Coal-based power plants pollute most

Published: Sunday 15 April 2007

Down to Earth The total installed capacity of the power sector in India is around 128,000 mw. Thermal power plants--using coal, gas or oil--together account for more than 65.6 per cent of the total power capacity in the country

Down to Earth Historically, the Indian power sector has been dominated by coal as the predominant fuel source of power, accounting for 82.45 per cent of the installed capacity followed by gas (16.12 per cent) and oil (1.43 per cent)

Down to Earth India has emerged as the fifth largest power market in the world. It ranked eighth in the last decade

Down to Earth The installed capacity in the sector has increased by more than 70 times from 1,713 mw in 1950 to 128,000 mw in 2007. The National Thermal Power Corporation is India's largest thermal power generating company

Down to Earth Down to Earth According to the power ministry, by 2012, the projected installed capacity of power will be around 207,000 mw, of which around 69 per cent will be contributed by thermal power plants, followed by hydropower (26 per cent) and nuclear (5 per cent). The ministry has also indicated it will double the capacity every 10 years

Down to Earth The western region has the largest share of the installed capacity in coal-based power plants (30.91 per cent), followed by the northern region (25.9 per cent), the southern region (23.3 per cent), the eastern region (19.3 per cent) and the north-eastern region (0.48 per cent)

Down to Earth Among thermal-based power generation sources, coal-based power plants rank highest in air pollution, waste generation and water consumption. It is also the largest emitter of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas

Down to Earth A typical 500 mw thermal power plant using coal emits around 105 tonne per day (tpd) of SO2 (at 100 per cent load factor, 0.7 per cent sulphur content in coal), 24 tpd of NO2 and 2.5 tpd of particulate matter (at 34 per cent ash content, 99.9 per cent electrostatic precipitator efficiency) and ash around 3,000-3,500 tpd. Moreover, disposing one tonne of flyash requires around 1 sq m of land

Down to Earth Indian thermal power plants consume on an average 80 cubic metre (m) of water for every mw-hour (mwh), while the global best practice is just 10 cubic m/mwh

Down to Earth Coal-based power plants are one of largest emitters of elemental mercury. On an average, Indian coal-based power plants release around 63 tonnes of mercury every year (assuming 0.25 ppm of mercury content in the Indian coal)

Down to Earth Except for particulate emissions, there are no formal standards for SO2, NOx and mercury emissions in coal-based power plants

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