As the blanket of smog thickens and AQI dips, stubble burning has come under major scrutiny, and rightly so!
Paddy straw and other agricultural residues, especially those which do not get priority in the form of cattle fodder, are burnt in the fields by the farmers after harvesting.
This, not only reduces the fertile strength of the soil, but also releases huge amounts of ash which immediately increases the level of PM 2.5 and PM10 in the air.
Its contribution to air pollution, while seasonal, temporarily but terribly depletes the air quality.
This is precisely why Delhi NCR region has been going through the grip of dense smog in the months of October to November, for last many years.
Meanwhile, the country’s largest power producer, NTPC (a Government of India Undertaking), has given final shape to its earlier plan to produce electricity by partially replacing coal from pellets made of paddy straw and other agricultural residues in one unit of its Dadri power plant.
Although NTPC has started production from agro residue based fuel in Dadri, the regular supply of all the contracted quantity of this fuel is likely to take some time.
The use of pellets made of agricultural residues with coal in the power plant is also called biomass co-firing in technical language. In this direction, the Central Government has issued necessary policy instructions for encouraging biomass co-firing.
In line with this, NTPC is planning to begin biomass co-firing in all its power plants in the future, for which it has recently invited the expression of interest (EOI) for the supply of pellets made of agricultural residues in its power plants located across the country.
Following EOI, a workshop for participants is to be organized in which they will be briefed about the subject.
Thereafter, a plan to invite the tender is also in the talks. This step will encourage the collection and storage of agricultural residues and the investment in the field of manufacturing / torrefied pellets made of agro residue.
This will in turn create a market for agricultural residues, which will discourage the practice of stubble burning.
Besides this, trade and employment opportunities will also be created.
Sources explain that the ash generated from combustion of agro residue based fuel in power plant gets absorbed in the electro-static precipitator of the plant while generating electricity, thus does not cause air pollution .
Also, the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emitted from its combustion in plant, is absorbed in the next crop cycle by photosynthesis, which does not increase the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Therefore, the use of agricultural residue made pellets in power plants will reduce carbon emissions and reduce the global warming crisis, making the agriculture residue based fuel an ecofriendly form of renewable and green energy.
According to reliable sources, NTPC has invited EOI for supply of pellet in 21 power plants located across the country, which has a total consumption of 19440 tonnes per day, thereby creating a market of around 5000 crore.
Thus, the roughly 145 million tonnes of agricultural residue being burnt in the fields every year across country, if fully utilized by biomass co-firing in power plants, can produce about 30000 MW of round the year electricity which is equivalent to electricity generated from solar panels of 150000 MW capacity in a year.
This is not it. There could also be a market of about one lakh crore rupees.
And so, crisis seems to be have been converted into opportunity. Power plants can use agricultural residues on large scale and can reduce air pollution and smog problem besides reducing carbon emission from power plants.
Golden opportunity for Startup and entrepreneurs
Startup and entrepreneurs can make attractive profits by investing in the field of collection, storage of agricultural residues and manufacturing pellet / torrefied pellets from it. According to experts, the amount invested in this business gets returned only within 1 to 2 years.
On December 26,2018 NTPC has invited the expression of interest (EOI) to attract investment in this sector. Under which interested startups and entrepreneurs can express their interest to manufacture and supply pellets or torrefied pellets made from paddy straw and other agricultural residues in NTPC plants located across the country.
Applicants are required to deposit a security of one lakh rupees along with application form for participating in EOI.
The last date for application is January 25, 2019. The application form can be downloaded from www.ntpctender.com after registration.
NTPC is giving four-year supply period to start-up and entrepreneurs to provide an assured market,so that investors can be confident of their investment.
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