Delhi’s power is turning green, but customers must be prepared to pay more.
In a move that would significantly slash air pollution levels in the city, the Delhi government has decided to shut all its coal-fired power plants over the next four years and replace them with plants that use environment-friendly natural gas as fuel.
The shift to cleaner power will result in higher power bills for end- users, but Delhi’s chief secretary Rakesh Mehta is hopeful that citizens would pick up the tab.
“Consumers would be willing to pay more for cleaner atmosphere,” he told HT. “It is weighing cheap and dirty fuel power versus health of the citizens. In the longer run, health will surely weight out costs.”
How much will the switch cost?
Delhi’s power secretary Rajendra Kumar said, “The per unit cost of power from a new gas-based power plant would be around Rs. 3.50 per unit as against the average cost of Rs. 2 per unit from a coal-based plant.”
Customers can take heart that Delhi imports power from other states, which can lower costs.
But locally produced electricity after the fuel switchover would cost 75 per cent more.
“It is too early to comment on the exact cost of power for the end user,” Kumar said..
Officials say the biggest challenge ahead lies in making the coal-based Badarpur plant, which is currently run by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Ltd, switch to gas.
The plant accounts for as much as 57 per cent of the capital’s power-driven air pollution, spewing 5 mega million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, say experts.
Delhi produces about 1,200 mw of power from its five power stations.
These include two gas-run units of Pragati Power, which produce 330 mw and three coal-based stations. Among the three coal-based power stations are the 700 mw Badarpur power plant, the 150 mw Rajghat power plant and the 100 mw Indraprastha power station.
The last mentioned power station has only recently been shut down. Mehta said the 150-mw coal-based Rajghat plant will also be closed by 2014.
“Switching over the Badarpur coal fired power station to a gas-based plant is very critical to address the air pollution issue,” Mehta said.
“We have already asked the ministry of petroleum and natural gas as also the power ministry for allocation of gas for a new 2,000 mw gas-based power station at Badarpur,” he added.