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Thermal power plants may get more time to meet emission norms

Thermal power plants may get more time to meet emission norms
The power ministry expects the deadline to extend beyond December 2017. Photo by Shah Junaid.

Power minister Piyush Goyal on Monday said the environment ministry is on board to consider extension of December 2017 deadline for coal-based thermal power plants to meet stricter emission norms.

“I don’t want that we import equipment (to meet deadline for meeting emission norms). We realised after discussions that it would put more burden on the consumer and they will have to pay more for electricity,” Goyal said.

He was responding to queries on environment ministry’s tougher norms for power plants relating to consumption of water, particulate matter, SO2 (sulphur dioxide), NOx (oxides of nitrogen) and mercury.

“We took up the issue with the environment ministry. They agreed with us that deadline should be extended so that old polluting plants can be replaced with supercritical super-efficient plants. This will reduce the pollution to just 10% of the existing levels of these old plants,” he said.

“The discussions are on to increase the deadline. I think it should be extended (beyond December 2017) because it should be done in a way so that the poor should not be affected,” the minister added.

In December 2015, the environment ministry had brought new norms for coal-based power stations to cut down emissions of particulate matter (PM10), SO2 and NOx and improve the ambient air quality around power plants.

The ministry had for the first time fixed SOx and NOx norms for power stations and mandated that plants adhere to these guidelines by 2017.

According to industry estimates, the cost for technical changes at these plants could be up to Rs.1.5 crore per megawatt (MW). Besides, the domestic capacity to manufacture power equipment for the upgrade is not more than 15 giga watt (GW) a year, compared to demand of around 40 GW per annum for meeting SOx norms alone.

The minister is of the view that instead of going for renovation and modernisation, the power plants should be replaced with latest energy efficiency and less polluting technology.

He had also announced replacement of 11 GW of old power plants of NTPC at an investment of over Rs.50,000 crore in the next 3-4 years.


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