In order to reduce stubble burning and to reduce carbon footprint of Thermal Power Plants while increasing the income of farmers, Government of India has taken various proactive step with the establishment of National Mission on Use of Biomass in Thermal Power Plants. The agro-residue/ biomass earlier considered as a waste product has now begun to produce zero-carbon electricity for the citizens of the country. In turn farmers are getting additional income by selling the stubble/ biomass for conversion into torrefied/ non-torrefied biomass pellets. For overall monitoring of the Mission and to facilitate the Mission on inter-ministerial issues/constraints, a Steering Committee under the chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Power (MoP) has been constituted.
Ministry of Power’s policy on “Biomass Utilization for Power Generation through Co-firing in Coal based Power Plants” issued in October 2021 mandates all thermal power plants in the country to use 5 to 10% biomass along with coal for power production. The policy has started showing promising results.
As on date, approximately 59,000 metric tonnes (MT) of biomass has been cofired in thermal power plants in the country, while tenders for 12 million metric tonnes (MMT) are at different stages of process for short term & long term duration. Out of this, the biomass co-fired in the NCR region stands at 21000 MT and tenders floated in the region are about 5.50 MMT. Contract have already been awarded for more than 11 lakh MT of biomass pellets.
It has been observed that NTPC has emerged as a leader in biomass user having co-fired approx. 58,000 MT of biomass, while tendering a total of 10.7 MMT over short-term and long-term basis. Among the State Governments, while Haryana State Genco has been able to co-fire around 550 MT of biomass in two of its stations and float tenders worth 11 lakh metric tonnes. Some of the Public and Private generating companies have started co-firing small quantities of biomass in Punjab, UP and Maharashtra. The results so far are encouraging and there is still a long way to go before the country can achieve its target of 5-10% co-firing in all plants in the country. This will be achieved with active participation of all Central/State Gencos and Independent Power Producers (IPPs).
Under the National Mission on Use of Biomass in Thermal Power Plants, advertisement, awareness campaign and training activities are actively being pursued. Hoardings in public places and advertisement in popular newspapers in the northern states of Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh have already started. More advertisement campaigns are planned in 2022 especially in the months leading up to the paddy harvesting season.
Continuing with the market development efforts and encouraging budding entrepreneurs, the National Mission has conducted two Farmers’ training & awareness programs held at Faridabad, Haryana and Nangal, Punjab in October ‘2021. Both programs witnessed active participation by the Farmers wherein they were sensitized on negative impact of crop residue burning on the soil productivity and avenues to supplement their income by participating in the value chain of biomass co-firing in TPPs. Another two programs were held at NPTI Badarpur and NPTI Nagpur for pellet manufactures in November 2021. Pellet vendors were apprised of the latest technologies in the palletization process and the issues and challenges faced by them in venturing into this relatively new field were gathered and assessed. The Mission has been actively pursuing the issues raised by vendors in the Executive and Steering committee meetings held with the government across Ministries and such programs will be continued in future. The proposed website of the Mission was reviewed and would be launched shortly with a new logo for SAMARTH.
It is emerging that the efforts of the Government in transforming the problem of stubble burning into a solution of power production with lower carbon footprints, would continue to bear fruit with the active participation of Farmers, Pellet manufacturers and power plants in the country. This would yield additional income for farmers. It is going to play a big role towards clean energy transition of the country.
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