for major chunk of the country’s electricity output. However, major challenges to harness coal are environmental emissions and efficiency enhancement, which underlines the need for cost effective, efficient and environmentally compliant technologies,” said the note for the proposal.

“There is need for technologies that involve both pre-processing of coal as well as technologies which reduce emission through improve combustion and environmental control. Clean coal technology encompasses a new generation of energy processes that sharply reduce air emissions and other pollutants from coal-burning power plants,” it added.

It stressed that the scientific outcome of the proposal should have direct relevance to the Indian scenario and should consider harnessing locally available coal efficiently and effectively.

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The main objectives of the project would include boosting the efficiency by which coal plants convert coal to electricity or other energy forms, new coal technologies that can help utilities cut sulphur, nitrogen and mercury pollutants from power plants and reduce water consumption.

Some of the steps that India has envisaged to move towards cleaner coal are mandating all new, large coal-based generating stations to use highly efficient supercritical technology.

Renovation and Modernisation (R&M) and Life Extension (LE) of existing old power stations in a phased manner, mandatory targets for about 144 old thermal stations for improving energy efficiency and stringent emission standards for thermal plants are some of the other steps that India has been taking to control coal emissions.

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