New Delhi: India has challenged a Washington-based think tank that included NTPC Ltd among the world’s top five polluting power utilities, a ranking that has raised concerns in the government that the country’s electricity projects may find it difficult to raise funds overseas.
The Center for Global Development’s (CGD) database, called Carbon Monitoring for Action, ranked India’s largest power generator the third biggest polluter based on carbon dioxide (CO2) emission levels.
See: How they stack up
According to the Union power ministry, which consulted NTPC, the database used inaccurate generation figures. The US-based organization used a figure of 157 billion units for NTPC’s power generation; the actual generation was 200.84 billion units, it said.
Using the new figure and measured by a yardstick called normalized CO2 intensity, the thermal power producer ranked the second least polluting power generator in a list of 15, with an intensity of 820g per kilowatt-hour (kWh), behind only RWE AG of Germany at 778g per kWh.
“We have written to Center for Global Development arguing our point. They have responded stating that they will incorporate our viewpoint in the database,” said Jairam Ramesh, minister of state for power and commerce.
Questions emailed to CGD on 23 August have not been answered.
“Our projects are operating at a plant load factor of 92% compared to other overseas projects that are operating at 70%. While these foreign projects may have higher design efficiency, their operating efficiency is lower as compared to us because we have big size units,” said a senior NTPC executive, who did not wish to be identified.
Still, the power sector accounts for half of India’s CO2 emissions that are blamed for climate change. While the country’s CO2 emissions are low on a per capita basis, they are high in absolute terms.
Almost 70% of the power generated in the country is from coal. And 78% of the coal used in the country goes to power plants.
Shubhranshu Patnaik, an executive director at audit and consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, said the pollution issue shouldn’t be seen from the angle of carbon intensity.
“We should focus on what NTPC needs to do to bring down its carbon footprint. NTPC, due to its large coal-based generating capacity, will have a large carbon footprint. Coal is a part of India’s energy security and we can do little about it. It is the luck of the draw.”
The government had been concerned that the think tank’s finding may influence international lending agencies not to fund Indian power utilities. The country faces a Rs4.51 trillion funding shortfall in reaching its target of adding 78,577MW of power generation capacity in 2007-12, which will require Rs10.31 trillion by current estimates.
Environmental groups had urged the World Bank to delay a $450 million (Rs1,967 crore) loan by the International Finance Corp., its private sector lending arm, for Tata Power Co. Ltd’s 4,000MW power project in Mundra, Gujarat, saying the bank could not claim to fight climate change on one hand while funding carbon-emitting projects on the other.
NTPC has a total power generation capacity of around 29,000MW, of which 86% is coal-based.
The company has an annual coal requirement of 125 million tonnes and is the largest consumer of coal in the country. Out of the 21,941MW that the company wants to add in the five years to 2012, 15,180MW will be through coal-fired plants and the remaining from gas- and water-based projects.