An inter-ministerial meeting was held in New Delhi to review the progress of biomass co-firing in thermal power plants. The meeting was held against the backdrop of the country’s Kharif crop harvesting season.
In the meeting, various activities to expand biomass co-firing in the country were discussed. The notable activities include the release of a revised biomass policy, a long-term model contract, a model SOP, the development of a database of biomass stakeholders, the development of a lab for biomass testing, the launch of research and development projects on biomass, the development of a biomass mission website. It also discussed 25 training and awareness programmes for various stakeholders in the sector, including farmers, pellet manufacturers, and power plant officials.
In terms of the amount of biomass co-fired till date, it was stated that while only 8 power plants had co-fired biomass pellets in financial year 2020-21, the corresponding number has increased to 39 currently. Of this, 10 thermal power plants have begun co-firing in the NCR region. However, the amount of biomass co-fired remains low. Currently, 83,066 MT of biomass has been co-fired in 39 thermal power plants across the country, totaling 55,390 MW. The biomass co-fired in the NCR region totals 22,696 MT, with NTPC accounting for 95 per cent of the total.
During the review, it was observed that the target of 5 per cent co-firing of biomass along with coal in TPPs in the country was still far off. However, most power plants have issued long term tenders and the situation is expected to improve when the supply will start in those tenders. Meanwhile, the union power minister directed that till the time supply from the tenders is not started, power utilities should start procurement for the short term via alternate methods like spot market or commission agents as the harvesting season has already started. The union minister for environment, forest and climate change suggested ‘must run’ status for thermal power stations co-firing biomass and strict action against those stations which fail to take enough steps to curb emissions and not co-fire sufficient quantity of biomass.