As Delhi runs out of dumping ground, state-run generation utility NTPC has stepped in at the behest of South Delhi Municipal Corporation and agreed to set up a solid waste management plant at its Badarpur power station, which may be put under chopping block after 2018.
Sources said NTPC is planning a waste-to-energy plant with a capacity of processing 400 tonne of garbage per day from South Delhi Municipal Corporation. The company is inviting bids from companies with technology and experience in setting up waste management plants.
Though it is still early days, the project could cost upto Rs 300 crore. This will be NTPC’s second such project, if it finally comes up. India’s largest generation company has been tasked with restarting and operating a waste-to-compost plant PM Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi.
But unlike the Varanasi plant, the Badarpur project envisages power generation by using solid waste as fuel. This will be second such project in Delhi after Okhla.
But NTPC wants to avoid the issues faced by the Okhla plant, such as complaints of stench by residents living in the surrounding area. There are also issues regarding the cost of power produced by the plant that are yet to be sorted out.
“Prime objective of waste-to-energy plants is not to produce power but to save precious land from being wasted as garbage dump. Power is a by-product. Ideally such plants should be located at dump head for economy of transportation and higher efficiency,” one person familiar with the development told TOI.
“In the West, such plants are used for making steam for residential heating. So you get almost 90% efficiency. But if one is using steam to spin turbines for generating power, the efficiency comes down to 60-70%. So unless NTPC gets some value for the input (waste), power from the plant could be too costly,” he added.
On the issue of avoiding pollution from such plants, he said the required air quality management apparatus are not cheap and difficult to maintain. “It is easy to get the technology, secure a certificate and then let things pass. That is not the way NTPC, as a government entity functions. Badarpur power plant has been blamed partly for pollution. So what is the point if the waste plant ends up emitting stench. So the overall economics will be worked out with the municipal corporation once the bids come in,” he said.
Badarpur power station has received a reprieve till 2018. The Delhi government has been seeking its closure on the ground of air pollution, even though several studies have said only 9% of the Capital’s pollution is caused by industries and the power station would account for a minor fraction of that.