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NTPC Dadri creates a milestone in power generation

The problem of seasonal stubble-burning in states like Punjab, which is recognised as a vital reason for Delhi’s air pollution, can be addressed through this mechanism

Dadri: In what is being seen as a revolutionary step, NTPC, India’s largest producer of power, has now begun generating electricity from biomass pellet based fuel at its Dadri plant by mixing 10 percent coal into it. Now the problem of seasonal stubble-burning in states like Punjab, Haryana, western UP and some parts of Delhi which is recognised as a vital reason for Delhi’s air pollution problem, can be addressed through this mechanism.

The only constraint ahead is the regular supply of all the contracted quantity of this fuel that is likely to take some time. Also, compared to coal, Biomass also has lower thermal efficiency, higher technical risks and higher cost. But the move is seen as a major step to curb the stubble-burning of agricultural residues in fields which reduces the fertile strength of the soil as well as produces huge amounts of ash and smog in the air.

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NTPC converts crisis into a chance

Addressing a press conference over the issue NTPC Group GM AK das said "The use of pellets made of agricultural residues with coal in the power plant is also called biomass co-firing in technical language. In this direction, the Central Government has issued necessary policy instructions for encouraging biomass co-firing and we at NTPC Dadri are the ones to take the first-movers advantage".
"NTPC's step will encourage the collection and storage of agricultural residues and the investment in the field of manufacturing pellets made of agro residue."
NTPC has also planned to start biomass co-firing in all its power plants. They recently invited the expression of interest (EOI) for the supply of pellets made of agricultural residues.

Making money out of stubble

AK Das said "NTPC's step will encourage the collection and storage of agricultural residues and the investment in the field of manufacturing pellets made of agro residue. This will, in turn, create a market for agricultural residues, which will discourage the practice of stubble burning. Besides this, trade and employment opportunities will also be created." The officials present at the press conference also explained that the ash generated from the combustion of biomass pellets and torrefied biomass pellets/briquettes in power plant gets absorbed in the electrostatic precipitator of the plant.

As a result, it does not cause air pollution. Officials also mentioned that the equivalent amount of pollutant CO2 emitted during combustion in the plant is absorbed in the next crop cycle by photosynthesis, which again does not result into increasing the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In a way, the use of biomass pellets will ultimately reduce emissions of carbon gases and will reduce the risk of global warming. That makes the agriculture residue-based fuel an eco-friendly form of renewable and green energy.