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Over 20k metric tonnes of biomass used in seven NCR thermal plants

Over 20k metric tonnes of biomass used in seven NCR thermal plants

Using paddy straw in power plants is one way of minimising burning of stubble.

Around 20,830 metric tonnes of biomass, of which paddy straw is a component, has been used in seven thermal power plants in the NCR so far, and the tender process for use of another 43 lakh metric tonnes is underway. This is as per data presented at a session on agricultural stubble management during a discussion on measures to mitigate air pollution in Delhi-NCR organised by the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) last week.

Using paddy straw in power plants is one way of minimising burning of stubble. Arvind Nautiyal, member secretary, CAQM, said the commission had issued statutory directions to 11 thermal power plants situated in a 300-km radius around Delhi to mandatorily co-fire biomass with coal, by substituting 5% to 10% of their coal requirement with biomass. These directions were issued in September last year. Seven out of the 11 power plants in NCR are co-firing coal with biomass, according to another presentation by NTPC. Of these, two plants are operated by NTPC, which functions under the central government, and five are under other organisations. Power plants are required to utilise as much paddy straw as they can.

Around 1.16 million tonnes of crop residue in Punjab is being used through ‘ex-situ’ stubble management methods like use in biomass power plants, Nautiyal said.

Uses of straw include power generation, fuel for industrial boilers, composting, and as packaging material. The quantity that is being utilised is a small fraction of the total quantity of straw generated in Punjab, which was 18.74 million tonnes in 2021. Around 6.8 million tonnes of straw was generated in Haryana.

Industries in the NCR are permitted to use biomass fuel, in addition to PNG, and other cleaner fuels like propane, butane or LPG, Nautiyal said. The ex-situ management of stubble calls for mapping of all districts for straw availability and demand from sources, he said.

“Supply is not an issue; the issue is about logistics. The straw will not be used in the form it is in, it has to be processed and made into briquettes, pellets, or the manner that the industry may demand. The key is storing the straw, transporting, processing and then making it available for perennial use,” he added.

On in-situ management of stubble, wherein crop residue is managed on the field using machines, Nautiyal said, “The issue is not about availability of machines. They are quite large in number, more than 2 lakh. The issue is about how to map the requirement, and optimise their availability during harvest season. Though the means are available, the outreach was not as much, and despite the availability of machines, utilisation on the field was not as much.”

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