World Environment Day: PSPCL not keen to buy costly power from biomass plants
The Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) is not keen on buying more power from biomass plants, especially those based on stubble, rebuffing the renewable purchase obligation (RPO) set by the Union ministry of new and renewable energy.
Though the state has reached the power generation target through solar energy, it is way behind its target generation through biomass plants, including those stubble-based.
Seven stubble-based biomass plants in the state generate 63 MW, and two plants of 30 MW capacity are coming up. Before installation of a renewable energy plant, a power purchase agreement has to be signed with PSPCL.
The state generates a total of 435 MW from biomass plants.
As per the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) figures, in 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17, there was a fall in power generation by non-solar (biomass and stubble-based) plants by 718.88 million, 1,456.08 million and 2,225.03 million units respectively.
The renewable purchase obligation fixed for these years was 3.9%, 4.1%, and 4.2% of the total power generation in state. For 2017-18 and 2018-19, it has been set at 4.3% and 4.5%.
In the current year, the state is solar power surplus in terms of RPO.
During the paddy harvesting season, the state produces 22 million tonne stubble which farmers prefer to burn since there are no alternative to utilise it, leading to a serious environmental hazard. In October-November 2017, a thick layer of smoke engulfed north India, particularly the National Capital Region.
“PSPCL is not willing to purchase any more power from stubble-based plants, which costs ₹8 a unit,” said a senior official of the Punjab Energy Development Authority (PEDA).
“A number of projects are in the pipeline and there is a project approval committee that clears it. There is no doubt that electricity purchased from these plants is costly. Nearly 250 megawatt capacity wind power projects are in the pipeline,” said PSPCL managing director A Venu Prasad.
“In biomass sector, we are way behind the norms set by the Union ministry. We have to generate 4.5% of the total power in Punjab through these plants by 2020,” said PEDA executive director Balour Singh.
“The state generates 921 MW from solar plants. Nearly 900 MW is generated from 70 plants while the rest is generated from small rooftop plants of 1-5 kilowatt capacity.
The biggest solar plant in the state is of 19.5 MW capacity in Beas-based Radha Soami Satsang Dera. Power from solar energy is sold at Rs 5 a unit.