A comprehensive analysis on why clean coal technology is becoming indispensable in India
India produces around 900 billion units per of electricity in a year with the consumption of around 700 billion units by the entire country with the current installed capacity of 160 GW based on coal out of the Total 276 GW of power generation from all sources .
India is the world’s third largest carbon emitter, behind the U.S. and China. According to R. Kulothungan, Senior Vice President (Biomass Business), Orient Green Power Company Ltd, “The rise in carbon emissions due to electricity generation was the highest in India even when the global economy moved away from carbon based energy sources.”
In a bid to curb pollution generated during power generation, the government has notified revised standards for coal-based thermal power plants and made it stringent for those plants which will be installed in the future.
The coal-based thermal power plants have now been categorised into three categories, those installed before 2003, those after it till December 31, 2016 and those that will be installed after December 31 in 2016.
“The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has notified the revised standards for coal-based thermal power plants in the country, with the primary aim of minimising pollution. These standards are proposed to be implemented in a phased manner,” an official statement said.According to the notification, thermal power plants are categorised into 3 categories, namely:
Installed before 31st December, 2003
Installed after 2003 upto 31st December, 2016 and
Installed after 31st December, 2016.
The new standards are aimed at reducing emission of PM (Particulate Matter) 10 (0.98 kg/MWh), sulphur dioxide (7.3 kg/MWh) and oxide of nitrogen (4.8 kg/MWh), which will in turn help in bringing about an improvement in the Ambient Air Quality (AAQ) in and around thermal power plants. The technology employed for the control of the proposed limit of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide will also help in control of mercury emission (at about 70-90 per cent) as a co-benefit. Limiting the use of water in thermal power plant will lead to water conservation (about 1.5 M3/MWh) as thermal power plant is a water-intensive industry. This will also lead to a reduction in energy requirement for drawl of water. The revised standards are based on the recommendation of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Ministry held extensive consultations with stakeholders regarding the matter.
“The standards have been made stringent for recent plants, compared to earlier ones and most stringent for those plants to be set up in future,” the statement adds.
According to Priyavrat Bhati, Programme Director – Sustainable Industrialisation, Centre for Science and Environment, “The new standards for coal-based power plants have a significant potential to cut pollution. New plants which are commissioned after 2016 will need to meet PM standards of 30 mg/Nm3, in line with global standards. Old plants in India had to meet PM standards that range between 50 and 350 mg/Nm3 – the new standards will require them to improve too. In addition, standards have been set for both SO2 and NOx, which may result in an over 80 per cent cut in these pollutants.”
However, he observes, while the new standards are clear, the road map is not. “Meeting these goals will require a concerted effort from all stakeholders – pollution control technologies would require investment by power plants; tariff would need to incorporate the investment. Capex by power plants needs to be closely monitored to ensure compliance,” Priyavrat suggests.
Clean coal technology and IndiaClean coal technology is a collection of technologies being developed to remove or reduce pollutant emissions to the atmosphere. When coal is used as a fuel source, the gaseous emissions generated by the thermal decomposition of the coal include hazardous gases which have a negative impact on the environment and human health, contributing to acid rain, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease.
High efficiency, low emission coal-fired power plants can reduce greenhouse emissions as they increase the amount of energy that can be extracted from a single unit of coal. A one percentage point improvement in efficiency of a conventional coal combustion plant results in a 2 to 3 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions. Informing about clean coal technology, Kulothungan says, “Several ultra super critical power plants with capacity ranging from 350 MW to 1,000 MW are under construction or already in operation. This technology has been driven by countries such as Denmark, Germany and Japan to achieve plant efficiencies and reduce fuel costs.”
In a more definitive stride towards adoption of clean coal technologies, India is working towards setting up a thermal power plant based on the advanced ultra supercritical technology. The advanced ultra supercritical is a key technology as it burns less coal to derive more energy-the same amount of coal will give about 30 to 40 per cent more energy through the technology, which applies high heat and high pressure.
“A 4,000 MW advanced ultra mega power project, built with advanced ultra supercritical technology, is expected to save 4 million tonnes of coal a year,” Kulothungan says.
Among the largest fossil fuel power generators in the world, NTPC claims to be amongst the cleanest. The Maharatna company is engaged in further reducing its carbon footprints.
“NTPC has adopted super critical technology which is far more efficient and clean compared to the sub critical units. It has already commissioned 3,300 MW capacity based on supercritical technology. Construction of 17 units of 660 MW and 9 units of 800 MW units based on super critical technology is underway,” informs AK Jha, Chairman and Managing Director of NTPC.
The company is engaged in the development of advanced ultra super critical technology with cycle efficiency of 45-47 per cent resulting in ~16 per cent reduction in carbon emission compared to conventional sub-critical technology based plants. It is collaborating with Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) and BHEL on this project.
It is accepted that coal is a necessary evil and clean coal technology is better than the old polluting plants. Along with this, India must make fundamental changes in energy policy. This includes the push in renewable energy. India is already talking about 175 GW of renewable energy. “Even if 20 per cent (at current efficiencies) of renewable energy can be utilised, they can share the burden of the peak load, which is still met by coal-fired power plants,” opines Kulothungan.
Testo considers clean coal technology as a major step towards mitigating the harmful impact of coal energy generation on environment and anticipates a major contribution of this move in the objective of emission control in India. “We certainly see clean coal technology as a mark towards a greener and pollution free tomorrow and we are ready to support this stride of clean coal technology with our emission analysers,” says Kalidas Bhangare, Managing Director, Testo India Pvt Ltd.
The higher version of testo emission analyser is testo 350 with up to 6 gas sensors that allows to select freely from sensors for CO, NO, NO2, SO2, H2S, CxHy and CO2.The flue gas analyzer testo 350 can be used to pursue three main goals: monitoring of the emission levels, saving fuel and in turn operating costs and to comply with the emission standards.
A helping hand Recently Japan has extended its helping hands to support the introduction of high efficiency coal-fired thermal power generation technologies in India.
The two countries will start a joint study to help India decide on the best energy mix, or the proportion of electricity to be generated by various sources.
ConclusionIn order to reduce pollution taking place due to coal-run power plants the government has decided to set stringent rules. Apart from stringent rules new technologies will be introduced in India which will help India reduce the coal use and to have pollution free environment. India with this new technology and strict norms surely will be able to reach its aim to reduce pollution.
“We need to ensure that future plants are all supercritical. Other clean coal technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) are at an experimental stage and their benefits, when seen in the context of high costs and rapidly falling renewable energy cost, are debatable,” concludes Priyavrat.
NTPC has adopted super critical technology which is far more efficient and clean compared to the sub critical units.
AK Jha, Chairman & Managing Director, NTPC
——————A 4,000 MW advanced ultra mega power project, built with advanced ultra supercritical technology, is expected to save 4 million tonnes of coal a year
R. Kulothungan, Senior Vice President (Biomass Business), Orient Green Power Company Ltd.
——————–We certainly see clean coal technology as a mark towards a greener and pollution free tomorrow.
Kalidas Bhangare, Managing Director, Testo India Pvt Ltd