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The country’s largest power producer and a public sector unit under the Ministry of Power, NTPC Ltd has invited bids for the procurement of biomass pellets for its various thermal plants based on a domestic competitive basis (DCB) as part of its endeavour to reduce the burning of crop residue on farmlands that cause air pollution. The power producer has envisaged consumption of 5 million tonnes (MT) of pellets in the current year at its 17 its power plants including NTPC Korba (Chhattisgarh), NTPC Farakka (West Bengal), NTPC Dadri (Uttar Pradesh), NTPC Kudgi (Karnataka), NTPC Sipat (Chhattisgarh), and NTPC Rihand (Uttar Pradesh).
As per a statement issued by the company, it had first undertaken this unique initiative on a pilot basis in 2017 for biomass co-firing by replacing some of the coal with pellet-based fuel at NTPC Dadri. Post successful implementation, NTPC now plans to replicate the model in 17 of its state-of-the-art plants. The invitation for bids would be done through e-tendering at SRM Portal. The bidding process will be followed by a single-stage two envelope bidding system.
NTPC is confident that co-firing will help create large scale rural employment opportunities in processing as well as the supply chain for biomass. The power producer will give preference to bids from suppliers from Punjab and Haryana. The bidders need to notify NTPC about the relevant provisions of the bidding documents before submitting their bids. NTPC had fired 100 tonnes of agro residue-based pellets at Dadri. The test-firing was carried out in four phases, with a gradual increase in the percentage of firing from 2.5 per cent to 10 per cent along with coal. To date, the company has fired more than 7,000 tonnes of agro residue pellets.
As per estimates, about 145 million metric tonnes per annum (MMTPA) of crop residue remains unutilised and most of it is burnt in India in the open fields, creating severe air pollution that leads to health issues. Open burning of agro residue is considered a major contributor to the surge in particulate matter (PM) 2.5 in Northern India during the post-harvesting season.
With its gross calorific value comparable to the bituminous coal, the power generation potential of the entire 145 MMTPA biomass burnt through co-firing in coal-based power plants is equivalent to 28,000-30,000 MW of round the clock generation of renewable power which can produce the same amount of electrical energy as can be produced from the solar capacity of 125,000-150,000 MW.