Budget 2022: Govt pushes for use of biomass in coal-fired thermal power plants

Updated on Feb 01, 2022 01:56 PM IST

The scheme - SAMARTH (Sustainable Agrarian Mission on use of Agro Residue in Thermal Power Plants - has already taken off in about 40 of the 180 coal-fired power plants in the country

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi on Tuesday. (Ajay Aggarwal /HT PHOTO)
Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi on Tuesday. (Ajay Aggarwal /HT PHOTO)

NEW DELHI: Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday announced the launch of the SAMARTH scheme to promote the use of biomass in coal-fired thermal power plants, a step that will curb stubble burning and air pollution.

HT on January 21 had reported that the policy mandating the use of biomass pellets for 5-7% of the requirement will be mentioned in the Union budget.

On Tuesday, Sitharaman in her budget speech, said: “5-7% biomass pellets will be used in thermal power plants, resulting in CO2 saving of 38 MMT annually. This will also provide extra income to farmers, give job opportunities to locals and help avoid stubble burning in agricultural fields.”

The scheme - SAMARTH (Sustainable Agrarian Mission on use of Agro Residue in Thermal Power Plants - has already taken off in about 40 of the 180 coal-fired power plants in the country. The use of biomass pellets along with coal to generate electricity has picked up pace around the national capital region (NCR), where 50% of thermal power plants have already launched the co-firing process, power ministry data showed.

The power ministry on October 8 last year notified a policy mandating all coal-fired power plants to use biomass pellets as at least 5% of fuel mix (with coal) to generate electricity.

The policy was first notified in November 2017, but in October last year, the “revised policy for biomass utilisation for power generation through co-firing in coal-based power plants” was issued, making it mandatory for all coal-fired plants to use such pellets and increase the percentage of biomass to 7% from November this year.

Stubble burning is rampant in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and becomes a major contributor of air pollution in Delhi-NCR in the months of October and November every year.

More than three months after the revised policy was notified, data from the power ministry, seen by HT, showed that until December 31, at least six of the 12 coal-fired power plants located in a radius of 300 km of NCR have started mixing biomass pellets with coal for power generation. These six plants together used about 20,303 metric tonnes (MT) of biomass until December 31.

Overall, nearly 59,000 MT of biomass has been co-fired in thermal power plants across the country till date. A ministry spokesperson said that tenders for 12 MMT are at different stages for short-term and long-term duration.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sweta Goswami writes on politics, urban development, transportation, energy and social welfare. Based in Delhi, she tracks government policies and suggests corrections based on public feedback and on-ground implementation through her reports. She has also covered the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) since its inception.

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