Revisit the idea of ‘aging out’ India’s coal plants (The Hindu, GS-3, Energy)

Revisit the idea of ‘aging out’ India’s coal plants (The Hindu, GS-3, Energy)

Context:- In the announcement of Union Budget 2020-­21 that the shutting down of old coal power plants, which are major contributors to emissions so that India’s Nationally Determined Contributions can be achieved.
Why we need Coal Power Plant:-

  • They provide huge employment.
  • They provide Energy.
  • They are the forerunner for the infrastructure.
  • They are the main reason for heavy industry development.
  • Some old plants are tied up in expensive power purchase agreements which increase the cost of power distribution.
    • But the above analogy is not true for all, here plants such as Rihand, Singrauli and Vidhyanchal are all over 30 years old and have very low generation costs of around ₹1.7/kWh, which is lower than the national average.
      •  This may be due to locational advantage rather than efficiency because the plant is located closer to the coal source, reducing coal transport costs.
  • Total savings, due to the older plant in generation, cost from shutting down plants older than 25 years would be less than ₹5,000 crore annually.
    • This cost saving is just 2% of the total power generation cost.
  • Savings in coal consumption by replacing generation from plants older than 25 years with newer coal plants are also likely to be only in the 1%­-2% range.
  • Older plants finds uneconomical to install pollution control equipment to meet environmental norms.

Why old power plant must be discarded:-

    •  Availability of under-utilised newer coal based capacity which means that shutting down older inefficient plants
  • New plants would lead to
    • Improved efficiencies
    • Reduced coal usage
    • Cost savings. 
  • It would be uneconomical for old coal based power plants to install pollution control equipment required to meet the emission standards.
  • Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) has allowed BSES distribution company , which provides electricity to delhi, to exit its concluded 25 year old power purchase agreement  with the National Thermal Power Corporation Limited.

Issues associated with coal based power plants:-

  • Air pollution from coal-fired power plants includes sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter (PM), and heavy metals, leading to smog, acid rain, toxins in the environment, and numerous respiratory, cardiovascular, and cerebrovascular effects.
  • Coal dust stirred up during the mining process, as well as released during coal transport, which can cause severe and potentially deadly respiratory problems.
  • Fly ash and bottom ash, which are residues created when power plants burn coal.

What are the risk associated with newer generation:-

  • To support the intermittent renewable generation in the sector, 
  • We  need to augment the capacity that can provide flexibility, balancing, and ancillary services. 
  • Old thermal capacity, with lower fixed costs, is a prime candidate to play this role until other technologies (such as storage) can replace them at scale.
  • Capacity value of the old capacity is critical to meet instantaneous peak load, and to meet load when renewable energy is unavailable.

 Lets understand facts for prelims:- 

  • Five largest coal reserves: 
  1. USA
  2. Russia
  3. China
  4. Australia
  5. India.
    • India ranks 2nd in coal production and our requirements are higher than production, so, we import more than ₹1.50 Lcr coal, annually.
    •  Peat 
      • Highest moisture which smoke pollution. 
      • Most inferior in energy 
      • Carbon:- 40 %
    • Lignite /Brown Coal 
      • Important states: TN (Neyveli), Gujarat, Rajasthan, 
      • Cabron %:- 40-60 
    • Bituminous/ Black-Coal:- 
      • On heating bituminous releases a liquid called Bitumen.
      • Bituminous is used to make coking coal, gas coal, steam coal and other types of coal for different sectors and activities.
      • Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, WB, MP, Odisha 
      • Percentage carbon:- 60-80 
  • Anthracite 
    • Hard Coal Burns with short blue flame, lowest moisture, highest energy. 
    • Ignites slowly with a blue flame
    • small quantity in Jammu and Kashmir
    • Cabron%:-80-90

Download Plutus IAS Daily Current Affairs of 9th August 2021

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