Temporary Shut Down of The Polluting Coal-Based Power Plant At Badarpur Offers No Solution To Combat Increasing Pollution Levels Of Delhi

According to a report on Energy and Air Pollution by International Energy Agency (IEA) published on 31st October, 2016 air pollution in Delhi reached a level of 30 times the World Health Organization’s recommended levels post Diwali, heightening serious respiratory problems for its inhabitants.

Temporary Shut Down of The Polluting Coal-Based Power Plant At Badarpur Offers No Solution To Combat Increasing Pollution Levels Of Delhi

Anupama Airy

High pollution levels in India’s capital city of Delhi has forced the Delhi government to take some preventive actions, one of which is the shutting down of the Badarpur power plant for 10 days. But is a 10-day shut down of Badarpur power station enough to combat the grave air pollution situation prevailing in Delhi.

Badarpur is Delhi’s only coal based power plant that supplies power to the capital. While the installed power capacity of the plant is 702 mw, the functioning capacity of the plant stands at 420 mw through two operational units, with all the older units already having been shut down.

While ordering a 10 days shut-down of Badarpur power plant, the Delhi government seems to have forgotten that it has a green gas based power plant at Bawana –the Pragati Power project that is currently lying idle. Gas supplier GAIL India Ltd says there is no shortage of gas and it can readily supply the same if the Delhi government so wants.

Speaking to EnergyInfraPost.com, the chairman and managing director, GAIL, B C Tripathi said, “There is a need to utilize gas generation of PPCL Bawana, which is one of the most efficient plants in the country with Station Heat Rate (SHR) of around 1845 Kcal/Kwh.”

Tripathi added that GAIL completed the gas pipeline connectivity to PPCL Bawana under stiff targets, however despite the same the asset still remains idle. “These supplies (of gas) could be increased for improvement of air quality in Delhi by way of maximising gas-based power generation from capacities located in the capital,” he said.

PPCL, Bawana was set up specifically for Delhi in order to bring clean gas based power to NCR before the 2010 Common Wealth Games and can replace the coal based power from polluting plants like Badarpur to reduce air pollution in and around NCR region.

GAIL (India) Limited has been supplying gas from domestic and imported sources for partial power generation to PPCL, Bawana.

Delhi can immensely benefit from gas based power generation as the coal-fired plant located at Badarpur releases several tonnes of PM 2.5, in addition to enormous tons of CO2/day, apart from other pollutants at current level of power generation accompanied with significant reduction in emission of other polluting gases, in comparison to coal-based power units.

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As per GAIL’s estimates even at 46 $/Barrel crude oil and indexed LNG prices in international market, RLNG based power generation from Bawana is better than coal based considering power pooling in present scenario.

Noteworthy environmental gains can be achieved in Delhi by reducing the dependency on the coal-based power unit at Badarpur and considering a quick resolution of outstanding issues to augment consumption of gas-based power by operating Bawana Gas fired unit at the highest possible Plant load Factor (PLF).

 

GAIL has a long-standing gas supply arrangement with the State and has been further advised to extend requisite cooperation to ensure competitively priced gas supplies from various international sources to support the cause of maintaining ambient air quality in Delhi as well as National Capital region.

India’s largest power generating company NTPC Ltd owns and operates the Badarpur power plant. Environmentalists have been asking for its closure as, they say, the coal-based plant generates fly ash, a major pollutant in Delhi. However, under the policy, NTPC will continue to get the fixed cost and the power distributing companies in Delhi (NDPL and BSES) will have to pay NTPC a fixed cost of Rs 10 crore every month even in the event of the plant shutting down.

While DISCOMS argue that the fixed cost being a pass through will be a burden on the consumers of Delhi, environmentalists say the health hazards will be far more for the people of Delhi.

pollution

Delhi’s Air Pollution Situation is Grave 

According to a report on Energy and Air Pollution by International Energy Agency (IEA) published on 31st October, 2016 air pollution in Delhi reached a level of 30 times the World Health Organization’s recommended levels post Diwali, heightening serious respiratory problems for its inhabitants.

Ambient concentrations of breathable particulate matter are often more than ten times in excess of the WHO air quality guideline value, earning Delhi the title of the world’s most polluted city. Average life expectancy in India today is cut by 23 months because of air pollution.

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Air pollution also remains closely linked to the energy sector with India’s reliance on coal.

Time has come that we take actions to tackle suffocating level of polluting environment.  Use of cleaner fuel is a necessity considering the requirement of balancing environment and growth objectives.  With the case of alarming levels of pollution in the country with specific of National Capital Region the extent of the PM2.5 (Particulate Matter) emission impact on health has become an issue which no society can ignore.

Natural gas plays very important role in furthering this objective. It is here positive efforts for increased use of Gas is required as in addition to CO2 or GHG emissions it also results in lower NOX, SOX, PM, Mercury and Mercury emissions. Gas-based power generation in the NCR region has the potential to generate the same electricity generated by coal plants with over 90% lower emission of PM2.5. At present, the share of gas-based power in Delhi’s overall power mix is estimated to be just about 5% from all sources.

Need of Clean Air

In the world today, to sustain healthy human lives of mankind clean air is the foremost requirement. According to the WHO, air pollution is currently the greatest environmental risk to public health and causes about 3 million premature deaths globally every year. Reducing air pollution is an incredibly efficient way to improve the health of a population.

Sources of Pollution

Urban air pollution is largely a result of combustion of fossil fuels that are used in transportation, power generation, industrial sector, and other economic activities. Almost all (95%) of the world’s transportation energy comes from petroleum-based fuels, largely gasoline and diesel.

Household air pollution (HAP) also known as indoor air pollution , is a serious area of concern in rural spaces, as majority of this population continues to depend on traditional biomass for cooking and space heating and depend on kerosene or other liquid fuels for lighting, all of which are highly likely to lead to high levels of HAP.

Air Quality in India

Air quality has deteriorated in most large cities in India, a situation driven by population growth, industrialization and increased vehicle use. Indian cities today are among the most polluted areas in the world. Six Indian cities – Gwalior, Allahabad, Patna, Raipur, Ludhiana, and Delhi – rank among the most polluted cities in the world. WHO report suggests millions of people in India are at risk of serious cardiac and respiratory infections and diseases because of high pollution levels. Ambient air pollution has been identified as the fifth biggest cause of mortality in India as per Global Burden of Disease report.

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Power Sector

India’s power sector, based predominantly on coal-fired plants, is one of the most polluting sectors of Indian industry. No country in the world uses coal as poor in quality as India, so our pollution challenges are huge. Power sector is a critical sector of the Indian economy. Thus, under the rationale of the need for power, even the most inefficient and polluting plants are allowed to operate. Land, water and most importantly, coal are used in large quantities.

India witnessed an increase in CO2 emissions that was mainly caused by increase in coal consumption (4.8% increase from 2014 to 2015), which accounted for 58% of India’s fossil-fuel primary energy consumption (BP, 2016). Life cycle assessment study reveals that Coal has approximately ~2 times more impact when compared to natural gas in terms of Global Warming Potential (GWP), whereas ~2.5 times in terms of human health impacts due to climate change as a result of GHG emissions such as CO2, CH4 and N2O.

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