Seven months after closing four units of the Guru Gobind Singh thermal plant in Bathinda and two units of the Ropar thermal plant, Punjab has now decided to review its decision. The state now plans to try and run one unit of the Bathinda thermal plant on paddy stubble as a test case before taking a final decision on the matter.
Baldev Singh Saran, chairman-cum-managing director of Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) while talking to The Indian Express said, “We are seriously thinking about running one thermal unit of Bathinda on paddy stubble. We are getting a study done on it as we are serious about the issue of pollution as well and it will be a cheap method to solve paddy stubble problem as well.”
A representation in this connection was given to Power Minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar by the Bathinda Thermal Plant Employees Federation. Gursewak Singh Sandhu, president of the federation, said,”Engineers have also contributed in studying the viability of this project and as per the project report prepared by the engineers of the thermal plant, one-kg of paddy stubble will be making one unit of electricity. This survey will be carried out on fourth unit of thermal plant which has a capacity of 120 MW and if it runs to full capacity, this unit alone can consume 4 lakh tonnes of paddy stubble.”
According to the engineers of PSPCL, thermal plant has four units out of which two units are of 120 MW each, while other two are of 110 MW each. They added that the same set up and machinery can be used for running the plant on paddy stubble instead of coal. However, the boiler will have to be replaced.
A PSPCL engineer said: “Boiler for thermal plant is equipped for running with powdered coal as fuel while paddy stubble cannot be powdered and hence we just need to change the boiler and rest of the equipments can work as they are. Though the capacity of the unit is 120 MW but with paddy stubble, it can generate a maximum of 80 MW of power. But still it will be a game changer.”
The total generation of paddy stubble in Punjab is more than 15 million tonnes and as of now, because of the biomass power plants, nearly 63 MW of power is being generated consuming not more than 1 million tonnes of stubble.
Gursewak Singh added,”This will not only provide jobs to employees, but will also save money on account of coal as our thermal plant used to consume 1500 tonnes of coal per day for running all the four units.”
The thermal plant units have been shut since January 1, 2018. Decision to close the units was taken in Punjab’s Cabinet meeting held on December 20, 2017.
Kangar told The Indian Express,”The survey is no doubt in a preliminary stage, but it is a cost effective method to get rid of paddy stubble burning issue. Stubble can be stored for the whole year and hence the plant can run throughout the year. Let’s see if the plan works out well.”