How green are India's power plants?

Green rating of coal-based power plants in India by CSE offers starting insights into the sector

Published: Thursday 19 February 2015

More than 70 per cent of India's electricity is produced by coal-fired power plants. Most of them do not have modern technologies and use low-grade coal that is low on energy content and high on waste.
Author: Chandra Bhushan, Priyavrat Bhati, Sanjeev Kumar Kanchan, Angeline Sangeetha Suresh, Soundaram Ramanathan, Abhishek Rudra and N Sai Siddhartha
India's powersector, based predominantly on coal-fired plants, is one of the most polluting sectors of Indian industry. To highlight key environmental issues and rate the performance of power plants, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) intensively studied the sector for two years, covering 47 coal- and lignite-based thermal plants with a capacity of 54 gigawatts (GW), half of the Indian capacity when the study began in early 2012.
Old technologies, poor maintenance worsen performance
The 10small units of JSEB, Patratu in Jharkhand have a total capacity of 880 MW. All units are past their operational life and, currently, just three are functional. On most days, the units are shut because of outages. In 2012-13, the plant experienced outages for more than 80 per cent of the year, according to the CEA. The capacity utilisation, or plant load factor (PLF), was a scant nine per cent.
The three highest rated coal-based power plants in India in the study by CSE are CESC, Budge Budge, in West Bengal; JSWEL, Toranagallu in Karnataka; and Tata, Trombay, in Maharashtra. While these plants follow certain best practices, their overall environmental performance is average when compared to the global best.
It is a 750 MW capacity (three 250 MW capacity units) power plant located in densely populated Pujali town of South 24 Paraganas district in West Bengal and has an average age of 11 years. Although it uses subcritical technology designed for 37 per cent efficiency-far below that of the global best ultra-supercritical (USC) technology-its operating performance is commendable.
CSE releases green rating of thermal power sector
Book release

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