Home / Industry / Energy /  As crop stubble burning season begins, NTPC invites biomass pellet bids

NEW DELHI : As part of India’s game-plan of containing pollution crisis by crop stubble burning, state run NTPC Ltd has invited bids for procuring biomass pellets as a fuel to generate electricity at 17 of its projects, the country’ largest power generation utility said on Sunday.

These pellets will be mixed with coal as fuel to generate electricity. This development assumes significance given that NTPC runs one of the largest global fleets of coal fuelled projects.

This tender comes in the backdrop of Delhi pollution, caused due to crop stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana, becoming an annual political flashpoint between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress. The crop stubble burning season has started this year again, after the national capital saw clear skies during lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The bid has been invited from within the country, with preference to be given to suppliers from Punjab and Haryana. With the average price of such pellets at around 5,500 per tonne, the idea is to incentivize farmers to convert crop stubble into pellets rather than burn it. According to the government, an acre of land produces around two tonnes of stubble.

“The power producer has envisaged consumption of five million tonnes of pellets in the current year at its 17 its power plants including NTPC Korba (Chhattisgarh), NTPC Farakka (West Bengal), NTPC Dadri (Uttar Pradesh), NTPC Kudgi (Karnataka), NTPC Sipat (Chhattisgarh), and NTPC Rihand (Uttar Pradesh)," NTPC said in a statement.

This tender also comes at a time when NTPC Ltd has decided to not set up greenfield coal-fuelled power projects as part of its pivot towards green energy. NTPC plans to make total capital expenditure of Rs1 trillion between 2019 and 2024 to become a 130-gigawatts (GW) power producer by 2032.

“As per estimates, about 145 MMTPA (million metric tonne per annum) of crop residue remains unutilised and most of it is burnt in India in the open fields, creating severe air pollution that leads to health issues. Open burning of agro residue is considered a major contributor to the surge in PM 2.5 in Northern India in post-harvesting season," NTPC said in a statement.

India has been trying to rejig its energy mix in favour of green energy sources and has become one of the top renewable energy producers globally, with a plan to achieve 175GW by 2022 and 500GW by 2030 as part of its climate commitments.

“With its gross calorific value comparable to the bituminous coal, the power generation potential of the entire 145 MMTPA biomass burnt through co-firing in coal-based power plants is equivalent to 28,000-30,000 MW of round the clock generation of renewable power which can produce the same amount of electrical energy as can be produced from solar capacity of 125,000-150,000 MW," the statement added.

With an installed capacity of 62.91 GW, NTPC Group has 70 power stations across the country.

“NTPC had first undertaken this unique initiative on pilot basis in 2017 for biomass co-firing by replacing some of the coal with pellet-based fuel at NTPC Dadri, Uttar Pradesh," the statement said.

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